Thursday, May 9, 2013
Using Google Books
I’ve been talking a lot about Google books this past week, and want to do one more post on that subject. I haven’t mentioned the advanced search option which is really useful. Using this option you can fine tune the results you’d like to view. For instance you can choose to see every book your search terms appear in which is what you get with a basic search, or using the advanced search you can opt to only see those that are readable online. There are also 3 other categories included in a basic search, being books with a preview, usually a few pages, and those with a “snippet view” where you see only a sentence or two. Also covered in the basic search are magazines containing your search terms, including older copies of Ancestry Magazine.
Another useful publication you will find on the site are the local history books printed around the end of the 19th century containing biographies of residents of the area. Known as vanity books, they obviously would have had a limited audience. To recoup their printing expenses and turn a profit, publishers often required subjects to pay a fee to be included in their books. Sometimes the subjects even wrote their own biography, technically making it an autobiography, which they may have slightly embellished.
Once you’ve found an interesting book, GB allows you to save it to a virtual bookshelf to read later or keep for reference. It’s all free, and new books are added regularly so check back now and then if your search comes up empty. I’ve found quite a lot at this site for example, a search for -- "Morgan Lash" Wolcott -- turned up a book titled, Thomas Horton of Milton and Rehoboth, Massachusetts. It offered only a snippet view, but in that little snippet was the name of Morgan's wife, their marriage date and birth dates for them both along with the names of 7 children of the marriage, and their birth dates. So try an all inclusive search first, even if it's only the lowly snippet you could get some interesting clues.