“I Found 130 Letters by My Ancestor!” Why Use Google Books for Genealogy

Betty has at least 130 good reasons to use Google Books for genealogy! She used this powerful Google tool to find her ancestor’s name in a book–which led to a treasure trove of his original letters in an archive. Here’s what happened–and how to try this with your own family history research. 

You’ve heard me say that Google Books is the tool I turn to every day. Now, you may be thinking, “But my ancestors wouldn’t be in history books!” Resist the temptation to make assumptions about sources, and about your ancestors. With over 25 million books, Google Books is more likely to have something pertinent to your genealogy research than you think. And as I often tell my audiences, those books can include source citations, providing a trail to even more treasures.

Why to Use Google Books for Genealogy: Success Story!

At the National Genealogical Society conference this past spring, Betty attended my class and then stopped by the Genealogy Gems booth to share her story. I recorded it, and here’s a transcription:

Betty: I was stuck on my Duncan Mackenzie ancestor, so I put his name in Google Books, because when you’re stuck, that’s what you do!

Lisa: Yes, I do!

Betty: So, up popped this history of Mississippi, it was sort of a specific history, and it said Duncan Mackenzie had written a letter to his brother-in-law in North Carolina from Covington County, Mississippi. And of course I already had my tax records and my census records that placed him in Covington County. This was in the 1840s. I thought, this just couldn’t be him! Why would any of my relatives be in a book? [Sound familiar?]

So, finally, weeks later, it occurred to me to go back and look at the footnotes in the book, and I found that the letters could be found in the Duncan McLarin papers at Duke University. So, I didn’t even think to even borrow the microfilm. I just told my husband, “next time you go East for work, we need to go by Duke University.” So I set up a time, and I went, and it WAS my great-great-grandfather who wrote those letters! I have now transcribed 130 letters from that collection. They let me scan them all, and I’ve been back again to scan the rest of the legal papers.

Lisa: So, an online search into Google Books not only help you find something online, but it led you to the offline gems!

Betty: And it just changed my life! Because I spend all my time on these letters. It’s distracted me from other lines! [LOL! I get that!]

How to Use Google Books for Genealogy

Are you ready to put Google Books to work in your own research and discover some genealogy gems of your own? Here, I re-create Betty’s search for you, so you can see how to get started:

1. Go to Google Books (books.google.com). Enter search terms that would pertain to your ancestor, like a name and a place.

2. Browse the search results. The first three that show up here all look promising. Click on the first one.

3. Review the text that comes up in the text screen. As you can see here, Duncan McKenzie of Covington County is mentioned–and the source note at the bottom of the page tells you that the original letter cited in the book is at Duke University.

Learn More about Using Google Books for Genealogy

Learn more by watching my free Google Books video series at the Genealogy Gems YouTube Channel. Click the video below to watch the first one. (And be sure to subscribe while you’re there, because there are more videos to come!)

Then, watch the video below for a quick preview of my full one hour video class (and downloadable handout) called Google Books: The Tool You Need Every Day!, available to all Genealogy Gems Premium Members.

SCGS Jamboree 2014 Lineup Announced!

I’m pleased to return this year to speak at the 45th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree. This popular conference, hosted by The Southern California Genealogical Society, runs June 6 to 8, 2014 in Burbank, California, USA.

The theme of the 2014 Jamboree is Golden Memories: Discovering Your Family History. It promises to pack tons of fun into a long weekend, as it always does. According to the press release, “Our heritage focus will be on European ancestors. Class sessions are scheduled for German, Irish, English/UK, Scotland, Eastern Europe, Italian, Mennonite, Swedish, and Russian, as well as African American and Jewish classes. Jamboree will be the culmination of a year-long celebration of the Society’s 50th Anniversary, and special activities will commemorate the Decade of the 60s.  Dust off your tie dye tees and pillbox hats and take part in our Sunday noon ‘fashion show.’  Winner by popular vote will receive a free registration to the 2015 Jamboree.”

My classes on Friday and Saturday include:

  • “Who Needs Google Reader? Flip Out Over Genealogy Content with Flipboard!” Learn how to use the free Flipboard app to turn your favorite genealogy web content into your own free customized digital magazine. You will flip over how fun and easy they are to create and share. Perfect for genealogists and societies!
  • “Ultimate Google Search Strategies for Genealogists.” Learn Google search techniques, tricks and tips to achieve better genealogical search results, and then elevate your search to a strategic level. Finally, see how all of this applies across the spectrum of free Google Tools.
  • “How to Create an Exciting Interactive Family History Tour with Google Earth.” Learn to tell your ancestor’s story in a captivating multi-media way in Google Earth. Incorporate images, videos, genealogical documents, and historic maps and bring it all together in a virtual family history tour for sharing and research analysis.

SCGS Jamboree 2014 welcomes 55 speakers, over 60 exhibitors, 134 class sessions for a variety of experience levels, and special events. Online registration is open on the Jamboree website, and the Marriott’s website is ready to take your reservation. Hope to see you there!

How to Use Google Chrome to Identify Old Photos for Genealogy

Learn how to use Google Chrome to identify old photos for genealogy and family history with this quick and easy-to-follow YouTube video!

How to Use Google Chrome to Identify Old Photos and Images for Genealogy and Family History

How to Use Google Chrome to Identify Old Photos for Genealogy and Family History

Take 4 & 1/2 minutes to watch this video from our Genealogy Gems YouTube Channel. Your family history will be glad you did!

Like I said, there is more than one web-browser out there. Maybe you are a fan of Firefox or Internet Explorer, but I want you to head on over to Google Chrome to see this really slick feature.

Why Google Chrome Image Search Works

Google Chrome can do a lot of amazing tech things. By learning how to use Google Images, you may be able to finally identify some of those old pictures you have stuffed around the house! This technique works especially well for identifying locations, maps, and high profile buildings. Why does this work? Google has a stellar process for surfing the web (they call it “crawling”) and indexing everything it finds. This effort builds an incredible wealth of information, including information on all of the photos and images it comes across. Google Chrome, Google’s web-browser, can use this data to quickly match your image to other images Google has crawled on the web. Not only can it find the image, but it can bring along with it any other information (such as details about the image) that is attached to the image. And that can all mean big answers for you!

Take It Further: Identify Original Locations of Images and Photos

In my video, I share with you how I used Google Chrome to identify an old family postcard. In this blog post today, I want to share another tip for using Google Chrome to identify old photos. It never fails.

If you’re like me, you get pretty excited as you make family history discoveries. You might find yourself saving documents and pictures to your computer without accurately sourcing from whence they came. Six months later you find yourself wondering, “Where in the world did that image come from?”

Google Chrome can help. Just use the step-by-step instructions found in the video to upload the image to Google Images, and click the Search by Image button. Voila! Google finds the match and you uncover the website where the image came from! This saves valuable time (and I think we can all use more of that) and provides the information you need to properly cite your image source.

Sharing is Caring

Thanks for watching and reading, friends. Did you share this tech-tip video with your genie buddies? I hope you did. For more tech-tips and savvy tricks, be sure to subscribe to our Genealogy Gems YouTube Channel.

More Free Tech Tip Videos
genealogy videos on YouTube

Free Google E-Books for Genealogy and Family History

Mobile Genealogy Tips and Tricks

Create Captivating Family History Videos

 

RootsTech 2017: Come Celebrate 10 Years with Us!

RootsTech 2017 is the biggest genealogy conference of the year, and Genealogy Gems will be celebrating in a big way! Here’s your chance to win fantastic prizes, and join in even from home through our live-streaming, as we celebrate 10 years and 200 episodes of The Genealogy Gems Podcast.

RootsTech is being held on February 8-11, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is sponsored by FamilySearch International and is a conference that brings together family history lovers and technology innovators for a truly one-of-a-kind event.

RootsTech 2017 Exhibit Hall: Visit Genealogy Gems Booth #1039

Free 30 Minute Sessions
Join us for our famous power-sessions at our booth #1039, very close to where we were located in the hall last year!

Not able to make it to Rootstech in person? Join us for a selected classes via live-streaming via the free Periscope app, or on our Facebook page.
Look for the Periscope symbol next to the live-streamed sessions on the schedule above.
(All time listed are Mountain time)

Prizes!

As part of our 10th year & 200th episode celebration, you will have a chance to win fantastic prizes at every session in our booth. This is thanks to the generous genealogy community and our podcast sponsors! Here’s what you can win:

Thursday, February 9

  1. 10:15 AM – Beginning Genetic Genealogy with Diahan Southard
    Your DNA Guide Video Series ($29.95)
    Getting Started Quick Guide ($8.95)
  1. 12:15 PM – 5 Ways to Jog Memories with Sunny Morton
    Story of My Life workbook ($19.99)
    Famicity Premium Subscription ($95.88) This is a brand new, private family social network. Think of it as your family’s Legacy Center!
  1. 12:40 PM – Naturalization Records with Amie Tennant
    RootsMagic 4 CD Set ($119.80) includes RootsMagic Software from our long-time and valued sponsor, the spectacular RootsMagic!
  1. 2:30 PM – German Ancestral Villages with Jim Beidler, video from Family Tree University
    Trace Your German Roots Online book ($21.99)  Fabulous resource for Germany research!
    Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies book ($15.95) Lisa Louise Cooke’s hard to find first book.Google Drive and other tips
  1. 4:00 PM – Google Methodology with Lisa Louise Cooke
    The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox book, Second Ed. ($24.95) Lisa Louise Cooke’s Google Methodology in one complete and updated volume.
    Genealogy Gems Premium Membership (New or renewal) ($39.95) Includes over 30 class videos and over 140 exclusive Premium podcast episodes!

Friday, February 10

  1. animoto how a genealogy society can grow membership10:15 AM – Creating Family History Videos with Lisa Louise Cooke
    Animoto Subscription ($96.00) You’re going to flip for this tech tool! Click here to learn more right away.
  1. 12:15 PM – Your Ethnic DNA Pie with Diahan Southard
    Exciting DNA themed prize to be announced soon!
  1. 12:45 PM – Genealogy Jackpot with Sunny Morton
    SnagIt Software by Techsmith ($49.95) Lisa uses SnagIt constantly, and you’re going to love it for genealogy! TechSmith tools are tops!
    Ultimate Family Tree Chart Templates CD ($29.99) Every genealogist needs this from the #1 genealogy magazine, Family Tree Magazine.
  1. 4:00 PM – Mastering Ancestry.com video from Family Tree University
    Genealogy Gems Premium Membership (New or renewal) ($39.95)
  1. 5:45 PM – Journaling & Scrapbooking Tech with Amie Tennant
    FlipPal Mobile Scanner ($149.99) You’ll flip if you win this wonderful prize from our good friends at FlipPal.
  1. 6:15 PM – Organize with Trello with Drew Smith
    Organize Your Genealogy book ($25.99) After you win the book, Drew will sign it for you!

Saturday, February 11

  1. 10:15 AM – “Big 4” Databases with Sunny Morton
    Findmypast Premium Subscription ($239.50) You don’t have to have just British ancestors to love this prize!
  1. 2:05 PM – Google Earth Strategies with Lisa Louise Cooke
    Google Earth for Genealogy Video Series ($24.00) This series will help you go into the genealogy geography stratosphere after learning the basics from Lisa’s session.
    Genealogy Gems Premium Membership ($39.95)  7 of the 30 video classes included are on geography and genealogy, like Time Travel with Google Earth! Sweet!

Saturday Starting at 12:15 p.m.
Pick up an entry form, fill it out, and bring the completed form to our booth starting at 12:15 on Saturday for a chance to win our GRAND PRIZE and get our FREE syllabus e-book with all of our booth session handouts. No purchase necessary, and you must be present to win.

Grand Prizes – Saturday at 12:45 PM

3rd Grand Prize: 1 Complete MyHeritage Subscription ($250.74) AND MyHeritage DNA Test Kit ($99.00) from our wonderful podcast sponsor. Thank you MyHeritage!

2nd Grand Prize: Discovery Research Package from Legacy Tree Genealogists ($350.00) Hit a brick wall? These experts will help you bust through! The winner will receive 3.5 hours of research in a digital format which includes: preliminary analysis on your family tree or DNA; discovery of what records are available for the area and time period of interest; development of a research plan; and some work towards your research goals.

1st Grand Prize: 1 Year Ancestry.com World Subscription ($298.00) AND Ancestry DNA Autosomal Test Kit ($99.00) An amazing duo from our friends Ancestry.com.

Book Signings: All Week

Lisa will also be signing copies of her books, including her books Mobile Genealogy: How to Use Your Tablet and Smartphone for Family History Research
and The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox Second Edition. Sunny Morton will be available to sign her new book, Story of My Life. Diahan Southard will also be there answering your DNA questions!

RootsTech 2017 Classes: All Week

Lisa Louise Cooke and her regular Genealogy Gems team members will be teaching several sessions:

Wednesday:
3:00 p.m. Lisa Louise Cooke: Google Books: The Tool You Should Use Every Day!  Location: Ballroom C
3:00 p.m. Diahan Southard: DNA: The Glue that Holds Families Together  Location: Ballroom J

Thursday:
11:00 a.m. Lisa Louise Cooke: Organizing All This Stuff (Beginner)  Location: 155D Getting Started Pass
1:30 p.m. Lisa Louise Cooke: Eliminate the Eye-Rolling with These 7 Awesome Apps!  Location: Ballroom C
3:00 p.m. Diahan Southard: From Click to DNA Connection (Lab)
5:00 p.m. Lisa Louise Cooke: 5 Amazing Things Google Earth Can Do for Genealogy (Rootstech Demo Theater, Exhibit Hall)

Friday:
3:00 p.m. Sunny Morton: Comparing the Big 4 (Ancestry, Findmypast, MyHeritage, FamilySearch; Location: Ballroom B
3:00 p.m. Amie Tennant: Crowdsource with Social Media Breaks Through Walls; Location: Room 251D
3:00 p.m. Lisa Louise Cooke: Google Search Power Strategies (Rootstech Demo Theater, Exhibit Hall)
4:30 p.m. Diahan Southard: From Click to DNA Connection (Lab)

Saturday:
11:00 a.m. Lisa Louise Cooke: How to Create a Free Google Earth Map Collection; Location: Ballroom G
11:00 a.m. Diahan Southard: Let Your DNA Tell the Story
11:00 a.m. Amie Tennant: Troll Virtual Cemeteries & Using Cemetery Records; Location: Room 254A
1:30 p.m. Sunny Morton: Relatively Recent Relatives: the 20th Century Search; Location: Room 150

We can’t wait to meet as many of you as possible! We hope you have a marvelous experience at RootsTech 2017.

Pin It on Pinterest

MENU