Getting Started Research Tips

How to Use Book Databases to Further Your Family History

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Are you stuck on your family history and don’t know where else to look for records? Have you tried using book databases? These databases are often treasure troves of information on your family. They can give you information on books that contain information on your family tree, and that information may contain things you would never have found otherwise. Some of these books are long out of print, too, or antique and really rare. Here’s how to use book databases to grow your family tree and which databases to use to do it.

1. Heritage Quest

You usually have to be a member of an organization to use Heritage Quest. Memberships to it are not given to individuals, though they are given to groups that need to do research using old books. Libraries and colleges are often users of Heritage Quest, as well as large genealogical organizations. You can often get free access to Heritage Quest if you go to a library that uses it.

Heritage Quest is a database of old books that you can look through by your family’s last name. It will give you titles that can give you a clue as to what information may be in the books. You can look through the database and if you find a book that looks like it will include information about your family, you can look at it and read it directly on the Heritage Quest website.

These are often old books that are not located anywhere else. Because they are old, they were often written by people who had first or second-hand knowledge of the things that the book discusses. These are treasure troves of information.

2. Google Books

Google Books is another good source. You can find a lot of good information in the old books on Google Books. The site has both modern and ancient books on it, some of which are scanned and readable on the site. The ones that don’t usually have links to bookseller sites where you can possibly find them, or request antiquarian book dealers to look for them for you.

If you do a Google Books search using your family’s last name (or first and last name) and location, you can sometimes find a book with useful information in it. If you’re lucky, it will be scanned and readable online.

3. Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com is a subscription site that anyone can join. If you have a membership, you can use Ancestry.com to find a lot of scanned old books. The site has a large database of scanned old books on it, and the books come from all over the country. No matter where your ancestors lived in the United States, you will be able to find old books on that part of the country on Ancestry.com.

Even if your family isn’t mentioned in one of these old books specifically, you can often glean a lot of information about what their lives and times were like by reading these old books that are geographically specific to where they lived. Make use of these old book databases, learn more about your ancestors, and maybe even get new information to add names or family stories to your family tree.

Will Moneymaker founded Ancestral Findings back in 1995. He has been involved in genealogy research for over 20 years. The thrill of the hunt, the adventure, and the excitement begin when he started investigating the meaning of his surname. Why I Love Genealogy (And You Should, Too!)