One resource that should be used more by family history researchers is books. There are hundreds of thousands of local history, family history, and genealogy books that have been published. A large percentage have been digitized, and even more are on library shelves and can be borrowed – either from a local library, a university library, or a genealogical or historical society library. Many can be made available via inter-library loan as well. And more are made available by subscription genealogy databases.
(Updated November 2023)
Free Online Genealogy and History Books
- The Digital Public Library of America—a free national digital library with online content from over 4,000 libraries.
- FamilySearch Digital Library—over 500,000 books and other digitized items are available online.
- Google Books has over 10 million titles available. There are two basic types—books that have been digitized and all pages are available to view; and titles where only a snippet preview is available.
- Hathitrust is a collaboration between academic and research libraries. It has over 18 million digitized items. There are two types of results— ”Full View” and “Limited (search only)”
- HeritageQuest Online—available only via libraries; a library card is required to use this resource. It has a sizable book collection of family histories, plus a number of varying categories of genealogy records. A detailed description of its contents can be found HERE
- The Internet Archive—similar to the collections above, the Archive has over 38 million books and texts available. It also has a sizable number that can be borrowed for a short time.
Subscription Required Sources of Genealogy Books
- American Ancestors—the Research Library has a sizable collection of Local History and Family History Books.
- Ancestry—the Stories, Memories, and Histories section has over 23,400 entries.
- FindMyPast—has a section of its database entitled “Directories and Social History” that contains a number of different types of publications, including directories, family histories, almanacs, and social history.
- MyHeritage—available are books and publications; biographies, family histories, and local and general history publications. Also available is a Compilation of Published Sources
Library Sources of Genealogy Books
- Genealogy Libraries—specialty libraries, such as the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Over 120,000 books are available on the Allen County Library Page on the Internet Archive, for example.
- Genealogical and Historical Societies—local, county, and state societies all have a library full of books, many of course pertaining to the local area.
- College and University Libraries—collections relating to the local area as well as the state are worth looking into.
- WorldCat—in essence, connects thousands of library catalogs together in one searchable database.
- Interlibrary Loan—most libraries have an Interlibrary Loan Program, where you can borrow a book from a distant library for a short time.
Curated County Histories
- Empty Branches on the Family Tree—has a curated list of free, out-of-copyright books about local and state histories. These links will save you a lot of time searching many different collections and databases.
Good Luck and Happy Hunting!