Are you overlooking this free source of genealogy ebooks? Explore how to use Google books to find thousands of free family histories!
Genealogy Research,  How To Trace Your Family Tree

How To Find & Use Google Books For Genealogy Research

Find thousands of free family history books at Google Books. Include these rich sources of information in your genealogy research plan for your ancestors.

Genealogy researchers love books.

I’m no different, but know what I love more? 

Free Books!

Are you missing out on finding online free genealogy related books (including family histories)? If you have not already,  it’s time to start exploring Google Books!

What is Google Books?

Google Books is a service of Google.  It is essentially a  very large digital public library of of books, magazines, and newspapers. Just image browsing the bookshelves of your favorite genealogy library – only digitally. Best of all, you as a genealogy researcher can potentially find thousands of  family histories and other genealogy related books to read for free.  (Who doesn’t like free?!)

Types of Genealogy Books on Google Books

The genealogy researcher will find a variety of genealogy and history books to use in the search for the ancestors. Here a just a few types you as a genealogy researcher will want to explore.

  1. Family Histories are some of the most common books genealogy researchers search for on Google Books. Genealogy Tip: From experience, not all of the family histories you find will be well sourced. Use those as clues to direct your research and confirm the information.
  2. County Histories are invaluable to the researcher! Find many great county histories to learn about the area and the people of the county where your ancestors lived.
  3. City Directories are another valuable genealogical resource found on Google Books. Learn how to use directories in your research here.
  4. Church Histories are another important resource found on Google Books. If your ancestors were members or participated in a faith based community, check for a church history and/or directory.
  5. Statute Books will help you understand the law for a place and specific time where your ancestor lived. Admittedly, statutes can be intimidating to read, but also, critical in your interpretation of the legal documents our ancestors created.
  6. Vintage Cookbooks can also be found. Wondering how a cookbook can help you find your ancestors? Check out this earlier post on vintage cookbooks.

Are you overlooking this free source of genealogy ebooks? Explore how to use Google books to find thousands of free family histories! #genealogy #familyhistory #googlebooks

How To Find Google Books To Use In Your Genealogy Research

1.Go to the Google Books Homepage.

Type in your search terms.  

In this example, I am looking to see if any family histories have been published on the Guild family of Massachusetts. 

Are you overlooking this free source of genealogy ebooks? Explore how to use Google books to find thousands of free family histories! #familyhistory #genealogy #ancestors

The first result returned  was The Genealogy and History of the Guild, Guile, and Gile Family by Charles Burleigh. The book was published in 1887 and is in the public domain.

Family history search results on google books

Notice the word “Read” in that first listing. That indicates this book is available to read in its entirety online – for FREE! 

3. Click Through to Access the Book

Click on the selection to access the book and you are ready to start reading and researching.

Are you overlooking this free source of genealogy ebooks? Explore how to use Google books to find thousands of free family histories! #genealogy #ancestors #familyhistory

Are All Google Books Available To Read For Free?

No, not all books you find in your search of Google Books will be available to read for free (but you will find plenty!). The example below is for a general search of family history books. 

Google search results

One result indicates that book only has a “preview” available to read, and another result show  a book has “No preview” available.  The last two results have the term “Read” indicating they are available to read in full (and for free).

Frugal Genealogy Tip! If you find a book result that is not available to read in full online for free, head over to WorldCat and see if you can obtain the book through an inter-library loan. If you are not familiar with WorldCat, read my tutorial HERE.

Watch the Video!

old books on shelf

Your Take Away

Google Books is a powerful tool to have in your genealogy toolbox! Spend time exploring what it has to offer. Don’t hesitate to experiment searching for different types of books.

If you have used Google Books previously, share your favorite finds in the comments below!

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  • Janice Harshbarger

    I use Google books frequently. Some of the best finds I’ve made are in the early history books written about a city. I’ve found family history books, too. One book that I found was one that I dearly wanted to own. I found that it was still available having been republished byh “Forgotten Books” for Amazon. That’s a great resource, too. I’ve purchased several items there. No, they are not free but now they are mine

    • LisaL

      That’s fabulous! So glad you were able to find your books on Amazon. Is the “Forgotten Books” a publisher or a category of books on Amazon? I need to check them out for a few.

  • garylhaas

    Google has digitized holdings of foreign libraries. I have found German newspapers covering the early 1800’s on line. I found an 1814 article about the beheading of my gggg-grandfather, the serial killer.

    • LisaL

      I haven’t looked for overseas sources on Google or Google Books. I’m glad to know they are available. What an interesting story about your GGGG-grandfather!

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