Monday, January 6, 2014

Probing free public domain books for genealogy titles

Snowed in? Still got an internet connection? Tara Calishain's ever-vigilant ResearchBuzz alerted me to "25 sources of free public domain books."

I was curious how they compared, but doing a thorough comparison would exceed both my patience and my free time. So I searched each one using the rather unimaginative search term "Illinois genealogy" (not in quotes, and not correcting for each site's idiosyncratic arrangement of hits). You can compare the top 3 items I found in each. On most of the sites, these search terms produced nothing of interest; but the remaining half dozen are worth some additional effort in searching.

Note that there are overlaps, and Hathi Trust images are found on some of these sites, although it was not included in the list of 25. My top 3 hits there were: Hand-list of American genealogies in the New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations; Ancestors of the Bingham family of Utah; The Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Illinois : list of officers and members, together with a record of the service performed by their ancestors in the wars of the Colonies (1897).

Of course, you may find non-genealogy gems on any of these sites.

Not everything I found was free, and not everything was actually in the public domain (snippet views only). Of course, more imaginative or specific searches (surnames, places) may well unearth good results where my crude test didn't. Enjoy!

Project Gutenberg: [none]

Europeana: Genealogical Memoir of the Newcomb Family; Burke's Landed Gentry of Ireland 1976.

Digital Public Library of America: Album of genealogy and biography, Cook County, Illinois; Genealogy Osborne family; Genealogy of the Farmer, Cox, and Hopkins families of Fayette County, Illinois.

Internet Archive: "COMMITTEE ON Genealogy and Genealogical Publications, Illinois State Historical Society, Springfield, Ill., Sept. 12, 1908"; Ninety-Second Illinois Volunteers...1862-1865; Album of genealogy and biography, Cook County, Illinois (1899).

Open Library: Genealogical records by DAR Moline, Mary Little Deere Chapter; A list of the genealogical works in the Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield (1914); Illinois Genealogical Research by George Schweitzer.

Feedbooks: [none under free; the following were the top results of books for sale] Ghosthunting Illinois; Genealogy of Nihilism; Genealogy QuickSteps.

Manybooks: [none]

World Public Library: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois; Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, vol. 11; A Guide to the Cultural Resources in Illinois (1988).

Google Book Search: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois (1896); Biographical and Genealogical Record of La Salle County (1900), vol. 2; Hendrickson genealogy, eight generations, England to Illinois before 1840 [snippet view only].

Books Should Be Free: [none]

The Literature Network: [no useful results]

Bartleby: [no results in nonfiction]

DailyLit: [none] 

Read Easily: [none]

LibriVox: [none]

Legamus: [none]

Open Culture: The Poetry of Abraham Lincoln.

Classic Literature Library: [unable to reach site 3 January 2014]

The Online Books Page: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois; Genealogy and family history of the Uphams; Genealogy of the descendants of Daniel Upham, Jr., of McHenry, Illinois.

Great Books and Classics: [no search function]

Classic Reader: [none]

Planet Publish: [none]

Classical Chinese Literature: [no search function]

Wolne Lectury (Polish): [none]

Projekti Lonnrot (Finnish and Swedish): [no discernible search function]

Harold Henderson, "Probing free public domain books for genealogy titles," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 6 January 2014 ( : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]


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