Google Books works just like a search on except it searches an online book collection instead of websites. The books come from their Library Project and Partner Program. The Library project search can result in four possible views:

Google Books Library Project possible results



I’m primarily interested in the “Full View” where I can see the entire book so I go to Google Books and do an initial search:

Initial search at Google books


This is what the search results look like:

Enhanced Search results on Google Books - only full view books



If your first interest is in seeing books that offer a “Full View”,
go to “Search Tools” in the center, top menu that appears after your initial search, and select “Free Google eBooks”. This focused search will return only full-text books that are downloadable.

Google Books enhanced search results



Now you’ll select a book from these enhanced results.

Google Books initial search results


After you’ve selected a book from the enhanced search results of only “Full View” books, you’ll have the option to search within this book. This is where you’ll type in a surname or other fact you’re searching for.

On the left column, you’ll see a search window with our initial search for “Prescott Ontario History”. You’ll type a new inquiry into this search window.

Selecting a book from initial Google Books results



I’ll try searching within this book for my ancestor, Joseph Cass.

Searching within a specific book on Google Books

Searching within a specific book on Google Books


These are the pages in this book on which I can find some reference to a “Joseph Cass”. I can select each page and read what it says and verify if this is my ancestor. Above the search results you’ll see “Add to my library” and “Write a review” buttons. If you want to save this book you can select the “Add to my Library” option . . .

Specific pages where I find an ancestor in a Google Book

Specific pages where I find an ancestor in a Google Book

and select to save it to “My Books on GooglePlay”.


Opting to save this book to My Books on Google Play

Opting to save this book to My Books on Google Play


Now you have your own library of research books online at Google!

My Books on Google Play

My Books on Google Play


Try searching by:

  • name: (try the full name; surname only; last name, first name; or first initial and last name)
  • location: (try the county or town with state or province and add “history,”  “historical society,” or “genealogical society”;try searching by parish)
  • keyword (location and “cemetery” or “cemeteries” or  surname and “genealogy” or “genealogies”)

Last but not least, download the Google Play app to your phone and have your library of research books available at your fingertips!  #FamilyHistoryMonth

Happy Hunting!

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