Check out the even larger collection of Digital Books at FamilySearch

The digital books collection at FamilySearch.org continues to grow . . ..   and grow.  You can find the link to Books under the menu Search.  Last time I looked – just now – there are “more than 200,000 digitized genealogy and family history publications from the archives of some of the most important family history libraries in the world. The collection includes family histories, county and local histories, genealogy magazines and how-to books, gazetteers, and medieval histories and pedigrees.”  The list of libraries whose books are included is also growing.

I would suggest that you look to see if there are any books for families in your family tree.  How do you do that?

Generally I just put a last name from my family tree in the search box.  You may need to try several last names and be willing to scroll down and scan the results.  It is amazing what you might find.  Doing this for my 4th great grandfather Watson I found a wonderful book by Jan and Phil Gregory “The Business of Empire:  William Watson and Sons.” My ancestor was a brother of their Watson and there was a lot of great information in a well sourced and documented book.  Besides that I was able to get in touch with my long lost cousin Jan by email.  She has been great to get to know!

There is also an advanced search.  Using this I put in my last name Letall and asked in the left dropdown for Full Text and the first item on the list of results was the Philimore edition of Huntingdonshire Parish Registers!  I know my Letalls lived in Huntingdonshire!  This is a book of marriage transcripts from the register done by Mr Phillimore – he visited lots of parishes.

Sadly that it is often slow to access the digital books – and sometimes very very painfully slow – often I reload the page – seems scans book take a long long time to download – large file sizes and lots of images  –  but it’s worth waiting for! I don’t think they have the server capacity for digital books that they have for historical records or family tree.

Hint:  If there is more than a few pieces of information then look around for the option to download the document – sometimes a down arrow in a box  – may depend on your web browser.  Then you only have to wait once!  Every document I have accessed has been a pdf file.

Wow things run fast in Adobe Reader after you have downloaded the file.

And  . . . don’t forget to use Ctrl F (Command F on a Mac) – press both keys at the same time to see a small search box – put in the last name and it will search the document for your last name and stop when it finds one – then use the right arrow beside the search box to have it resume.  Don’t forget to use variants of the spelling of the name when you search.

This search feature also works in any web browser on any web page.

Important Lesson: Now the sad part of my adventure but I think an important lesson.  I am a Google Chrome user  – like it because it is fast and easy to use – never use anything else unless things are not working properly.  A couple of times recently I have felt that Chrome was not working well with FamilySearch – always it seems on a Sunday evening when I am teaching Family History.  My solution – stay calm – it’s not good for class members to see beads of fear induced perspiration running down my face – and use a different browser which for me means Firefox.  This has never failed to solve my problem – so far!  The same thing happened here.  The Phillimore edition of the Parish Register was so slow with Chrome that I couldn’t bear it.  Closed and went to Firefox and was much much faster.  Firefox window also showed progress in the download and after the download was complete gave better navigation tools.  Even so the individual pdf images of each page were still very slow to appear even in Firefox.  Best to download and open in Adobe Reader if you have lots of family information in the document.

Have fun finding your ancestors!

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