Libraries, museums and genealogical societies across the country are the keepers for many family histories that have been written over the decades. Copies can be held by numerous families members, but many times those family histories written years ago also are in estate sales and lost to the family.
Fortunately, many such family history books have been donated to genealogical organizations, universities and libraries. The Brigham Young University has a massive collection and has joined with other institutions with family history books to make the text in digital format. These books, papers and booklets are available online through the Brigham Young University Library. Not only individual family histories, but also regional and county histories are part of the collection.
Besides the opportunity to view the pages of each book online the researcher can download in PDF format the complete book. From there one can view it anytime on their computer or print out one page or the whole book.
The search box is easy to use. The easiest method to search is by a surname. Placing a name and clicking ‘search’ produces a selection each with a full description. Listed will be all search results with the full name of the book, who compiled or wrote the material, a listing of surnames covered in the book, a description and the society or institution that contributed the book. By reading the description and list of names it offers the researcher enough information to know if this source could match their own family.
If a result appears intriguing, click on the title. To the left then appears the sections of the book, usually listed as chapters or pages. You can view each page separately or select from the bottom ‘Printing Version’ option to download to your computer in PDF (portable digital format) a copy of the entire book. You also have the opportunity to add that book to ’your favorites’ on the BYU site to view at a later date.
To locate history and genealogical material for a certain county, in the title section of the search box, place the name of the county, such as ‘Essex County.’ By placing just the county name and not state name you can then get all the versions that use MA, Mass. or Massachusetts. Some of the results include the Probate Records for Essex County, MA from 1635-1681; the Story of Essex County, MA; Essex Co. Historical Society collections; and families who lived in Essex Co., MA.
Beside locations in the United States, searches for overseas places can be done. Putting in the search could be ‘Manchester, England’ and a book with inscriptions from the inside of several churches in Manchester was available.
Over 17,777 individual books, booklets and papers are on this database and more are being added. A true gold mine of information on your ancestors using family histories is now in easy reach.