Genealogists love just about anything old. That includes books.
Hope springs eternal that we'll find our ancestors hiding in pages of each successive published work we explore.
Although some of us family historians have reputations as nothing but name collectors, others are serious about understanding the lives and times in which their ancestors lived. One way to do this is to read books from our ancestors' times or about topics that were of importance to them.
Google Books is a great source, especially for finding books no longer in print.
By typing books.google.com into the Internet browser and using the site search engine, researchers can find just about any book ever printed on a given topic. Directly from the Web site, readers can explore out-of-print books or those whose copyrights have expired. Another option is to download the books onto the reader's computer.
For those publications still available but protected by copyright, Google offers connections to used book dealers where the books can be purchased, often very cheaply. I recently ordered eight books for $33. Google Books also links to libraries, from which readers can borrow through the interlibrary loan program with their local facilities.
Google Books can help readers find publications they aren't likely to find from modern-day bookstores online, such as Barnes & Noble.
A good example was a search for "San Juan Hill." Using Google Books, I found "Hero Tales of the American Soldier and Sailor" told by the heroes themselves. The book should be valuable reading to anyone whose ancestor fought on San Juan Hill, whether or not he contributed to the writing, because all of the soldiers probably shared the same basic experiences.
After finding the title, I entered "San Juan Hill" in the Barnes & Noble search engine. Nothing. I did a second search, putting the actual title into the engine, and I did get something: an offer for a used copy for $39. Ouch!
The Google freebie was a much better deal, and I had it in-hand (well, on the computer) in seconds.
Recently, I was looking for treatises on marriage for an upcoming law workshop I'm planning. Putting the single word "marriage" in Google Books' search box netted "A Treatise on the Law of Marriage, Divorce, Separation and Domestic Relations," written in 1921 by James Schouler. It was exactly what I needed.
In just a few seconds, I was able to download the book (more than 1,000 pages). Now it's on my hard drive for further exploration.
My only caution to those about to drop in on this site: It's an addictive, time-consuming process because the list of books seems infinite. So if you have no pending appointments, go get lost on Google Books and have fun!
Jewish society meeting
The Jewish Genealogical Society of Tampa Bay will conclude its two-session beginner genealogy class March 14 at Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services, 14041 Icot Blvd., Clearwater. Registration is at 1:30 p.m., and the class begins at 2 p.m.
The course, taught by Emil H. Isaacson, is free to the society's current, paid members. A one-year family membership is included in the $25 course fee for nonmembers. An additional $10 per family is charged for seminar materials to defray printing costs.
Anyone interested in learning how to do Jewish genealogical research is invited. For information or to sign up, call Sally Israel at (727) 343-1652.