All About the FamilySearch.org Digital Books Collection

Numerous books compiling town, county, and church vital records have been published over the years—and they are increasingly being digitized. You can search about 150,000 of these digitized books through the FamilySearch Books collection.

Among the books you can search include digitized genealogies, family histories, county and local histories, genealogy periodicals, gazetteers, and school yearbooks.

The Family History Books collection contains digitized publications from the Family History Library and other libraries and historical societies, including

  • Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library in Provo, Utah
  • Brigham Young University Idaho David O. McKay Library
  • Brigham Young University Hawaii Joseph F. Smith Library
  • Church History Library for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
  • Historical Society of Pennsylvania
  • Houston Public Library’s Clayton Center for Genealogical Research in Texas
  • Mid-Continent Public Library’s Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Missouri
  • Onondaga County Public Library in Syracuse, New York

When searching for digital books on FamilySearch.org, make use of the Advanced Search form (see image below) and use these helpful strategies:

Digitized family history books

FamilySearch.org’s Family History Books search form

Start Broadly. It’s usually best to start your search broadly, then narrow if you get too many results. Having too narrow of a search to begin with could make you miss out on relevant resources.

Try Different Search Terms. You can enter any word or phrase as a search term. Try searching for a surname only, or a surname and a location where an ancestor lived to find genealogies. Experiment with spelling variations of surnames. Search for a location to find local and country histories. Additionally, try putting both the first and last name in one search field, or search on just the surname.

Use Wildcards. The same wildcards that work for searching Historical Records collections work for Family History Books. An asterisk (*) will replace multiple characters, and a question mark (?) will replace a single character. For example, a search for the surname John*n finds publications with the name Johnson, Johnsen, and Johnston.

Refine Search Results. Currently, there are limited ways to refine your search results, but as FamilySearch.org and its searching capabilities evolve, that could change. To the left of the search results, you’ll see a column with several options for refining your search. Click the down arrow next to a category to check the appropriate boxes to narrow your search.

(Excerpt adapted from the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org.)


ABOUT DANA MCCULLOUGH

Dana McCullough is a freelance writer and editor who frequently writes, edits, copy-edits, and proofreads content for magazines, blogs, websites, books, and more. She is the owner of Dana’s Creative Services and author of the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org. Twitter:@DanasCreative

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