Updated: Jul 1, 2020
As you work your way through researching your Ancestors lives, finding out more about how they lived, worked, socialised & what they had to deal with on a day to day basis only helps us learn more about who they were as people.
Reading a death announcement for a young child in the family for example, may not be enough in helping us to understand what the family were going through at that specific time! You may need to delve further to understand how the family may have been affected financially, was there a downturn in trade, were certain health conditions perhaps related to poor living conditions in the area at the time that the child died or was a genetic health condition to blame?
The same goes for understanding what kind of duties an Ancestor might have performed in their occupation or why a family moved to the other side of the world for a better life.
Books can help us all understand what life was like in a particular area at a particular time, they can help us find out more about a topic we have never delved into so that we can understand our Ancestors that bit better.
I would like to take you through some of the best online eBook websites that should not only help you Discover more about your Ancestors but may even help you locate them!
Yes, some online sites hold digitised copies of old books, directories, family & local history papers & more!
FamilySearch Digital Library
You may be familiar with FamilySearch but did you know that they have an online digital library? They work along with partners to digitise family histories, local histories & other collections so as to make these available to researchers worldwide.
To give you an example a search for Scotland brings up some 165,928 results & a search for Glasgow gives 70,801 results which include everything from a book on Glasgow Poets to local directories & Monumental Inscription books.
You will need to log in or register for a free account to be able to read anything that is available to view online, but it is worth it & you could easily spend hours going through the results!
Free Irish Genealogy eBooks
If you have Irish Ancestry then you must check out the The Irish Genealogy eBook website. They set out to build the largest index of freely available eBooks relating to Irish Biography, History & Genealogy on the internet.
Of particular interest if your Irish family emigrated are their collection of Irish-American, Irish-Canadian & Irish-Australian family histories.
Some books can even be downloaded for free.
If all you wish to do is search for an Ancestors name in a wealth of directories or out of print books then trying Genealogy Gophers is a must!
They allow the user to search for an Ancestor in 80,000 books & also permit you to narrow down your search by place, date or adding in other relatives’ names. Results are shown as an excerpt of the page which you can click on to view.
I am sure you are familiar with Google books? Their site holds a wealth of digital books on just about anything you could think of. The have a wide range of history books, directories etc which may be of use to the Family Historian. Many of their books can be read online or downloaded to your android device along with others that can be purchased as eBooks for a fee.
The Internet Archive has to be one of my favourites! They are said to hold over 15 million downloadable books & texts which includes everything from Genealogies to history books, directories, peerage books & more!
You can easily search within each book & many are available to download for free in a variety of formats without having to register on their website.
Within their website you can also search the Project Gutenberg collection the first provider of free eBooks
Open Library is actually more of a catalogue of books. They create listings of books & have over 20 million records online. They also provide the user access to 1.7 million scanned versions of some of these books, and link to sources such as WorldCat & Amazon when possible.
If a digitised version of the book is available, they will provide a link to the book within another website which often means another trip to the Internet Archive.
Open Culture brings cultural & educational media to the worldwide learning community & includes eBooks & Audio Books within its collection. It is not the best site to navigate but does list some amazing old books by authors such as Charles Dickens, Jane Austen & the Bronte Sisters. Again, this site often takes you to an external website such as Project Gutenberg or the Internet Archive but you can download the book in a variety of formats.
If you prefer audio books then many of their collection is available to download in Audio format.
Don’t rule out Amazon when it comes to free eBooks!
They often list Kindle books for free & these can often include History & Classic books
Many books have over 50,000 books broken down by genre which includes Biographies, Non-Fiction, Literary Fiction & History to name a few.
You can either read online without having to sign in or download once you have registered.
They have a great range of classic books which can help transport us back to the time that our Ancestors lived.
Local or National Library Online Resources
Already a member of your Local or National Library?
Most Libraries allow you to access a wealth of online resources. If you haven’t logged into their site, perhaps it is time you did as you may be missing a trick!
Finding more eBooks
We have created a Pinterest board which contains lots more websites to help inspire you, follow our page to be alerted as further related boards are created.
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