Visual Access Online Books

If you want to jump in and conduct a search start with our all-books-page and enter a city and state.

Below is background information on how I came up with the idea of geo-tagging old historic books for genealogy reserach.  I am very pleased every time I get a facebook message from someone who found an old relative in one of these books.  I wish you the best of luck in your research as well.

Background on Digital Book Project:

The more time I spend researching my ancestors the more I become interested in learning about history and what their lives were like. One day in our local library I came across a set of dusty old books with our city and county history. It seemed a shame that they just sat on the shelf in a little used corner of the library. That experience, lead me to search for online digital books that would cover local history. Several months later, our computer programs have now analyzed over 200,000 books and found over 15,000 books that are likely of interest.

We have selected a wide variety of books, not just those directly related to genealogy, but a broad array of topics which let the reader gain a fresh awareness of how things were in earlier times. Our search targeted books written prior to 1959 and some go back to the 1700’s, although largest portion are from 1860s to 1940s.

Our perspectives can be skewed by the fact that we can easily drive or fly anywhere. Additionally, the uniqueness of our cities seems to be dwindling as thet become more and more alike with similar types of stores, shops and building styles. Looking back in time, you gain a much different perspective. At times cities were very unique based on their specific situations and locations. The ability to travel was more burdensome and employment opportunities varied greatly depending on the time period. Our diverse set of books helps you gain that perspective.

I hope you find these as interesting as I have while I have researched my relatives. For example, at 16 years old, in 1926, my grandfather ran away from home and somehow got from Pittsburgh to Saint Louis where he registered and joined the army. In thinking about his journey in 1926 many questions arise. Was that an easy journey? Was it a simple train ride? Was it expensive? Would he have to save up money over several months? How much did someone earn at 16 years old in 1926? Why Saint Louis? What was that city like in 1926? At 16 years old was he done with high school? At that time how many years did children go to school?

With these books you can dig into a particular time period and city and gain a sense of what life was like and start filling in the missing pieces in the puzzle.

To give you a sense of the types of books you can find we have a page with examples.  (Click here to see real examples of books from Ohio)

Please keep these important considerations in mind as you use this site.

City assignment for each book –  Our programs are designed to identify a city (if possible) for each book.  Unfortunately, for many books a state can be identified but a city cannot directly be discerned. In those instances we chose to map them to each state capital.  Over time we will enhance our programs and distribute the books across more locations.  Always check the state capitals which is where most books have been located.

Date ranges – For smaller cities such as Sandusky Ohio, there will only be a few books and there will not be a need to search by specific date range.  For the larger cities such as Boston or New York there will be several hundred books and you will likely need to refine your search by date range.  A drop down menu with date ranges has been provided that allows you to filter to a particular time period.

Multiple Occurrences – You will find many instances where the same book title is repeated which may appear to be a duplicate record.  In some cases it will be duplicate, but more often the additional record will be associated with a different volume or version of the book.  We chose to include the duplicates so that all versions of a given book are included.

Start your own search by using the links below.

The best starting place is the All Category page.  On this page all books, for all categories can be found in a single search.  For a larger city, and for state capitals we suggest using separate categories listed below.

The books have been broken into several categories shown below.

Historical – City and County history including books that mention significant events and representative citizens.  Many centennial books and historical sketches of the city are included as well.

Documentation – Books in this category will include directories, city records, births, marriages and cemetery inscriptions.

Genealogy – This category focuses on books that include life narratives, family history, and genealogy related matters.

Settlers – Here we target books that mention early pioneer days including the American Revolution and frontier days.

Military – These are books related to any aspect of military activities including soldiers, battles, prisoners, etc.

Other – Other categories include Courts, Schools and Colleges, Religion, Transportation, SpeechesMiscellaneous and Various.