©2020 Donald R. Snow
This page was last updated 2020-10-13.
Return to the  Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page  or  Don Snow's Class Listings Page .
ABSTRACT:  FamilySearch has nearly 1/2 million books online and many can be downloaded and used for free by anyone.  These include histories of families, local, county, state, and countries, biographies, compiled genealogies, data, and much more.  These are stored in pdf format and are every-word seacrhable, so you can search for your ancestor's name and see which books they are listed in.  It's a goldmine of information.  When you download the pdf, it already has the text layer on it, so it is completely searchable on your own computer.  We will show examples and how to search and download the items.  The notes for the class are posted on


  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( of Provo and St. George, Utah .
  2. The notes and related information in other article is posted at , all with active Internet links.
  3. Tips:  (1)  To put an icon on your desktop for these notes, or any webpage, just drag the icon from in front of the address in your browser onto your desktop.  (2)  To open a link, but keep your place in these notes, hold down the Control key while clicking the link.
  4. The problem for today:  Finding and using the books on FamilySearch.

  6. Print reading vs e-reading -- each has advantages and disadvantages -- good article -- 
  7. Ebooks are about half of all books sold in the US now
  8. Most common ebook formats are pdf (Portable Document Format), ePub, Mobi, and Kindle (Azw3) 

  10. The books on FamilySearch are in the FamilySearch Digital Library (FSDL) and they have already digitized and posted nearly 1/2 million ebooks -- -- Searching for "." (no quotes) yields 491,139 hits today (2020-10-12) and that's probably the number of books online there right now
  11. The website shows the other genealogy libraries they have contracts with
  12. FSDL search helps article --
  13. Many of these books can be read and/or downloaded by anyone anywhere;, but some are restricted to the Family History Library or to FHCs; some can only be used by one person world-wide at a time
  14. Eamples that have public access
    1. Erastus Snow --
    2. Erastus Beman Snow --
    3. Valiant In The Faith: Gardner Snow & Family --
  15. Some books can only be read and/or downloaded in the FHL, FHCs (Family History Centers), or partner libraries -- see -- See the statement there about user rights  
  16. Search terms in the FamilySearch Digital Lib search box are searched in every book in the collection, since they are OCR'd (Optical Character Recognized)
  17. Genealogy Gophers website --  -- does searches there and includes abbreviations, nicknames, etc, but only searches 80,000 of the 491,000 book   

  19. PDF is most common format for scanned books
    1. PDF = Adobe's Portable Document Format; widely used standard for many organizations 
    2. Consists of "pictures" of the pages, so exactly the same on any device or operating system
    3. Text size can't be changed, only make whole page larger or smaller
    4. Page numbers stay the same since they are on the page
    5. Sometimes hard to read on small screens of mobile devices
    6. FamilySearch Digital Library uses this format
    7. PDF always has image (picture) layer, but to be searchable, it also needs text layer (OCR'd); all FSDL books have both layers, so are completely searchable
  20. ePub, Azw3 (Kindle), and Mobi are standard formats for small-screen devices (smartphones and tablets); all allow text size to be changed, unlike pdf, hence no page numbers since those would change with text size  
  21. Many free ereader programs for all formats -- ADOBE READER , SUMATRA READER , NITRO READER , and CALIBRE
  22. CALIBRE -- -- free ereader that will also catalog your ebooks and convert from one format to another, including pdf, so can convert pdf to ePub and vice versa, for example 

  24. Many other sources of books online, but here we have only discussed the FamilySearch Digital Library collection.
  25. When downloaded a book, be sure you note where you got it since you may need that information later and sometimes books are removed from collections.
  26. For information relating to a person,attach the link FamilySearch Family Tree so you and others can go to it later.

Return to the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page or Don Snow's Class Listings Page .