©2014 by Donald R. Snow
This page was last updated 2014-11-17.
Return to the  Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page  or  Don Snow's Class Listings Page .


  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( ) of Provo and St. George, Utah.
  2. These notes with the Internet links active are posted on  .
  3. Tips:  (1)  To have an icon on your desktop to open your browser and go directly to these notes drag the icon from in front of the address in your browser onto your desktop.  (2)  To open a link from here in another tab, but keep your place in these notes, hold down the Control key while clicking the link.
  4. The problem for today's discussion:  How to find and use the information from the millions of books available on the Internet.  

  6. Most online books are in Adobe's Portable Document Format (pdf) which can be read with free programs such as Adobe Reader , Sumatra Reader , Nitro Reader , Kindle, and many others
  7. Forms of pdf 
    1. pdf with the image and text layers
      1. Format used by many organizations, including the LDS Church on , for magazines, manuals, and handbooks
      2. Generated by programs such as Word, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, or any word processor that will save files as a pdf
      3. One layer is a "photograph" of the printed page
      4. Another layer identifies the symbols on the first layer as text, so it is text searchable  
      5. When you copy paragraphs or pages from this type of pdf to paste elsewhere you get both layers
    2. pdf with only the image layer 
      1. Generated by a flatbed scanner, camera, or screen capture program, e.g. scanned pdf's 
      2. Only the "photograph" layer of the printed page and not the text layer to identify that the symbols are words 
      3. When you copy and paste parts from this type, it is only an image and is not text-searchable
      4. To get the text layer you have to run it through an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) program
  8. OCR programs -- Optical Character Recognition
    1. Adobe Reader (commercial) has a good OCR program, but expensive; some flatbed scanners come with an OCR program -- check your manual -- also some libraries have one you can use for free 
    2. PDF X-Change Viewer has a free OCR program for private use that is OK, but not perfect -- -- accuracy usually depends on how clear the image is
    3. JOCR -- free, small, fast, fairly accurate, but only OCR's screenshots and requires that MS Word 2003 or later be on your computer, even though it doesn't use it -- -- will not work with LibreOffice or OpenOffice which are freeware word processors compatible with Word
    4. NewOCR -- free online conversion to text -- -- some limitations
    5. After using OCR you can save the pdf with a new name so you know it has both the image layer and the text layer; can then copy any parts as image and/or text
  9. FastStone Capture 5.3 -- excellent free program to do screen captures to various formats, including pdf, jpg, and tif, but does not have OCR; later versions after 5.3 are not free; 5.3 is available from several websites including can use FastStone 5.3 to make pdf, then use PDF X-Change Viewer to OCR it

  11. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City is digitizing and has posted online so far more than 150,000 out-of-copyright and permission-granted FH books -- ; these are from several large libraries, including the FHL, BYU Library, and Allen County FH Library (Fort Wayne, Indiana), and from personal collections -- For personal books they must be out of copyright or you must be the copyright holder and sign an agreement that they can digitize and post them.
  12. For digitized books the FamilySearch Catalog (FSC) (was called the Family History Library Catalog) shows the words in red: "To view a digital version of this item click here." and that takes you to the digitized image which you can read and/or download
  13. You can search through all the digitized books for any word or phrase by using the search option on 
  14. Many of these books can be read and/or downloaded by anyone anywhere -- Examples:  Valiant in the Faith: Gardner and Sarah Snow and Their Family, 1990  and A Blanchard Memorial by Arthur William Blanchard, 1935-- sometimes you can only download parts at a time, in which case you can rename the parts as you download them so they don't overwrite others
  15. Some books can only be read and/or downloaded in the Family History Lib or FHCs -- Example:  The Snow-Estes Ancestry by Nora Emma Snow and Myrtle M. Jillson -- go to a FHC to download it to a flashdrive
  16. All FamilySearch digital books are OCR'd and the text layer downloads with the book, so it is completely word-searchable for any name, location, date, or word in the entire book; Google books downloaded don't have the text layer and must be OCR'd to make them searchable (see below)  
  17. BYU Library has many related online FH digital collections including books and photographs -- see and

  19. Wikipedia article at  gives history of Google Books and related operations
  20. Google has contracts with many large libraries to digitize their books and post them online, including both full-text and partial text postings; as of Apr 2013 Google estimated they had scanned and posted more than 30 million books -- These are already out of copyright or else Google has permission to post them.  They estimate that there are about 130 million different books in the world and they would like to scan all of them.
  21. Google book searches
    1. To find a specific book search for the title in quotation marks, e.g."Documentary History of the Church"
    2. Do a Google search for someone, e.g. "brigham young" (Remember that caps are not required in Google); on the results page at the top you see "Web" "Images" "Videos" "Books" "News" and more -- click on Books to see the hits in books
    3. You can also get to the Books Search page in other ways, e.g. clicking on the small 3x3 "app" icon at top right, or go directly to it at
    4. If you see the red icon "EBOOK - FREE", you can click on it and put it in "My Library" where you can read it or copy parts of it for free -- Example:  Erastus Snow's  One Year In Scandinavia -- Hover your cursor over the red "READ EBOOK" icon and you will see options about reading and/or downloading it in various formats; downloading in pdf does NOT bring the text layer with it, so it is not searchable until you run it through an OCR program -- see above for programs to do this
  22. When Google doesn't have permission to post the entire volume you only see a snippet of the page with the search term highlighted and information on where you can find or purchase the entire volume -- may still be able to find the full text book on some other website or you can use a screen capture program to save off just the part you are interested in
  23. The San Mateo CA Public Library has a short tutorial on using Google Books --

  25. See Wikipedia article at -- Goals include preserving an electronic copy of every book ever published anywhere, preserving "snapshots" of the entire Internet every few days, and preserving audio, movies, and videos
  26. Is a major source of FH information -- -- for books click on Texts
  27. Has 4 1/2 million books scanned and links to many others on different websites -- many FH books -- scans 1000 books per day according to
  28. Their books are all searchable for any word, name, place, event, etc, and you can read them in your browser or download them in formats for various eReaders or pdf, text, etc.
  29. Their downloaded pdf's have both the image and the text layers, so are searchable without OCR'ing, unlike Google's
  30. Internet Archive also sponsors
    1. -- a wiki where you can find information about books, their editions, libraries which have them, and where to buy hard copies - 20 million books listed so far
    2. The Wayback Machine -- "snapshots" of the entire Internet at various times since 1996 -- has old websites no longer on the Internet -- lots of good FH information from the past
    3. Great archive of recorded sound and movies, e.g. 78 RPM records and old radio broadcasts 


  31. See Encyclopedia of Genealogy article at -- article has pages with links of libraries in various US states with access to HQO
  32. HQO is only available through libraries and many public libraries have subscriptions which allow patrons home access through the library's website by using their library card barcode -- examples in Utah are Provo, Orem, and Washington and Davis County public libraries; all counties in Utah can use HQO through with their local public library card or an access code from their local library -- Washington County Library website is -- 
  33. HQO has 28,000 FH books in pdf format
    1. Can search entire collection online for any name, word, place, etc.
    2. Can download parts or entire book, but sometimes has a limit of 50 pages at a time -- so have to download parts and assemble it later using a freeware program such as -- downloaded books from HQO are not text searchable without OCR'ing
    3. Dollarhide's "The Census Book" can be downloaded from the Help section, not the Books section, and is text-searchable
  34. HQO also has all U.S. census images up through 1940 (but not all censuses indexed), Revolutionary War Records, PERSI (Periodical Source Index), and other records-- their census images were done in black and white, not grey scale as Ancestry's and the LDS Church's, and therefore are sometimes more readable

  36. For LDS history and family history books see links on my LDS and Utah Records notes on
  37. Digital Public Library of America --  and -- an umbrella organization to list all online books of all organizations in the world -- see article in New York Times Review of Books
  38. World Public Library -- -- commercial site; more than 2 million book pdf's online
  39. WorldCat by OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) - -- searches library collections of 10,000 libraries worldwide 
  40. Project Gutenberg -- -- 42,000 free ebooks and an additional 100,000 through their affiliates
  41. Virtual Reference Shelf by the Library of Congress --
  42. University of Texas --
  43. University of Pennsylvania Library -- -- lots of early LDS books and periodicals
  44. World Vital Records --
  45. Mocavo -- -- Do a search, then click on Documents (left hand side)
  46. Feedbooks - Public Domain Books --
  47. Free History and Genealogy Books Online --
  48. Genealogy Book Links -- 
  49. List of 40 ebook websites --
  50. DjVu Books --
  51. FullBooks --
  52. Australia, South Pacific, and other locations --
  53. World E-Book Fair --
  54. --
  55. ReadPrint - Free Online Library --
  56. Forgotten Books Online --
  57. e-Books Directory -- -- many good pdf format text, math, science, and other books
  58. Electronic Texts list -- -- from Statewide Vision Resource Centre, Melbourne, Australia
  59. Online Books eTexts/eBooks --
  60. To find many other such websites do searches for things like “free online full-text books genealogy” (without the quotes) in search engines like

  62. Beginner's Guide to e-Books --
  63. Kimberly Powell article on sources of online books --
  64. article on books online --
  65. USA Today article on Online Books (13 Jul 2010) -- 
  66. pdf Search Engine -- very helpful for genealogy
  67. e-Book Search Engines --
  68. Digital Book Index -- -- "A Union Catalog of Electronic Books, Texts, and Documents" -- Click on Search: Simple + Advanced and in the Query box type in something like "family history"
  69. University of Pennsylvania Online Books Page website -- -- major list of book websites and indexes
  70. Check all the websites for what you are looking, since no single site lists everything and the same book may be online in a different format or easier to download from one website than another 

  72. For any books you find online and want to link to people on Family Tree you can save links in your "Source Box" and then link them; the RecordSeek program makes saving such links very easy for FamilyTree
  73. The Internet has many very helpful genealogy and history books online and many can be used, searched, and downloaded for free.

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