DON'S FREEWARE CORNER - JAN 2021
FREE TEXTBOOKS ON THE INTERNET
©2021 Donald R. Snow - Last updated 2021-01-05
Don's Freeware Corner articles are printed in the
UTAH VALLEY TECHNOLOGY AND GENEALOGY GROUP
(UVTAGG) Newsletter TAGGology each month and are
posted on his Class Notes Page
where there may be corrections and updates.
FREE TEXTBOOKS ON THE INTERNET
Textbooks are a major expense in college, go out-of-date quickly,
but many are useful for family history and others not in
college. I've been thinking about this recently
as I've heard my grandkids talking about $100-200 textbooks
that they need for classes in college. That seems
atrocious to mem since most textbooks don't need to be
updated as often as the publishers do, and older editions
usually have the same information, but newer ones are
printed just to make money. When I was teaching
Calclus at BYU, during the last several years I experimented
with letting the students use any Calculus book, old or
new, and told them we would discuss the material by topic,
rather than by sections in a particular book. The
homework and grading became the major problem, but, for
the most part, the students liked it. Now, as family
historians, we sometimes need the information in textbooks,
so this article is an attempt to help. If you find
a book you need, some ereaders allow you to underline and
even write in the margins of the text, but that's the
subject for another Freeware Corner article.
There are several websites that provide textbooks to download and use for free anyway you want. A few websites
only allow you to use them on the website, but most allow
pdf downloads. Below are some of these that I am
aware of and I'm sure there are many more.
This website is sponsored by the many branches of SUNY
(State University of New York). Faculty from all their
branches are invited to write and post textbooks on this
website for students and anyone else to use. They
don't have very many books on there yet, but you may find
something of interest for your family history.
Try searching the website for topics like famiy, history,
geography, writing, library, etgc.
For me, I'm always interested in what Mathematics texts they
have and this site has several of them. Perhaps some
of the topics here will be of interest to you or your kids
or grandkids in college.
This website has over 1000 free textbooks. Of course,
if you are a student at a college, you probably need a
particular book and edition and that won't be here, but
check. Some of these may help with your own studies
and background needed for searching for and notating the
lives of your ancestors.
MIT (Massachusetts Institute Of Technology)is a major
technical university in Cambridge, MA, and offers many
classes online for free. Along with the classes
are the textbooks that can be downloaded. There
is a button to click to sort everything by those that
have textbooks available there. You can also
sort everything by topic, department, and other variables.
This has lots of books available. Search by topic,
e.g. history, England, Germany, medicine, etc.
they have a newsletter, but I haven't subscribed to
it. This website has textbooks that have been
contributed for anyone to use, modify, and distribute
for their students or others interested, as long as
they give the website credit. They have rules
that must be followed for a textbook to be accepted
into the Open Textbook Library and these rules are
described in the About section. There is also am FAQ
(Frequently Asked Questions) section. You can search
for any topic and see what's there, but the searches seem
to yield many books that are only distantly related to
your toptic search terms.
For reading a long search results page put the mouse
pointer about in the middle of the screen and press
the mouse WHEEL down. This puts a small circle
there so and when your mouse pointer is below or
above that point the page scrolls by itself down
or up and the further your pointer is away from
the circle, the faster it scrolls. This helps
in looking at long webpages where you let it slowly
scroll down or up and read as it scrolls.
Try searching for things like "England family history"
(no quotes), or medical history, etc. This site
has more than 3000 books online and many are completely
downloadable. An example is
I've found that this site is not user friendly, but
it helps to read some of the instructions to see what
books are actually there and how to use them.
The books are published there for people to use in
school classes, home schooling, and for self-learning.
They also have text write-ups describing the topic and
its history, before you see any of the books related.
This project was started many years ago with volunteers
typing in the text of out -of-print books.
I remember when their goal was to have the text of
1000 out-of-print books on their website.
Now, with scanning technology, there are up to 60,000
and many are history-related. Do a search,
for example, for geneaogy, and you'll see many good
volumes, some of which may be helpful in your
research. On the search menu are Quick Search,
Advanced Search, Browsing Options, an Author index
search, language filters, and a Full-Text Search.
The full-text searches uses Yahoo, Google, and
DuckDuckGo to do site-searches on the Gutenberg
website for the text you enter, so their books are
every-word searchable to find what you want to
We've discussed Internet Archive before in other Freeware
Corner articles and they now have 28 million
out-of-print books online. Many are older
textbooks. Most of these have good informatin
in them for family history, but are out-of-date
for use in a college or high school class
today. These texts are all completely searchable
for any text you want, so it's worth a try.
This is an article giving 16 websites for to consider for
free textbooks. It includes some of the above sites
and a few others.
There is a wealth of free books, ebooks, and audio books online, and
many of these are textbooks which have valuable information
about genealogy, history, family history, geography, and
other topics of interest to us family historians.
Since we are always trying to learn, you may find some very
helpful resources this way. And, you can always
just Google "free textbooks [term]" for whatever subject
you are interested in and see what comes up.
Remember that different search engines bring up different
results, so it pays to try more than one, especially if
you don't find what you are looking for on the first one.