Most genealogists know that FamilySearch has lots of genealogy/local history books online and downloadable through their website. FamilySearch offers a search of the books, allowing the user to search for a name and locate a book or books with that name in it. However, the search is limited, in that you can’t go directly to any particular page with your ancestor’s name on it. Other websites have similar issues. Now my good friend, Dallan Quass, has a new site where genealogy books can be searched for a particular name and place, with the search results coming back as a snippet, with direct access to the book upon clicking on the snippet link.
This is really cool. Better yet – it’s entirely FREE. To fund the site, Dallan has come across a survey company whose surveys pop up on the screen. The user answers a few easy questions by clicking, taking just seconds to complete. They then have access to the data for a day. This is one of the most innovative methods of funding that I’ve seen. Dallan only gets pennies when the surveys are completed, but pennies can easily add up to dollars, making this wonderful resource available to everyone – not just folks that can afford another subscription.
Note that 40,000 genealogy-relevant books are currently being searched – with thousands more to come. The books being searched are currently from FamilySearch, Allen County Public Library, Mid-Continent Public Library and several others. To see what I might find, I did a search for Henry Canfield of Michigan. That’s my great-grandfather, whom I’ve researched extensively. I got seven hits – not all for Henry, but for names like H. Canfield, etc. The second hit was from a book titled “Official Army register of the volunteer force of the United States Army for the years 1861, ’62, ’63, ’64, ’65, vol. 5.” I’ve never seen this book before now. According to the site, the original is located at Mid-Continent Public Library. And this book has information about my great-grandfather in it! Note that the advanced search technology allows searches for people, as well as the names, dates, places, and relatives associated with them, not just words.
Options include downloading a PDF of the book, or reading the page in full-screen mode.
The website just launched and is in beta. Over the coming months Dallan will be continue to improve the search algorithms and add another 60,000 genealogy-relevant books.
Following is the Genealogy Gophers Press Release:
A new website enables genealogists for the first time to have free, easy, and precise searching of family history books
SALT LAKE CITY – Researching family histories online is an activity that has begun to come of age. Thousands of family history books and magazines are available to be searched directly from multiple websites. But searching through these websites and combing through the jumble of information they return can be a frustrating, costly, and fruitless process. The newly launched family history website, GenGophers.com, solves these problems by providing precise and free access to the industry’s most effective online search tools and a growing library of more than 40,000 downloadable family and personal histories, local histories, and genealogy newsletters.
Many searchable book websites, like Google Books and archive.org, make it difficult to restrict their searches to genealogy-related books. The result is that online searches for names, dates, and places return lists of thousands of potential books completely unrelated to genealogy.
GenGophers.com is the only website that – completely for free – returns genealogy book results only. Results include the publication name and a snippet from the page showing the highlighted search terms:
The pages and publications returned in a search are then downloadable for free by users. “In addition to focusing our searches only on genealogy books, our search engine also employs a completely different approach than those used by other book-searching websites”, said Dallan Quass, founder of GenGophers.com. “While other websites can only search for specific words contained in books, our engine uses artificial intelligence to first identify and index all people mentioned in a publication and then allows specific searches for names, dates, and places associated with them. This approach significantly increases the chance of discovering extended family connections, stories about the lives of ancestors, and bringing family histories to life.”
GenGophers.com is financially supported by ads and Google Consumer Surveys, which asks users a few market research questions once per day to view the free books.
Genealogy Gophers has the most easily searched and retrieved family history books on the Web. Search tools based on artificial intelligence algorithms significantly increase the chances of finding relevant search term matches compared to typical word search engines. Relevant pages and books can be downloaded for free from the GenGophers.com website.
Check out Genealogy Gophers. I was impressed (especially since I found a book I hadn’t seen before!), and plan to use the site a lot.