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  • Writer's pictureDebora Ellen Blodgett

Google Books: A Genealogy Resource

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

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Google Books is an excellent resource for historical and genealogical researchers.

Publications from 1927 and before are in the public domain. Works in the public domain may be used without seeking permission from the creator of the work.

Most researchers have harnessed the power of a general Google search. "Google It" is now a catch-phrase known to many. What is excellent for historical researchers is the ability to search within a digitized book - all through the platform of Google Books.

Here is an example. From the main search screen at:

the following search criteria was entered: "mercy wells" deerfield. The search yielded 2 pages of results, although many of the books could not be viewed, due to copyright restrictions.

Using the provided filters, the search was modified:

  • Any books: Free Google eBooks

  • Any document: Books

  • Any time: Any time

  • Sorted by relevance: Sorted by date

This yielded 5 excellent, relevant results. Using the free Google eBooks filter will yield books out of copyright. Sorted by date will list the books from newest to oldest.

The power of Google Books is that each book can be fully key-word searched. This is a great feature for genealogical research, and is often overlooked.

Here are two excerpts from books found that provide great genealogical information:

Wells Family of Deerfield - Google Books

Excerpt 1, a transcription of an epitaph.[1]

What is learned?

  1. Zeeb Wells died 6 Oct. 1779

  2. Zeeb Wells died "through bleeding at the nose"

  3. Zeeb Wells was aged 17 years and 3 months at death

  4. Zeeb Wells is the son of Ebenezer Wells and Mercy Wells

  5. Ebenezer Wells is the son of Thomas [Wells]

  6. Mercy [Wells] is the daughter of Samuel Bardwell

From this one excerpt, we have learned facts about three generations of the Wells family. In addition, and key, is that the maiden name for Mercy is discovered. Finding a maiden name for a women born in the 18th century is often difficult.

Wells Family in Deerfield Google Books

Excerpt 2, from this excerpt, more is learned about the family of Mercy Wells.[2]

  1. Mercy Wells lived in Deerfield

  2. Mercy Wells was a widow by 26 November 1785

  3. Mercy Wells is the guardian [possibly mother?] to Sarah Wells and Mercy Wells, both minors, of Deerfield

  4. Mercy Wells made a petition to the court to sell property for the benefit of said minors

  5. The land borders land of Eldad Bardwell and Thomas Bardwell [could be related to Mercy (Bardwell) Wells?]

These two resources provided many valuable clues for further research on the Wells family.

Thank you Google Books!


[1] C. Alice Baker and Emma L. Coleman, Epitaphs in the Old Burying-Ground at Deerfield, Mass. (Topsfield, Massachusetts: The Perkins Press, 1924), 41; Google Books ( : accessed 25 January 2021).

[2] Acts and Resolves of Massachusetts, 1784-85 (Boston: Adams & Nourse, 1784 (sic)), 797-798; Google Books ( : accessed 25 January 2021).

For more information:

Copyright 2021, 2023, Debora Ellen Blodgett


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