Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Google Books: a Genealogy Resource

George Hills Starr
b. Jan. 08, 1840 - d. Jul. 1916
Google Books has become one of my favorite genealogy resources. Checking the database in hopes of discovering a new ancestor, unearthing family history and trying to place events in context.

Last year I found an obituary for George Hills Starr, 1st cousin 4x removed of my husband. In the article we learn of George's involvement in an elaborate escape from Libby Prison during the Civil War.

Excerpt from obituary - New York Times, July 31, 1916

"Colonel Starr was sent to Libby Prison, from which he escaped, being one of the 105 men who got out through a tunnel. After being recaptured he was sent to Macon, Ga., where he again escaped. On being captured a third time, Colonel Starr was sent to "Old Camp Sorghum", in Columbia, S.C."

I decided to search Google Books for resources about the Libby Prison escape. There were several volumes giving further details about this historical event.

Francis Trevelyn Miller - Editor-In-Chief. Roberts Sampson Lanier - Managing Editor. Published by The Review of Reviews Co., 1911.

Famous Adventures And Prison Escapes Of The Civil War. Published by The Century Co., 1911.

Reading these books has given a clearer understanding of events surrounding George's life and the Libby Prison Escape.

You might not discover your ancestor on the pages of a book, but you may uncover events which directly influenced their lives.


  1. This is new to me! I did not realize that a Google Books search could produce photos and newspaper articles. I've heard that Google is trying to collect all material ever printed. . . . so maybe they are succeeding. : )) I'll definitely try this. Hope the mechanics of searching are manageable! Thank you.

  2. I've found that Google Books is also great to find those minor authors that have been lost in time. Sometimes you'll find books with only 20 pages, but it gives such insight into their time period.