Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Using Google Print to Further Your Local History Research

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Search engine powerhouse Google has been working feverishly for quite some time to make searchable full text of countless books available online via Google Print located at http://print.google.com/. With each passing day, the content seems to grow substantively. It now is a search tool that cannot be ignored by local historians interested in the history of Pelham and surrounding areas.

The Google Print service is as easy to use as -- well -- Google! While connected to the Internet, use a browser such as Internet Explorer to go to the following Web address: http://print.google.com/. As always, before beginning your search, you should click on the link entitled "Advanced Print Search" and review the advanced instructions for formulating search queries. To test the functionality of the service, while on the Advanced Print Search page, select 100 results in the small pick list and type the phrase Thomas Pell in the search dialogue box to the right of "with the exact phrase". (The same search can be run on the Google Print main page by typing "Thomas Pell" within quotation marks and clicking on the "Search Print" button.)

Among the many search results are several important books that deal with Thomas Pell including:

Ultan, Lloyd, The Bronx in the Frontier Era: From the Beginning to 1696 (The Bronx County Historical Society 1993).

Schwarz, Philip J., The Jarring Interests: New York's Boundary Makers, 1664 - 1776 (State University of New York Press 1979).

McNamara, John, History in Asphalt: The Origin of Bronx Street and Place Names, Borough of the Bronx, New York City (Harbor Hill Books 1978).

Trelease, Allen W., Indian Affairs in Colonial New York: The Seventeenth Century (Cornell University Press 1960).

There are many more such examples.

Click on the hyperlink to one of the search results such as "The Bronx in the Frontier Era: From the Beginning to 1696". You will see on the right an image of an actual page from the book containing the phrase that matches your query (in this case, "Thomas Pell"). The author of the book, we learn, wrote in part:

"Thomas Pell thus arrived in Saybrook in Connecticut in March, 1636.

Thomas Pell's experiences in the New World were varied. When war raged against the Pequot Indians, he practiced his arts as a surgeon. Once the war was over, he moved to New Haven, where he prospered buying a great deal of property and investing in shipping.

It was as the owner of a ship in 1647 that Thomas Pell had his first brush with Peter Stuyvesant. A vessel sent to the Delaware River, then in New Netherland's jurisdiction, returning to New England through the East River was halted by Dutch authorities who confiscated its cargo of beaver skins for poaching on the company's preserve. Because of this, Pell was forced to renege on a business arrangement, since his purchase would have been made with the confiscated pelts . . . "

By clicking on the page arrows at the top of the screen, you will be able to view several other pages of the book. Because the material is protected by copyright, you will be limited to reviewing only a few pages. Occasionally a page that you would like to see will be blocked in its entiety due to copyright protections that form part of Google Print. Nevertheless, the service provides users with the ability to review enough of the content to get a sense for the context surrounding the phrase that prompted the search result.

In the left column, you can learn more about the book, review its copyright information, table of contents and index. Additionally, by clicking on links in the left column you can buy the book from The Bronx Historical Society, Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, BookSense.com and using Froogle. I have successfully purchased a number of books in this fashion.

Google Print is yet another excellent online tool to be used by local historians interested in learning more about their localities.

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