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.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Google Print Adds Many Public Domain Books of Use to Local Historians to its Virtual Library

On September 7, 2005 I published to the Historic Pelham Blog a posting entitled "Using Google Print to Further Your Local History Research". In it I described the excellent Google Print search service available at http://print.google.com/ saying "[i]t now is a search tool that cannot be ignored by local historians interested in the history of Pelham and surrounding areas." Yesterday that conclusion became even more compelling.

On November 3, search engine powerhouse Googleâ„¢ released a very large collection of digitized images of the pages of books in the public domain as part of the virtual library available via Google Print. Because these texts are in the public domain, they are available in their entirety and are full text searchable. Today's Blog posting will detail how to use Google Print to search these texts for information of interest to those who study the history of Pelham and surrounding areas.

First, go to the Google Print home page located at http://print.google.com/. As always, it is a best practice first to review the help feature located, in this case, at http://print.google.com/intl/en/googleprint/help.html. It is also a best practice, after reviewing the Google Print help section, to run your searches from the Advanced Search screen located at http://print.google.com/advanced_print_search?ie=UTF-8. In this case, it is imperative that you run searches from this advanced search page.

Generally speaking, books published in the United States before 1923 are in the public domain. Consequently, it is easy to use the advanced search features of Google Print to limit your search query to texts published before 1923. For example, on the advanced search page try the following: in the "Find results" area go to the search dialogue box entitled "with all of the words" and type the words Westchester Pelham. From the "results" picklist to the right of that box, select "100 results" and limit the date range of your request by going to the dialogue boxes labeled "Return books published between the years of". Fill in those boxes with the date range 1600 and 1923. Once your screen looks like the one below, click on the gray "Google Search" button to run your search.

Google Print will return two search results, both of which are of interest. The first is a book by Charles Pryer published in 1897 entitled "Reminiscences of an Old Westchester Homestead". This rare book is 174 pages long. When it can be found at rare or used booksellers, it costs between $25 and $40. Google Print makes the entire book available online, full text searchable. It includes ghost stories about Pelham and surrounding areas, among other things. It also includes descriptions of the Pelham area during the 19th century.

The second item is a book entitled "Biographical History of North Carolina from Colonial Times to the Present" published in 1905. By clicking on the link, you will see that mentions Thomas Pell, his nephew John Pell and a lineal descendant of John Pell, 2nd Lord of the Manor of Pelham, named Marcia Pell.

You should now be able to use Google Print to explore such public domain texts. I have tried such searches as Pelhamville, Hunters Island, Travers Island, Pelham Bay Park, Split Rock Road, Pell's Point, City Island, Pelham Country Club, Eastchester, Saint Paul's Church, Robert Bolton, Thomas Pell, and many, many more. Already I have located a host of helpful texts that address issues relating to the history of The Pelhams and surrounding areas.

Imagine the possibilities once Google Print includes millions of public domain texts . . . . . . .

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