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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Jump Start Your Genealogy on Amazon

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Of all the sites available for researching your ancestry, you probably would never consider Amazon as a genealogical resource. You should not, however, overlook Amazon and its potential to grow your family tree. Local histories, biographies, and books written about the time period and events which occurred in your ancestors life both new and used could very well list the name of your ancestor.

If you are familiar with Google Books, you may have already noticed the links to Amazon on the page of search results. Have you ever followed that link that takes you to the description and availability on Amazon? If so, have you ever thought to search for other books that may help you in your research?
"Search Inside!™ allows you to search millions of pages to find exactly the book you want to buy. With Search Inside!, search results will include titles based on every word inside the book. Search Inside! results are displayed interspersed with results that match the title and/or author of the book." See Search Inside the Book to learn more about this feature.
Take advantage of Search Inside!™ by performing a few basic types of searches for books that may help you learn more about your ancestor. It will be necessary to register and sign in to search books on Amazon. Using Beverly Vance (1832-1899) as an example, you will be able to understand how to get the desired results:

1. Search for books which tell more about the geographical area where your ancestor lived.
Example: Search Abbeville County, South Carolina. The following books are among the search results and would be very good resources for learning more about Abbeville County where Beverly lived. The last book listed in this example may contain a marriage record for Beverly and his wife, Matilda Dunlap Vance. They had children before the end of slavery, however, their marriage would not have been legally recognized until after emancipation.


2. Search for books that tell about events or time periods in your ancestor's life. The last book in this section, One More Day's Journey (pages 141-142), contains a brief account of Beverly during the 1876 elections in Cokesbury, Abbeville County, South Carolina, and led to the discovery of a voter's registration and several testimonies before the US Senate. Beverly is also listed in the directory, Freedom's Lawmakers: A Directory of Black Officeholders During Reconstruction.

3. Search for biographies that may contain helpful information about your ancestor or a contemporary.
  • I Belong to South Carolina: South Carolina Slave Narratives - Paperback (May 30, 2010) by Susanna Ashton
  • Abbeville County (SC) (Images of America) - Paperback (Oct. 11, 2004) by Abbeville County Historical Society

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