Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, May 4, 2015

Genealogical Discoveries from the Internet Archive is one of the most vibrantly alive online archives on the Internet. I am always surprised by how few genealogists use its vast resources and even more surprised at how few even know it exists. Here is a list of some of its free resources:

  • 7,928,583 Texts
  • 1,941,682 Movies, films and videos 
  • 2,425,071 Audio files
  • 102,191 Software items
  • 968,206 Images
  • 147,001 Music Concerts
  • 150,230 Media Items

Of course, these numbers change regularly as new items are added. Every item in this list is freely available. Every one of the texts are in the public domain and freely readable, searchable and downloadable.

In addition, there is the WayBackMachine with 456 billion archived web pages.

It is truly difficult to grasp the amount of free information available on this one website. It might take you days to begin to appreciate the scope of this collection.

Here are a few random examples. has 91,260 digitized, free texts (books and other items) in its genealogy category. Here is a screenshot.

Of course, you have to realize that this is only a small part of the books and materials that might be relevant and useful to genealogists. Each of these texts is available to be read online or downloaded in a variety of formats to your own device. Here is a screenshot of the online reader:

You can see the variety of downloadable formats in the lower right-hand corner. If you view the book in the full-screen view, you can search the entire book.

You might also be interested to see the entire collection of U.S. Federal Census Records from 1790 to 1930.

Here is a selection of items from the Library of Congress:

I could go on and on, but I hope you get the idea that this is a place you should be referring to frequently.


  1. James, I'd love to know the search terms or navigation path you used to find these results. I've been searching around on the site and haven't been able to recreate these search results or even a page that resembles the screenshot you show.

    1. is in the process of updating their website. You probably need to click on a link to the new, updated website. I understand everyone will see the new site shortly. Genealogy is a category of records on the website.

  2. I frequently use the internet Archive to access county histories. Most of them are out of copyright, and have been digitized. What I love about this site is that one can then do a search for any term, such as a surname, and even if the book's index does not mention it, it can be found.

  3. I love the Internet Archive for county histories and such. You've reminded me to expand my searches there.

  4. If I find something here, how do I connect to to my tree, in the same way as it gets connected if THEY show it to me and they ask me if it's "mine" and then I click "save." ??— Then it is officially a "source." (But if I screen-shot one that I find myself and then put it in the "Gallery" it's hard to read and it isn't the original document that observers can explore.) (I'm new with all this. Maybe you can tell.)

    1. You use a link to the item as part of the source listing in