Monday, September 14

A Peek Through European History

Here's an interesting place to do some family history research, and one that you may not have thought of before.

The European Library is an online portal and search engine that accesses the collections of libraries throughout Europe.

There are over 150 collections to search here, including four in Latvia, alone.  There are books, of course, but so much more as well.  Postcards, academic theses, maps, photographs, portraits, posters, cartoons, newspapers, magazines music, manuscripts, movies, tv shows, and even puppets.

Because each library (and each collection) is catalogued differently, there's a real hit-or-miss quality to the searches.  Some items return only the most basic description...the item's name, date, and when known, its author.

Any Olympians in the family line?

Other search results will include a wealth of details, with in-depth descriptions of contents, including the names of key people mentioned.

Best of all, some results will link directly to a full, online digitized version of the material, so that you can look through an old book online, or browse old maps, photos or paintings.

One of your ancestors may have authored some of the materials here.  But even if they didn't, they may show up in search results because they were included, in some fashion, in a book, photograph, or whatever.

Searching isn't as easy as it might be, but it's not too bad either.  The real trick, here, is to ignore the big results box in the center of the page (which often shows zero results, because one of the libraries has a hung connection, and the results fields never gets completed).

Instead, scan the list of all 150+ collections on the left side of the page, to see the number of results in each collection for your search.  Click on an individual collection to access more details.

The European Library turns up some unusual threads to family history, and ones that might otherwise remain hidden from view.  As I'm fond of saying, it's well worth a look.

Visit the main page of Free Genealogy Tools for more, umm, free genealogical tools.

And don't forget to also check for your family history at and These are subscription databases, but they are among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots.

1 comment :

Gilman Jones said...

The online digitized version of the material is the best! thank you.

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