Unlike some, I don’t buy many genealogy related books. My bookshelves do have some of the required texts, many of which are now somewhat dated. The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox by Lisa Louise Cooke seemed to be a natural for my collection. The author, Lisa Louise Cooke is a nationally known speaker and is the producer and host of The Genealogy Gems podcast, Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast, and the Family Tree Magazine podcast.
Lisa, with the editing assistance of two of her daughters, has assembled more than 200 pages of amply illustrated tips and techniques for getting the best out of the powerful Google search engine. As a nationally recognized speaker, Lisa has offered ‘classes’ in the use of Google for genealogy research as well as producing two very popular Google Earth for Genealogy DVD series. This book, her latest offering, pulls all of that previous work into one easy to follow text book. Topics covered over the nineteen chapters include: basic and advanced search techniques, image search, Google alerts, Google books and timelines, Google translate, YouTube, and, of course, Google Earth.
I was familiar with many Google features before reading the book and in past, I have benefited from the use of many tips and techniques picked up through listening to Lisa’s podcasts. The book offered a full, well organized reference manual, something I could access that would offer suggested methods for improving my results. This allows me to focus on using the tool or tools best suited for my needs. As Lisa promises in the introduction to her book, “In this book you will learn how to fill your genealogy toolbox with free state-of-the-art online tools that are built to search, translate, message, and span the globe.”
As someone who is more visually inclined, at least from a learning perspective, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox is filled with screenshots and illustrations that explain the words. In addition, links for YouTube instructional videos are provided that offer further explanation or context for a topic.
So what didn’t I know before reading the book that I know now? I now know about Google Translate. Maybe I’m one of the few who didn’t know that Google offered this feature but as my wife has a German ancestry, I am certain that I will be able to put this new knowledge to good and practical use. I knew some of the basics of Google Earth – I had dabbled a bit but putting the techniques outlined in the book to use, I saw for the first time, the house at 6 Pirie’s Lane, Woodside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland (below) that my paternal grandfather was born in just over 100 years ago and learned how to save an image of the “street view.”
The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox is available through the Genealogy Gems store at Lulu.com for $24.95 in print or $14.99 in a PDF format download. I chose the download version because 1) my ancestry is Scottish and I was going to save some money and, 2) the download is easy and instantaneous – no waiting for the mailman. One other feature that impressed me with the download version of the book – all of the links to featured instructional videos or sites with additional resource information are ‘live’ in the book, just point and click to see the video. The downside of the PDF version is that if I want a copy of the wonderful reference book on my shelf, I have to print it myself, in whole or in part.
As I mentioned previously, I don’t buy that many genealogy books. This is one that not only caught my attention but also met and exceeded all of my expectations. As Lisa acknowledges in the book, with time, technology and Google with it will change. The book will likely become ‘out of date’ but until that occurs, I expect to be able to put in many hours of improved quality Google search time and to benefit from the results.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Google, Lisa Louise Cooke or the Genealogy Gems in any way. I also received no remuneration for this book review and I purchased the book myself, with my own funds.