Google Books and Local History

As the Google Books project walks the fine line between providing information and infringing copyrights (see Judge Hears Arguments on Google Book Settlement, New York Times 2/18/10), I continue to explore the collection to see what it can do for me.

Of course, it’s great to be able to access some of the long out-of-print (and in the public domain) books that they’ve added already. I’ve always been a bit of a local history buff (how do you become a buff, anyway? Do you have to take night classes, or can you just send away for a membership card?), especially since the Finger Lakes region has so much to explore from a historical standpoint. Some of my current favorites…

A History of Ontario County, New York and its People, Volume 1 by Charles Milliken (1911) — this volume covers the history of the county from “The Indian Occupancy” to “The Last Half Century” (the 19th century), plus essays on the towns and villages from area writers.

Volume 2 of Milliken’s 1911 history includes genealogical and family history, a chronicle of the notable people from Ontario County’s past. An index of names is also included.

History of Ontario County, New York, edited by George S. Conover (1893) — another fine overview, also with the histories of villages and towns, and family sketches. The index makes this work particularly useful.

Gazetteer and Business Directory of Ontario County, N.Y. for 1867-8 — This is one of my favorites. Published by the Syracuse Journal in 1867, this business directory was the Yellow Pages of its day, including general information on the towns and villages, names of business owners and farmers in the area, and advertisements for local establishments:

Canandaigua Advertising

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *