New website: Genealogy Gophers

I’m launching a new website today: Genealogy Gophers. The goal is to be Google Books for genealogy:

  • Completely free. The site is supported by ads and “Google Consumer Surveys” – people are asked to answer a few market-research questions once a day in order to read and download the books.
  • Only genealogy-relevant books: 40,000 and growing. These out-of-copyright books have been obtained from FamilySearch, the Allen County Public Library, the Mid-Continent Public Library, and several other libraries.
  • Advanced search technology allows searches for people: the names, dates, places, and relatives associated with them, not just words.
  • Search results include snippets from the book pages so it’s easy to quickly scan the results and find the most-relevant ones.

The website is in beta. I soft-launched it at RootsTech and got some terrific feedback. We were able to find information on ancestors of 30-40% of the people who visited the booth. In a few cases it was information they’d never known before! I’ve spent the last two weeks improving the site and am finally read to officially launch. Over the coming months I’ll be continuing to improve the search algorithms and adding another 60,000 books.

I’m hoping this is a big hit. Free access to records in exchange for answering a few survey questions could open a new avenue for more subscription-free genealogy websites.

Here’s the press release. My good friend Bob Sherwin wrote it!

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