Ewing College – Another Great Gopher Find


Thanks to the Genealogy Gophers and Internet Archive, I now have a copy of the history of Ewing College in Illinois. And, thanks to them I now have a photo of my ancestor, Robert R. Link, along with an impressive biography. He was one of the founders of the college which began as a high school in 1867 and kicked up the curriculum to college level in 1874. The biographies of the founders included in the book gave me a lot of insight into the life of this man.

What makes the Genealogy Gophers search engine so impressive? First, they are searching their own “library” of genealogy publications. As they put it, each new addition to their library is indexed using “statistical algorithms to try and associate the names, dates, and places it’s found, and recognize combinations of the data that are likely to represent real people.” There are also other statistical and machine learning tools used to support genealogy-only search results.

The details on how they do it may be way over my head, but the results I get are both amazing and delightful. Those talented gophers are quickly becoming my favorite research buddies.

The Genealogy Gophers is a free service, but you will be asked to complete a short survey each day. If you don’t want to deal with the surveys, it will cost you $19.95/year to skip them. For me that $20 has paid off in an impressive collection of articles, photos and publications providing more information about my ancestors.

Meet the Genealogy Gophers

Did you know that there are thousands of digitized family histories, regional and local histories, genealogy magazines along with how-to books, gazetteers, newsletters, and medieval histories freely available online? Organizations like Project Gutenberg, FamilySearch, Internet Archive, Google Books and educational institutions have been hard at work for years. That’s both good news and bad news. While there are a lot of freely-accessible publications available, finding them can be a challenge. That’s where Genealogy Gophers comes in. The Gophers have built an amazing search engine that will not only find the publication, but find – and display – the information that matches your search. In the example below, I’m looking for information about my ancestor, John Lewis Gervais, in South Carolina.

Sample Search Results


Within seconds I had two pages of results with excerpts showing the information matching my search. Clicking the title will display a screen that includes source information for that publication along with a reader opened to the page where the information on my ancestor appears.

the reader screen

In this example, there is only one page referencing my ancestor. The orange pointer you see at the bottom of the reading window is a bookmark to that page. In publications where there are multiple results, you will see additional pointers. Click on a pointer to move to that page. There are also controls to navigate forward and backward in this book, enlarge or reduce the view and more. Notice the link at the top of the reader to download a PDF copy of the publication.

Genealogy Gophers is free if you don’t mind responding to a number of surveys. If you don’t like surveys, a $19.95/year subscription will remove them.


Newspaper Search Engine

The goal of Elephind.com is to make it possible to search all the world’s online historic newspapers from one place. We aren’t there yet, but we are adding more newspapers every day.
With Elephind.com it is now possible for family historians, genealogists, and researchers to search historic digitized newspaper archives from around the globe. Elephind.com is much like Google, Bing, or other search engines but is focused on only historical, digitized newspapers. It enables you to search, for free, across many newspaper sites simultaneously, rather than having to visit each site separately. By clicking on the Elephind.com search result that interests you you’ll go directly to the newspaper site which hosts that story.

See for yourself at About Elephind.com