: Louisa May Alcott (A Story of Experience)
I love books. I love browsing in used book stores much more than browsing at the mall. Today books are not just on the WalMart shelves between the electronics and the party supplies. The internet is packed with books, pamphlets, collections of court proceedings, reports and essays that have been digitized and are waiting for us to discover a mention of our ancestors in them.
Did you ever Google yourself? Come on, I know you did. I never found myself, but I did find some ancestors. For example, I typed in the search box "john porter ulverton", and one of the results that came up surprised me. I knew from my grandmother that her grandfather was a carpenter and, like most carpenters in small communities, was also the local coffin maker. In one of the results I found a website about Ulverton, Quebec which stated the following:
One search I tried was for "clement king Loddiswell" (which is in Devon, UK) and in the Google menu (web, images, news etc) I clicked on More and choose Books. One of the results was a "...report of the Commissioners concerning charities" mentioning my ancestor and a part of his land called Harvey Marsh in Loddiswell. Another Report came up detailing a nearby grocer/baker that went bankrupt and owed money to my ancestor's son John Clement King, the mill owner.
Many Societies and Government Agencies wrote reports that sometimes contain the names of our ancestors. One such is a Report of the Treasurer of Quebec that contains names of owners of companies and individuals who were paid money by the government.
Local Histories are also a great place to look for our ancestors. Most libraries keep books written about their community on their shelves. My favourite online place to go for Canada is Our Roots / Nos Racines, which is searchable within the book. After I discovered that my great grandfather's brother moved west to Daysland, AB I did a search at Our Roots for Daysland and I found 2 books on the history of the area that tell about the early settlers there. So I learned that my ancestor called his ranch Hatley (after the town in Quebec where he married his wife) and all about their life there.
I also searched the place where my children's ancestor lived, Cap St-Ignace, and there is a book there about the history, including a list of names of the churchwardens of which he was one, and that another in the family was given the contract to build the pews for the church.
Try any of the above searches for your ancestor. Use different search parameters - "surname AND town name", "my village history", "History of my village", - be creative. Also try the ancestor and his occupation. Another good place to search is at the Internet Archive Digital Library.
At Jstor they have a huge journal and pamphlet collection and have now added books. Enter a keyword and results will give you a book and the chapter of the book it is in.
Update: Mar 3/15: added a link to new book website
HathiTrust Digital Library
Monographie de St-Ignace duCap St-Ignace depuis 1672 à 1903
Report of the Treasurer of Quebec 1890-91
Early records of Ontario- judicial
BuriedTreasures. The History of Elnora, Pine-Lake and Huxley
A list of Genealogy Books online - Quebec
Open Library - borrow, read, upload
Digital Public Library of America
Jstor - Journals, pamphlets, books
Genealogy Gophers - search books from various websites at one place