Genealogy books from 1923 now available, thanks to recent changes to U.S. copyright law. Almost 11,000 digitized books published that year have been added to the public domain, along with hundreds of thousands of works of music, art, scholarship, and film.
Are Digitized Genealogy Books Included?
Yes! Thanks to the Internet Archive, the wonderful non-profit site. Just a click or two and you find 11,000 digitized books from 1923. Published family histories and lineage periodicals are among those 11,000 titles. And other book portals have 1923 public domain titles available too.
Using the search string “date:1923 AND mediatype:texts AND genealogy” at Internet Archive, I got the following hits:
Great hits! But you’ll get even better results by refining that search string. Try specific surnames or geographic locations of interest. Internet Archive also returns results by foreign language, collection source, and other more specific parameters. And don’t forget to search other online portals, like GenGophers and Google Books, as these materials are increasingly digitized and made available online.
Thinking about buying a hard copy of an out-of-print book? There are lots of ways to purchase titles online. I outlined some book dealers in this issue of my free newsletter. But don’t buy a hard copy from 1923, without checking to see if it’s been digitized.
Why Are These Genealogy Books Available Now?
U.S. copyright law is always complicated. So here’s a Cliff’s Notes version about this. In 1998, the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act was enacted. This legislation effectively froze works published from 1923 on from entering the public domain for 20 years. After it expired on December 31st, a massive shift to of material first protected under copyright in 1923 to the public domain happened.
The U.S. Copyright Office released a hundreds of thousands of books, musical scores, films, and other works first published in the United States during 1923. Each year from 2019 onward, New Year’s Day will mark the entry of a full year’s worth of works published 95 years earlier into the public domain. For more information on genealogy and copyright, visit Judy Russell’s blog here.