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Discover the New HathiTrust Website

Discover the New HathiTrust Website

Today I went to use the Hathi Trust website, and was pleasantly surprised at what I saw. Hathi Trust has been updated, which means it is an excellent time to take a second look.

If you aren't familiar with the website, their About page introduces themselves as:

HathiTrust was founded in 2008 as a not-for-profit collaborative of academic and research libraries, now preserving 18+ million digitized items in the HathiTrust Digital Library. We offer reading access to the fullest extent allowable by U.S. and international copyright law, text, and data mining tools for the entire corpus, and other emerging services based on the combined collection. [1]

Hathi Trust states that it is home to millions of digitized books and publications. While not everything is available to at-home users without institutional access, much of what we, as genealogists, are looking for, public domain items, is available.

What's New

Part of this redesign is cosmetic. Clean lines, white space, and easier searching. However, there are some other improvements, like a Get Help section at the top right of the website and a collections section to help you navigate the content found on the website. I like that they feature some of their content on the homepage, giving you an idea of what you might find or introducing you to something you didn't know existed.

HathiTrust Records of the American Colonies

Collections are just that, collections of items curated by individuals. Scrolling down the homepage, I found a link for Records of the American Colonies with 863 items. There is an Ancestry and Genealogy collection, but it appears not to have been updated since 2011, so you'll want to search beyond what is found here.

HathiTrust Jello Book

The homepage isn't the only part of the website that looks different. Clicking on the featured Jello booklet link on the homepage took me to the book page and allowed me to read through its 20 pages. Most of the features Hathi Trust had in the past are here, except for some of the tools found at the top of the page, which look to be found at the left-hand menu and the bottom.

Get Started

Hathi Trust is a place to search for publications about your ancestor, the place they lived in, the events they took part in, and anything else related to their lives. So beyond just searching by name, use a keyword search or relevant words to describe your ancestors, such as where they lived, their religion, the war they fought in, their occupation, and any events they took part in.

Once you conduct your search, you can narrow your results list to focus on precisely what you want. Then choose an item of interest and click the orange button (Full view).

If the item is restricted to only those at an institutional library, note the title and author and try to find it elsewhere. Sometimes Google Books or Internet Archive may have the item, or you can take a look at using an interlibrary loan from your local library.

Are you using Hathi Trust? It's a great tool for genealogists providing access to an extensive library from the comfort of your computer or mobile device. To learn more, see their Get Help center.


[1] "About," Hathi Trust ( accessed August 3rd 2023).


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.



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