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Genealogists may encounter the term full text, in two contexts. Most commonly, full text refers to an electronic resource that provides access to the complete (or full) text of an item, as opposed to an abstract or citation only. For example, some resources (or publishers) make certain chapters or pages of a book or article available for review, but require payment for access to the full text -- the complete work, in its entirety. Others offer full text access free of charge. Less familiar and perhaps less visible to the average user, the term is also used in "full text search," which refers to a computer search engine that searches the full text of documents or web pages, as opposed to searching only select parts, such as abstracts, etc.

Many online resources, paid and free, offer full text books and articles online. Full text works are often found by entering the title into your favorite search engine. You may also want to check library, archive, and museum web sites. It may also be good to do a search of subscription or other paid web sites known to carry full text works, in the event the title you seek is available and worth the price. Another resource that may lead you to full text works is Wordcat, an online catalog of library holdings.

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