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Ask a Genealogist: Mental health record access in Massachusetts.

(Massachusetts) Permanent link
 

Question:

Is it true that even mental health records from a century ago are closed in Massachusetts? I am looking for a case held at the Mass. State Archives for a state hospital from the 1920's.

Answer:

 According to the Massachusetts State Archives both medical and mental health records are restricted by state laws (MGL c. 4, § 7 (26) (a), MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (c), MGL c.111 § 70, and MGL c.123, § 36), even after the death of the individual.  A court order may be obtained to allow you access to information in the case file.  You can visit your local probate court to obtain this.  This court order therefore makes you the administrator of the estate.  The administrator is is one of the legal individuals permitted access to the case file via the state laws.  This court order is then submitted to the Massachusetts State Archives.  They will then give it to the Public Records Supervisor.  After the approval from the Public Records Supervisor, the records would be made accessible to you, in accordance with the court order.

Ask a Genealogist: Officer of the St. George's Society of New York.

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Question:

Can you tell me how I can contact the St. George's Society?  My great-great grandfather was an officer in the organization in the 19th century.

Answer:

The following should help you contact their Archivist.  They do also have on their website some documents from their archives. I did not locate a list of former officers, but I trust they will be able to assist you.

St. George's Society of New York
216 East 45th Street, Suite 901
New York, NY 10017

Telephone: 212-682-6110
Fax: 212-682-3465
Email: info@stgeorgessociety.org

Website: www.stgeorgessociety.org/index.html

Ask a Genealogist: Searching Georgia Masonic records.

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Question:

A couple of my ancestors were members of the Masonic lodge in South Carolina.  Do the records survive from the 19th century for them? If so where might I locate them?

Answer:

The Grand Lodge of South Carolina was founded in the 1730's.  The records of all members are generally on file with the Grand Secretary of each state.  To contact the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of South Carolina send an email to:
scgrandlodge@windstream.net

Ask a Genealogist: Worcester, Mass. marriages online.

(Massachusetts, Vital Records) Permanent link
 

Question:

When I search for Worcester, Massachusetts marriages I only find Worcester County?  I am trying to locate members of a particular family in the city of Worcester in the Mass. Vital Records 1841-1915.

Answer:

When you search the Mass. Vital Records 1841-1915 for Worcester, Mass. you will want to enter in: Worcester, Worcester.  This is also true for Norfolk in Norfolk Co., and any other towns which have the same name as the county.

Ask a Genealogist: Searching for Merchant Marine records.

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Question:

Can you tell me how to acquire Merchant Marine Records circa 1920?

Answer:

For Merchant Marine service recordsyou will want to include the following details.  The veterans name; his date of birth; acopy of his death record; and his social security and or servicenumber if you know it.  You will also want to explain yourrelationship to the veteran.  Send your request in writingto:

Commanding Officer
USCG-National Maritime Center (NMC-421)
ATTN: Correspondence Section
100 Forbes Drive
Martinsburg, WV 25404


Ask a Genealogist: What was the occupation of a Brightsmith.

(Occupations) Permanent link
 

Question:

Can you explain the what the occupation of a "Brightsmith" was?

Answer:

A "Brightsmith" is a name for someone who works shaping bright metals.  For instance a "Brightsmith" works with brass, tin and copper metals.  This same occupation can be referred to by the specific metal such as a Tinsmith, Coppersmith, etc.

Ask a Genealogist: Quaker records - Granted a Certificate

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Question:

I have been researching my Quaker ancestors from Rhode Island.  Can you tell me what is means to have been "Granted a Certificate"?

Answer:

When a Quaker family moved they would apply for a certificate to attend the monthly meeting near their new home. The certificate could be granted before they moved by their exisiting Meeting house, or by the new location.  The term "Granted a Certificate" would be copied into the monthly meeting records relating to this family.

Ask a Genealogist: Looking at local newspaper obituaries.

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Question:

Can you give me some advice for looking for obituaries in small town newspapers?

Answer:

Depending on the size of community the article could be as small as a two line death notice, or a full page front page obituary column. If you notice that your community does not have a newspapers look at the neighboring communities.  The neighboring communities would often carry the news for a town that did not have a local newspaper.  Also, remember to look a week following the funeral.  The newspaper may make mention of those who attended the funeral, the pall bearers, etc.

Ask a Genealogist: What was the meaning of a Visitation in England in the 16th century?

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Question:

What was the meaning of a Visitation in England in the 16th century? I noticed that a couple of my early ancestors households had a visitation recorded.

Answer:

A visitation was an inspection or a tour of a residence. These visitations occurred between 1530 to 1688. This inspection was done by the Kings of Arms or by their deputy.  This was done to maintain a regulation on those bearing coats of arms, and to record the pedigree of their family.

Ask a Genealogist: Searching for a Tennis Hall of Famer who was a distant relative.

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Question:

I remember my grandfather going on that his cousin was a star Tennis player in the early 20th century.  I think is name was Holman Warde he died in the 1960's.  Can you tell me how I can reseearch his career?

Answer:

I believe you are referring to the member of the Tennis Hall of Fame - Holcomb Ward who died in 1967.  A full listing of all the members of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum can be found online at: http://www.tennisfame.com/hall-of-famers/members   There is a sketch about Mr. Ward online from this listing.  You may also wish to contact the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, R.I. about further details newport@tennisfame.com

Ask a Genealogist: Death Indexes for Massachusetts in the 20th century

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Question:

On your webstie you have Massachusetts Vital Records 1841-1915.  When I visit what indexes after 1915 do you have?

Answer:

NEHGS has a bound set of indexes at the Microtext Library (4th floor) covering 1901-1980.  We also have access to an online index of deaths for Massachusetts from 1970-2003 from Ancestry.com.

Ask a Genealogist: Why are there two Union Civil War Pension indexes?

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Question:

I was wondering why there are two Union Civil War Pension indexes?  I see there is one called 288 and the other 289.

Answer:

The National Archives T-288 microfilm index is an alphabetical index of Union veterans (non-Navy).  The T-289 is the "Orgaization Index."  This index is arranged by the State; regiment or unit; company letter; and then by the name of the officers and the men serving under them.  This index occasionally gives the date and place of death of the veteran.  The T-288 index can be found online on Ancestry.com, and Familysearch.org.  The T-289 index is availble from Fold3.

Ask a Genealogist: The U.S. Army rank of a Cornet.

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Question:

I have noticed the rank of "Cornet" in Revolutionary War era muster rolls?  Can you tell me about this rank?

Answer:

The rank of Cornet is the same as a 2nd Lieutenant is now.  The old rank was abolished in the U.S. Army in the year 1800.

Ask a Genealogist: Probate record books versus file papers.

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Question:

Can you tell me why NEHGS has some microfilm of probates with the file papers and some as the record books?

Answer:

NEHGS has purchased most of our New England probate microfilm collection from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.  In some case the LDS Church chose to film the actual file papers for the probate (example: Conn. Probate; Middlesex County Mass., etc.).  Other collections they chose to film the probate record books.  If there is an option NEHGS would normally purchase the papers, over the record book copies.  The file papers often contain receipts not included in the record books.
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