American Ancestors New England Historic Genealogical Society - Founded 1845 N.E. Historic Genealogical Society Seal View Your Shopping Cart Join NEHGS

From the Experts

RSS Feed

Reminiscences and Traditions of Boston

(Massachusetts) Permanent link

Reminiscenes 100Editor of the new book, Reminiscences and Traditions of Boston by Hannah Mather Crocker, Eileen Hunt Botting guides readers through Crocker's 180-year-old recollections of Boston.

Hannah Mather Crocker's Reminiscences and Traditions of Boston (c.1822-1829) is a 600 page manuscript history of Boston from the 1620s to the 1820s. It has been preserved at NEHGS since 1879, and is now available in a comprehensive scholarly edition.

Crocker was one of the most important women's rights advocates of the early republic. She was also well-connected in Boston's political circles, as the niece of colonial governor Thomas Hutchinson and the grand-daughter of the Rev. Cotton Mather. Her unique history of her native city takes a topographical approach, guiding the reader on a walking tour of the streets, squares, alleys, wharves, and smuggling tunnels of old Boston. She provides eye-witness accounts of the political conflicts of the revolutionary era, including the Stamp Act riot of 1765 and the Siege of Boston of 1775-1776. Her focus on the families, homes, and built environment of the city in the long eighteenth century makes the book a great resource for genealogists, family historians, and historians of Boston.

Giving a fresh perspective on early American religious and political history, she shows the connections between church and state in the colonial and provincial eras, the splintering of Congregationalist churches, and the rise of minority churches such as the Baptists, Roman Catholics, and Universalists. Crocker's history of Boston also pays heed to the voices and stories of women, serving as a bridge between the oral traditions of several generations of local women and the written historical record.

The Reminiscences has three parts: two versions of her history of Boston plus an appendix of related literary and historical documents. The volume, particularly the appendix, contains the largest known collection of Crocker's own poetry. Crocker creatively wove her own poetry, as well as poetry about Boston and by other Bostonians such as Joseph Green, Mather Byles, and Phillis Wheatley, into both versions of her history of the city. Writing with humor, patriotic spirit, and a sense of urgency as she neared the end of her seventy-seven years, Crocker penned her Reminiscences with the intent that it would inform and inspire the "rising generation'' of American citizens to understand and appreciate the roots of their rights and freedoms in the political struggles of the colonial, provincial and revolutionary eras.

We want to hear from you! Share your feedback on this or other NEHGS publications here.

Learn more about Reminiscences and Traditions of Boston by Hannah Mather Crocker and order today!

Eileen Hunt BottingEileen Hunt Botting is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame and author of Family Feuds: Wollstonecraft, Burke, and Rousseau on the Transformation of the Family (SUNY Press, 2006).


New from Roger Thompson

(Massachusetts, Early New England) Permanent link

Charletstown_store front

Roger Thompson's newest book, From Deference to Defiance: Charlestown, Massachusetts, 1629-1692, recreates the lost world of 17th-century Charlestown and the lives and work of the first three generations of its townspeople. By using a variety of surviving records, Thompson presents a colorful history of the town’s settlement and governance, its relationship with the land and sea, the church, local crime and vio­lence, the role of women, and ultimately its involvement in the Glorious Revolution.


NEHGS staff member, Ginevra Morse, sat down with Roger Thompson to discuss his latest contribution to the study of early Boston and its environs.

GM: How would you characterize early Charlestown as compared to other early Boston suburbs?

RT: Compared to other Middlesex towns, Charlestown was directly involved in Atlantic trade—fish, furs, and timber—from its earliest days. Many inhabitants had far broader horizons than in neighboring communities. Leading citizens were often partners or agents for influential merchants in London, Bristol, and other West Country ports, as well as for Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Atlantic Wine Island traders. With many men away at sea, and foreign seamen idling in its port, Charlestown had far more social and sexual problems to control.


GM: What was the most surprising thing you learned while doing your research?

RT: Discovering that the disreputable pauper Sarah Largin had made a new life for herself in Delaware after disappearing from the Charlestown records. Her son married into the gentry. I had many other surprises, like the saviour of early Plymouth, or a neighbor of East Anglia's notorious Witch-Finder General settling in Charlestown, but I'll leave those to readers to uncover.


GM: What was your biggest challenge in compiling From Deference to Defiance?

RT: I had several major challenges. At the start: I had to familiarize myself with hundreds of names of inhabitants as I trawled through thousands of town, county, colony, and imperial records. Later, I was frustrated that all that survived of pre-Revolutionary Charlestown was the street plan and the burying ground. Everything else had been destroyed in the Battle of Bunker Hill. I also had many new areas of English sources to research: the local records and histories of London suburbs, the port of Bristol, the counties of Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Dorset and Devon, and English Caribbean islands, especially Barbadoes. The whole project took over 7 years.



We want to hear from you! Share your feedback on this or other NEHGS publications here.

Roger Thompson is emeritus professor of American Colonial History at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England. His earlier works include Sex in Middlesex: Popular Mores in a Massachusetts County, 1649–1699 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1986), Divided We Stand: Watertown 1630–80 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001), and Cambridge Cameos: Stories of Life in Seventeenth-Century New England (Boston: New England Historic Geneal­ogical Society, 2005).

The Great Migration Study Project

(Massachusetts, Early New England) Permanent link

Great Migration Promotion

Between 1620 and 1640 about 20,000 men, women, and children crossed the Atlantic to settle New England. NEHGS' Great Migration Study Project, under the scholarly leadership of Robert Charles Anderson, FASG, aims to provide a concise, reliable genealogical and biographical account for each of these early immigrants.

With the recent completion of the second series, The Great Migration, Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, we look back at how the Project began. Below is an excerpt from Anderson's article "Reflections on the Great Migration Study Project" which appeared in the 2008 holiday issue of New England Ancestors (now American Ancestors).

"During my early years in genealogy, while handling typical client commissions, I was constantly faced with the problem of learning what research had already been undertaken and published for a family of interest. This search frequently consumed much of the time allocated for research, and became very frustrating.

"Thus arose the concept of a reference work for New England genealogy which would update and supplant Savage* and some of the other single-colony-based compendia. The original idea was to produce a resource which would summarize all important research which had already [been] undertaken on families who had arrived in New England during the Great Migration, originally defined as the period from 1620 (arrival of the Mayflower) to 1643 (cessation of heavy migration due to the commencement of the English Civil War)."

Click here to read the entire article.

*Refers to James Savage's Genealogical Dictionary of New England, compiled during the Civil War and an important resource for New England research.

We want to hear from you! Share your feedback on this or other NEHGS publications here.

Robert C. Anderson

Robert Charles Anderson, FASG is the director of the Great Migration Study Project. Anderson was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists in 1978 and has served as Secretary and President of that organization. He became a Contributing Editor of The American Genealogist in 1979, Associate Editor in 1985 and Coeditor in 1993. He has been an editorial consultant to the New England Historical and Genealogical Register since 1989.

A Guide to Massachusetts Cemeteries, Second Edition

(Massachusetts) Permanent link
A Guide to Massachusetts Cemeteries, 2nd Edition

Author and NEHGS staff member, David Allen Lambert, discusses A Guide to Massachusetts Cemeteries and how this essential guidebook came about.


"While working at the Massachusetts State Archives over twenty years ago I began keeping track of the resources for local Boston cemeteries. Many genealogists wish to visit an ancestral cemetery, but don't know the location or if there is an office to visit. The locations of many small Massachusetts cemeteries on back roads were a mystery. This book includes the physical location, alias names, and date of incorporation or earliest gravestone within cemeteries across the state. Since many older gravestones are worn by the effects of time, nature, or simply vandalized, I have also included both published sources and manuscripts associated with each cemetery. This revised second edition includes many additions and corrections from the original, but I welcome any and all feedback to make this popular guidebook as complete as possible in future editions."


We want to hear from you! Share your feedback on this or other NEHGS publications here.

Learn more about A Guide to Massachusetts Cemeteriesand order today.


David Allen Lambert

David Allen Lambert has been a member of the NEHGS staff since 1993 and has provided invaluable guidance to researchers, members, and budding family historians as the "Online Genealogist." He maintains the daily blog, “Question of the Day” on, which highlights a sampling of the questions that David receives every day. Submit a Question

New England Historic Genealogical Society
99 - 101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

© 2010 - 2014 New England Historic Genealogical Society