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  • #24 Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources: How Best to Use the Services of NEHGS

    Gary Boyd Roberts

    Published Date : December 2, 1987
    Having returned from my annual trip to Texas – and I much enjoyed meeting with various members and friends at the home of Henry and Corlyn Adams in Fort Worth – and after a week of moving books in the basement in preparation for compact shelving of our quite large non-New England journal collection, I now return to suggest some ways for using Society services to best advantage.

    In columns 19-21 I discussed the process of examining the genealogical charts of library patrons and numerous participants in tutorials or Come Home or weekend seminar programs. My initial suggestion today is that after combing family sources and gathering materials from your local or regional libraries (or even some major national libraries) that you visit the Society either as a patron or in a program and ask me or another librarian, via a tutorial or otherwise, to review your charts and guide you to everything we think would be useful in our library. You will probably find various 19th century immigrant or pioneer problems in your ancestry and after original work in the sources for those places (either on-site in courthouses, etc., in Salt Lake City, or perhaps through Mormon Family History Centers) that you return to us and ask us to take the results of your breakthroughs and again find in our library whatever will add to your new discoveries. After the solution of pioneer problems "in the field", patrons often find that they can then trace newly discovered New England migrants to all of their immigrant forebears. Southern pioneers can often be traced to 17th or 18th century Tidewater, southside Virginia, or Piedmont families covered in print. Families in western, mountain, or Appalachian parts of the South are much more difficult and will probably have to be traced from on-site or documentary materials for each generation to the mid-18th century.

    If you are unable to come to Boston I suggest using our Circulating Library extensively. Unfortunately our catalog for this collection, much improved in various stages since it was first published two decades ago, still does not include the numbers of pages for each book. When we seem to have two books in the loan collection on descendants of the same immigrant, I would order the book you think will be largest and perhaps note on the order form that if this is not the largest book on this family to please send the bigger volume. Once you have traced many families through our Circulating Library, I would check C.A Torrey’s New England Marriages Prior to 1700, R.C Anderson’s The Great Migration Begins (covering the first immigrants, 1620-1633) and either (1) Genealogical Gleanings in England by H.F. Waters and my consolidation of English Origins of New England Families in 6 vols. or (2) the CD-Rom Register (which includes the original articles in Waters’ and my EO volumes). From these last sources you should obtain as many immigrant identifications and English origins as possible.

    With membership you will receive the Register and NEXUS. If you have a sizable quantity of colonial New England ancestry you will probably find in the Register every two years at least either a new English origins article, a 5-generation study, or a problem-solving article relating to early New Englanders, that covers an ancestor. This new data will often connect you to other immigrants or several generations of yeomen or gentry ancestry in England. If much of your ancestry is 19th century "ethnic" you will find various short guide articles – most recently on Italian and French-Canadian genealogy – in NEXUS. You may also find 19th century source material of interest there. My "Notable Kin" column will frequently relate members with much New England or English gentry and/or noble and royal forebears to major figures in American, British or European history. Members with colonial ancestry may also find other seekers or even a few new clues in the queries section. News of programs in your area or of "Come Home" seminars or research tours to Salt Lake City or Washington, D.C. from which you think your research might currently benefit are also announced in NEXUS. Attending conferences sharpens your skills generally and introduces you to experts whose past publications you may wish to peruse or even purchase and whose future publications you may wish to follow.

    For very difficult problems, for families not treated in sources in your local library or our loan collection, and for research in our manuscripts (see columns 11-13), you may wish to engage our Enquiries Service. For members the research fee is $25 per hour and for non-members $40. There is a "rush" service and material can be sent by fax for $5 per 10 pages. I might also note that the Enquiries Service draws upon both limited staff and much non-staff consultant expertise and that it undertakes research in facilities throughout the greater Boston area. You may also request that a librarian whom you know look over the material and give the Enquiries Service any initial suggestions that you think the librarian might uniquely make. Photocopies can be requested easily and a longtime volunteer familiar with a geographically wide variety of sources undertakes this work

    If you live near Boston you may also order LDS films through us, or you may wish to visit Salt Lake City on our annual tour with several of the librarians you have worked with before and whose expertise you think will again be useful. Likewise, you may wish to visit the National Archives on our biannual Washington D.C. tour and seek the help of either Jerry Anderson, David Dearborn, or David Lambert, who are especially skilled at using that facility. During that tour I help people at the DAR Library and an NEHGS librarian is also stationed at the Library of Congress. At other seminars I have helped participants use the Newberry Library in Chicago, or have recommended a local library I visited and found to contain some especially useful collection.

    We also often invite TAG editor David Greene of Georgia to southern conferences, Lloyd Bockstruck of the Dallas Public Library or English origins scholar Doug Richardson to southwestern or middle state seminars, The Genealogist editor and Quaker scholar Charles Hansen or publisher Carl Boyer, both of California, to conferences there; Jim Hanson of the Wisconsin Historical Society or Tony Hoskins, formerly of the Newberry Library, to mid-western seminars; or Record editor Harry Macy, author Roger Joslyn and of course our own Henry Hoff, to New York area seminars. Other local scholars are also often asked to conferences we sponsor and you can hear their assessments of local facilities as well.

    The Society’s web page and Internet programs are developing quickly. All readers of this column are of course aware of the web page and our sales catalog, Circulating Library catalog and other useful guides on the Internet. We hope much more will be added soon and I hope all of you will follow our additional postings.

    I cannot end this week’s column without telling you that my fifth book, Notable Kin, Volume Two, went to press this week. I have just written the NEXUS announcement for it and the Society is now taking orders (310 pp., $30 plus US $3.50 shipping) This book covers "tycoons, folklore, and Hollywood", with full chapters on the probable Rhode Island ancestry of Marilyn Monroe; the Quaker and New England ancestry of James Dean; Elvis Presley’s kinship to Jimmy Carter (and Carter’s to Jesse Helms); and the Tennessee, other southern and New England ancestry of playwright "Tennessee" Williams. Volume One covered "politics and belle lettres" and Volume Two will likewise relate millions of Americans via either New England or southern ancestors to probably dozens of notable historical figures. With this volume I have completed first or sometimes second editions of books on the British royal family (the American ancestry of the late Princess of Wales), the ancestry of American presidents, 500 + American immigrants of royal descent (the "gateway ancestors" linking modern suburbanites to the Middle Ages and even the ancient world), and "explorations into our ‘notable kin’." I hope many of you will enjoy and decide to purchase this work. My next project is a second edition of The Royal Descents of 500 Immigrants.

    The next topic will be a surprise.
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