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  • 1999 Archive

  • Vol. 1, No. 5
    Whole #5
    October 1, 1999
    Greetings from the New England Historic Genealogical Society!

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    HisGen Highlights


    October 1, 1999


    -Putting the "Gene" Back in Genealogy
    -Recent Technology Center Additions at NEHGS
    -Mayflower Families Special
    -A sneak peek at
    - Putting the "Gene" Back in Genealogy

    Faithful NEXUS readers may remember the 1996 article by Edwin Munroe Knights Jr., M.D. about the partnership between genealogy and molecular genetics. Dr. Knights, Director of the New-Hampshire-based company GeneSaver, now relays some exciting news from the Human Genome Project.

    Dr. Francis S. Collins, reporting on the Project's progress from his position with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in his Shattuck Lecture to the Massachusetts Medical Society, wrote about the Project in the July 1 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. He said those working on the Project, which was launched in 1990, have again upgraded their prediction for the completion of a "working draft." Initially planned for 2005, then accelerated to 2002, the Project, which spawned the massive "genomics" industry, is now expected to be largely completed by this spring, given rapid technological advances and a burgeoning interest all over the globe.

    Dr. Collins writes that "the idea captured the public imagination, perhaps less in the manner of America's wars on cancer and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome than in the manner of the great expeditions -- those of Lewis and Clark, Sir Edmund Hillary, and even Neil Armstrong. Scientists wanted to map the human genetic terrain, knowing it would lead them to previously unimaginable insights, and from there to the common good. That good would include a new understanding of genetic contributions to human disease and the development of rational strategies for minimizing or preventing disease phenotypes altogether."

    In a recent release Dr. Knights, member of HisGen, maintains that "the knowledge obtained will greatly speed up development strategies for diagnosis, prevention and treatment for a host of diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, schizophrenia and cancer."

    The GeneSaver company was established in 1996, due, according to Dr. Knights, to concern "that all this valuable DNA information is being lost when someone dies, either destroyed by cremation or made inaccessible by burial." Knights, who has written extensively about both the Genome Project and his company's plans for Family Chronicle and who recently completed an article on genomics for the NGS Newsletter, explains that "after extensive investigation, we decided upon using samples of fingertip blood in the living person and scrapings of buccal tissue (from inside the cheek) in the recently deceased." GeneSaver's preservation system permits storage of the DNA samples anywhere at room temperature, according to Dr. Knights, so you can "establish your own family genome bank, knowing that its contents will remain confidential and always available for analysis when needed."

    The co-founder of GeneSaver, originally a division of New Hampshire's LIFE SCIENCE Inc., is George A. Fischer, Ph.D. Fischer is Technical Director of the medical laboratories at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. He and Dr. Knights formerly worked together at SmithKline Beecham in Michigan. They co-authored a book about Minicomputers, according to Dr. Knights, "[in] the days when you wrote programs in machine language and had to pack the registers." Further information is available at GeneSaver's website

    Recently arrivals in the Technology Center at NEHGS include the following Pre-1880 Conn. Probate Records: Mansfield, Marlborough, Middletown, Montville, New Haven, New London, New Milford, Newtown, Norfolk, North Stonington, Norwich, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Oxford, Plainfield, Plymouth, Pomfret, Redding, Roxbury, Salem, Sterling, Stonington, Stratford, Suffield, Thompson, Tolland, Torrington, Voluntown, Wallingford, Waterbury, Westbrook, Winchester, Windham, Woodbury, and Woodstock Districts.

    Others recently added include Connecticut Probate Records 1881-1915 for the Hartford, Hartland, Harwinton, Hebron, Kent, Killingly, Killingworth, Lebanon, Litchfield, Lyme, Mansfield, Marlborough, Middletown, Milford, Montville, New Hartford, New Haven Districts.

    Finally.....Town, Land, and/or Vital Records from Vermont include Bennington, Danby, Hinesburg, and Wallingford, along with the Index to Pension Files of Remarried Widows for Civil War Veterans and Veterans of Wars after the Civil War.

    The Sales Department is pleased to announce the availability of Volume 18, Part 2, of the popular "Mayflower Families Through Five Generations" Series.  Part 1 of Volume 18 covered four generations of the descendants of Richard Warren and named the fifth.  The newly-released Part 2 covers fifth-generation descendants through his daughters Mary(2), Anna(2), and Elizabeth(2) Warren.

    Published by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 1999.

    "Volume 18, Part 2" (Item #B2-85031) may be purchased for $25.00*, plus $3.50 shipping and handling.  Please call the Sales Department, toll-free, at 1-888-296-3447, or order through our secure online ordering system at .  Please refer to this newsletter when placing your order.

    *MA residents must add 5% sales tax.

    Members are reminded that to enter certain members-only areas of our future website, they will need to have their Membership Number, which is printed on the mailing label of each issue of both the Register and NEXUS. The Society catalog (aka "Sydney") remains accessible at our existing website by clicking on "Society Members Click Here" on the home page, then following the links to SydneyPLUS. And keep in mind that the Society continues to solicit home-based Volunteer Editors for our online Manuscript Inventory Project! Flexible hours, all the vacation you want, plus you're helping members all over the country to access this oft-underappreciated gem among the Society's collections! Details are available by sending a query to

    Those wishing to take a peek at the work-in-progress known as are encouraged to peruse our beta site at


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