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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  •  Vol. 10, No. 11
    Whole #365
    March 12, 2008
    Edited by Michael J. Leclerc and Valerie Beaudrault

    Greetings from the New England Historic Genealogical Society! This newsletter has been sent to people who asked to receive it. If you would like to unsubscribe or change your email address, please click on the link at the bottom of the email and follow the instructions provided.

    * NEHGS Discovers Rare Helen Keller Photograph
    * Purchase a Copy of Helen Keller Photograph
    * New on
    * Name Origins
    * New Beekman Patent Volume
    * Research Recommendations: Genealogical Writing: Punctuation and Parenthesis
    * Spotlight: Vital Records Databases
    * Stories of Interest
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information




    NEHGS Discovers Rare Helen Keller Photgraph

    Last week the Society announced a major find in our collections: a rare photograph of Helen Keller with her teacher Anne Sullivan taken the year after they met. The photograph was taken in the summer of 1888 on Cape Cod, where the Keller family was vacationing. What makes the image even more significant is that it shows Helen holding a doll. Dolls had a special importance to Helen because doll was the first word Sullivan taught her to spell. This is the earliest known image of Helen holding a doll. The image was in a photo album recently donated to the Society’s manuscript collections by Thaxter Spencer.

    The announcement (available at was picked up by the Associated Press and carried by news agencies around the world. You can read the AP article on CNN at or watch an interview on Fox Channel 25 in Boston with assistant archivist Judy Lucey and director of marketing Tom Champoux.

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    Purchase a Copy of Helen Keller Photograph

    Since the release of the news of the Helen Keller photograph discovery, the Society has been inundated with requests to purchase a copy of the photograph. We are now offering reproductions for sale. This is a high quality reproduction of a truly remarkable photograph of 8-year old Helen Keller, taken while vacationing with her teacher, Anne Sullivan, in Brewster, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Photo is 8" x 10".

    Postage paid, via 1st Class mail. Other charges will apply for any rush services (1-, 2-, or 3-day UPS). You can order reproductions now at a price of $25.00, or $15.00 if you are an NEHGS member.

    Please note that this photograph is for PERSONAL use only. For information on using this photograph as a professional image, please check the guidelines on our website. To order other sizes of this image, please contact the sales department at

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    New on

    Social Security Death Index - Free Access
    Updated through January, 2008


    The SSDI, taken from the U.S. Social Security Administration's Death Master File, is one of the key resources available to genealogists today. It contains those individuals who were assigned Social Security numbers and whose death was reported to the SSA. Data is now current through January, 2008. Access to the SSDI is FREE to all who visit This database now contains the names of 79,689,654 individuals, most of whose deaths were recorded after 1965.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    EUSEBIUS (m): Greek eu- ‘good’ + Several men of this name were known in the early Church. Pope Eusebius, though banished to Sicily, served for four months in A.D. 309 or 310, his body being brought back to Rome and buried “in the cemetery of Callisuts on the Appian Way.” St. Eusebius of Alexandria [Eusebius Pamphili] (ca. 260-ca. 339) is best known for the Ecclesiastical History, a history of the Christian Church.

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    New Beekman Patent Volume

    NEHGS Sales is happy to announce the release of Volume IX of The Settlers of the Beekman Patent Dutchess County, New York (An Historical and Genealogical Study of all the 18th Century Settlers in the Patent) by Frank J. Doherty. Volume IX of this award winning series on the 18th Century settlement of an important part of Dutchess County contains 1,104 pages, fully indexed, and includes 44 family surnames, from MILLS TO PAGE. The book is priced at $85.00 and includes free shipping.

    To see a full listing of Beekman Patent books or to order this volume or any other Beekman Patent book or CD, please visit the NEHGS Store at call 1-617-226-1212.

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    Research Recommendations: Genealogical Writing: Punctuation and Parenthesis
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    When using parenthesis in writing, it is important to understand where to place punctuation marks appropriately. The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communication, Second Edition, by Amy Einsohn (University of California Press, 2006) provides these three basic guidelines for placing punctuation:

    • Periods go inside the parenthesis if the parenthetical comment is its own complete sentence. The period goes outside the parenthesis in all other instances.
    • Punctuation marks that are part of the parenthetical comment (such as exclamation points or question marks) go inside the parenthesis.
    • Parenthetical comments cannot end with a comma or a semicolon, therefore these marks always appear outside of the closing parenthesis.

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    Spotlight: Vital Records Databases
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    Howard County Historical Society Marriage Licenses Database, Maryland

    The Howard County Marriage License database is a project of the Howard County Historical Society. Howard County is located in the central part of Maryland, between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.

    The information in this database was drawn from “minister’s returns of marriage licenses, unused returned applications, and courthouse ledgers of marriages performed in Howard County.” The index covers the period between 1860 and 1939. According to the website, Howard County did not have a waiting period for those desiring to get married and, therefore, a large percentage of the marriages were for out-of-county couples. This database contains more than 38,000 marriages. It should be noted that the historical society is in the process of proofing the records in the database, so there may be typos in the records.

    The database is organized alphabetically by surname. There are separate lists for brides and grooms. The data fields in the index include bride’s full name, age and residence; groom's full name, age and residence; and marriage date. If you find the record for which you are looking, you can request a copy of the marriage license from the Howard County Historical Society for a fee.

    Vital Research Records Project, West Virginia Division of Culture and History

    The Vital Research Records Project is a collaborative project involving The West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU). The project’s goal is to create a searchable database of West Virginia county birth, marriage and death records, and statewide death records that will reside on the West Virginia Archives and History website. The database can be found at

    The records made available online in the Vital Research Records Project are from both county and state sources. Births and deaths were first reported to counties in Virginia/West Virginia in 1853, while marriages were recorded from the time of organization of each county. The West Virginia Department of Health Vital Registration began issuing official state vital records certificates in 1917.

    The database currently contains state death certificates from all 55 counties for the period from 1917 through 1957. There are birth, death and marriage records for the six counties (Calhoun, Gilmer, Hardy, Harrison, Mineral and Pendleton) included in the original database. Marriage and death records are included for Calhoun, Gilmer, and Mineral Counties through 1969 and for Hardy, Harrison and Pendleton Counties through 1970. Birth records for these counties are included through 1930. Currently, only records of births occurring more than 100 years ago are being included, which is the case for the remaining 49 counties. A group of 1920 state death certificates (#4501 through #5000) is missing. The record books were lost after being indexed, but before they were to have been transferred to the State Archives. The names of the decedents and their certificate numbers can be found in the Vital Research Records database, but there are no digital images for those certificates. If your family member’s death was recorded on one of these certificates, you should be able to find the record on the county level.

    The records in the database are searchable by name(s), gender, county, and year of the event. Click on the name link to view the detailed record, which contains many more fields than the ones found in the basic record (name(s), date of the event, and county). For example, the data fields in the death records include name, sex, death date, death place, age at death, burial place, burial date, cemetery, funeral home, birth date, birthplace, marital status, spouse, occupation, address, residence, mother, mother’s birth place, father, father’s birth place, and informant. Click on the image link to view a digital image of the record. It should be noted that county records are ‘double-paged’ records. Be sure to scroll across, as well as up and down the screen image to view the entire record. West Virginia’s Vital Research Records Project is a work in progress, with records still being added to the database.

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    Stories of Interest

    NBC Buys Who Do You Think You Are?
    The Guardian reports that NBC has bought the American rights to the popular BBC television show Who Do You Think You Are? The American version will be produced by Friends star Lisa Kudrow.

    How Do You Prove You’re a Jew?
    The New York Times Magazine published an interesting story by Gershom Gorenberg on March 2, detailing the difficulties many American Jews have in Israel actually proving that they are Jewish. This step is a requirement for anyone wishing to marry in Israel, as there is no civil marriage in the country, only religious.

    Reverend Finds He’s Connected to Slave Trade
    Newton, Massachusetts, minister Rev. David Pettee went to Ghana last winter, visiting the site where his ancestors had journeyed as part of the slave trade.

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    Upcoming Education Programs

    Each year the Society presents a number of dynamic lectures, seminars, and tours for genealogists and the general public. Programs are held at 101 Newbury Street unless otherwise indicated. For more information, please contact Ryan Woods at 617-226-1226 or

    The following programs will be held in March and April 2008:

    St. Patrick’s Day Seminar: Irish History and Research
    Saturday, March 15, 2008 10 a.m.–12 p.m.
    In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, NEHGS and The Irish Ancestral Research Association (TIARA) are pleased to offer a free half-day seminar featuring two lectures: “Landlord Assisted Emigration from Ireland” by Marie E. Daly, NEHGS library director, and “Online Resources for Irish Research” by Mary Ellen Grogan, Vice-President of TIARA. Following the lectures, attendees will be invited for a library orientation. Staff and volunteers will be available to assist you in your Irish research throughout the day. In addition, a special Irish exhibit from the NEHGS manuscript collection will be on display courtesy of Judith Lucey, NEHGS assistant archivist.

    This event is free and open to the public. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Ryan Woods at 617-226-1226 or email

    New Hampshire Genealogy Seminar
    New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord, N.H.
    Saturday, April 5, 2008
    Jointly sponsored by NEHGS and the New Hampshire Historical Society, this one-day seminar in Concord, N.H. will teach genealogical techniques. It will cover strategies for using repositories and websites for vital record information, offer tips on how to organize a pedigree chart, and provide the methodology for documenting your discoveries. NEHGS staff genealogist David C. Dearborn will speak on “Getting Started,” “Researching in New England,” and “The Influence of the Internet on Genealogy.” NEHGS director of member services Pauline Cusson will present “New England-Canada research,” and NHHS librarian Bill Copeley will discuss “Research in New Hampshire: NHHS, the State Library, State Vital Records and Archives.”
    For more information visit:

    Salem Witch Judge
    Wednesday, April 9, 2008, 6:00 PM
    Join renowned author of "American Jezebel" Eve Laplante for a reading of her critically acclaimed new book "Salem Witch Judge: The Life and Repentance of Samuel Sewall." A book signing will follow.
    This event is free and open to the public.

    Researching Your Union Civil War Ancestors
    Wednesday, April 16, 2008, 10:00 AM
    David Allen Lambert, The Online Genealogist, will present a free lecture on researching your Union soldier ancestors in the Civil War. Highlights will include tips on using pension records to locate your forbearers.
    This event is free and open to the public.

    Families of the Old North Church
    Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 6 p.m.
    Discover the congregation of the Old North Church in 1775 on the eve of the American Revolution. NEHGS research services coordinator D. Joshua Taylor and staff genealogist Rhonda R. McClure will present the findings of a months'-long research collaboration with historians and educators showing the changing historiography of the church and its families as a revolution dawned in the colonies.
    This program is free and open to the public. Please RSVP at 617-226-1226 or


    Family History in England, Scotland, and Ireland
    Saturday, April 26, 2008
    Discover your ancestors of England, Scotland, and Ireland with three leading genealogists, Else Churchill, Marie Daly, and David Dearborn. This one-day seminar will identify and demystify the best record sources for finding your 17th, 18th, and 19th century forebears. The seminar will conclude with a roundtable discussion where you can pose your specific genealogical problems.
    Early Registration: $95. Standard Registration: $110.
    For more information visit


    Seminars and Tours
    For more information or to register for any of these events, please contact Ryan Woods at 617-226-1226 or

    Weekend Research Getaway
    Thursday, April 10–Saturday, April 12, 2008
    Weekend Research Getaways in Boston are among the most popular NEHGS programs in recent years. Escape to 101 Newbury Street and experience a guided research program, with one-on-one consultations and special access to the collections. Whether you are a first-time participant or have participated in a guided research program before, an on-site visit to NEHGS with our expert staff is sure to further your research. Bring your charts and expect some breakthroughs!
    Registration fees: $300 for the three-day program; $100 for a single day.
    For more information visit

    National Archives Research Day
    Thursday, May 22, 2008
    The National Archives Northeast Region in Waltham, Massachusetts, holds a treasure trove of genealogical material. Join NEHGS staff experts for a day of guided research and consultations at NARA. Highlights of the collection include federal census records 1790-1930, Revolutionary War records and extensive passenger lists.
    Registration fee: $75 per person (includes lunch).
    For more information or to register, please call Ryan Woods at 617-226-1226 or visit

    Quebec Research Tour
    Sunday, June 15–Sunday, June 22, 2008
    Celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec by joining NEHGS staff experts Michael J. Leclerc and Pauline Cusson for a research week in Montreal, Quebec. This unique opportunity will allow participants to take advantage of two premier Canadian repositories, the Société Généalogique Canadienne-Française (SGCF) and the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ). These archives hold documents from the earliest settlement of Quebec through the English period, down to the twentieth century. Participants will receive one-on-one consultations, providing guidance and suggestions for research. Whether your ancestors spoke French or English, the archival records will help you to break through your brick walls and discover where they came from.
    Registration Fees (includes seven nights lodging at the Hôtel Les Suites Labelle): Single, $1,550; Double, $1,350; Double with non-participant, $1,850; Commuter, $775 (no lodging).
    For more information visit

    Come Home to New England
    #1 Monday, June 23–Saturday, June 28, 2008
    #2 Monday, August 11–Saturday, August 16, 2008
    The staff of the New England Historic Genealogical Society invites you to participate in our classic intensive week-long program, Come Home to New England. Research your roots with expert assistance at the extensive NEHGS library, one of the premier facilities for genealogical records in the world. Whether you are a first-time participant or have enjoyed this program in the past, you are sure to benefit from a visit to our library and extended time with our staff of professional genealogists as they welcome you “home” to New England. Throughout the week of guided research, you will have the opportunity for one-on-one consultations, daily lectures and special extended library hours. Registration fee $750, $125 for non-participating guest.
    For more information, visit or

    Salt Lake City Research Tour
    Sunday, November 2–Sunday, November 9, 2008
    November 2-9, 2008
    Join NEHGS for our thirtieth annual research tour to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Along with over 70 other participants you are invited to take part in an intensive week of research where you will be aided by expert staff. Daily programming also includes computer tutorials for accessing the library card catalog, research tips and techniques lectures, personalized consultations and group dinning events.
    For more information visit:

    For more information about NEHGS programs, visit or email

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    NEHGS Contact Information

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    To view the website of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, please visit

    To become a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, please visit

    Copyright 2008, New England Historic Genealogical Society
    101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

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New England Historic Genealogical Society
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Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

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