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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • Vol. 10, No. 34
    Whole #388
    August 20, 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 collects, preserves, and interprets materials to document and make accessible the histories of families in America.

    * eNews Reader Solves Portrait Puzzle
    * FGS Online Registration Closes Friday
    * Research Recommendations:
    * Name Origins
    * New On
    * Spotlight: Cemetery Databases
    * Stories of Interest
    * Pre-1636 New England Immigrants: A Comprehensive Index
    * Classic Reprints
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    eNews Reader Solves Portrait Puzzle

    In last week’s issue of eNews we presented a story of interest concerning the federal courthouse in Pittburgh. Tribune-Review reporter Jason Cato published an article on August 8 about the search for an image of Thomas Irwin, the only one of the court's 55 justices without a portrait in the courtouse. This story appeared in last week’s Stories of Interest.

    The story piqued the interest of NEHGS member Robert Battle, a linguistics professor at the University of Washington. After a bit of searching Battle contacted Cato and gave him the location of an image of Judge Irwin. You can read more in Cato’s updated story, published last Friday. Kudos to Professor Battle for putting his genealogical instincts to work to find the portrait.

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    FGS Online Registration Closes Friday

    The 2008 Federation of Genealogical Societies conference, Footprints of Family History, will be held in Philadelphia September 3–6 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Online registration for the conference closes this Friday, August 22. You can still come to the conference and register as a walk-in at the convention center.

    Henry B. Hoff, editor of the Register, will be presenting “Dutch Families in New York and New Jersey,” “New York Vital Record Substitutes,” and “There Must Be Something in Print — And How to Find It.” President and CEO D. Brenton Simons will be the speaker at the NEHGS luncheon on Saturday, discussing “What’s New in New England and New York Genealogy.” Staff members Rhonda McClure, Judy Lucey, and David Lambert will be staffing the Society’s booth in the exhibit all.

    For more information about the conference or to register, visit

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    Research Recommendations:
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    Those with Irish ancestors may wish to check out a new website, An initiative of the Information Society Fund, AskAboutIreland bills itself as “your place to find answers about Ireland." The site is filled with information about Irish culture, heritage, and locations, providing access to images and documents from Irish public libraries, museums, and archives.

    The site has five main areas: Topics, Places, Student Zone, Resources, and Information. The Information section provides discusses AskAboutIreland and the Cultural Heritage Project, as well as providing contact information and links to participating organizations. Among these are the National Museum of Ireland, Linen Hall Library in Belfast, The Cork Archives Institute, the Waterford Museum of Treasures, Louth County Museum,, Library and Information Services Council of Northern Ireland, Council of National Cultural Institutions (CNCI) and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) from Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales. The Student Zone provides information for both primary- and secondary-school students, including information, maps, and games.

    The Topics section provides access through the broad categories of Arts and Literature, Environment and Geography, History and Heritage, Life and Society, and Sports and Recreation. Under History and Heritage, for example, you can find information on the Poor Law Unions and their records. Dr. Raymond Gillespie outlines the events leading to the creation of workhouses in Ireland, daily life in the workhouse, and records of these organizations that survive today.

    Some features, such as the Irish Times Archive, are only available to residents of Ireland. Most, however, are free to all. One of the most valuable items for genealogists is the online version of Griffith’s Valuation. A project of OMS Services, the National Library of Ireland, and well-known genealogical publisher Eneclann, you will find the valuation in the Resources section.

    Published between 1847 and 1864, Griffith’s Valuation was the first land valuation in Ireland. Overseen by Richard Griffith (for whom it is named), the valuation lists every landholder and householder in every county in Ireland in the mid-1800s. This version allows you to search by place name or person name. Simply plug in a last name, and as much additional information (first name, county, barony, poor law union, or parish) that you have.

    The results show the surname and first name of the occupier, the county and parish name, and links to additional details, the original page of the valuation, and a map of the area. The maps are beautiful, scanned in full-color and very detailed. You can zoom in to see every detail. Loading the image can be slow at times, so be patient. AskAboutIreland makes extensive use of pop-up windows, so make sure you have allowed your browser to allow pop-ups from this site.

    Many areas of the site, including Griffith’s Valuation, are still in beta form and there may still be bugs. Problems will occur, but they are working to fix them. is a must-visit for all with Irish ancestors.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    BRIDE, BRIDIE (f): Irish nickname for BRIDGET (Gaelic Bríd), sometimes seen in medieval English usage as well.

    BRIDGET (f) (Gaelic Bríd). St. Bridget. In Irish and some Irish-American usage, interchangeable with DELIA. Medieval Scandinavia, St. Brigitta of Sweden etc. The name was also much used in early modern England, and in certain New England families, such as those descended from Preston Capes, Northamptonshire, native Bridget T[h]ompson [1622-1643], daughter of Roxbury, Mass. immigrant Alice (Freeman) (Thompson) Parke and first wife of [Capt.] George Denison of Stonington, Connecticut. This illustrates that it is most unwise to assume that all colonial Bridgets were ipso facto Irish.

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    New On

    Boston Church Records

    The records of the churches of Boston were transcribed by Robert J. Dunkle and Ann S. Lainhart and published in CD-ROM format by NEHGS in 2001 as The Records of the Churches of Boston and the First Church, Second Parish, and Third Parish of Roxbury, Including Baptisms, Marriages, Deaths, Admissions, and Dismissals. Church records are an important adjunct to vital records as it is estimated that only a small fraction of Boston births, marriages and deaths prior to 1800 were recorded by civil authorities. When completed, this database will contain all of the information from the original CD-ROM, which itemizes the records of sixteen of the original twenty-one Boston churches and three Roxbury churches.

    In this first installment, we present the 31,143 records of the First Baptist Church, Second Baptist Church, Old South Church, and New South Church.

    Records of the remaining churches will be added in the future. The remaining churches are First Church, Second Church, King's Chapel, Brattle Street Church, New North Church, New Brick Church, Christ (Old North) Church, Federal Street (now Arlington Street) Church, Hollis Street Church, Trinity Church, West Church, Baldwin Place Church, Roxbury First Church, Roxbury Second Parish, and Roxbury Third Parish.

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    Spotlight: Cambridge Historical Commission Library, Cambridge, Massachusetts
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    Cambridge is located in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, across the Charles River from Boston. Part of the greater Boston area, it is home to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology among other educational institutions. If you are interested in researching property in Cambridge you should visit the library and archive of the Cambridge Historical Commission (CHC), either in person or online. The CHC library and archives are open to the public for research Monday through Thursday. The library strongly recommends that you call ahead to set up an appointment. Contact information is provided on their website.

    The CHC has the following onsite resources available for researchers: photographs, newspaper articles, city directories (1848–1874), and atlases as well as some deed, tax, and building permit records (1886–1937), as well as the Cambridge Historical Commission architectural inventory. The CHC photo collections include the Boston Elevated Railway (BERy) collection with approximately 1,000 glass negatives taken by the Railway between 1899 and 1912. Most of these images document the construction of the Cambridge Subway between 1909 and 1912, but some depict other scenes.

    In addition, the library and archive also contains a collection of Cambridge Historical Commission publications, some of which are out of print. These publications include oral history publications exploring various neighborhoods in the City and an architectural survey. Many of these publications contain material on social history as well.

    The CHC also has among its holdings a number of maps, atlases and ‘views,’ as well as other historical resources. There are links on the CHC website to several of these resources. The following resources can be found in the CHC onsite collections and online through various websites. Click on the links in the descriptions to access them.

    Maps/Atlases and ‘Views’

    Through Harvard University’s website:
    1833 Wadsworth's Plan of the Village of Old Cambridge
    1854 Walling's Map of Cambridge, shows buildings, property lines, topographical features
    1873 Hopkins' Atlas, shows buildings, building material, ownership, property lines. (This atlas can also be viewed online at
    1885/88 Sanborn Atlas of Boston/Cambridge
    1886 Hopkins' Atlas, shows buildings, building material, ownership, property lines.
    1894, 1903, 1916, 1930 Bromley Atlases, show buildings, building material, ownership, property lines. (These atlases can also be viewed online at
    1900 Sanborn Atlas, updated to 1933, shows buildings, building material, ownership (of some properties), property lines, use, hazardous structures or manufacturing materials. (The 1900 base map of this atlas, without the pasted on updates, is the version that can be viewed online at Harvard's website.)

    Through the Boston Public Library’s website:
    1877 Franklin View Co.'s bird's eye view of Cambridge
    1879 Bailey & Hazen's bird's eye view of East Cambridge

    Other Resources through various websites, including Google Books:

    Christopher Hail's Cambridge Buildings and Architects database, which is searchable by street address, or by owner/builder's name.
    J. W. Freese's Historic Houses and Spots in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Nearby Towns. (1898)
    Rev. Abiel Holmes' History of Cambridge (1801) and a history of the First Parish church in Harvard Square can be found on the Harvard Square Library site.
    John Warner Barber's Historical Collections Relating to the History and Antiquities of Every town in Massachusetts with Geographical Descriptions (1848), contains a historical sketch of Middlesex County and a chapter with the history of Cambridge.
    Register Book of the Lands and Houses in the "New Towne" and the Town of Cambridge with the Records of the Proprietors of the Common Lands being the Records Generally Called the Proprietors Records.
    Records of the Town of Cambridge (formerly Newtowne) Massachusetts 1630-1703
    D.A.R.'s An Historic Guide to Cambridge (1907)
    Lucius Paige's History of Cambridge. Lucius Paige was the first city clerk of Cambridge. The detailed history includes a genealogical register.
    Epitaphs from the Old Burying Ground in Cambridge (1845) by William T. Harris.
    Samuel Eliot's A History of Cambridge, 1630-1913 (1913)

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    Stories of Interest

    Ancestry Hunters Stuck in Past as Web Project Fails
    The £16 million plan from the GRO to give direct online access to 171 years of birth, marriage, and death records in England and Wales has collapsed after three years. Read the details in Saturday’s story in The Guardian.

    The History Will Linger at Remade Ford’s Theater
    The theater is undergoing intense, massive renovations in preparation for the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth on February 12. Producing director Paul R. Tetreault discusses the project this week in the Washington Post.

    I Was There. Just Ask Photoshop.
    New York Times reporter Alex Williams discusses how Photoshop and other digital-image editing programs are rewriting history. How will this affect genealogists of the future?

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    Pre-1636 New England Immigrants: A Comprehensive Index

    Linda Maclachlan, a retired lawyer and state administrative law judge, compiled this list of early immigrants. Read about the index and how to use it and download a PDF of the index at

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    Classic Reprints

    Did you know that the NEHGS Sales Department offers library-quality copies of over 10,000 rare and out-of-print books? Some titles ordered by recent customers include:

    History of Keokuk County, Iowa (Item P5-IA0034H)
    Early Days in Newington, Connecticut, 1833-1836 (Item P5-CT0271H)
    History of the Shinn Family in Europe & America (Item P4-H23631)
    English Ancestors of Peter Talbot of Dorchester, Massachusetts (Item P4-H25104)
    Genealogy of the Cortland County, NY, Branch of the Sanders Family (Item P4-H22953)

    You can search the entire Classic Reprints catalog online at

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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

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

    Getting Started in Genealogy
    Saturday, September 13, 2008
    Roseland Cottage, Woodstock, CT
    Join NEHGS and Historic New England for a day-long seminar that will teach you basic techniques for exploring your family history. Getting Started in Genealogy will teach you strategies for using libraries, repositories and genealogical websites to locate vital record information, census records, immigration documents, and more. You will also learn how to organize a pedigree chart and document your discoveries for future generations. If you have an interest in becoming your family’s historian, this program is not to be missed.

    Registration fee: $45 for members; $55 for non-members.

    Massachusetts Archives Research Day
    Thursday, September 18, 2008
    Spend a day with NEHGS staff amidst the rich collection of the Massachusetts State Archives at Columbia Point, Boston. Archive resources include Massachusetts vital records, 1841–1915; Alien Port Arrivals, 1848–1891; State censuses, 1855 and 1865; and the Felt Collection containing Colonial-era and Revolutionary War land grant, military, tax, legislative, estate and early divorce records. Registration also includes a one-on-one consultation with an NEHGS genealogist.
    Registration fee: $55.

    Families of Western Massachusetts in 1790
    Saturday, September 20, 2008
    University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
    Western Massachusetts was a crossroads of migration. In 1790 the population of Berkshire County was 30,291, and that of Hampshire County 59,681, making a total of just under 90,000 — slightly larger than Vermont’s 85,425, and slightly less than Maine’s 96,540. New Hampshire was significantly larger, with a population of 141,855. Join Michael J. Leclerc and Christopher C. Child, editors of the upcoming NEHGS publication Western Massachusetts Families in 1790 for a day-long program examining the history of Western Massachusetts and hear how you can participate in this exciting new book series.
    Registration fee: $75

    National Archives Research Day
    Thursday, October 9, 2008
    The National Archives (NARA), Northeast Region facility in Waltham, Massachusetts, holds a treasure trove of genealogical material. NARA holds both microfilm and original records of the Federal Government dating back to 1790. Highlights of the collection include census records 1790–1930, Revolutionary War records, and an extensive collection of passenger arrival records for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. NEHGS staff will be on hand to provide consultations and assist you with your research. Registration includes lunch.
    Registration fee: $75

    Salt Lake City Research Tour
    Sunday, November 2–Sunday, November 9, 2008
    Join NEHGS for our thirtieth annual research tour to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Along with more than 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:

    Getting Started in Genealogy
    Saturday, November 15, 2008
    Gov. John Langdon House, Portsmouth, NH
    Join NEHGS and Historic New England for a day-long seminar that will teach you basic techniques for exploring your family history. Learn strategies for using repositories and websites to locate vital record information, organizing a pedigree chart, and documenting your discoveries. If you have interested in becoming your family’s historian, this program is not to be missed.
    Registration fee: $45 for members; $55 for non-members.

    Washington, D.C. Research Tour
    March 8–15, 2009
    NEHGS returns to the nation’s capital to explore it’s wealth of genealogical resources. Staff will be providing daily consultations at three repositories throughout the city: the Library of Congress, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Library and the National Archives and Records Administration. An orientation will be offered at each repository at the beginning of the week. Program registration includes two group dinners to socialize and share research. Registration fees (includes seven nights’ lodging at the State Plaza Hotel): Single, $2,700; Double, $2,300 per person; Double with non-participant, $2,950; Commuter, $850 (no lodging).

    English Family History Tour
    May 17–24, 2009
    The English Family History Tour to London is an essential research trip for genealogists with British Ancestry. Based at the Society of Genealogists (SoG), researchers will be offered daily classes providing historical context and research methodology tips for working with the extensive record collection of the SoG. The library’s holdings include more than 120,000 books and microforms featuring census indexes; family histories; biographies; service, professional, and trade directories; an apprenticeship index (1770-1774), school and university lists, will and marriage license indexes; runs of Burke’s Peerage and Landed Gentry; a large number of manuscripts arranged by surname; and a miscellaneous card index of 3 million references. Registration fees: (includes seven nights’ lodging at the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury) Single, $4,850; Double, $4,550 per person; Double with non-participant, $5,550; Commuter, $2,300 (no lodging).

    Newfoundland Research Tour
    July 12–19, 2009
    Discover your Atlantic Canada family history with NEHGS in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Join expert genealogists at St. John’s premier facilities, including the Provincial Archives – “The Rooms,” the Maritime History Archive at Memorial University, the Registry of Deeds, and A.C. Hunter Library. Together these repositories hold vital records, church records, all census records, voter lists, probate, and land grants the Keith Matthews collection (list of all people who worked in fishery from 16th century to 1850), ship lists, crew lists, logbooks, Irish and English parish records and original newspapers of Newfoundland.
    Registration fees: (includes seven nights’ lodging at the Fairmont Hotel) Single ocean view room, $3,250; Single city view room, $3,100;Double, $2,700 per person; Double with non-participant, $3,550; Commuter, $850 (no lodging).

    Scottish Family History Research Tour
    September 20–27, 2009
    Discover the origins of your Scottish ancestors with the inaugural NEHGS research tour to Edinburgh. This weeklong intensive research program will be based out of Scotland’s two premier genealogical repositories, The National Archives of Scotland (NAS) and the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS). Together these neighboring repositories house the major collections of government and vital records for more than 700 years of Scottish ancestry. The main holdings of NAS include records created by the government of Scotland beginning in the twelfth century, including records of the crown, parliament, legal registers, courts documents, and records of the Church of Scotland. Vital records including birth, marriage, and death from 1855 and parish registers from 1553 to 1854 are maintained by the GROS. Program registration includes lodging at the Sheraton Grand Hotel and opening and closing dinners. Registration fees: (includes seven nights’ lodging at the Sheraton Grand Hotel) Single, $4,750; Double, $4,450 per person; Double with non-participant, $5,350; Commuter, $2,300 (no lodging).

    For more information about NEHGS programs, visit or email

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    NEHGS Contact Information

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