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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • Vol. 10, No. 4
    Whole #358
    January 23, 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.

    *2008 Member Survey
    *New on
    *New From Newbury Street Press: The Abraham Family
    *Name Origins
    *Sale on Gary Boyd Roberts Titles
    *Research Recommendations: NameVoyager
    *Spotlight: More Cemetery Databases
    *Stories of Interest
    *Upcoming Education Programs
    *Seminars and Tours
    *NEHGS Contact Information


    2008 Member Survey

    As many of you may already know, every two years NEHGS has sent out member surveys to learn more about what you think and how we might better meet the needs of all our members. The information gathered over the years has been an extremely valuable tool for NEHGS as we seek to improve all areas of member services and benefits.

    With that, I would like to invite you to participate in the 2008 member survey. Since this year’s survey is electronic there is nothing to mail back. I ask that you please click through the link below and take a few minutes to fill out the survey. We’ll do the rest.

    Your honest feedback is greatly appreciated. It helps NEHGS direct appropriate efforts and resources as we seek to improve and further develop the overall experience for you, our members.

    Many thanks,

    D. Brenton Simons,
    President and CEO

    Take the 2008 NEHGS Member Survey

    New on

    Church and Cemetery Records of Dedham, Mass. 1638-1845

    From the introduction:

    “Two years ago, upon the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the incorporation of the Town, we published our first volume of Dedham Records from the Town Clerk's books of Births, Marriages, and Deaths—1635 to 1845. The records of the various churches in town contain a large quantity of valuable material not found upon the Town Clerk's records. These church records have been open to the public, but they were scattered throughout the several parishes, were not indexed, and few people have had the time or the patience to attempt to search these books and decipher their contents.

    "In my report to the town, upon the publication of the first volume, I called attention to the records in the several parishes, and their importance to the town, together with the fact that, in many cases, these books were kept in the private houses of their custodians, in great danger of being lost or destroyed, and that steps should be taken to enable the town to have the benefit of the important information which they contain.

    "At the last annual meeting, the town made an appropriation toward printing a second volume, which should contain records from the different parishes in town, of public interest, or supplementary to the first volume. Acting under the authority thus given, I have prepared and herewith present this second volume. It contains the records of public interest from four churches and three cemeteries, but only the first book of the First Church has been taken entire; from the other books the covenants, votes and general church records have been omitted, as outside the scope of this work.

    "The First Book of the First Church is a very important document, and must be recognized as a valuable contribution to the ecclesiastical history of the early New England days. It contains a minute account of the formation of this Church, 1638, the method of selecting a pastor, and other officers, and the process by which they were installed into these important offices, and was written by the hand of Rev. John Allin, the first pastor, and covers nearly the entire period of his ministry.

    “So little time before 1845 was covered by the records of the other churches in town, that it seemed inexpedient to make any use of them here. Following the church records will be found the inscriptions upon the tomb-stones in our three old cemeteries, a valuable record, but, though written in stone, they are far less permanent than one would at first imagine, for stones crumble and break, are frequently neglected and allowed to be covered with moss, and with the action of the elements some become unreadable, others disappear altogether, hence the importance of preserving in print these records. But with these, as with the church records, as a rule, only those items dated prior to 1845 have been taken.

    "The four churches are: First Church, Second Church, First Congregational Church, and Episcopal Church. The three cemeteries are: Third Parish Cemetery, Ancient Burial Ground, and South Parish Cemetery."

    This database contains 4,686 baptisms, 2,434 marriages, 3,460 deaths, 1,844 admissions, and 370 dismissals. The images of the original book pages may be viewed from the search results page. This volume is also available in our Boston research library, call number F74.D3 D34 1888.

    Enhancements to the Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 database

    Our ongoing project to add page images and corrections to our ‘Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850’ database continues this week. 

    This week, we are re-releasing the enhanced and corrected vital records of Hopkinton, Chelmsford, Dartmouth, and Medway.  We will continue to release enhanced records on a town-by-town basis as our volunteer team completes the work.  When searching records of these towns, you’ll find an ‘image’ link on the search results page that will display the image of the original VR page.

    Also, be sure to try the “Browse” feature for the VR page images that is accessed via the “Browse” button on the Mass. Vital Records to 1850 page. Page images may be browsed by selecting a town and record type, and optionally entering a surname or page number. For instance, to browse for births for the surname “Smith” in the Arlington vital records, select ‘Arlington’, ‘Birth’, and type ‘smith’ in the ‘Last name or Page #’ field. Click the ‘Go’ button and you’ll see the first page of ‘Smith’ births. The ‘Previous page’ and ‘Next page’ buttons will move one page at a time, and the ‘First page’ and ‘Last page’ buttons will jump to the beginning or end of the current record type.

    New From Newbury Street Press: The Abraham Family

    The Abraham Family of Lengerich, Germany and the Abrams Family of America, with the Blodgett Ancestry of Eliza Jane (Blodgett) Abrams by Barbara Burt Brown, edited by Patricia Law Hatcher, FASG, is a moving tribute to an enterprising German-Jewish immigrant and his wife, a descendant of seventeenth-century New Englanders. Among their descendants was Talbert Abrams, a pioneer of aerial photography.

    6 x 9 hardcover, 160 pages, $39.95
    Buy Now

    Name Origins

    by Julie Helen Otto

    Sound Shifts to Watch For:
    Initial vowel to T: EDWARD to TED.

    Sale on Gary Boyd Roberts Titles

    The NEHGS Sales department is happy to offer the following titles by NEHGS Senior scholar Gary Boyd Roberts at a discounted price until January 31, 2008:

    Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants to the American Colonies or the United States, Normally $75.00, Now $65.00!

    Notable Kin, Volume 1, Normally $30.00, Now $25.00!

    Notable Kin, Volume 2, Normally $30.00, Now $25.00!

    To order, please call 617-226-1212 or visit us online at Massachusetts residents add 5% sales tax. Shipping is not included

    Research Recommendations: NameVoyager

    We genealogists are name obsessed. Surnames are fascinating, but given names can be equally interesting. I recently found an interesting an area of iVillage dedicated to The Baby Name Wizard, a book that helps prospective parents come up with a name for their child. In that area is the NameVoyager.

    NameVoyager shows name usage figures from 1880 through 2005 for the top 1000 most common names. The last three years (2003, 2004, 2005) are shown individually. Prior years are shown by decade. The original information was obtained from the Social Security Administration.

    Names are listed alphabetically. As you enter a name you can see the thickness of the band in relation to other names, thus showing how common that name was used in a time period. The database is configured according to the frequency of use, not popularity.

    For example, the name Michael for males has grown significantly in use. In the 1890s, it was ranked 54th. By the 1950s it was ranked number 2. For four decades, however, (the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and 90s) it was the most common name. In the current decade it has again dropped into second place.

    The name Michael used for females first appears in 1930s. There was a spike in use of the name the 1970s and 1980s (perhaps a surge of baby girls named after “Ma Walton,” Michael Learned?).

    Because the data is reported from the Social Security Administration, it contains names for the United States only. Try the NameVoyager at to see how common your name is (or how common your ancestor’s name was).

    Spotlight: More Cemetery Databases

    by Valerie Beaudrault

    Canosia Township Historical Society Cemetery Database, Minnesota

    The Canosia Historical Society website can be accessed via Canosia Township’s official site. The township is located in northeastern Minnesota in St. Louis County. You will find a number of essays on life in Canosia Township, its history, and a cemetery database. Click on the “Who’s buried in our Cemetery” link to access the alphabetical index. It contains the records of 136 burials from the early nineteenth century through May 2001. The data fields include last name, first name/initial, information on location of the grave, year of birth and year of death. Click on the Cemetery History link to learn more about the cemetery.

    Plain City Public Library, Ohio

    Plain City is located in Ohio, just northwest of Columbus. According to the Plain City Historical Society’s website, the village of Plain City was founded by Isaac Bigelow, who had come to Madison County from New York to establish a stock farm. He, instead, established a new community. Included in the Plain City Public Library’s Research Databases is a cemetery index, which is divided into three alphabetical sections. Click on the Research Databases link under Library Resources on the library’s homepage. Then scroll down to the Genealogy section to access the indexes. The data fields include full name, death date, locality (city, town, county), state, burial date, and cemetery/removal to.

    You will also find a link to the Plain City Historical Society’s website in the Genealogy section. There are several sets of historical photographs of Plain City, with captions, on this website. They are, for the most part, from the first half of the twentieth century. They might be of interest, if your ancestors lived in this part of Ohio.

    Benton County, Arkansas

    Benton County is located in the northwest corner of Arkansas. It was founded on September 2, 1836, and was named in honor of Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, who was instrumental in helping the Arkansas Territory to achieve statehood. The county is bordered by Oklahoma to the west and by Missouri to the north.

    On Benton County’s official website you will the names of more than 120 cemeteries and the towns in which they are located. For about one quarter of them (33) there are links to external websites with indexes and lists of the individuals buried in them. Because the information has been compiled by a number of different individuals, the format in which the data is presented varies from cemetery to cemetery.

    Cemeteries of Martha's Vineyard

    The homepage of this website gives a listing of cemeteries and their locations in towns of Tisbury, West Tisbury, Chilmark, Edgartown, and Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, Dukes County, Massachusetts. In some instances there are links to gravestone transcriptions and photographs of headstones. The presentation of these web pages with transcriptions of individual gravestones and accompanying photographs is quite striking. Additional biographical information on the website, about individuals buried in these Martha’s Vineyard cemeteries, has been gleaned from The History of Martha's Vineyard by Dr. Charles Banks.

    Stories of Interest

    Genealogy’s ‘Big Bang’ Theory
    Lebanon Daily News columnist James M. Beidler wrote an interesting column recently on the Big Bang Theory of genealogical societies and volunteerism.

    Railroad Ancestors
    Tampa Bay Tribune correspondent Sharon Tate Moody recently penned a story detailing her search for ancestors who worked for the railroad.

    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 January 2008:

    Lafayette in America 1824 and 1825
    Monday, January 28, 2008, 6:30 pm
    In conjunction with members of the French Heritage Society, Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati, the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of New Hampshire, the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Connecticut, and the Consulate General of France in Boston, NEHGS will co-host a talk by author Alan Hoffman on his new unabridged English translation of Auguste Levasseur’s Lafayette en Amérique en 1824 et 1825. A book signing and reception will follow. A minimum $20 donation is requested. Please RSVP at 617-226-1226.

    New Visitor Welcome & Library Tour
    Wednesday, February 6, 2008, 10:00 am
    New visitors will participate in an introduction and orientation to the Society, including the opportunity to describe their research and have staff genealogists offer general advice on how to proceed. The free thirty-minute introductory lecture will be followed by a tour of the library.

    Temples of the Arts and Sciences: Stories from British Historic Houses
    Monday, February 11, 2008, 6:00 pm
    Join NEHGS, the Royal Oak Foundation, and the National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA for an engaging look at the rich legacy of British historic houses. Curt DiCamillo, Executive Director of the National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA, will present his award-winning work on the importance of English country homes and their roles in diplomancy, scientific discover, and cultural advancement. To register, please visit or call 800-913-6565, exta. 201.

    Researching in Scotland
    Wednesday, February 13, 2008, 10:00 am
    David C. Dearborn, FASG, will present a free lecture offering tips and techniques for Scottish reseach based on his recent trip to Scotland and England.

    The Corpse in the Cellar
    Wednesday, February 20, 2008, 10:00 am
    Join NEHGS and Marilynne K. Roach, author of The Salem Witch Trials: a Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege, for an engaging tale of two sheriffs, the law, and what do with the corpse of debtor. A preview of Ms. Roach’s talk can be found in a previous issue of New England Ancestors magazine, Fall 2007, vol.8, no. 4 “The Corpse in the Cellar”

    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
    #1 Thursday, February 7–Saturday, February 9, 2008
    #2 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

    Technology and Genealogy Seminar
    Friday, February 22–Saturday, February 23, 2008
    NEHGS is proud to offer a two-day in-depth seminar exploring the important relationship between technology and genealogy. NEHGS staff experts will provide lectures, demonstrations, and discussions focusing on key aspects of technology in family history research. Topics will include internet search techniques, evaluations of genealogical software, use of PDAs in genealogical research, how scanning can improve your data collection, organizing your research with Microsoft, and digital assistance in the publishing age. Participants will also have an opportunity to enter a drawing for software packages, including Adobe Photoshop Elements and ACDSee PhotoManager.
    Registration fee: $150
    For more information 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


    Great Migration Tour to England
    Tuesday, August 5–Friday, August 15, 2008
    Based in Chelmsford, England, this inaugural Great Migration tour with Robert Charles Anderson will visit the historically significant locations in Essex and Hertfordshire associated with the families who migrated to New England in 1631, 1632, and 1633. The primary focus of the tour will be the migrations and activities connected to four influential ministers of the period: Thomas Hooker, John Eliot, Thomas Weld, and Roger Williams.
    Registration fees: Registration is full. To be added to the wait-list, please contact Ryan Woods at

    Other 2008 Tours
    Massachusetts Archives Research Day

    Thursday, March 27, 2008
    For more information visit

    National Archives Research Day
    Thursday, May 22, 2008

    Come Home to New England
    #1 Monday, June 23–Saturday, June 28, 2008
    #2 Monday, August 11–Saturday, August 16, 2008

    Salt Lake City Research Tour
    Sunday, November 2–Sunday, November 9, 2008

    For more information about NEHGS programs, visit or email

    NEHGS Contact Information

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