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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • Vol. 12, No. 43
    Whole #450
    October 28, 2009
    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.

    * Staff Changes at NEHGS
    * Research Recommendations: Commericalism in Genealogy
    * Name Origins
    * New On
    * Spotlight: Mount Prospect Historical Society [Illinois]
    * Stories of Interest
    * Halloween Savings on Witches, Rakes, and Rogues
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    Staff Changes at NEHGS

    Several staff members at the Society are transitioning into new positions. Ryan Woods was promoted to the newly-created position, Director of the Website. In this position, Ryan will lead the Society’s strategic work in its online presence. D. Joshua Taylor was promoted to Director of Education, overseeing the Society’s seminars, tours, and other educational programming. Rhonda McClure will follow in Josh’s footsteps as Research Services Coordinator.

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    Research Recommendations: Commercialism in Genealogy
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    “Times change; and with so many commercial firms entering the genealogical field, professional genealogists are more and more driven to the adoption of commercial methods to meet the type of competition which now exists.”

    Those who read the title of my column this week likely thought I would be launching into a discussion of online services and their relative worth and value to today’s genealogists. Hopefully you will not be too disappointed to discover that such is not the case. This week’s title is actually a reference to an editorial of the same title written by Donald Lines Jacobus in The American Genealogist in 1937.

    The quote above comes from his editorial, which is an interesting conversation about many of the volumes published by firms in the early-twentieth century. Jacobus provides an amazingly fair discussion of why many of the biographical compilations (commonly referred to as “mug books”) produced in this period may not meet the standards of genealogists.

    In one section he states that:

    “The publication of such volumes is a business matter, pure and simple. A very little reflection will show that commercial houses cannot as a rule afford to undertake genuine research or to check and verify the records sent to them.”

    Despite the drawbacks of these volumes, Jacobus points out that they are still a valuable resource:

    “The publications of the commercial houses do indeed perform a useful function, in publishing current or contemporary statistics which will be a guide or provide a clue for future students, just as we are benefited to-day by the old town and county histories, which are distinctly of service when used judiciously and not relied on too blindly.”

    When using mug books, it is important to note that information on individuals and their families that is contemporaneous to the time of publication (e.g., dates or places of birth for the children of a living person profiled in the book) may be accurate, and certainly provide clues to access original source material. Information on generations past that, however, may be less accurate.

    The entire editorial runs for three pages and is very interesting. The logic and discussion points hold up quite well over time, and can be applied equally well to many of today’s electronic resources, including the plethora of online family trees found in database format.

    The “Commercialism in Genealogy” editorial appeared in the April 1937 issue, 13:209. NEHGS members can read the article online at using the browse feature to go to the volume and page number.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    PARTHENIA (f): Derived from Greek parthene, meaning virginal or maidenly. The Parthenon in Athens was built as a temple to the maiden goddess Athena.

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    New On

    Probate Records of Barnstable, Massachusetts, 1685–1789
    The town of Barnstable on Cape Cod is one of the earliest settlements in Massachusetts and home to many Mayflower families and their descendants. Gustavus Aldolphus Hinckley (1822-1905) transcribed the records from the Barnstable County Probate Court. The transcribed records include all extant Barnstable probate records for the period 1685–1723, and records of Barnstable residents only for 1723–1789.

    This collection of records was originally published on CD-ROM by NEHGS in 2002 as part of the Records of Barnstable, Massachusetts. The database, which contains only the probate records from the CD, indexes references to 11,773 names. Images of the 1,184 record page transcriptions as compiled for the CD are available from the search results pages.

    These records were taken from the Gustavus Adolphus Hinckley papers, 1883-1905, which are available to members at the NEHGS research library (call number Mss 419), and from The Mayflower Descendant (call number F68.M46). The Records of Barnstable, Massachusetts on CD-ROM is also available in the microtext department (call number F74.B14 R43 2002 CD).

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    Spotlight: Mount Prospect Historical Society [Illinois]
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    Mount Prospect, about 22 miles northwest of Chicago, is a village in Elk Grove and Wheeling Townships in Cook County, Illinois. The mission of the Mount Prospect Historical Society is to “advance the discovery, preservation and dissemination of historical and current information related to Mount Prospect, Illinois, and the surrounding area.” The Mount Prospect Online Resources project is a collaborative project of the Mount Prospect Historical Society and the Public Library. Funding for this project came from the Illinois State Museum and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

    Mount Prospect On-Line Resources

    Click on the History of Mount Prospect line on the Online Resources page to access a history of Mount Prospect in both English and Spanish. You will also find a history of the Mount Prospect Historical Society and the Public Library.

    This section contains transcriptions of biographical sketches and oral history interviews with nearly 100 residents of Mount Prospect. Statistics for each individual include name, whether the historical society has photographs of the person, address in Mount Prospect, birth date, death date, marriage date and spouse’s name, and children’s names.

    Well-known area businesses are profiled here. Statistics for the businesses include name of the business, whether the historical society has photographs of the establishment, address in Mount Prospect, whether the building that housed the business is still standing and what is currently at that site, when the business was founded, whether the business is still in operation and, if not, when it closed, name(s) of the individual(s) who owned the business and interesting stories, facts and history.

    Eleven area churches are detailed, providing the name of the church, date of founding, location, whether it has moved, notable members, the name of the first pastor or priest, and a brief history with anecdotal information about the church.

    This section contains information about more than sixty houses in Mount Prospect. The link to each address is associated with the name of a resident. The information provided contains the address; date of construction and builder, if known; significant residents; style of the house; whether it is still standing, and subdivision name and date. In many cases the significant resident’s name is a link to the biographical sketch or oral history interview under the People section.

    Twenty local organizations in Mount Prospect, such as the Chamber of Commerce, Drum and Bugle Corps, the Mount Prospect Women’s Club, and the Mount Pleasant Citizen’s Band, are profiled in this area. Information provided includes the name of the organization, when it was founded, whether it still exists, the main goal of the organization, its address, whether the historical society has a list of its members and photographs of the organization, the main goal of the organization, the organization’s address in Mount Prospect, and whether the organization is responsible for landmarks in Mount Prospect, as well as the history of and interesting stories about the organization.

    This section contains information about sixteen of the twenty-five schools located in Mount Prospect. The information provided includes the name of the school, school district number, grade levels, year the school was built, whether it is still standing and, if not when it was demolished, whether it is a school, and its history.

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    Stories of Interest

    A Quest for Family History: Book Chronicles Janesville Soldier Through WWI
    One man’s interest in his grandfather’s World War I experiences led to a quest to find a missing soldier from the regiment.

    I Found My Roots Are in Africa
    Manchester United star Ryan Giggs recently started researching his family history and discovered that his great-grandparents were from the war-torn African country of Sierra Leone. This prompted him to visit the country to raise HIV awareness.

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    Halloween Savings on Witches, Rakes, and Rogues

    Enjoy Halloween savings on the bestselling Witches, Rakes, and Rogues: True Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder and Mayhem in Boston, 1630-1775 by D. Brenton Simons. When most people think of Boston between its founding in 1630 and the height of the American Revolution, they probably imagine a procession of Puritan ministers in black followed by patriots like Paul Revere on horseback. In his book, Brenton Simons will change a few minds and shock a few others. Witches, Rakes, and Rogues demonstrates convincingly that the narrow, twisting streets of colonial Boston were crawling with murderers, con men, and other blackguards. Bostonians may have been prayerful, but they were also prurient and violent.

    Added to this remarkable rogues gallery are several women who were tried and executed as witches. Simons also uncovers the truth about Boston's first documented serial murder. "Great stories, astonishing characters, dastardly (often quite amusing) deeds ... the research is as deep as the stories are fascinating; in sum, a remarkable achievement!" states John Demos, Samuel Knight Professor of History at Yale University. Jane C. Nylander writes "What an astonishing cast of characters Brenton Simons has pulled out of prim and proper Boston! Here are people and events that seem hard to imagine. Some of these people were victims, others just plain naughty. Their stories are fascinating, and revealing."

    Hardcover, $24.95, Now $19.95
    Soft cover, $14.95, Now $11.95


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

    Halifax County, Virginia, Marriage Bonds, 1753-1854 (Item P5-VA0074H)
    Fauquier County, Virginia, Marriage Bonds, 1759-1854 (Item P5-VA0075H)
    Isle of Wight, Virginia, Marriages, 1628-1800
    (Item P5-VA0052H)
    Pittsylvania County, Virginia, Marriage Bonds, 1767-1864 (Item P5-VA0070H)
    History of Tazewell County and Southwest Virginia, 1748-1920 (Item P5-VA0045BH)

    You can search the entire Classic Reprints catalog online at If you would like a list of FAQs and search tips for the Classic Reprints catalog, simply send an email with "Classic Reprints" in the subject line to

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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 99 Newbury Street unless otherwise indicated. For more information, please contact Ryan Woods at 617-226-1226 or

    You can view a full listing of upcoming programs:

    Seminars and Tours

    The Gods of Copley Square: Dawn of the Modern American Experience
    Wednesdays, October 7–October 28, 2009, 6–7:30 PM
    Back Bay Historical/The Global Boston Perspective has asked the New England Historic Genealogical Society to partner with it in presenting a series of historical lectures by Douglass Shand-Tucci in which Victorian Copley Square will be detailed for the first time through the exploding worlds of art and science, religion and architecture, medicine and psychology.
    Visit for more information.

    Boston University Certificate in Genealogical Research
    Saturdays, January 9—April 17, 2010.
    Developed in collaboration with nationally-recognized experts, the Certificate in Genealogical Research is ideal for those who wish to develop the knowledge and skills essential to conducting quality genealogical assignments. Offered on Saturdays over a 14-week period, the program provides hands-on training in basic genealogical principles, techniques, and core competencies, and leads to a Certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University.
    NEHGS members receive a 10% tuition discount. 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

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    Copyright 2010, 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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