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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  •  Vol. 13, No. 13
    Whole #472
    March 31, 2010
    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.

    * NEHGS Annual Dinner
    * Gary Boyd Roberts on Who Do You Think You Are?
    * Research Recommendations: Wiki
    * Name Origins
    * Spotlight: Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Databases
    * Stories of Interest
    * Question of the Day
    * Classic Reprints
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information




    NEHGS Annual Dinner

    NEHGS will hold its Annual Dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston on Friday, April 23rd, 2010. This year’s event features Annette Gordon-Reed, winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in history for her book, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, as well as guest of honor and NEHGS Council member, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., director of the WEB Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. A cocktail reception will begin at 6:00 p.m., with remarks at 6:45 and dinner at 7:30.

    Proceeds for the dinner will benefit the Society’s Business and Technology Initiative. Individual dinner tickets are available for $300 per person, $150 of which is tax-deductible, and sponsorship opportunities are also available. To register for the dinner and/or sponsorship, please visit For more information, contact Anika Ebanks, at 617-226-1215 or

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    Gary Boyd Roberts on Who Do You Think You Are?

    Senior research scholar emeritus Gary Boyd Roberts appears on this week’s installment of Who Do You Think You Are? on NBC. In this episode, Gary shares with celebrated actress Brooke Shields her royal ancestry. The episode airs Friday evening, April 2, at 8:00 p.m. (EDT). For more information about the show, visit You can watch previous episodes online at

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    Research Recommendations: Wiki
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    FamilySearch has been working very hard to create new services for the genealogical community. One of their major efforts has been the creation of the FamilySearch Wiki. The Family History Library (FHL) has long been a source of guidance and research assistance for genealogists. They have offered research outlines, guides, word lists, and more on paper for decades. Many of these were migrated to digital form on

    Now FamilySearch has created a wiki to replace these old guides. The wiki will allow many more users to contribute to the already incredibly valuable information created by the staff at the FHL. The wiki is easy to use. You can easily search for specific topics, or browse to the information you need. You can either browse by country or by topic.

    When browsing by country, you will find the information in a drill-down format. First there is a discussion of federal level records; then down to state, province, or equivalent level; and so on. Topics are divided into 88 categories, with many categories having further subdivisions.

    The Community Center is a great source of information for those new to the wiki. They have information about the wiki, how to contribute, and other helpful news. There are discussion forums and even live online community meetings to help you get used to the wiki, and to assist you in your research.

    To contribute to the wiki, you will need to create a user ID and login. This ID will work in the future across all of the FamilySearch websites. Registration is quick and simple. The wiki is still being developed, so you may notice that some sections are not as fully shaped as others. What more perfect place for you to contribute your own knowledge? Check out the wiki today at

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    CARMELA (f): (Hebrew karmel ‘garden land, fruitful field’). Popular Italian and Italian-American female name, honoring the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Mount Carmel. In this country CARMELA is often nicknamed MILLIE (q.v.). With thanks to NEHGS members Jane Papa and Marie Scalisi for this hint.

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    Spotlight: Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Databases
    by Valerie Beaudrault — Lancaster County’s Historical Society & President James Buchanan’s Wheatland is a community-based, non-profit organization established to “educate the public on the history of Lancaster County and its place in the history of Pennsylvania and the United States, to advance the missions of regional historical organizations, and to promote the acquisition, preservation, and interpretation of resources representing the history of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania within the broader context of state and national history, including the life and legacy of America's fifteenth president, James Buchanan, and to preserve and maintain Wheatland, his home.” has made a number of its collections available on its website. Links to the various collections may be found in the contents list on the right side of the page. They are:

    The newspaper collection contains five county newspapers as well as Lancaster County city directories. Access to the online collections is made available due to the Lancaster County Historical Society’s collaboration in the Lancaster County Digitization Project. The Lancaster City and County directories database covers the period from 1843 through 1900. The newspapers database comprises five Lancaster County newspapers that cover various periods between 1830 and 1950. The newspapers are: The Lancaster Examiner & Herald (1834 – 1872); The Columbia Spy (1830 – 1889); The Intelligencer Journal (1848 – 1871); The New Holland Clarion (1873 – 1950); and The Lancaster Farmer (1868 – 1884). You can search all six of the databases together or search them one at a time. Use the “Click Here” link to find out more about the individual databases and how to search them. Please be advised that these databases use a variety of search tools. It is important to read the instructions for each database prior to starting your search.

    Pennsylvania Civil War Newspapers
    This collection is a project of the Pennsylvania State University Libraries. Database users may search the full text of newspapers from nineteen different communities during the period from 1850 to 1870. The communities include Altoona, Bellefonte, Chambersburg, Clearfield, Columbia, Erie, Gettysburg, Greencastle, Harrisburg, Huntingdon, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Marietta, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading, Waynesboro, and Wellsboro.

    Lancaster County History
    This section of the website deals with several different areas related to the history of Lancaster County. You will find a map of Lancaster County Townships and Boroughs, a page detailing the origin of Lancaster County Township and Borough Names, a history of the earliest churches, and an article on the history of Lancaster County.

    Oral Histories
    In this section you will find transcriptions and recordings of oral history interviews of a number of members of the community, under the Community Sounding link. High school students, who were trained by historical society staff, conducted the interviews. You will also find interviews with veterans, under the Veterans History Project link, and a couple of other interviews under the General Collection link.

    Obituary Database, Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, Pennsylvania

    The Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society library has a large collection of obituary clippings and death records from local newspapers and other sources in its holdings. Most of the clippings are from the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal and cover the period from 1970 to the present. There are also older records in the collection extending back to the late 1700s. Click on the links to view the indexes to the records. Because the indexes are in PDF format, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view them. The data fields in the index include the name of the deceased; year, month, and day of death; page number; newspaper date; age; and source.

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    Stories of Interest

    History Buffs Head to Salt Lake City for Genealogy Events
    USA Today recently ran an article about the National Genealogical Society’s upcoming conference in Salt Lake City, where registrations are exceeding expectations.
    Besides digital images and microfilm, probably nothing has impacted genealogy in the last century more than the ability to make copies of original documents to bring home with you. CNN celebrates the 50th anniversary of the copy machine in this interesting piece.

    Preserving Important Treasures
    Smithsonian officials are on a history gathering trek across the country. They hope that in addition to helping families with their heirlooms, the ``Save Our African-American Treasures'' series also will turn up items for a national museum of black American culture, set to open on the National Mall, in Washington, by 2015.

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    Question of the Day

    You are invited to submit research questions to David Allen Lambert at Please note that he will make every effort to reply to each message, but will respond on a first come, first-served basis. In some cases he may need to refer individuals to the NEHGS Research Service for more in-depth research services for a fee. You can view more questions of the day at

    Recently I was searching Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841–1910 on and discovered a new family connection. Her birth in 1895 in Boston was recorded with no first name given. My thought is that she was stillborn or died shortly after birth. I noticed several birth entries that began with SB and I interpreted that to mean stillborn, but hers did not include that notation. Is that the meaning of SB? I searched for a death record but found none. Many years ago, while searching through the vital records archives in Boston City Hall I noted that the records there are not always in agreement with state records. Do you think it likely that I will find an answer in the Boston City Hall archives, or, if not, do you have any speculation about what happened?

    First names were not required on birth records in Massachusetts until the late twentieth century. In my experience, it was only during the early years of statewide registration, between 1841 and 1850, that Boston City records provided information that does not appear in the statewide records of births. Records of birth for stillborn children were often marked SB or S.Born. There is usually no record in the death register for a stillborn child. In some small towns, however, you may find two entries for a stillborn in both birth and death ledgers.

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    Classic Reprints

    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:

    • History of Mower County, Minnesota (Item P5-MN0006H)
    • A Century & A Quarter of History: Geneva, NY, from 1787-1912 (Item P5-NY0098H)
    • The Schwenkfelders in Pennsylvania: A Historical Sketch (Item P5-PA0138H)
    • History of Hartford, VT, July 4, 1761-April 4, 1889 (Item P5-VT0025H)
    • History of Rochester and Monroe County, NY, from Earliest Historic Times to the Beginning of 1907, 2-volume set (Item P5-NY0136H)

    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 D. Joshua Taylor at 617-226-1226 or

    You can view a full listing of upcoming programs:


    New Visitor Welcome & Library Orientation
    Wednesday, April 7, 2010, 10:00 AM
    Starting your family genealogy can seem a little daunting at first. There is so much information found in a variety of locations. Let NEHGS help you make sense of it all by attending this FREE lecture for both members and non-members. The program starts with a thirty-minute introductory lecture and will be followed by a tour of the library and its vast holdings. Make plans to start your genealogy with this great tour.

    The Burial Crypt at Boston’s Old North Church
    Wednesday, April 14, 2010, 6:00 PM
    Remembered in historical legend, and immortalized in prose, the Old North Church is perhaps best known for the two signal lanterns displayed in the steeple of Christ Church to the colonial militia on the night of 18 April 1775, warning of the arrival of British forces sent to seize the arsenal at Concord. This pivotal event marked the beginning of the Revolution, and the eventual birth of a nation.

    As they learn of the building's rich history, and marvel at the beautiful simplicity of its architecture, visitors remain largely unaware that more than one thousand of Christ Church’s earliest parishioners rest directly below their feet. Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, crypts were continually built within the church’s cellar to receive the mortal remains of Bostonians and their families. Within these ancient tombs lie not only these remains, but a fascinating aspect of the history of the Old North Church and of Boston’s rich historic past that has yet to be explored.

    About the Speaker:
    Jane Lyden Rousseau is a Scholar in Residence at the Old North Church, and a Curatorial Assistant at Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. She received her Master of Science degree in Human Osteology and Funerary Archaeology from the University of Sheffield in England, and has done extensive archaeological fieldwork in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and New England.

    American Passage: The History of Ellis Island
    Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 6:00 PM
    For most of New York’s early history, Ellis Island had been an obscure little island that barely held itself above high tide. Today, the small island stands alongside Plymouth Rock in our nation’s founding mythology as the place where many of our ancestors first touched American soil. Ellis Island’s heyday—from 1892 to 1924—coincided with the greatest mass migration of individuals the world has ever seen, with some twelve million immigrants inspected at its gates. Vincent J. Cannato traces the politics, prejudices, and ideologies that surrounded the great immigration debate, to the shift from immigration to detention of aliens during World War II and the Cold War, all the way to the rebirth of the Island as a national monument. Based upon the author’s best-selling book, American Passage: The History of Ellis Island.

    About the Speaker: Vincent J. Cannato is associate professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He received his BA with honors in Political Science from Williams College and his PhD in History from Columbia University. At UMASS-Boston, Prof. Cannato teaches courses on New York City history, Boston history, immigration history, and twentieth-century American history.

    Seminars and Tours

    Online Boston University Certificate in Genealogical Research
    Boston University’s Online Certificate in Genealogical Research will help you reach the next level of professionalism. Whether you are a serious amateur, a budding professional, or an expert with a CG®, this rigorous 14-week program will help you take your genealogical work to the next level. NEHGS members get a 10% tuition discount. The next class will begin on May 10, 2010, with a registration deadline of April 23. For more information, visit

    Boston University Certificate in Genealogical Research (Intensive Summer Program)
    Weekdays, July 12–July 29, 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. This intensive summer program is offered Monday through Friday over a 14-day 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

    Spring Research Getaway — Ancestors from the British Isles
    April 8–10, 2010
    “Weekend Research Getaways” are among the most popular programs we offer. Escape to 99 Newbury Street in downtown Boston and experience a guided program with one-on-one consultations and expert reviews of your research. Whether you are a new genealogist or a longtime member, this three-day onsite visit to NEHGS is certain to advance your research — and you make new friends too. Registration includes breakfast, daily lectures, and group dinners to share your progress. For more information, visit

    Writing Your Family History
    May 7–8, 2010
    Advance your genealogical research and contribute to scholarship in the field by learning the techniques to publishing your findings from expert genealogists. This unique workshop will feature lectures, focus groups, and consultations centered on writing for family historians at all stages of research. For more information, visit

    Irish Genealogy Research Tour
    May 23–30, 2010
    Discover your Irish heritage with the New England Historic Genealogical Society. This weeklong guided research tour will give you access to a treasure trove of records in Dublin and the benefit of consultations with some of the foremost experts in Irish genealogy. Your tour features guided research at various repositories in central Dublin, including the General Register Office, National Library, National Archives, and Registry of Deeds, among others. Daily programming includes tutorials, 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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    Copyright 2010, New England Historic Genealogical Society
    101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

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New England Historic Genealogical Society
99 - 101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

© 2010 - 2014 New England Historic Genealogical Society