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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • Vol. 13, No. 24
    Whole #483
    June 16, 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.

    * 23andMe Provides Faulty Results
    * NARA Pittsfield Annual Conference
    * Research Recommendations: Atlas of Historical County Boundaries
    * Name Origins
    * Spotlight: West Virginia History Online Digital Collections
    * Stories of Interest
    * Sale on Great Migration Titles
    * This Week's Survey
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information




    23andMe Provides Faulty Results

    Media blog Gawker last week reported that genetic testing company 23andMe misdirected test results to almost 100 customers. The results caused chaos in some families, as children were reported to not be genetically connected to their parents. Other clients received faulty ancestral reports, and one man was even misinformed that he was genetically female (although the discovery of his transgenderism was news to him, and caused him to immediately view the results suspiciously). You can read the story at

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    NARA Pittsfield Annual Conference

    The Friends of the National Archives – Pittsfield, Massachusetts, will present its annual Full-Day Genealogy Conference, Life in the Past Lane VII, on Saturday, September 18, 2010, at the Williams Inn in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The day will include lectures by Jean Nudd, Leslie Albrecht-Huber, and Gregory Pomicter. The registration fee includes morning and afternoon refreshments, lunch, and a roundtable question and answer period hosted by a panel of experts. Vendors will be on hand to provide products of interest to genealogists. We will also have our popular free prize raffle. Complete program details and a printable registration form can be found at Call 413-236-3600 or email for further information or to receive a registration form by mail.

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    Research Recommendations: Atlas of Historical County Boundaries
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    The William H. Scholl Center of American History and Culture is part of the famed Newberry Library in Chicago. In 1988 they started a project to disseminate information on historical county boundaries in the United States. As described by the center, the contents are as follows:

    “For each county or equivalent the Atlas provides chronologies of changes, references to the authorities for those changes (compilation is based upon original research in the laws and other primary sources), county areas in square miles resulting from each change, and a map of every different configuration. In the books most maps are at the scale of 8 miles per inch and display a great deal of geographic detail, including the towns within the county's jurisdiction at any time.

    “In addition to the basic boundary information, the Atlas includes the attachments to organized counties of unorganized counties and non-county areas and full data on unsuccessful proposals for new counties. Changes in county names also are included. County equivalents, such as the "parishes" of Louisiana and the independent cities of Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, and Virginia, receive the same treatment as conventional counties.”

    For thirteen years they published books with lavish illustrations showing the county boundaries within states as they existed from the colonial era to the present day. Many of these books are in library collections throughout the country, including NEHGS. In 2001 publication shifted to electronic format, and now you can see these atlases and download them from free online.

    The image view allows you to zoom in and out, view full screen, pan. You can query on names of counties, or by selecting a county with a drawing tool. This brings up a dialogue box with data about the formation of the county. The valid dates for maps for each state are listed at the top of the screen.

    You can also view chronologies of changes, either statewide or for a single county. The county chronologies are extremely helpful in determining the history of a town, and which county it belonged to in certain periods of time. This information is crucial for finding county-level records, such as land and probate. Each item is sourced, and bibliographical lists provide full publication information for each source.

    You can view the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries at

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    PUELLA (f) (Latin girl, related [via r- to l- transference] to Latin puer (boy). This given name is rare, except in southeastern Massachusetts, where it is found on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard.

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    Spotlight: West Virginia History Online Digital Collections
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    The West Virginia and Regional History Collection is focused on the history of West Virginia and the central Appalachian region. The collection dates to 1930, when West Virginia University’s library “accepted the responsibility of preserving the papers of U.S. Senator Waitman T. Willey, a founding father of West Virginia.” In 1933 the Library's "Division of Documents" was formally authorized. A year later it was designated as an official depository for public records. The Division of Documents was a center for preserving court records during the Works Progress Administration. The collection's scope has been expanded to include archival materials relevant to all subjects and fields in West Virginia history. The Archives and Manuscripts division of the West Virginia and Regional History Collection now contains more than 3,000 collections.

    Roy Bird Cook Collection—31st Virginia Regiment—Confederate States of America (CSA)
    Roy Bird Cook “played a leading role in promoting the study and preservation of West Virginia history throughout the early twentieth century.” He collected historical materials and contributed to the preservation work of West Virginia’s State Department of Archives and History. This collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, typescripts, newspapers, maps, photographs, pamphlets, and other resources. According to the website, the Roy Bird Cook Collection is an exceptional personal collection of historical manuscripts related to early West Virginia history. It is particularly strong in its holdings on the Civil War, Stonewall Jackson and his family, and the history and genealogy of North Central West Virginia.

    The collection’s records of the 31st Virginia Infantry Regiment (CSA) have been digitized and uploaded to the website. The 31st Virginia was formed at the beginning of the Civil War. To learn more about the regiment, researchers may view James Dell Cooke’s regimental history, which is part of the online collection. The history can be viewed in a ‘page image version’ or downloaded as a PDF document. For this, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader.

    The images in this collection have been organized into folders. Click on the folder link in the table on the WVC Collection’s home page to open a new page where you will find links to the items in the collection. Researchers can view full size images by clicking on the high-resolution JPEG image file links or thumbnails of the images. If you access the images by clicking on the thumbnails, you will be able to navigate from one image to the other within each folder.

    West Virginia History OnView: Photographs from the West Virginia & Regional History Collection

    The West Virginia and Regional History Collection is a comprehensive collection of historic photographs pertaining to West Virginia. The online collection contains nearly 38,000 images on a wide variety of topics and locations. The collection may be searched by keyword and can be limited by field. Researchers may also browse through the images or the descriptions of each item.

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    Stories of Interest

    Over Centuries, Trash to Treasure
    The Fairbanks House in Dedham, Massachusetts, is the oldest wood-frame home in North America. Archeologists from Boston University are now unearthing artifacts from eight generations of the family.

    ‘Genealogy Tourists’ Hit Salt Lake City Library in Search of Family Tree
    Canadian Press reporter Jennifer Dobner talks with New Zealander Jan Gow about why people can, and do, visit the Family History Library from all over the world.

    Amid Rough Seas, Celebration for Minot’s Ledge Light
    The Scituate Historical Society, just south of Boston, is marking the 150th anniversary of the lighthouse with a series of events.

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    Sale on Great Migration Titles

    The NEHGS Book Store is offering 20% off on all Great Migration titles, including The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620 – 1633; The Great Migration, 1634 – 1635 series; The Pilgrim Migration: Immigrants to Plymouth Colony 1620 – 1633; and the Great Migration Newsletter compendia. A full list is available on our store page at

    The 20% discount is available through June 23rd, 2010, while supplies last.


    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:

    • Bradley/Broadley of Essex County: Early Records from 1643 to 1746 (Item P6-H00001)
    • The Picturesque St. Lawrence River: A Souvenir of the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence River from Kingston and Cape Vincent to Morristown and Brockville. (Item P6-H00002)
    • Scoville Family Records: A Preliminary Brochure, Also Comprising Scoville Family Records, Part II: Desc. of Arthur Scoville of Boston, Middletown & Lyme CT (Item P6-H00003)
    • Halifax County, Virginia, Marriage Bonds, 1753-1854 (Item P5-VA0074H)
    • Fauquier County, Virginia, Marriage Bonds, 1759-1854 (Item P5-VA0075H

    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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    This Week's Survey

    Last week’s survey shows how important an online presence is for researchers. While 14% of respondents visit the Family History Library regularly and 29% have visited once or twice, 46% use the website only. While the FHL website gets the most visits, more of our readers have visited the NEHGS research library in Boston. 16% do so regularly, and 39% have visited at least once or twice. 41% use the website only.

    A surprising answer involves the National Archives and Records Administration. Only 7% of respondents visit Archives I in Washington on a regular basis, and only 28% have visited at all. The numbers are slightly higher for regional facilities, with 12% visiting regularly and 37% visiting once or twice. These low numbers, perhaps, illustrate a lack of understanding of the vast amount of material available in NARA facilities that are available only in their original format, not on microfilm or digitally.

    This week’s survey is about the areas of the country that you research in. Take the survey!

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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:


    Researching Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
    June 23, 2010, 10:00am
    The presentation will provide an overview of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick primary and secondary resources at NEHGS. Vital records, probates, deeds and land records will be discussed. There will also be a demonstration of related online resources.

    About the Speaker: David A. Lambert has been an NEHGS staff genealogist since 1993, and is currently the NEHGS online genealogist.

    Drawn from Life: Four Women Artists in Nineteenth-Century New England
    June 30, 2010, 6:00pm
    Because nineteenth-century Americans regarded artistic accomplishment as suitably feminine, most middle-class women received some education in art; but pursuing art professionally was another matter. This talk explores the experiences of four New England women in order to map the possibilities, limits, and stakes for those who desired to become professional artists. Painter Fidelia Bridges and sculptor Anne Whitney established long, successful careers and national acclaim in their lifetimes. Prospects for a sister sculptor, Louisa Lander, foundered on the shoals of personal scandal however. And after intense training and early exhibitions of her paintings, artist Adeline Manning remained largely limited to domestic life. A collective portrait of these women and their relationships reveals the contours of nineteenth-century women’s lives.

    About the Speaker: Laura R. Prieto (Simmons College) has a B.A. from Wellesley College and a Master’s. and Ph.D. in History from Brown University. She is a member of the faculty at Simmons College, with a joint appointment in History and Women’s Studies. Harvard University Press published her book, At Home in the Studio: The Professionalization of Women Artists in America, in 2001. She is currently President of the New England Historical Association.

    Seminars and Tours

    Come Home to New England
    August 9 – August 15, 2010
    Experience NEHGS first-hand during a week of guided research at our library in Boston during Come Home to New England. Daily lectures — including a tour of the research library, technology topics, and general methodologies — provide a unique research experience for any genealogist. Group dining events, one-on-one consultations and extended library hours ensure you a successful and meaningful week of research at NEHGS.

    Quebec Family History Tour
    September 26 – October 3, 2010
    Discover the records of Quebec during a week of research in Montreal Researchers will explore the Société Généalogique Canadienne-Française (SGCF) and the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ). Daily consultations with expert genealogists, lectures, and group meals will provide you with the tools and resources necessary for a successful and beneficial week in Montreal.

    Salt Lake City Research Tour
    October 31 – November 7, 2010
    Join NEHGS for our annual research tour to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. You are invited to join fellow researchers and NEHGS members for a week of intensive research aided by expert staff. Lectures relating to organizing your materials, accessing the library catalog, and other research tips and techniques are included along with group dining events and personal consultations.

    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
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