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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  •  Vol. 13, No. 35
    Whole #494
    September 1, 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.

    * Holiday Closure
    * Research Recommendations: A Cautionary Tale
    * Name Origins
    * This Week's Survey
    * Spotlight: Washington County Free Library, Maryland
    * Stories of Interest
    * Classic Reprints
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information




    Holiday Closure

    The Research Library will be closed on Saturday, September 4, in observance of the Labor Day holiday. The administrative offices will be closed on Monday, September 6.

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    Research Recommendations: A Cautionary Tale
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    On a Wednesday night a couple of weeks ago I got a telephone call from my mother at 10:30 p.m.. After panicking for a brief moment (my mother is normally in bed by 9:00 p.m.), I realized she was up late because she was staying at her sister’s house. They were doing a major cleaning of closets and things at my aunt’s house. My mother said “We had this on the throw out pile, but I thought I’d call you first, just in case you were interested. Would you want a big family portrait of your grandmother, her parents, and her brothers and sisters?”

    What escaped my lips was the sigh heard round the world. I have lost track of the number of times I have told my family that instead of throwing away photographs, papers, documents, etc., from family members to please put them in a pile and give them to me. When my folks downsized from a four-bedroom colonial to a two-bedroom modern house ten years ago, I had to go diving into trash bags to save the bride and groom from the top of my parents’ wedding cake, a bracelet my mother wore on her wedding day, and numerous other items of memorabilia. I even had to convince her to save her wedding dress so that they could use parts of it to create dresses for her granddaughters.

    Back to the telephone call. I responded that yes, I would very much like to have the picture. She described it as a very big picture that used to hang on the wall. I said that was fine, I still wanted it. “Are you sure?” she asked. “Yes, Mother, I’m sure.” I finally went to see her this past weekend for a visit and to pick up the picture. After spending some time talking, I asked her where the picture was. We went out to the garage, where she opened a box and pulled out the “very big picture that used to hang on the wall.” It was an 8”x10” picture in a photographer’s frame. On the back was a built-in easel for standing on a table, with some string wrapped around the easel that someone used to hang it on the wall at one time. Needless to say, it was a bit smaller than I anticipated.

    She then reached into the box again and pulled out another picture. I recognized it immediately. It was a 12”x15” cardboard frame, with an 8”x10” photograph of my great-aunt and her husband on their wedding day, and an 8”x10” photograph of my grandmother (in her bridesmaid dress) on the reverse. Along one side: the tattered remnants from where it had been bound into my great-aunt’s wedding album. I had seen the album many times growing up, and after it fell into my brother’s possession.

    My great-aunt and great-uncle had no children of their own. My brother, sister, and I, were like grandchildren to them. My brother was their special favorite, and he inherited everything from their house when my great-aunt passed, including the wedding album. Despite having told my family multiple times I wanted the album if they ever decided to get rid of it, they had apparently pulled out the only images that meant anything to them, and thrown the rest of it away. I was crushed. The album contained pictures of other great-aunts and great-uncles, my great-grandparents, and others. And I knew even without asking that it was gone forever.

    I write this as a cautionary tale. Try to make copies of images and documents as quickly as you can after you discover their existence. This is especially important if they are in private hands. Even if the relatives who own them are close and want to give them to you later, this may never come to pass if they die and distribution of the estate is left to an heir who doesn’t understand the value of the items.

    By the same token, do not assume that your genealogical and family materials will be passed on as you wish. Even if you make specific arrangements, your wishes may not be followed. The only way to be certain your research, photographs, and other family items will be preserved is to entrust them to another person or institution while you are still alive and have control over the items. If you have made provisions for their disposal in your will, the best way to make certain materials will be preserved according to your wishes is to make an attorney your executor. They are impartial and make no value judgments (as your family might).

    Donating your research and heirlooms to a repository is the best way to insure that they will be available for family members for generations to come. Such donations are the basis of the R. Stanton Avery Special Collections at NEHGS, and we are grateful to all those who have donated materials. It is never too early to start thinking of this. Although I have thoughts of my life coming to a close anytime soon, many of my papers from my terms on the boards of nonprofit organizations have already been donated to a historical society, and I am in the process of organizing some of my genealogical research to NEHGS.

    Whatever arrangements you make for your materials, don’t wait. Act now. No matter how many times you tell your family members, if they are not genealogists your valuable items may be lost.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    LODOWICK (m): Formed from ancient Frankish CHLODOWEG, first seen in about the fourth century A.D., later latinized to LUDOVICUS, which in turn gave rise to German LUDWIG and French LOUIS, among other forms.

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    This Week's Survey

    Last week’s survey asked about visiting your public library for genealogical research. While 45% visit weekly, monthly, or quarterly, an astonishing 33% never go to the library, and almost 50% never use their public library’s website.

    Many of these are likely made up of two types of researchers: individuals who think that if the library does not have a genealogy section, there is nothing there to assist them; or individuals who think that if their ancestors did not live in the local area, the local public library will not be able to assist them. It is unfortunate that these people choose to ignore a major asset for their genealogical research.

    Public libraries have research assistance in many corners. Books on general American history can help you place your ancestors in historical context. They may have subscriptions to history journals and popular magazines that will also help in this area. Understanding the historical context of the area where your ancestors lived may help you find more clues to identify who they were and where they came from.

    One of the biggest reasons to visit your local public library is InterLibrary Loan (ILL). No one library (not even the Harvard University library system) has every item ever published. Many books and articles can be borrowed through ILL from libraries around the country (as well as many places elsewhere) and brought to your local library for you to use. Amazingly enough, not everything is on the internet, or even available digitally. Many records still exist only in the original or on microfilm. Microfilms of many materials can also be borrowed through ILL.

    If you never visit your library or its website, how do you know there is nothing there to assist you? Libraries are constantly getting in new materials, subscribing to new online databases, and otherwise acquiring materials to help you. Without regular visits (both in person and online), how would you know if these materials would be of assistance?

    One of the more valuable resources at the library is also the reference staff. It is their job to assist you with finding answers to your questions. They will also have access to materials to assist you that may not be readily apparent. The important thing to remember is not to restrict yourself in your thinking. Don’t limit yourself to thinking that because your ancestors didn’t live in your local area, or that if your library doesn’t have a specific genealogy section that they have no materials for genealogists. Take advantage of this free resource.

    The full results of the survey are:

    How often do you visit your local public library in person to conduct genealogical research?
    Never, 33%
    Yearly, 22%
    Quarterly, 20%
    Monthly, 17%
    Weekly, 8%

    How often do you visit your public library’s website for genealogical research?
    Never, 49%
    Weekly, 16%
    Monthly, 15%
    Quarterly, 13%
    Yearly, 7%

    This weeks’ survey asks about certification and accreditation.

    Take the survey now!

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    Spotlight: Washington County Free Library, Maryland
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    Washington County, named for the Revolutionary War general and President George Washington, is located in western Maryland. Hagerstown is the county seat and home to the Washington County Free Library (WCFL). The online local history collection of the Washington County Free Library contains many resources specifically focused Washington County records. Click on the link in the contents list to access the particular resource.

    Obituary Locator 1790 – 2007
    This database is a searchable index to the obituaries from the Hagerstown Morning Herald and Daily Mail, 1790 – 2007. There are two search options—last name or other details. The search results returned may provide full name of the deceased, age, if known, date of the obituary, military service, and newspaper abbreviation.

    Marriage Records
    This database is an index to Washington County marriages for the periods from 1861 to 1919 and 1941–1949. The database may be searched by last name, first name, page number, spouse, or month, day and year of the marriage.

    School Records
    This database is an index to individuals named in the Annual Report of the Public Schools of Washington County, Maryland, for December 1927. Search fields include last name, first name, home address, role (teacher, trustee), school, election district and school district.

    Church Records
    There is currently only one active church records database, created from the transcribed records of St. John's Parish in Hagerstown and the records of the parish cemetery. You may search this database by record type, church, officiant, year, date, and description of what took place. For example, parents and sponsors in baptismal records are named. Race is also noted in the record. The records of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Lappans will be available soon.

    Cemetery & Death Records
    Two cemetery records databases are available. The first is for the Reformed Cemetery of Knoxville, Frederick, County, Maryland. You may search this database by last name, first name, and page number. The second was created from Washington County, Maryland, Cemetery Records transcribed by Samuel Webster Piper prior to 1936, typed and presented by the Conococheague Chapter, NSDAR of Hagerstown in 1942; edited by Dale W. Morrow in 1992. You may search this database by last name, first/middle name, volume, and page number.

    Land Records
    The links in this section provide access to various land records databases for Western Maryland. Land records for Washington County are available on the Maryland State Archives website. Direct access to early land records is provided from the library website or you can explore the records from the state archives site by applying for a free password via a link provided on the webpage. The databases are as follows: Land Certificates, Patented 1776 – 1961; Land Certificates, Unpatented 1739 – 1896; and Land Plats and Maps 1849 – 1936.

    Historic Newspaper Index
    The Historic Newspaper Indexing Project was started in 1980. Its goal was to create a multi-volume subject and personal name index to weekly and semi-weekly newspapers published in Hagerstown between 1790 and 1890. To date, printed volumes of An Index to Hagerstown Newspapers cover the period from 1790 to 1849 and 1860 to 1865.

    The online index covers the periods from 1845 to 1849 and 1860 to 1865. Click on the Search Database button to access the database. The following newspapers have been indexed in this database: Herald of Freedom, Herald of Freedom and Torch Light, Herald and Torch Light, Hagerstown Mail, News and Hagerstown News, Maryland Free Press, and Torch Light. The geographic area covered in the articles found in the index include the following “present-day” counties and states: Frederick, Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties in Maryland; Cumberland, Adams, Fulton and Franklin counties in Pennsylvania; and Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties in West Virginia.

    Article titles can be browsed by clicking on the “Show Article Titles by Date” link. Index users can look through lists of titles month by month for each of the years. The data fields include the date on which the article appeared, newspaper abbreviation, page and column information, and the article title and summary. The index can also be searched by keyword. Enter a keyword or phrase in the search box and click on the Start Search button. Click on the “Subject Term” in the search results to see the complete article title information.

    You can get assistance with your searches by visiting the Guide to Using the Index. The guide also includes a list of missing issues of the newspapers in the database. Copies of articles may be requested from the library by clicking on the Request Copies button.

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    Stories of Interest

    Grandfather’s Ghost Story Leads to Mysterious Mass Grave
    CNN Reporter Meghan Rafferty filed this interesting story out of Malvern, Pennsylvania. A group of Irish immigrants who supposedly died of cholera may, in fact, have been murdered.

    Katrina Uncovers a Little History in Mississippi
    When Hurricane Katrina devastated Mississippi's coastal areas, the storm tore up the last home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. But it also peeled back a little slice of history about Beauvoir that might never have been known otherwise.

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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:

    • Desc. of Reinold & Matthew Marvin of Hartford, CT,1638 & 1635, sons of Edw. Marvin of Gt. Bentley, England (Item P4-S18696)
    • Ancestry of Mary Isaac, c.1549-1613, wife of Thomas Appleton of Little Waldinfield, co. Suffolk, & mother of Samuel Appleton of Ipswich, MA (Item P4-S15837)
    • Hist & Gen of the Desc of John Lawrence Hester & Godfrey Stough, 1752-1905 (Item P4-S14271)
    • History of Keokuk County, Iowa (Item P5-IA0034H)
    • Chronicles of New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1667-1931 (Item P5-NJ0125H)

    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 at .


    September 8, 2010, 10:00AM
    With over 110 million names in 2,400 databases, is a primary internet resource for American genealogy and family history. This lecture offers an overview of the Society’s website and online databases. Free and open to the public.

    New Visitor Welcome and Tour
    September 11 2010, 10:00AM
    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. This talk introduces you to the NEHGS research library, located at 99 Newbury Street in Boston. Free and open to the public.

    Windows to the Past: Newspaper Research
    September 15, 2010, 10:00AM
    Newspapers contain more than obituaries—they record many important events in our ancestor's lives and can be a substitute for missing vital records. Learn how to access them online and off in order to reap the huge rewards that are hidden in their pages. Free and open to the public.

    About the Speaker: Elissa Powell has been doing genealogical research since 1985, and has been helping others find their ancestral roots since 1990. The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) certified her in 1995 as a Certified Genealogical Records SpecialistSM (CGRS), and changed her designation in 2005 to Certified GenealogistSM (CG). She is one of about a dozen certified associates residing in the state of Pennsylvania. She is a past Trustee for the Board for Certification of Genealogists (2006 – 2009).

    New Visitor Welcome and Tour
    October 6, 2010, 10:00AM
    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. This talk introduces you to the NEHGS research library, located at 99 Newbury Street in Boston. Free and open to the public.

    Seminars and Tours

    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.

    Fall Research Getaway “Preserving and Organizing Your Family Records”
    October 13 –15, 2010
    NEHGS’ “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 gatherings to share your progress.

    Family History Day
    October 16, 2010
    NEHGS and invite you to join us for our second Family History Day on Saturday, October 16, 2010, at the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center in Boston. Come and explore the world of genealogy, listen to engaging lectures, meet with expert staff, digitize your important family documents, and learn more about how the incredible resources at NEHGS and can help you find your family. Space is limited, so we encourage you to register early to guarantee your spot. To learn more, or to register, visit

    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 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

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