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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • The Weekly Genealogist
    Vol. 13, No. 51
    Whole #510
    December 22, 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.

    * Happy Holidays from NEHGS
    * NEHGS Annual Fund
    * Research Recommendations: Holiday Traditions
    * NEHGS Holiday Closures
    * Name Origins
    * This Week's Survey
    * Spotlight: Chester County Archives and Records Services, Pennsylvania
    * Stories of Interest
    * NEHGS Holiday Gifts
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    Happy Holidays from NEHGS

    The staff of the Society extends heartfelt wishes for the happiest of holiday seasons to all of our members. Whether your December tradition includes Ashura, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or another holiday, we wish you a joyous holiday, and all the best in 2011.

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    NEHGS Annual Fund

    Annual Fund donations help to keep membership fees down, enhance our website capabilities, make our educational programs possible, and provide our members access to expert genealogists and researchers. Consider a year end gift of cash or appreciated securities. By supporting the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s Annual Fund, you make an investment in your own family history research and preservation. Give Now.

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    Research Recommendations: Holiday Traditions
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    It is official: winter is now upon us. Here in Boston we just had the first snow of the season. As winter starts, people of many different faith traditions gather to celebrate various holidays. Starting in early December and lasting into January, these holidays are surrounded with light, which becomes quite scarce at this time of year.

    The Society’s Newbury Street home has been decorated for the holidays. Our friends at the American Jewish Historical Society who share our space have included menorahs, dreidels, and Hanukkah gelt to add to the festive atmosphere.

    The Museum of Science and Industry has an interesting website that explores different traditions from around the world, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, and even Chinese New Year. Christmas traditions from a variety of different countries are presented in great detail. You can read more on their website.

    As you gather with family and friends to celebrate your holiday traditions, remember to work on your genealogy at the same time. Talk to family members and ask about ancestors now gone. Discuss the holidays as they were celebrated in earlier generations. And take lots and lots of pictures (which you will, of course, quickly label with the full names of everyone appearing in the image).

    No matter your faith tradition, I wish you a wonderful holiday season.

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    NEHGS Holiday Closures

    The Society will have special operating hours for the holidays. Please note the difference between the administrative office hours and the library hours.

    Friday, December 24, 2010: Administrative offices closed; Research Library open 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
    Saturday, December 25, 2010: Administrative offices and Research Library closed.
    Friday, December 31, 2010: Administrative offices closed; Research Library open 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
    Saturday, January 1, 2011: Administrative offices and Research Library closed.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    MEDICUS (m): Latin ‘doctor.’ Jerome E. Anderson reminds me of the folk practice, seen especially in the American South, of naming a seventh son “Doctor” because seventh sons were believed to be natural healers.

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    This Week's Survey

    Last week’s survey asked about longevity in your family. The responses revealed some interesting results. 69% had a mother who lived longer than her father, but only 57% had a father who lived longer than his father. 59% had a mother lived longer than their mother while 48% of fathers lived longer than their father. These results mirror information that women tend to live longer than men. The full results are as follows:

    69%, My mother lived to a greater age than her father
    59%, My mother lived to a greater age than her mother
    57%, My father lived to a greater age than his father
    48%, My father lived to a greater age than his mother
    45%, My paternal grandmother lived to a greater age than my father
    37%, My paternal grandfather lived to a greater age than my father
    33%, My maternal grandmother lived to a greater age than my mother
    24%, My maternal grandfather lived to a greater age than my mother

    This week’s survey is a brief one, asking about your holiday requests. Take the survey now!

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    Spotlight: Chester County Archives and Records Services, Pennsylvania
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    West Chester is the seat of Chester County, located in southeastern Pennsylvania. The Chester County Archives was established in 1982 to preserve and make available the historic records of Chester County. The Archives has made a number of indexes available on its website. Click on the Online Indexes link to access the website’s databases.

    Orphans' Court
    The Orphans’ Court databases include Orphans’ Court Estates, Delayed Birth Records, Births and Deaths (1893 – 1907), Marriage License Applications (1885 – 1930), and Feme Covert Records. The Marriage License Applications database covers the period from 1885 to 1930. There are four indexes that are searchable by groom’s first and last name, bride’s first and last name, and place of marriage. There is also a button on which you can click to display all records in each of the databases.

    Register of Wills
    The databases in this section index Wills & Administrations (1714 – 1923), Births, Marriages and Deaths (1852 – 1855), and Proof of Death Registers. In January 1852, the Pennsylvania Legislature enacted the first statewide law requiring the registration of vital records. The Registration Act of 1852 lasted only three years and was repealed on January 31, 1855. The data fields in the alphabetical birth index include last name, first name, middle name, sex, color, father's first name, father's occupation, mother's last name, mother's first name, date of birth, place of birth, and page.

    Court of Common Pleas
    The Court of Common Pleas records indexed here include Divorce, Naturalization, Affidavits, Depositions, Interrogatories; Registry of Automobiles, Professional Registers, and Equity Cases, among others. The Divorce records database covers the period 1802 – 1904. The data fields in this alphabetical index include husband’s last name, first name, middle name, wife's first name, middle name, grounds for divorce, year, court term, and case, docket, and page numbers. The Naturalization Records database covers the period from 1798 to 1935. There are two indexes that are searchable by first name, last name, and country of origin / birthplace. There is also a button on which you can click to display all records in each of the databases.

    Court of Quarter Sessions
    Some of the Court of Quarter Sessions records indexed here are Fugitive Slave Records, Prison Discharges, Indentured Servants & Apprentice Records, Negro Servant Returns, Languishing Prisoner Petitions, and Peddler’s Petitions. The Languishing Prisoner Petitions (1718 – 1790) database is an index to petitions submitted to the court by prisoners seeking release from jail. The data fields include last name, first name, middle name, suffix/prefix, charge (crime), month, year, and comments.

    Board of Commissioners
    This section contains the following databases tax lists, census returns, Board of Relief (Civil War) records, and Civil War Bounty Records, to name a few. The Civil War Bounty Records and Miscellaneous records database (1862 – 1865) is an alphabetical index to receipts of muster, applications, bounty lists, descriptive muster roles and a list of men selected in the first Chester County draft in 1862.

    Directors of the Poor
    The databases in this section include Poorhouse Admissions, 1800 – 1900; Poorhouse Children’s Board Book, 1856 – 1884; and Poorhouse Outdoor Allowances, 1800 – 1856. The Poorhouse Children’s Board Book database indexes the records children who came under the care of the Chester county poorhouse. The alphabetical index is organized by child’s name and by adult’s name. The data fields include last name, first name, middle name, year, age, race, brought in from, taken out by (first name), taken out by (last name), township, relation, page, comments, and died.

    Coroner's Office
    Coroners' Records, 1720 – 1957: This alphabetical database in an index to coroners' inquests, dockets, bills and quarter sessions inquests. The data fields in the index include last name, first name, location, month, day, year, record type, reference 1, reference 2, and miscellaneous.

    Recorder of Deeds
    The indexes in this section include Marriage Contracts, Certificates & Separations, Slave Manumissions; Deeds, Mortgages, and Letters of Attorney. The Slave Manumissions index contains records, filed with the Recorder of Deeds Office, of slaves who were set free by their masters. The data is indexed by masters and by slaves. The Marriage Contracts, Certificates and Separations index contains records that were recorded by the Recorder of Deeds in Miscellaneous Deed Books, Letter of Attorney Books and deed books. The data fields include last name, first name, middle name, suffix/prefix, residence, spouse (intended), year, widow, book and page, and instrument.

    Sheriff's Office
    Sheriff's Deed Books Index: This index covers the period from 1773 – 1830. The source of the records is indexed in this database are the Sheriff’s deed books containing deeds that recorded the sale by the sheriff at a public auction of real estate seized by court order. The data fields include the last name/grantee, first name, date of deed, property type, acreage, location, last name/former owner, first name, docket number, and comment.

    World War I Servicemen Index – Chester County War Aid Association, 1917 – 1921: This database is an index to the soldiers’ cards and letters from the records of the Chester County War Aid Association (CCWAA), a relief organization set up in December 1917 for Chester County servicemen in World War I.

    Veterans' Affairs
    Veterans’ Burials 1885 – 1979: This database is an index to veterans’ burials for the period from 1885 – 1979. The data fields in the index include last name, first name, middle name, military unit, war, place of burial, date of death, original bill and application, remarks, book and page number, and comments.

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    Stories of Interest

    Name Changes Made for a Better Fit
    Noted genealogist Sharon Tate Moody discusses the famous myth that immigrants' names were changed at Ellis Island (something for which there is not a single documented occurence).

    Connecticut Removed from New England
    Discover New England, the official tourism group for the New England states, has removed all mentions of Connecticut from its website. This includes literally removing the state from the New England map. The move comes in response to Connecticut eliminating tourism marketing from its budget, including the $100,000 fee paid by each state to Discover New England.

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    Last-Minute Gift Idea

    Still need something for your family genealogist? Gift certificates to the Bookstore at NEHGS are still available and can be sent to you via email for FREE! Have your gift sent to you or directly to your favorite genealogist!

    Order a gift certificate by 3:00PM EST on December 23rd and you will have your gift before Christmas morning! Orders must be received by the 3:00 PM deadline and have a phone number where to contact the buyer to ensure that the email gift certificate has been received. Available online in amounts of $10, $25, $50 and $100. For other denominations, please call 617-226-1212.

    $10 gift certificates
    $25 gift certificates
    $50 gift certificates
    $100 gift certificates

    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:

    • Benjamin Long and Mary Hershe Long from A.D. 1810 to A.D. 1935 (Item P4-H18177, $25.00)
    • Long Island Genealogies Being Kindred Descendants of Thomas Powell of Bethpage Long Island 1688 [with Genealogical Material on Over 60 Early Families] (Item P4-H21633, $48.00)
    • Wills of the Smith Families of New York and Long Island 1664-1794 with Genealogical and Historical Notes (Item P4-S24030, $27.50)
    • Jones Family of Long Island: Descendants of Maj. Thomas Jones (1665-1726) and Allied Families (Item P4-S16257, $68.00)
    • Register of the Early Settlers of Kings County, Long Island New York from its First Settlement by Europeans to 1700. (Item P5-NY0156H, $48.50)

    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 99–101 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 .


    New Visitor and Welcome Tour
    Saturday, January 8, 2011, 10:00 a.m.
    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 99-101 Newbury Street in Boston.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011, 10:00 a.m.
    NEHGS recently launched its new Website, It is full of new features, tools, resources, and content that highlights NEHGS’ growing national expertise in genealogy and family history. We now have more than 135 million searchable names covering New England, New York, and other areas of family research dating back to 1620. We invite you to attend this free lecture to learn more about this incredible online resource.

    Dom's, An Odyssey
    Wednesday, January 19, 2011
    Join NEHGS as we welcome guest speaker Dom Capossela, who will discuss his recent book. Dom's, An Odyssey is a story of immigrants. All Americans are immigrants whose traditions and culture influenced the course of their assimilation and impacted their descendants. Through the lens of the Italian immigration, a wild Rock and Roll party, and a tour of Boston's 1950s North End, Dom takes us on a voyage of discovery which reminds us that no matter how you season your dish, we have all eaten at the immigrant's table.

    About the Speaker
    Dom was born in Boston’s North End in 1940. He earned his B.S. in Political Science from Boston University and his J.D. from Boston College Law School. 1969 marked Dom’s admission to the Massachusetts Bar, and the opening of Dom’s – an upscale Italian restaurant.

    Seminars and Tours

    Boston University Certificate in Genealogical Research
    Saturdays, January 22– May 7
    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.

    Weekend Research Getaway – Effective Use of Technology
    January 27–29, 2011
    NEHGS Weekend Research Getaways combine personal, guided research at the NEHGS Research Library with themed educational lectures to create a unique experience for every participant. Personal consultations with NEHGS genealogists throughout the program allow visitors to explore their own genealogical projects, under the guiding hand of the nation’s leading family history experts.

    Our Winter Research Getaway, “Effective Use of Technology,” offers a variety of lectures surrounding “best practices” in using technology including researching online, software, and other topics relevant to any genealogist.

    London Heritage Long Weekend
    February 22–28, 2011
    Discover the rich heritage of London with NEHGS in February 2011. This unique long weekend will feature memorable events led by renowned scholars George Redmonds and John Titford, including talks, a guided tour of historic London churches, a visit to the College of Arms, optional side visits, special guests, and dinner at an exclusive private club. The weekend also includes up to three full days at Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE! — the largest family history event in the world. Space is extremely limited.

    In addition to events, the NEHGS English Heritage Long Weekend includes six nights lodging at the Hilton London Kensington Hotel, located at 179–199 Holland Park Avenue, London, daily coach service, and daily English breakfast for five days, and two additional group meals. Participants are responsible for their own travel arrangements to and from the Hilton London Kensington Hotel and optional activities and all other meals not included in scheduled tour events.

    Washington D.C. Research Tour
    March 6–13, 2011
    Research in the repositories of the nation’s capital with NEHGS as we return to Washington, D.C. Researchers will visit the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Library, Library of Congress (LOC), and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) during this intensive week of guided research, individual consultations, lectures, and group meal events. Featured consultants include Henry B. Hoff, David A. Lambert, and Rhonda R. McClure.

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    NEHGS Contact Information

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    Copyright 2010, New England Historic Genealogical Society
    99–101 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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