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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • Vol. 14, No. 21
    Whole #532
    May 25, 2011
    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 Holiday Closures
    * Research Recommendations: Help With Writing
    * Name Origins
    * This Week's Survey
    * Spotlight: Pennsylvania Library Databases
    * Stories of Interest
    * Sale on History Titles
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    NEHGS Holiday Closures

    In observance of Memorial Day, the NEHGS Research Library will be closed on Saturday, May 28. The administrative offices will be closed on Monday, May 30.

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    Research Recommendations: Help With Writing
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    Even the best of writers and editors need help with writing sometimes. We all have our own weak spots, such as remembering when to use “its” and when to use “it’s.” Some have difficulty in understanding when to use “eighteenth century” and when to use “eighteenth-century.” Fortunately, the number of tools to assist writers is growing.

    I recently came across another great helper, Grammar Grater. Luke Taylor and the “Grammatis Personae Players”™ present regular podcasts on Minnesota Public Radio. Episodes have dealt with the difference between affect and effect, proper use of the ellipsis, and — one of my major complaints — the proper use of plural nouns (hint: no apostrophe is ever needed for a plural). One episode included a guest lexicographer who discussed how to choose dictionaries and how to properly use them. Grammar Grater podcasts are also available on iTunes.

    I have discussed “Grammar Girl” Mignon Fogarty. Her "Quick and Dirty Tips For Better Writing" are very helpful. Her podcasts are short yet very informative. Last week she discussed one of the biggest mistakes writers make: the difference between “i.e”. and “e.g.” the Grammar Girl website is clear and easy to use. You can also read transcripts of the podcasts. You can view all podcasts or select individual categories, such as grammar, style, or punctuation. There is even an iPhone app (isn't there an app for everything nowadays?) and her podcasts can be automatically download her podcasts through iTunes.

    The number of apps for writing and grammar increases all the time. One interesting app, from American Accent Training, is called Grammar A–Z. Although targeted towards ESL speakers learning English, the rules presented apply to writing as well. In addition to grammar, the app helps with writing, spelling, and punctuation. There are also sections on speaking that include accent, pronunciation, and comprehension. It is available for $9.99.

    Be careful when downloading grammar apps and podcasts. Be certain that the grammar applies to your country’s version of the language. For example, English speakers will find a number of grammar apps from Oxford University and other U.K. sources. The rules of spelling, punctuation, and grammar, however, differ between the U.S. and the U.K., and using these apps could cause you problems if you are not careful.

    iTunes University is filled with free courses and podcasts to help you with your writing. You will find top-notch instructors from some leading schools, such as Harvard Extension School, Pace University, Texas A&M University, Penn School of Arts and Sciences, Illinois State University, University of Warwick, Coventry University, and more.

    Take advantage of these tools to help you with your writing, and soon you will lose all fear of compiling your family’s history to share with your relatives. And if you are still wondering, “its” is the possessive while “it’s” is a contraction. And “eighteenth century” is a noun while “eighteenth-century” is an adjective.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    BEHEATHLAND (m/f): The name arises in the United States in descendants of 1607 Jamestown immigrant Robert Beheathland (d. by 1627), son of Richard Beheathland of the Parish of St. Endelyon, Cornwall, gent. (John Frederick Dorman, Adventurers of Purse and Person, Virginia 1607-1624/5, 4th ed., vol. 1 [Baltimore, 2004], pp. 217-20, 766).

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    This Week's Survey

    Last week’s survey asked about research interests on the different continents. The number one answer: Europe, with 97% of respondents having interests there. Last place was a tie between Africa and Asia with 2% each. Complete results are:

    • 97%, Europe
    • 90%, North America and the Caribbean
    • 8%, Australia and the Pacific Islands
    • 3%, South America
    • 2%, Africa
    • 2%, Asia

    This week's survey asks about your military service. Take the survey now!

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    Spotlight: Pennsylvania Library Databases
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    Zeamer Collection: Cumberland County

    Cumberland County is located in south-central Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania State Library has embarked on a project to transcribe Cumberland County cemetery and other records that were originally transcribed by Jeremiah Zeamer in the early part of the twentieth century. The library has published the transcriptions on its website. This is an ongoing project, and transcripts of more than thirty-five cemeteries in fourteen boroughs and townships are currently available.

    All of the files are MS-Excel or MS-Word files. The data fields in the MS-Excel file cemetery records are surname, first name, birth date, death date, age, and notes. The notes field includes information such as spouse’s names, parents’ names, military service, and place of death.

    Easton Area Public Library

    The city of Easton is located in Northampton County, in the eastern part of the Commonwealth. The Henry Marx Room of the Easton Area Public Library contains the library’s local history and genealogy collection. The library has made the following databases available online.

    Marx Room Newspaper Obituary Indexes
    This database indexes obituaries, funeral notices, and death notices from the Easton Express, currently known as the Express-Times. The index covers the period from 1905 through 2010. There are separate files for each year. Click on the year link to open them. The files are in PDF format; therefore, you will need free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view them. The data fields in the alphabetical indexes are last name, first name, date of publication, and page number. Copies of individual notices may be requested from the library for a fee.

    There are links from this webpage to the Morning Call Obituary index on the Allentown Public Library website and the Global Times Obituary Index on the Bethlehem Area Public Library website.

    Church and Cemetery Records Index
    The library’s collection of Northampton County church and cemetery records comprises more than 190 volumes. There are two online indexes to these records. One is the WPA Index, which contains thirty-one volumes of church records that were compiled by the Works Progress Administration during the 1930s. Click on the WPA Index link to open the database page. Click on the letter corresponding to the first letter of the individual’s surname to open the index file. The entries have source codes that can be used to determine both the church in which the event took place and the type of event. There is a key to the source codes on the main WPA Index page.

    The second database is the On-line Index. This database, the result of a library project to compile a master index to the church and cemetery records that are not included in the WPA index, contains baptismal, marriage, and burial information. It is a work in progress and currently contains approximately 120,000 names from 50 volumes of records. It is divided into two parts—the On-line Index of Church Records and the On-line Index of Cemetery Records. The files are in PDF format; therefore, you will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view them. They are very large files and may take time to download. Copies of transcribed church records may be requested from the library for a fee. The On-line Index of Church Records database contains more than 3,000 pages of entries and the On-line Index of Cemetery Records database contains more than 2,000 pages of entries. The data fields in each record for both databases include last name, first name, middle name, title, maiden name, page(s), and source.

    Local Newspaper Index
    Another database project of the Easton Area Public Library is the Local Newspaper Index. Beginning during the 1930s a card index to local newspaper articles was created. Each card contained a heading, a short description and a citation. The cards were filed by heading. In order to make the information on these cards available to a broader audience, the cards have been transcribed and entered into a computer database. The database has been organized by blocks of years: 1799 – 1899, 1900 – 1920, 1921 – 1961, 1962 – 1972, 1973 – 1996, and 2005 – 2007. The files are in PDF format; therefore, you will need free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view them. The data fields in the index include subject, date, year, description, newspaper title, and page number. Copies of articles may be requested from the library for a fee.

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    Stories of Interest

    Getting the Story of a Man's Life Right, at Last
    James Barron talks about recently correcting the obituary of Lt. M.K. Schwenk that appeared in the New York Times — on June 29, 1899.

    Revolutionary War Plate at Center of Controversy
    A Minnesota man is suing the state of New Hampshire to sell a copper plate used during the Revolutionary War to print “war bonds” for the colony. The route the plate took to Minnesota is unknown, but the man claims it is rightly his.

    Digging Down to Family Roots
    Debra Bruno reports in the Christian Science Monitor on her experiences tracing her ancestry online.

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    Sale on History Titles

    Westward to Destiny: A Denison Family Saga by Ray W. Denison
    Normally $14.95, On Sale for $10.00

    Captain of Destiny: Captain George Denison, 1620-1694 by Ray W. Denison
    Normally $19.95, On Sale for $15.00

    The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster’s Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture by Joshua Kendall
    Normally $26.95, On Sale for $22.00
    Please note: We have a very limited number of signed copies available.

    Prices good until June 1, 2011, whiles supplies last. These books can also be ordered by calling the Bookstore at 617-226-1212. Prices do not include shipping. Massachusetts residents add 6.25% sales tax.

    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:

    • Scandinavian Immigrants in New York 1630-1674. with Appendices on Scandanavians in Mexico South America Cananda New York Plus Germans in New York (Item P5-NY0137H, $47.00)
    • New York [City] Directory from 1786 Prefaced by a General Description of New York by Noah Webster An Appendix of the Annals of New York City 1786. (Item P5-NY0216H, $29.50)
    • Ancestry of Rev. William Howe Whittemore Bolton Connecticut 1800 - Rye New York 1885 and of His Wife Maria Clark Whittemore. New York 1803 - Brooklyn 1886 (Item P4-S27387, $22.50)
    • Index of Wills For New York Co. (New York City) from 1662 to 1850. (item P5-NY0449H, $49.50)
    • Descendants of Claude Le Maitre who Came from France and Settled at New Netherlands Now New York in 1652 (item P4-H08025, $46.00)

    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

    Public Lectures

    June New Visitor and Welcome Tour
    Wednesday, June 1, 2011, 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 99-101 Newbury Street in Boston. Free and open to the public (no registration necessary).

    Talking Back To Your Ancestors: Reweaving the Family Narrative
    Wednesday, June 22, 2011, 6:00PM
    Using as a case history her own experience with her father’s papers, Dr. Barbara B. Reitt will describe what she learned in a four-year search for truths long hidden by the family and what compelled her to respond to her late father’s memoirs by researching and writing a biography of his grandmother. Her talk will be followed by discussion among audience members of their own approaches to problems lurking in their family papers.

    Dr. Reitt, who has a doctorate in American Studies, recently retired after more than 40 years as an editor of academic and scientific books. She has been researching her family history for more than 20 years and is currently teaching a course in beginning genealogy as part of the Five College Learning in Retirement association in the Pioneer Valley.

    Seminars and Tours

    Come Home to New England
    June 13–17, 2011 and August 14–20, 2011
    Uncover the treasures at 99-101 Newbury Street and "Come Home" to the nation’s oldest and largest genealogical society. As one of the Society’s most popular programs, Come Home to New England features an intensive week of research, lectures, individual consultations, group meals, and other activities.

    London Research Tour
    September 25 – October 2, 2011
    Discover the wealth of information available in London's repositories as NEHGS returns to London in 2011. Participants will take part in two group dinners, consultations, and guided research through the Society of Genealogists (SOG) and the National Archives (UK). Daily educational activities include lectures and tours by the experts at the National Archives (UK), SOG, and NEHGS. Featured NEHGS experts include David C. Dearborn and Christopher C. Child.

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    NEHGS Contact Information

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    Copyright 2011, 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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