American Ancestors New England Historic Genealogical Society - Founded 1845 N.E. Historic Genealogical Society Seal View Your Shopping Cart Join NEHGS
  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • The Weekly Genealogist
    Vol. 14, No. 37
    Whole #548
    September 14, 2011
    Edited by Lynn Betlock, Jean Powers, 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.

    * Introducing a “New NEHGS Database” Column
    * NEHGS Library Catalog Availability on September 19
    * Donna Holt Siemiatkoski Acquisition Fund 10th Anniversary Celebration and Fundraiser
    * A Note from NEHGS: Preserving Your Family Collections
    * Name Origins
    * This Week’s Survey
    * Spotlight: Missouri Resources
    * Stories of Interest
    * Classic Reprints from the NEHGS Book Store
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    Introducing a “New NEHGS Database” Column
    by Ryan Woods

    Each week on Monday, the NEHGS website team strives to publish on at least one new database or add content to an existing database (such as newly indexed volumes of a scholarly journal).

    To aid genealogists with their research in New England, New York and beyond, the web team strategically chooses collections to digitize which are unique to NEHGS, either in terms of record content or indexing, or which provide a significant complement to existing databases, allowing researchers to more easily and conveniently follow families and individuals as they move within states or regions.

    To keep users informed of additions to the website, we will begin a weekly column that identifies new databases, highlights the value of the collection(s), and provides any relevant search tips to aid in effective research.

    This week, we’ll feature a review of the past month’s databases:

    Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts Membership Cards, 1733–1990
    Founded in 1733, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts is the oldest Masonic lodge in the United States. The database includes information from all former jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, 1733–1990. As of August 3, 2011, data is available for Masons with surnames "A" through "P." Additional surnames will be added on a regular basis. Upon completion, the database will contain 348,678 membership cards for those Masons who died, dropped, or demitted before 1990.

    The Mayflower Descendant
    Published by the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants since 1899,The Mayflower Descendant is an essential source of information on many New England families, and its focus is not limited to those with Mayflower lineage. It features transcriptions and abstracts of deeds, wills, vital records, and other original documents, as well as compiled genealogies. The database currently includes volumes 1 to 15 (1899 to 1918). Additional volumes will be added throughout 2011.

    Connecticut Vital Records to 1870
    Compiled from an original Lucius Barnes Barbour typescript in the NEHGS special collections, this database currently contains records for Fairfield, Farmington, Greenwich, Guilford, Hartford, Middletown, Milford, New London, Saybrook, Stonington, Wethersfield, and Windsor. The complete Barbour collection contains records of marriages, births, and deaths for 137 Connecticut towns, from the 1640s to about 1870. The database will be enlarged over time to include all towns.

    The Virginia Genealogist
    Edited and published by John Fredrick Dorman from 1957 to 2006, The Virginia Genealogist features compiled genealogies, personal property tax lists (which serve as useful substitutes for non-existent census records), and other local record abstracts. The database includes volumes 1 to 40 (1957 to 2001).

    Return to Table of Contents


    NEHGS Library Catalog Availability on September 19

    The NEHGS online library catalog will be unavailable on the morning of Monday, September 19, beginning at 8:30 ET, while a system upgrade is performed. We thank you for your patience while we complete this necessary maintenance.

    Return to Table of Contents


    Donna Holt Siemiatkoski Acquisition Fund 10th Anniversary Celebration and Fundraiser

    Saturday, 24 September 2011, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
    La Notte Restaurant, East Windsor, Connecticut

    In 2001, the Connecticut Professional Genealogists Council established a permanent acquisition fund for Connecticut’s repositories in honor of renowned genealogist Donna Holt Siemiatkoski. To date, the Donna Fund has distributed over $10,000 to more than nineteen Connecticut libraries.

    The CPGC will celebrate the Donna Fund with its first ever all-day genealogical event. The event includes breakfast, lunch, and three genealogical speakers:

    • Jane Cullinane, Connecticut State Library, “The Preservation Librarian’s Picnic Basket”;
    • Rev. Gordon Bates, “Our Spiritual Legacy from Colonial Times: The New England Way in Church and Town”; and
    • Robert Charles Anderson, Director, NEHGS Great Migration Study Project, “The Evolution of Early Connecticut Town Records.”

    More information on the program. Download a registration form. Registrations must be received by Wednesday, September 21.

    Return to Table of Contents


    A Note from NEHGS: Preserving Your Family Collections
    by Judy Lucey, NEHGS Archivist

    Congratulations to Lynn Betlock and many of you who rescued your family collections from basements in the wake of Hurricane Irene! You have taken the first step toward safe-guarding your family treasures. As archivist of the NEHGS Special Collections, I see everyday the damage done to family collections when improperly stored. Basements, attics, garages, and barns are not the places to store your family materials. Not only are these locations vulnerable during natural disaster, they are also prone to extreme fluctuations in temperature and humidity which can cause long term damage to materials.

    I like to think of preserving one’s family treasures as a series of steps. Removing them from harm’s way is the first. The next is placing them in a clean, dry, insect free area. Often an interior room in your home that does not experience large fluctuations in temperature is your best bet. Make sure you keep the materials away from any heat or water source. Light is also damaging to materials and can accelerate deterioration. If you like to display family photographs or documents, you may want to consider displaying copies instead of originals. If you do choose to display originals, place them in a hallway or another area of the house away from light sources.

    Before purchasing archival supplies, your next step should be to identify what you have, assess the condition, and begin to organize your materials. As you review your papers, do you notice rust from old paper clips or other metal fasteners? If so, remove these carefully as rust can spread and damage documents. Remove items such as elastic bands and pins. Unfold and store flat letters and paper documents as they can begin to separate along the folds. Do you see any signs of mold or insect damage? You may want to consult a professional conservator for more serious damage. Not sure how to organize your family research? Well, you could do what an archivist does. Start by organizing your papers by surname and, within each family, keep documents created by or about an individual together. Organize letters by recipient and place them in chronological order. Keep your family charts, group sheets, and compiled genealogies at the beginning of each family group.

    When you are ready to purchase archival supplies, buy from vendors specializing in archival supplies — and beware of the term “acid-free.” If an item is “acid-free” but makes no mention of containing a buffering agent (a chemical which neutralizes acid) its long term preservation is uncertain. It will become acidic over time. The materials you want to purchase should be “lignin-free” or “acid-free with a buffering agent.” Items handled frequently should be placed in enclosures made of Mylar or polypropylene, not plastic! Don’t forget to label your folders and boxes using a soft lead pencil.

    By taking the right steps today you will ensure long term preservation of your materials for you and for future generations.

    Next week, we’ll wrap up the “protection and preservation” theme with a list of archival supply vendors and reader comments. — LB

    Return to Table of Contents


    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    [CHARLES] GRANDISON (m): GRANDISON, often seen in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century male naming patterns, derives from the eponymous hero of the hugely popular English novel Sir Charles Grandison (1753/4) by Samuel Richardson (1689-1761), not from family connections of the bearers! Charles Grandison Smith, b. Edgartown, Mass., 17 Feb. 1802, son of Ebenezer and Mary (Hulsart) Smith (VRs, pp. 71, 177), was the son of novel-readers; he m. Edgartown (int.) 20 Dec. 1828 Drusilla Dunham (VRs, p. 176).

    Return to Table of Contents


    This Week's Survey

    Last week’s survey asked what companies you’ve used for DNA testing. 66% of respondents have used FamilyTreeDNA and 2% have used GeneTree. Complete results are:

    • 66%, FamilyTreeDNA
    • 21%, National Geographic
    • 17%, Sorenson Molecular Genealogical Foundation
    • 15%, Ancestry [formerly Relative Genetics]
    • 7%, 23andme
    • 7%, Other
    • 3%, Oxford Ancestors
    • 2%, GeneTree

    This week's survey asks about e-book reader usage. Take the survey now!

    Return to Table of Contents


    Spotlight:Missouri Resources
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    Pike County Genealogical Society

    Pike County is located in northeastern Missouri. Its county seat is Bowling Green. The Pike County Genealogical Society has made a number of resources available on its website. These include the following.

    There are three indexes to Pike County marriage books. One is organized alphabetically by groom’s surname and another is alphabetical by bride’s surname. The third index is organized by date. Most of the marriages are from the period between 1854 and 1940. The data fields include groom, bride, miscellaneous, book and page numbers. and date. In addition, information about later marriages has been extracted from various newspapers and provided by individual submitters. These, too, have been indexed on the website. In some cases, notices have been scanned and uploaded. Click on the link to view the notice.

    The website contains indexes to the 1860 federal census for Indian Creek Township and the 1870 census for Pike County by township. In addition there are decennial census listings of the residents of the Pike County Poor Farm for the period from 1870 to 1920.

    There are two indexes to obituaries of Pike County citizens. One has been organized alphabetically by surname. The data provided includes name, date of birth, date of death, and burial place. The second is organized by year, and covers the period from 1846 through 1947, plus 1818. The data provided includes year, name of newspaper, date of the obituary, and all names listed in the obituary.

    Churches and Cemeteries
    Click on the Churches link to open a page to access photographs and a short history of Pike County churches. There is a cemeteries database, which has been indexed alphabetically and by township. For many of the cemeteries, location information is all that is provided, but for others — where the cemetery name is a hyperlink — there are also burial listings.

    There are biographies of individuals and families and other profiles on the site under Bios and Sketches.

    Smithville Historical Society, Missouri

    Smithville is a city in Clay and Platte counties in Missouri. It is located in northwestern Missouri, along the Platte River. The Smithville Historical Society has made a number of resources available on its website. You will find a brief history of Smithville, an image archive, and a document archive.

    The Image Archive contains five photo galleries covering various aspects of life in Smithville, plus a gallery with miscellaneous photographs. The Document Archive contains transcriptions of articles about people and life in Smithville. There are articles about Smithville history, its people, the schools, and the history of the Temperance Lodge, as well as brief history of the Smithville Historical Society.

    Return to Table of Contents


    Stories of Interest

    A Database of Names to Trace Slave Ancestry
    The preliminary results of a Virginia Historical Society study, which will examine eight million documents dating back to the 17th century to extract the names of slaves, have been released as “Unknown No Longer: A Database of Virginia Slave Names.”

    Mystery Surrounds Loss of Records, Art on 9/11
    “Besides ending nearly 3,000 lives, destroying planes and reducing buildings to tons of rubble and ash, the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks destroyed tens of thousands of records, irreplaceable historical documents and art.”

    Wayward Relatives a Presidential Tradition; Obama’s Uncle May Be Latest Example
    NEHGS’s Gary Boyd Roberts was quoted in a Washington Post article on presidential relatives who have received negative publicity.

    Return to Table of Contents


    Classic Reprints from the NEHGS Book Store

    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:

        • Abstracts of Wills of Greene County, New York, Volume I, 1800–60 (Item P5-NY0433-1S, $18.00)
        • A Report of the Record Commissioners of the City of Boston, Massachusetts, Containing Boston Births from A.D. 1700 to A.D. 1800 (Item P2-6826000, $63.00)
        • Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement of Virginia Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta Co. 1745–1800. (Augusta Co.) Volume III (Item P5-VA0045-3H, $65.00)
        • The Ancestors of Charity Haley, 1755–1800, Wife of Maj. Nicholas Davis of Limington, Maine (Item P4-H12861, $30.00)
        • Descendants of Deacon Aaron Baldwin of North Branford, Connecticut, 1724–1800 with Brief Account of His Ancestors (Item P4-H01485, $29.00)

    You can search the entire Classic Reprints catalog online. 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


    Return to Table of Contents


    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 call 617-226-1226 or

    View a listing of upcoming programs.

    Seminars and Tours

    Salt Lake City Research Tour
    October 30 – November 6, 2011
    You won't want to miss our thirty-third annual research tour to the world-renowned Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Following a continuing tradition of excellence, NEHGS staff will guide you through a week of research, consultations, lectures, group meals, and other activities as you explore the collections of the largest genealogical library in the world.


    Return to Table of Contents


    NEHGS Contact Information

    We encourage you to email this newsletter to others who might be interested. Subscribe or view back issues of The Weekly Genealogist.

    Visit the Society on Facebook.

    The Weekly Genealogist, like all of our programs, is made possible through the generous contributions of our members. Visit us online for information about giving to NEHGS.

    For more information on the New England Historic Genealogical Society, please visit our website.

    Become a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society or sign up for a FREE research account!


    Copyright 2011, New England Historic Genealogical Society
    99–101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

    Return to Table of Contents

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

© 2010 - 2014 New England Historic Genealogical Society