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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • The Weekly Genealogist
    Vol. 14, No. 51
    Whole #562
    December 21, 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.

    * Happy Holidays from NEHGS
    * NEHGS Library Holiday Closings
    * NEHGS Database News
    * New from NEHGS — Key Genealogical Resources Now in Paperback!
    * Changes to Ordering Family History Library Microfilms
    * A Note from the Editor: In Defense of Holiday Newsletters
    * Name Origins
    * This Week’s Survey
    * Spotlight: Obituary Indexes
    * Stories of Interest
    * Classic Reprints
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    Happy Holidays from NEHGS

    The staff of the New England Historic Genealogical Society extends to all of you heartfelt wishes for a happy holiday season.

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    NEHGS Library Holiday Closings

    NEHGS will be closed on Saturday, December 24, and Saturday, December 31, in observance of the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Please plan your visit accordingly.

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    NEHGS Database News
    by Sam Sturgis, Digital Collections Administrator, and Ryan Woods, Director of Internet Technology

    New York Genealogical and Biographical Record

    The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record
    is the premier genealogical journal devoted to scholarship on families residing in New York State and surrounding areas.

    Published quarterly since 1870 by the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, the Record features articles with a wide variety of sources, such as Bible records, census records, church registers, newspaper extracts, muster rolls, wills and deeds, and proceedings of the Society.

    This week we have added volumes 6–10, containing 39,000 additional name records. The database currently contains volumes 1 through 10, publication years 1870 to 1879. Future volumes will be added periodically.

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    New from NEHGS — Key Genealogical Resources Now in Paperback!

    Affordable, portable, and attractive, these new paperback editions of NEHGS and genealogical classics are essential resources for family historians.

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    Changes to Ordering Family History Library Microfilms

    Recently the Family History Library changed the ordering process for patrons wanting to order microfilm from the FHL in Salt Lake City to be viewed at NEHGS. Instead of having NEHGS process orders and collect money, patrons now order and pay on the FamilySearch website’s online film ordering page.

    Previously, patrons would receive emails from NEHGS when microfilms arrived. Now patrons will receive emails from FamilySearch, not NEHGS, about changes in the status of a microfilm order. Patrons need to log into their account on FamilySearch, go to My Orders, and then view the individual microfilms to see status updates. Patrons will see one of the following status notations next to each film ordered: pending, requested, backordered, shipped, received, returned, canceled, or renewed.

    If the microfilm is listed as shipped, it has not yet arrived at NEHGS. Only when the status says received will the microfilm be available at NEHGS. FamilySearch will send an email to indicate when the status has changed. The emails from FamilySearch do not give any specific information; they only state that there is a “change in the status” of the order. The only way to learn the status of a film is to check it online at FamilySearch.

    Any questions about the microfilm ordering process may be directed to Olga Tugarina or Rhonda McClure.

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    A Note from the Editor: In Defense of Holiday Newsletters
    by Lynn Betlock, Editor

    Although the holiday newsletters sent out to family and friends this time of year are frequently mocked, I’ve always enjoyed reading them. Now I also write one, and over time I’ve come to appreciate their more lasting value for family historians.

    I never considered writing a holiday newsletter before I had kids. In my pre-parenthood days I had more time to write individual notes and I also had less information to share. My twin son and daughter were born in January of 2004, and by the time December rolled around, I had lots of news to impart and very little time. So I wrote my first holiday newsletter and sent it out with a family photograph. I can’t say how well my letter was received but I was glad I’d documented at least a few facts from that blurry first year.

    After five years, I realized that I had never given any thought to keeping copies of my letters or holiday photographs. (And, yes, I work at the New England Historic Genealogical Society and have been doing family history since I was about fourteen.) So I began the painful process of trying to reassemble what I’d sent out. The computer I composed the first letters on had died, and I had to ask various relatives if they had kept my letters. Fortunately, some had, and were willing to return them. Two of my early holiday photos still were “saved projects” in Kodak Gallery and Shutterfly websites. I was pleased about this — except that I had to order ten copies of each photo so I could get the one copy of each I actually wanted. My final missing piece, the 2004 family photo, was found when I went to Minnesota and my mother let me look through my grandmother’s papers. My grandmother, who died in 2007, had indeed saved that holiday photo.

    The effort I put in was worth it. I purchased a nice album and inserted all the photos and letters, and for the last few years I’ve simply added a new photo and letter. Earlier this week, after inserting the latest additions, I flipped through my eight years of documentation with some satisfaction. I am sorry to say that I didn’t journal about my kids’ early lives or fill baby books with great detail, as my mother did for me. But I am glad to have this record, which offers a yearly snapshot of our lives. I asked my kids if they wanted me to read them the first one, and they said yes. I thought they would be interested but I did not expect them to be as enthralled as they were. While I read, they laughed and blushed and asked lots of questions — and the questions continued long afterwards.

    Historians often express concern that there will be fewer written sources to preserve from the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries than in previous eras. It seems to me that the preservation of holiday newsletters, a unique source that originated and flourished during this time period, would make future genealogists very happy. I rather like the idea of a descendant getting to know me through my holiday newsletters.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto, Staff Genealogist

    JOSEPH (m): In the Hebrew Bible, Joseph the patriarch was the youngest son of Jacob and his favored wife Rachel. His jealous older brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt, but he was able to rise to considerable power in that country by interpreting the king’s dreams and providing opportunities for his people (Genesis 30:22-24, 37:1, etc.).

    In later years, the name was borne by the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus. He was a carpenter of Nazareth, whose family had links to Bethlehem; his genealogy forms the highly enjoyable “begats” in the first chapters of the Gospel of Matthew.

    Joseph was one of the most popular given names in colonial America. Note: If your ancestor Joseph ____ was of French-Canadian extraction, remember that many or all male family members may bear “Joseph” as one of several names, in honor of St. Joseph.

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    This Week's Survey

    Last week’s survey asked how many times readers had moved over the course of their lifetimes. (We did not count moves within the same city or town.) The results are:

    • 35%, I have moved two to five times.
    • 31%, I have moved six to ten times.
    • 14%, I have moved eleven to fifteen times.
    • 6%, I have moved sixteen to twenty times
    • 6%, I have moved once.
    • 5%, I have moved more than twenty times.
    • 3%, I have always lived in the same city or town.

    This week's survey asks if you send a holiday newsletter to family and friends. Take the survey now!

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    Spotlight: Obituary Indexes
    by Valerie Beaudrault, Assistant Editor

    Burnet County Genealogical Society, Texas

    Burnet County is located in the Texas Hill Country, in the central part of the state. Its county seat is Burnet. The Burnet County Genealogical Society has compiled and made obituary indexes for the period from 1876 through 1910 available online. This project is a work in progress, with more years being added as they are completed. The indexes are organized by year and are alphabetical by surname. The data fields in the index include the name of the deceased, age, city of residence / resident of, newspaper title, and the date of publication of the obituary. A check mark has been included in the publication date field if the genealogical society has a printed copy of the obituary in its collection.

    McKinney Public Library, Texas

    McKinney is located in northeastern Texas. It is the county seat of Collin County. The McKinney Public Library has made a number of vital record indexes available on its website. The files are in Microsoft Excel. The data has been extracted from local newspapers. There are two birth, engagement, and marriage indexes, covering the period from 1980 to 1989 and 1990 to 1991. The data fields include last name, first name, type of record, date of publication, and page number. There are four alphabetical obituary indexes. They cover 1884 to 1989, 1990 to 1999, 2000 to 2009, and 2010 on. The data fields for the earliest index are last name, first name, title, maiden name, newspaper, date(s), and page(s). For later databases the data fields include all of the above except for newspaper title.

    Pine Bluff / Jefferson County Library, Arkansas

    Pine Bluff, which is located in central Arkansas, is the county seat of Jefferson County. The Pine Bluff / Jefferson County Library has made an obituary database available on its website. They have indexed all deaths and obituaries in Jefferson County newspapers in the library’s collections. Records in the index date back to 1866. It should be noted that there are gaps in the collection to 1899. The database includes the following newspapers: Pine Bluff Commercial, Pine Bluff Graphic, Pine Bluff News, Pine Bluff Press-Eagle, and White Hall Journal, as well as some little-known publications such as The Pine Bluff Dispatch, The Negro Spokesman, The Jefferson Republican and The Weekly Echo. Obituaries from the Pine Bluff Commercial and the White Hall Journal continued to be added to the database as they are received.

    This database is searchable by name (surname, full name, or even nickname) or by name and year. Up to 1,000 records will be displayed in the search results at a time. Data fields in the initial search results include name, date of the obituary, and the source. Click on the name link to access a record that also includes the page number on which the obituary appears. Click on the Request Photocopy link to learn how to obtain a copy of an obituary from the library for a fee.

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    Stories of Interest

    Contents of Auctioned Storage Unit Take Family on Cross-Country Adventure
    This follow-up to one of last week’s stories of interest offers news video — and a happy ending.

    Family Roots — at What Cost?
    Two Canadian university professors have undertaken a groundbreaking research project to find out why genealogists trace their roots and how much time and money are invested in the search.

    What's In A (Baby) Name? has released its 2011 list of the most popular American baby names. NPR's Scott Simon reflects on "names that ring with new hopes and dreams."

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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:

    • Biographical Sketch of Samuel Rowell and Notices of Some of His Descendants, with a Genealogy for Seven Generations, 1754–1898 (Item P4-H22773, $44.50)
    • History of the Harroun Family in America, Seven Generations of Descendants: Alexander Harroun of Colrain Massachusetts, 1691–1784 (Item P4-H13503, $41.00)
    • Winders of America: John of New York, 1674–5; Thomas of New Jersey, 1703–34; John of Maryland, 1665–98 (Item P4-S27774, $19.50)
    • Leconte History and Genealogy: with Particular Reference to Guillaume Leconte of New Rochelle and New York, and His Descendants (2 volumes) (Item P4-H17640, $171.00)
    • Descendants of the Earle and Morris Families of New York and New Jersey (Item P4-H09201, $25.50)

    Search the entire Classic Reprints catalog. 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

    Albany Research Tour
    July 11–15, 2012
    Featured NEHGS Experts: Christopher C. Child, David Dearborn, and Henry B. Hoff

    Our first research tour to Albany, N.Y., in July 2011 was such a success we’re offering a repeat trip. If you missed your chance last year, sign up now and join NEHGS as we explore the vast resources of the New York State Archives in Albany. The trip includes individual consultations, lectures, a reception, and a group dinner. Space is limited.

    Tuition (includes four nights’ lodging at the Crowne Plaza Hotel): single, $785; double (shared lodging with another participant), $585 per person; double with non-researching guest, $935; commuter (no lodging), $185.

    Coming Soon…

    Be on the lookout for an official announcement of our Nova Scotia Heritage Tour, to be led by historian and expert tour guide Donald Friary in July 2012. Limited spaces will be available, call 617-226-1226 for pricing and availability.

    More information is available on

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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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