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. 52
    Whole #563
    December 28, 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.

    * NEHGS Library Holiday Closing
    * NEHGS Database News
    * David Lambert Elected a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society
    * NEHGS on Facebook
    * A Note from the Editor: More on Holiday Newsletters
    * Name Origins
    * This Week’s Survey
    * Spotlight: Wisconsin Obituary Indexes
    * Stories of Interest
    * Classic Reprints
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    NEHGS Library Holiday Closing

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

    Return to Table of Contents


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

    Providence, R.I.: Index of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1931–1940

    This week we have completed our database, Providence, R.I.: Index of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1931–1940, by adding 49,420 Providence marriage records for those years. These records are indexed by both bride and groom names and year of marriage. The search results contain the dates of marriage and citations to the volume and original page numbers in the Providence city records.

    Return to Table of Contents


    David Lambert Elected a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society

    David Allen Lambert, the NEHGS Online Genealogist, was elected a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society on November 2. The Fellows are a distinguished group, chosen for their demonstrated commitment to preserving and making available the history of Massachusetts. David has been on staff at NEHGS since 1993. He has published articles in many prominent genealogical periodicals, including The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, The Mayflower Descendant, The New Hampshire Genealogical Record, Rhode Island Roots, New England Ancestors, and American Ancestors. He is also the author, co-author, or compiler of five books, most recently A Guide to Massachusetts Cemeteries, 2nd edition. David’s areas of interest include military records, Native American genealogical research, and the history of his hometown of Stoughton, Massachusetts. Congratulations, David!

    Return to Table of Contents


    NEHGS on Facebook
    by Lynn Betlock, Editor

    The NEHGS Facebook page has just achieved a milestone: 10,000 “likes.” Launched in 2009, the NEHGS Facebook page allows for easy communication between NEHGS staff, members, and friends. A number of NEHGS staff members post announcements and answer questions on the site on a regular basis. In fact, these days our online genealogist and other staff experts answer as many queries via Facebook as they do by using email.

    And while 10,000 likes is notable, the site statistics show that an average post from NEHGS, say on a new database, receives about 13,000 to 14,000 views, so we know that many people who haven’t officially liked us are visiting the site to learn more. Every week about 4,000 people post or like a story on our page. Other statistics show the number of people who have posted our stories on their Facebook pages and the number who “checked in” during the last week at the NEHGS Library in Boston.

    Facebook allows us to get the word out immediately about new databases, book releases, and education programs. I enjoy seeing posts about how people are excited about attending upcoming programs, and I remember our past two Family History Days generating a lot of Facebook traffic. We also occasionally use Facebook to get immediate feedback, such as when we ask for submissions of cartoon captions for American Ancestors magazine each quarter. Sometimes we quote from Facebook posts in the Letters and Feedback section of the magazine; comments about articles are as likely to show up on Facebook as in an official letter (or email) to the editor.

    Facebook also helps connect NEHGS members and constituents with each other. I read with interest when someone posts a question and other Facebookers offer answers and research advice. Our members and friends have a lot of genealogical knowledge to share.

    Fundamentally, I think Facebook enhances and expands the NEHGS community. Dare I ask, “What’s not to like?”

    Return to Table of Contents


    A Note from the Editor: More on Holiday Newsletters
    by Lynn Betlock, Editor

    Last week’s article generated a lot of email about the benefits of holiday newsletters. (Although, for the record, I should note that one reader wrote to express the view that all holiday messages should be personally written and not mass-produced.) Here are some excerpts:

    From Heather Wilkinson Rojo of Londonderry, New Hampshire:
    I enjoyed the story about the Christmas newsletters. For twelve years we have sent out a photo collage — a visual newsletter — of all the events of the year — birthdays, graduations, vacations and family reunions. I’ve kept all the copies, and I think I’ll have to make scrapbook to keep them in.

    Dan M. Johnson of Johnson City, Tennessee, wrote:
    I have written and saved holiday newsletters for many years. In addition, every December since I retired in 2006, I have prepared a family history report with separate pages for each branch I've been studying. I summarize what I've learned in the past year that might be of interest to others in the family — about thirty people. This not only satisfies my need to share, but also documents my progress, including corrections to errors made in previous reports, and provides clues for future family historians who may follow in my footsteps.

    From Karl West of Walpole, Massachusetts:
    When I retired I tackled four projects, one for my father's line, my mother's line, my wife's father's line, and my wife's mother’s line. Using address books that belonged to my parents and my in-laws, I wrote to extended family members, explained who I was, and asked for old photos from each person. For each person who sent me pictures, I said I would send a CD of all the photos I received. The response was wonderful. Not only did I get pictures, but many also sent notes and further information. Now, I have a more complete reference to each family.

    From Priscilla Greenlees of Bainbridge Island, Washington:
    I've been writing Christmas letters since 1978 — and have been both reviled and praised for doing it! But the thanks I get from people who really care about my family and friends make it worthwhile. I've saved all of newsletters; and now that I'm writing my memoirs and am still working on my genealogy, I plan to incorporate the contents all into the master copy of "my life."

    Kathryn Fenton of Virginia Beach, Virginia, wrote with a poignant story:
    My mother started writing a newsletter in the early 1960s, when I was just a little girl, and continues to this day. Three years ago, my mother gathered up ALL her holiday newsletters and made photocopies of them, one set for me and one for Tommy, my younger brother (and only sibling), for Christmas.  My brother was particularly moved by this and spent a couple of hours that day just reading through them all, thoroughly enjoying his trip down Memory Lane and saying what a great family history they provided. Unfortunately, Tommy very unexpectedly and suddenly passed away the following year, just a few days after his fiftieth birthday. When I got the news of his passing, I was understandably shocked, but almost immediately got in my car and started the long drive from my home in Virginia Beach to his home in Orlando, where he had lived alone at the time of his death.  Along the way, I contemplated how I might eulogize my baby brother at his funeral.  When I finally arrived, however, I had still not come up with anything substantive to say about him and our lives together, my thoughts being in such a jumble of grief and disbelief.  Then I walked into his home office, and sitting right out in plain view on his desk, was his packet of our family's Christmas letters!  Somehow, Tommy had known to leave those out where I'd be sure to see them, thus providing me with all the clues I needed to write his eulogy.

    So, indeed, holiday newsletters DO have a very valuable place in preserving the history of the families they chronicle, and I am very glad that my family has always written one.  Further, now that Lynn Betlock has shared her excellent idea about putting her newsletters into a binder, I am planning to do the very same thing with all of ours. In that way, perhaps future generations of my family will be able to easily read them and thus perhaps get a glimpse of the magic that was the childhood my brother and I shared back in the 1960s, as well as all our other family "doings" over the years. In fact, I'm certain that my eight-year-old granddaughter will probably want to be first in line to read them!

    Return to Table of Contents


    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto, Staff Genealogist

    CHICKERING (f): Derived from the surname, likely indicating descent from Francis Chickering of Dedham, Mass. Chickering Shepard, named for her paternal grandmother Mercy (Chickering) Shepard, was b. Wrentham, Mass. 22 Oct. 1738, daughter of David and Hepsibah (Blake) Shepard (Wrentham, Mass. VRs to 1850, 1:186). She m. Attleborough, Mass. 2 Jan. 1758 William Bolcom, Jr. (Attleborough, Mass. VRs to 1850, pp. 550, 338; also Wrentham VRs, 2:370, 257), and died at Attleborough 19 March 1814 ae. 76 (Attleborough VRs, pp. 631, 338). Chickering Bolcom (Attleborough 19 Sept. 1781–19 April 1783 ae. 1–7–11) was a granddaughter (Attleborough VRs, pp. 38, 631) (see also Gerald Faulkner Shepard, [Donald Lines Jacobus, ed.], The Shepard Families of New England (3 vols.), vol. 1, Ralph Shepard of Dedham [New Haven: The New Haven Colony Historical Society], pp. 67-68, 24, 9-10).

    Such use of a surname as a female given name is very rare in New England at this early date. “Chickery” Shepard (ca. 1784–1855), son of John and Lois (Blake) Shepard (Ralph Shepard, p. 137), was a somewhat distant male cousin, apparently also a descendant of Mercy (Chickering) Shepard.

    Return to Table of Contents


    This Week's Survey

    Last week’s survey asked whether you send a holiday newsletter to family and friends. The results are:

    • 55%, No, I don't send a holiday newsletter.
    • 24%, Yes, I mail a printed holiday newsletter.
    • 12%, No, I used to send a holiday newsletter but do not send one now.
    • 7%, I use a combination of electronic and print media for my holiday newsletter.
    • 1%, Yes, I email an electronic holiday newsletter.
    • 1%, Yes, I use a website, blog, or social media to distribute a holiday newsletter.

    This week's survey asks how well you fulfilled your genealogical New Year resolutions for 2011. Take the survey now!

    Return to Table of Contents


    Spotlight: Wisconsin Obituary Indexes
    by Valerie Beaudrault, Assistant Editor

    WMJ Physician Obituary Database, Wisconsin

    The Ebling Library at the University of Wisconsin-Madison-Health Sciences has made a specialized obituary index available on its website. The index comprises obituaries of physicians printed in the Wisconsin Medical Journal (WMJ), the official publication of State Medical Board of Wisconsin. The index covers the period from 1903 to 2003. There are more than 5,800 records in the database. The index is fairly complete although some issues are missing. From 2004 on WMJ no longer prepared or printed obituaries. There is instead and abbreviated "In Remembrance" listing. Minimal information is provided.

    You may browse the index by clicking on the first letter of the physician’s surname or run a search by last name, city of death, state of death, and year of death. The data fields in the database include name, place of death, year of death, volume and page number(s) and notes. Information such as previous residence or a piece of biographical information may be found in the notes. Copies of obituaries may be ordered through interlibrary loan.

    Appleton Public Library Obituary Index, Wisconsin

    Appleton is located in eastern Wisconsin. It is situated on the Fox River, in Outagamie, Calumet and Winnebago counties.

    The Appleton Public Library’s Obituary index is a work in progress. It is a partial index to obituaries and death notices published in Appleton newspapers. Currently, records are available for the following time periods. There are complete records for 1853-71; 1874; 1920-22; 1939-42; 1944; 1948-52; 1958-1960; 1970; 1980; 1981; 1992-94, and January 1, 2001 to December 6, 2011. Some records from 1848; 1875; 1889; 1899; 1923; 1930; 1945; 1954; 1957; 1969; 1971-73; 1981; 1982; 1987; and 1991 have been indexed.

    The database can be searched by last name and first name. There is a check box that enables you to also search maiden names. The data fields in the search results may include last name (maiden name), first name, spouse’s name, birth date, death date, newspaper notice date, section and page number, and cemetery name and location. Photocopies of items found in this index can be requested from the Library.

    Return to Table of Contents


    Stories of Interest

    Trove of Educator’s Momentos Found by Road
    A Charlestown County, South Carolina, Good Samaritan rescued “a lifetime of memories” from destruction on a roadside.

    Package Lost 33 Years Finally Delivered to Anchorage Home
    An envelope containing letters and genealogical information arrived at its destination more than three decades after it was mailed.

    Man’s Long Search for Family Artifacts Pays Off
    Refusing to abandon a seemingly hopeless search, a California man persisted and located family photographs in Illinois

    Return to Table of Contents


    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

    Return to Table of Contents


    Upcoming Education Programs

    Getting Started in Genealogy
    Wednesdays, February 15, 22, 29
    6 –8 p.m.
    How does one go about getting started in genealogy? There are plenty of websites, libraries, and printed sources available, but access to all that information can leave a beginner feeling overwhelmed. Let an NEHGS expert help navigate the first steps in tracing family history. Senior Researcher Rhonda R. McClure will share her knowledge and helpful strategies for beginning a family history journey in this three-part course. Pass this information on to that friend or family member who has been looking for the right place to start their own research! Tuition: $30. Registration required; register online or by phone at 617-226-1226.

    More information is available on

    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