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Vol. 15, No. 20
May 16, 2012
Edited by Lynn Betlock, Jean Powers, and Valerie Beaudraultdailygenealogist@nehgs.org
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NEHGS collects, preserves, and interprets materials to document and make accessible the histories of families in America.
* Coming Soon in the Spring 2012 Issue of American Ancestors
* NEHGS Database News
* Roger Thompson on “Colonial New England’s Colorful History”* Irish Genealogy Study Group
* A Note from the Editor: More on Diaries
* Name Origins
* This Week’s Survey
* Spotlight: Chester County Archives and Records Services, Pennsylvania
* Stories of Interest* Classic Reprints
* Come Home to New England
* NEHGS Contact Information
Coming Soon in the Spring 2012 Issue of American Ancestors
“Captivity with ye Barbarous Turks”: Seventeenth-Century New Englanders Held Hostage by Beth A. Bower
From Family Myth to Historical Account: The McMillan Incident in 1814 Detroit by Patricia Dingwall Thompson
The Path to Edward Bird: A Story of Identity, Assimilation, and Discovery by Michael F. Dwyer
Weighing the Evidence by Henry B. Hoff
Was Susanna (Boylston) Adams Illiterate?by Harry Faulkner
Establishing Kinship with Family Reunion Announcements by Patricia Bravender
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Abstracts, 1706–1863: New Databases on AmericanAncestors.orgby Sean FurnissAlso in this issue . . .• Genetics & Genealogy: Chasing Harrimans through Y-DNA
• Manuscripts at NEHGS: Serving our Members: Manuscript Reference Services at NEHGS
• Diaries at NEHGS: An Excerpt from “Inklings of Belknap Street Sabbath School, Vol. 1,” by Josiah Freeman Bumstead, 1834
• Focus on New York: Navigating Appreciating the New York State Census
• 2011 Annual Report
And, as always, news of NEHGS and the world of genealogy, upcoming NEHGS programs and tours, new publications, the NEHGS cartoon, notices of family association events, genealogies in progress, and DNA studies in progress.
Subscription to American Ancestors is a benefit of NEHGS membership. If you are not a member, you may join online at www.AmericanAncestors.org or call toll-free 1-888-296-3447.
Return to Table of Contents
NEHGS Database News
by Sam Sturgis, Digital Collections Administrator, and Ryan Woods, Director of Internet Technology
The American Genealogist, vols. 64–68The American Genealogist database now includes volumes 64 through 68, publication years 1989 to 1993. The journal now known asThe American Genealogist (TAG) has been published quarterly since 1923, and represents an important body of scholarly genealogical research covering the breadth of the United States (with an early preference for New England). The current TAG database covers volumes 9–68. Additional sets of five volumes are scheduled to be added periodically throughout 2012. Volumes 1–8, covering the years 1923–1932, can be found in a database called Families of Ancient New Haven.
Roger Thompson on “Colonial New England’s Colorful History”
As part of the 2012 NEHGS Annual Meeting Weekend in April, historian Roger Thompson presented a one-day program, Colonial New England's Colorful History, that shared his research into the daily lives of early New Englanders. Over many years Thompson examined town settlement, religion, court records, crime and violence, the role of women, and the region's relationship with England — work that resulted in his books Sex in Middlesex: Popular Mores in a Massachusetts County, 1649-1699; Divided We Stand: Watertown, Massachusetts, 1630-1680; Cambridge Cameos: Stories of Life in Seventeenth-Century New England; and, most recently, From Deference to Defiance: Charlestown, Massachusetts, 1629-1692.
Listen to audio excerpts of the program on the NEHGS YouTube channel.
Irish Genealogy Study Group
The Irish Genealogy Study Group will meet on Saturday, May 19, between 1 and 4 p.m. in the NEHGS Education Center (second floor). This is an informal group gathered to talk about research problems and share solutions. Everyone is welcome to come and join in. Contact Mary Ellen Grogan for more information.
A Note from the Editor: More on Diaries
by Lynn Betlock, EditorOur diaries survey has prompted more email on this topic. Several writers emphasized the importance of placing copies of original diaries with historical organizations, and making the diarists’ words accessible.
Sheila Spencer Stover of Bunn, North Carolina: I own the diary of my great-great-grandmother, Frances Bertha (Haight) Noxon, and transcribed and published it in the 1980s. More importantly, I donated a copy to the Tompkins County, N.Y., GenWeb site; the full transcript appears online. Frances was NOT the least bit careful as to what she wrote, or who she commented on. (The surnames mentioned include Breckinridge, Carpenter, Haight, Noxon, and Farrington.)Charles Walker:
Some members of my extended family have inherited various portions of the family history, and keep it close to their chests. If you take a trip to Oregon or Tennessee, you will be permitted to see it, but otherwise it is unavailable. Please, I plead with you, give such documents to a university or historical society (with well-protected archives) that will promise to make it available. You may call it “keeping it in the family,” but we call it an inability to share. With so many threats (tornado, flood, fungus, mice, hurricane and fire), it makes sense to put originals where they can be accessed by all and content yourself with copies at home.Debbi Wilmes of Haddam, Connecticut:
I have a year-long calendar book kept by my great-grandfather, who lived in Vermont. Most days he made a brief note about weather, crops, or purchases. Partway through the year, the handwriting changes. We know he lost part of his hand in a silage accident, but don’t know when it happened. I’ve often wondered if the change in handwriting indicates when the accident occurred.
John Tew of Purcellville, Virginia:
I have my paternal grandfather’s leather-bound, "A Line A Day" diary from his years at Phillips Andover in 1911–1914. I transcribed the entire diary — although more than a few pages are missing due to my grandmother's later expurgation of some of the rather bawdy writings of a hormone-driven teenage boy. Nonetheless, the diary gives a lot of insight into the teenage slang of the era, and mentions places and things I could research and use to annotate the diary with photos. One particularly special entry described how my grandfather took a photo with his Kodak "vest pocket camera" of his niece while on Prudence Island [R.I.]. He described her as standing tall with all her two years in a dress on the stern seat of the rowboat. The description rang a bell and, sure enough, I found the very photo he took 100 years ago! It was thrilling and a bit eerie to read his diary entry while looking at the photo. I also have the diary my maternal great-grandmother kept while her son was serving in Europe during WWI. The diaries are among my most treasured family genealogy items. (Oh, and, in my case, I am next to positive I have the diaries because I come from good New England packrat stock on both sides!)
Diaries at NEHGS
We can’t end our focus on diaries without a look at the NEHGS diary collection. Within the R. Stanton Avery Special Collections are the writings of more than 332 diarists in over 1,200 volumes, covering more than 150,000 pages. (This number includes copies as well as original diaries.) The diaries at NEHGS are kept in secure archival storage, and they are made available in a variety of ways. They can be viewed in person at NEHGS in Boston; some can be viewed and/or searched on AmericanAncestors.org; and excerpts of others can be read in the regular “Diaries at NEHGS” column in American Ancestors magazine. A guide to the NEHGS diary collection was published in 2008.
Name Originsby Julie Helen Otto, Staff Genealogist
(WILLIAM) WALLACE (m): WALLACE derives from Anglo-Norman waleys [many variant spellings] which can mean a person from Wales; a person from the Welsh Marches; or a Scottish or other British person speaking one of the many Celtic languages then available.
The story of Sir William Wallace’s rise against the incursions of the English King Edward I (1239-1307, king from 1272) had great appeal, especially with the Romantic movement, which in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw a boom in everything Scottish. The Scottish Chiefs (1810) by Jane Porter (1776–1850) was one of the most popular early historical novels; its treatment of Sir William Wallace is romantic and sentimental, but a rousing read.
A look at the 1850 U.S. census shows approximately sixty men with the first and middle names William Wallace. They include William Wallace Dutton (b. abt. 1830 ) of Chelsea, Vermont; William Wallace McCall (b. abt. 1835) of Saratoga Springs, New York; and William Wallace Harrison (b. abt. 1820) of Paterson, New Jersey. There were likely many other William Wallaces whose full names were not listed in the census.
This Week's Survey
Last week’s survey asked how many genealogical conferences or programs you plan to attend in 2012. The results are:
46%, I plan to attend no genealogical conferences or programs.
20%, I plan to attend 1 genealogical conference or program.
17%, I plan to attend 2–3 genealogical conferences or programs.
13%, I don’t know.
3%, I plan to attend 4–5 genealogical conferences or programs.
1%, I plan to attend more than 6 genealogical conferences or programs.
This week's survey, asked by our Education Department, asks which English county record offices near London would be of the most interest to researchers. Take the survey now!
Spotlight: Chester County Archives and Records Services, Pennsylvania
by Valerie Beaudrault, Assistant Editor
Chester County Archives and Records Services, Pennsylvania
Chester County is located in southeastern Pennsylvania. West Chester is the county seat. The Chester County Archives and Records Services has made a number of indexes available on its website. Click on the Online Indexes link in the site’s contents list to access them. You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. The following is a sample of the many different types of records in their extensive collection of online resources.
Birth, Marriage and Death Records
The indexes in this collection include Births, Deaths and Marriages, 1852–1855; Birth Registers, 1893–1906; Coroners' Records, 1720–1957; Deaths, 1893–1907; Delayed Birth Records, 1857–1906; Divorces, 1804–1902; Marriage Contracts, Separations and Certificates, 1690–1890; Marriage License Applications, 1885–1930; Proof of Death Registers, 1875–1893; and Veterans' Burials, 1885–1979.
Criminal and Prison Records
The indexes in this collection include Gaol (Jail) Keepers' Docket, 1804–1816; Languishing Prisoner Petitions, 1718–1790; Oyer & Terminer, 1802–1910; Prison Discharges, 1843–1872; and Quarter Sessions Indictments, 1681–1870. The Languishing Prisoner Petitions database contains records of petitions submitted to the court by prisoners who were seeking to be released from jail. The data fields in the database include last name, first name, charge, month, year, and comments. Comments include descriptive information, name of petitioner, servant status, and spouse information.
The indexes in this collection include British Depredations, 1777–1782; Deeds, 1688–1830; Inquisitions and Executions, 1700–1800; Letters of Attorney, 1774–1845; Mechanics' Liens, 1828–1868; Petitions for Sheriff's Deeds, 1728–1835; and Sheriffs' Deeds, 1773–1875.
There are two indexes to naturalization records filed in Chester County. The first covers the years 1798–1906 and second covers 1906–1935.
Occupation and Licensing Records
The indexes in this collection include Chester County Commissioners, 1711–2008; Dog Register, 1855–1912; Peddler's Petitions, 1722–1869; Professional Registers, 1683–1970; Registry of Automobiles, 1903–1905; and Tavern Petitions, 1700–1923. If your ancestors owned a dog and lived in Chester County between 1855 and 1912, you might be able to learn what breed of dog they owned by looking at the Dog Register index. The data fields in the database include owner’s last name, owner’s first name, date of registration, residence, breed, entry number, and page number.
Probate, Estate and Guardianship Records
The indexes in this online collection include Feme Covert Records, 1832–1848; Orphans' Court Bonds, 1746–1893; Orphans' Court Estates, 1714–1923; Register's Court, 1795–1917; and Wills and Administrations, 1714–1923.
Servant and Slavery Records
The indexes in this collection include Fugitive Slave Records, 1820–1839; Indentured Servants & Apprentice Records, 1700–1855; Negro Servant Returns, 1788–1821; and Slave Manumissions. The Manumissions index is sorted by slave and by master. Most of the manumissions took place prior to the mid–1830s. The data fields in the index include last name, first name and age of the slave, first name, last name, and residence of the owner, book number, year, and page number.
* An extended version of this article, with more index descriptions, will be posted Monday, May 21, on our Daily Genealogist blog.
Stories of Interest
Son Writes Letter to Mom Every Day for 30 YearsPrompted to begin writing to his mother after her car accident in 1981, a New Hampshire man has now written over 11,000 letters to her.
Six Generations of Daughters – From Baby to 111-Year-Old Great-Great-Great-Grandmother
A Virginia family has six living members of a matrilineal line.
African-American's roots revised
"It's taken more than a decade for the 43-year-old Atlanta genealogist to fill in the story of those lost generations — a story that leads back to Cameroon, and then even further back to present-day Syria."
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come Home to New England
Join us for one of NEHGS’s most popular programs, Come Home to New England. This is an intensive week of family history discovery and education at the Society’s headquarters in Boston’s Back Bay. NEHGS experts provide individual consultations and useful lectures to guide researchers of all levels in their family history explorations. Participants also enjoy group meals and social events, making every moment of this fun-filled week a chance to learn more about your family history.
Session I: June 11–16
Tuition: $750. Register online.
Session 2: August 6–11
Tuition: $675 early registration through June 15; $750 after June 15. Register online.
More information can be accessed by visiting the events page on AmericanAncestors.org.
NEHGS Contact Information
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