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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • Vol. 15, No. 23 
    Whole #586
    June 6, 2012
    Edited by Lynn Betlock, Jean Powers, and Valerie Beaudrault


    Greetings from the New England Historic Genealogical Society! 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 Database News
    A Note from the Editor: New York Probate Records
    Massachusetts Genealogical Council (MGC) Annual Meeting & Seminar 
    Name Origins
    This Week’s Survey
    Spotlight: Blair County Genealogical Society, Pennsylvania 
    Stories of Interest
    Classic Reprints 
    Upcoming Education Programs
    NEHGS Contact Information


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

    Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, Volumes 21–25

    Volumes 21 to 25 (publication years 1958 to 1968) of The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine are newly added to Volumes 1 to 25 are now available to search. Additional volumes will be added throughout the year. 

    The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, published by the Philadelphia-based Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania since 1895, publishes family histories, original records, book reviews, and scholarly essays. 

    Early volumes (1895–1947), published as Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, focus on southeastern Pennsylvania and neighboring areas of New Jersey and Delaware, and reproduce original records and documents for the use of genealogical researchers. These documents include public records, election returns, births, deaths, marriages, court records, census reports, and immigration/emigration records. 

    From 1948 to 1964, the journal primarily published biographies and family histories. In 1965, the journal expanded the focus of its scholarship to facilitate genealogical research beyond southeastern Pennsylvania, and has maintained a more or less consistent balance between publishing compiled genealogies and original source materials. 

    From 2001 the journal has also published “genealogical summaries” to accompany all compiled genealogies and has further expanded its geographical scope to emphasize research on the European backgrounds of immigrants to Pennsylvania.

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    A Note from the Editor: New York Probate Records 
    by Lynn Betlock, Editor

    NEHGS member Denise Crawford of Mesa, Arizona, recently wrote to a staff person here at NEHGS with an enthusiastic endorsement of a new set of online records: “I have just spent the last five hours having an absolutely wonderful time finding wills and probate records in St. Lawrence and Wayne Counties for my families in the New York, Probate Records, 1629–1971, collection on Maybe you can get the word out that these records are online now so that folks aren't spending a fortune trying to get them from the counties.” 

    I’m happy to publicize this collection, which debuted on FamilySearch on January 25, 2012. Genealogists researching New York ancestors will indeed be thrilled to find this material online.

    Forty-five out of New York’s sixty-two counties are represented. (Counties south of Delaware, Albany, and Rensselaer are excluded, as is Schoharie.) The collection is browsable, but has not been indexed and is not searchable. The content and year range of the probate records vary by county; for some counties there may be a general index to probate, for others there may be an index to wills only. Most records end in the 1920s with some indexes continuing to 1971. 

    New York researchers should be aware of other important probate record sources.

    An extremely useful database (available to NEHGS members), covering 52 counties, is Abstracts of Wills, Administrations and Guardianships in N.Y. State, 1787–1835 This database was created by William Applebie Daniel Eardeley, and the original materials are part of the Brooklyn Historical Society's manuscript collection. Eardeley abstracted original estate proceedings, and indexed all the names in his abstracts, i.e. those of the decedents, executors, administrators, petitioners, guardians, witnesses, named beneficiaries and minor children. (Eardeley did not abstract Kings County, so instead, records abstracted by DeWitt Van Buren in Abstracts of Wills of Kings County Recorded at Brooklyn, N. Y., are included.)

    New York State Probate Records: A Genealogist’s Guide to Testate and Intestate Records

     (NEHGS, 2011) by Gordon L. Remington offers detailed background on these complicated records, as well as maps and county-by-county summary pages which list published and online indexes. 

    While the addition of the collection on FamilySearch means many more New York probate records are available online, many sources still remain available only in print or on microfilm. For instance, of the forty-five counties, probate petitions for twenty of them are on film at the Family History Library. However, none of these petitions seem to be included in the FamilySearch collection.

    Happy hunting in New York probate records!

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    Massachusetts Genealogical Council (MGC) Annual Meeting & Seminar

    Theme: Ethnicity and Genealogy
    Saturday, July 21, 2012, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
    Hassenfeld Conference Center, Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass. 

    The MGC 2012 Annual Meeting & Seminar offers twenty programs and two workshops to help attendees stay at the forefront of their ethnic genealogical and historical research. The seminar will also include continental breakfast and lunch; vendors with products and services for genealogists; door prizes; and the opportunity to network with 200 peers and colleagues.

    Featured speaker Loretto “Lou” Szucs, FUGA, Executive Editor & VP of Community Relations at, will give the following presentations: “They Became Americans: Finding Naturalizations and Ethnic Origins,” “Hidden Treasures at,” and “Mysteries, Myths, and Miracles” (luncheon event). 

    The speakers from NEHGS are Marie Daly, Director of the Library, who will discuss “A Virtual Way to Tipperary: Irish Online Resources,” and David Allen Lambert, Online Genealogist, who will present “Researching Native Americans in 17th–21st-Century Massachusetts: Case Study, Punkapoag Indians.”

    The seminar will include a MGC panel discussion about SSDI legislation at the federal level, and bills presently in front of the Massachusetts legislature that seek to restrict access to public records. Attendees will learn how this legislation directly affects genealogical research.

    Before July 1, registration is $60 for MGC members and $75 for others; after July 1 the cost will be $85. Register or view the full schedule, speaker bios, and more.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto, Staff Genealogist

    HENRIETTA (f): This name, the feminine form of HENRY (with diminutive form –etta/ette), was popular from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. One of the name’s best-known early bearers in England was Henriette-Marie de France (1609–1669), known in England as Henrietta Maria, daughter of Henri IV of France and Marie de’ Medici, and wife of King Charles I of England. Henrietta Fitz-James (1667–1730), wife of Sir Henry Waldegrave (later Lord Waldegrave), was an illegitimate daughter of Henrietta Maria’s son James, Duke of York (1633–1701, King James II 1685-88) and Arabella Churchill (1648–1730), sister of John Churchill, later Duke of Marlborough. John’s daughter Henrietta Churchill (1681–1733), who married the Hon. Francis Godolphin, later 2nd Earl of Godolphin, was a distant great-aunt of Sir Winston Churchill, the great Anglo-American statesman. Jonathan and Lydia (Gushee) Shaw of Raynham, Mass., neatly honored two tragic French royal figures when naming their daughter Henrietta Maria Antonietta Shaw in 1793 (Raynham VRs) — Queen Henrietta Maria above, and the recently-executed Marie Antoinette, Queen of France.

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    This Week's Survey

    Last week’s survey asked what type of genealogical publications you’d be interested in reading in an ebook format. The results are:

    54%, Books of records or other reference books — examples: New Englanders in the 1600sGuide to Massachusetts Cemeteries
    50%, Compiled genealogies
    35%, I would not purchase an ebook.
    33%, How-to books — example: Genealogist's Handbook for New England Research

    This week's survey asks whether you read books electronically. Take the survey now!

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    Spotlight: Blair County Genealogical Society, Pennsylvania 
    by Valerie Beaudrault, Assistant Editor

    Blair County Genealogical Society, Pennsylvania

    Blair County is located in central Pennsylvania. Its county seat is Hollidaysburg. The Blair County Genealogical Society was organized in 1979. Its purpose is “to compile, study and exchange information of a genealogical and historical nature and to preserve, perpetuate and publish the genealogical and historical heritage of the Blair County area for the benefit of its members, schools, and the general public.” The Blair County Genealogical Society has made the following resources available on its website.

    Delayed Birth Records Index
    Pennsylvania only began keeping records of births in 1906. Anyone born before 1906 who needed a birth certificate had to apply for a delayed birth record. This database is an index to those delayed birth file records. The delayed birth files contain the supporting documentation submitted to receive a delayed birth record. A form is provided so that you can order a copy of a delayed birth file via postal mail. (Not everyone in the record index has a file.)

    Marriage Records Index
    This database contains the index to Blair County Genealogical Society publication 18: Marriage Application Records, Blair County, PA, Vol. 1, Oct. 1885-1890. The data fields in this alphabetical-by-groom’s-surname index include the groom’s name, bride’s name, and year of the marriage.

    Death Records Indexes
    The largest online index collection on the website is that of Blair County deaths. The data has been gathered from a number of different sources. An obituary order form is provided on each database page. The following is a sample list of sources.

    • 1856–1860 deaths abstracted from the Altoona Tribune.
    • Coroner's lists that appeared in the Altoona Tribune for 1886, 1888–1891, and 1893–1903.
    • Deaths listed in the Tyrone Daily Herald for 1887, 1888, 1891–1894, 1911, and 1932–1935.
    • Deaths recorded at the Blair County Courthouse in 1894, 1895, and 1898, before the Pennsylvania Department of Health began keeping vital records in 1905.
    • Death notices from the Altoona Mirror for 1906, 1908, and 1913–1932.
    • The Archie Claar Obituary Collection Index, based on the Archie Claar obituary clipping books (ten volumes covering 1933 through 1938).
    • Death indexes from the Broad Top Bulletin of Saxton, 1989 through 2009.

    The website also contains links to offsite databases with deaths extracted from local newspapers, a link to a Blair County atlas on the PAGenWeb site, and other external links.

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    Stories of Interest

    If These Barns Could Talk
    In Iowa, efforts are underway to encourage the appreciation, preservation, and restoration of historic barns, “cathedrals of the prairie.”

    Sweet Strings of Sorrow

    The author writes of her efforts to hear the music by played by a distant relative, a violin soloist from Budapest who perished in the Holocaust.

    Eternally Green: The Effects of Acid Rain on Monuments
    This brief article from the historic Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Mass., discusses how acid rain impacts marble tombstones.

    Return of the Hamburgs and the Meckelburgs
    Gathering information about two interconnected Jewish families who lived in Spitalfields, East London, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, led to a reunion of descendants.

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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:

    • Vital Records of Norwich, Connecticut 1659–1848 (Item P2-6520700, $175.00)
    • History of Norwich, Connecticut (Item P2-6520600, $117.00)
    • First Church of Christ, New London, Connecticut (Item P2-6520300, $88.00)
    • History of the Town of Goshen, Connecticut (Item P2-6497500, $94.00)
    • Thomas Barnes (c.1615–1689/90) of Hartford and Farmington, Connecticut (Item P4-H01755, $29.00)

    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

    Come Home to New England
    99-101 Newbury Street, Boston
    August 6–11

    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.

    Tuition: $675 early registration through June 15; $750 after June 15. Register online

    The Title Game: English Royal, Noble, and Honorary Titles
    99-101 Newbury Street, Boston
    Wednesday, June 27, 12–1 p.m.

    Americans are intrigued by hereditary titles, but the title system is complicated and quirky enough that we don’t always understand its meaning. Join NEHGS Director of Publications Scott Steward for a look at the sometimes confusing world of English titles.

    Get the answers to questions like:

    • Is Lady Jane Doe likely to be the wife of a baronet? (Probably not.) 
    • Was it Laurence Olivier, Sir Laurence, or Lord Olivier? (Answer: All three.) 
    • And just what is primogeniture?

    Free and open to the public. Please RSVP by calling 617-226-1226, or email

    More information can be accessed by visiting the events page on

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    NEHGS Contact Information

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    Copyright 2012, New England Historic Genealogical Society
    99–101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

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99 - 101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

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