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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • Vol. 16, No. 19
    Whole #634
    May 8, 2013
    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
    * NEHGS in Antiques and Fine Art Magazine
    * NEHGS at the NGS 2013 Family History Conference
    * A Note from the Editor: Annie Haven Thwing’s Boston
    * Name Origins
    * The Weekly Genealogist Survey
    * Spotlight: Newspaper Databases
    * Stories of Interest
    * Classic Reprints
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Library Renovations


    NEHGS Database News
    by Sam Sturgis, Digital Collections Administrator, and Christopher Carter, Digital Collections Coordinator

    Rhode Island Roots, vols. 11–15

    When Rhode Island Roots began publication in 1975, the publication served both as a newsletter for the newly formed Rhode Island Genealogical Society (RIGS) and as an aid to careful genealogical research. While it was short and unsophisticated in design, Roots was a serious publication assembled by people with considerable genealogical experience. This update includes volumes 11–15, publication years 1985–1989, and adds more than 21,000 records to this collection.

    Each issue of the quarterly journal, now 52 pages, features at least one compiled genealogy along with Bible records, transcriptions of original sources, book reviews, and studies of the genealogical implications of historical events. Indices of land and notarial records and petitions to the General Assembly, transcriptions of estimates of ratable estates, gravestones, and early census records all provide invaluable clues to Rhode Island genealogy. The authors include well-known genealogists as well as RIGS members with stories of their own families to tell.

    We will continue to release volumes of this journal throughout the year.

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    NEHGS in Antiques and Fine Art Magazine

    The spring 2013 issue of Antiques and Fine Art magazine features an outstanding eight-page article by Grace Friary entitled “American Decorative Arts at the New England Historic Genealogical Society.” Since our founding in 1845, NEHGS has been an important repository for American decorative arts relating to family history. The article showcases some of our noteworthy paintings, furniture, and decorative arts, which are beautifully photographed and described.

    Visit the Antiques and Fine Art website here.

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    NEHGS at the NGS 2013 Family History Conference

    May 8–11, 2013
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Attending the NGS Family History Conference? Stop by the NEHGS booth, #423-25, to save on essential resources, browse new titles, and meet some of our authors! NEHGS members will receive 20% off purchases at the booth and several new titles, including The Descendants of Dr. Nathaniel Saltonstall of Haverhill, Massachusetts and the classic reprint, Annals of Witchcraft in New England: And Elsewhere in the United States, will be available. Come by Friday from 2 to 3 p.m. to meet Great Migration Study Project Director Robert C. Anderson and have your books signed.

    NEHGS Chief Genealogist David Allen Lambert will be giving a lecture, “Massachusetts Native American Research: A Case Study from a Tribal Historian,” on Friday at 9:30 a.m. (The NEHGS Friday luncheon featuring a talk by NEHGS President and CEO D. Brenton Simons is sold out.)

    Visit the NGS conference website to explore topics, speakers, and conference offerings.

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    A Note from the Editor: Annie Haven Thwing’s Boston
    by Lynn Betlock, Editor

    If genealogists researching Boston ancestors aren’t familiar with the work of Annie Haven Thwing (1851-1940), they should be. Born in Roxbury (now part of Boston), Thwing “devoted over thirty years of her life to painstaking historical research on early Boston. According to Thwing, her interest was sparked by a desire ‘to find out where my ancestors lived, who were their neighbors, and what the neighborhood was like.’ Only Thwing did not stop with her own ancestors; she set out to answer these questions for all of Boston. Focusing on analysis and synthesis of primary sources, Annie Haven Thwing created several indispensable and accessible resources for historians.”[1]

    “When Annie presented her research collection to the Massachusetts Historical Society in December 1916, it consisted of twenty-two typewritten volumes of Boston deed extracts entitled ‘Inhabitants and Estates of the Town of Boston, 1630–1800,’ a two-volume ‘History of the Streets of Boston, 1630–1800,’ and the Thwing Card Index. This last comprised approximately 125,000 index cards, with all the ‘items of interest of each inhabitant’ she had compiled arranged alphabetically by name. That index, still much used by researchers and now the foundation of an electronic database, fills seventy-four library drawers at the Massachusetts Historical Society.”[2]

    In 1920, Thwing drew on her research to publish the book for which she is best known today, The Crooked and Narrow Streets of Boston, 1630–1822. In 2001, the Massachusetts Historical Society and the New England Historic Genealogical Society collaborated on a CD, Inhabitants and Estates of the Town of Boston, 1630–1800 and The Crooked and Narrow Streets of Boston, 1630–1822, that includes the Thwing Index and contains more than 62,000 records. (The CD is available for purchase here.)

    While many genealogists are familiar with Annie Haven Thwing’s scholarship, they might not be aware that she also created a model of Boston that can still be viewed today. “In 1900, the Massachusetts Infant Asylum, a charitable organization for which Annie served as one of the directors, planned a fundraising fair. Typically, Annie decided upon an ambitious project for exhibition: an accurate scale model of the town of Boston, ca. 1775, based largely on the information she had amassed…Annie was no modeler, however, and time was short, so the model had to be reduced to a…modest five and a half feet by four and a half feet. The outline and topographical features were drawn from a map Annie had commissioned for the book she planned to write. For the model buildings, Annie turned to a carpenter named Munsey living on Orr’s Island, Maine, where she passed her summers…Munsey worked from pictures supplied by Annie Thwing…[and her] model featured the eighteenth-century street pattern she had so carefully reconstructed and nearly 120 handcarved building replicas. In addition to the acclaim it received for its appearance at the fair for the Infant Asylum, the Thwing model also received appreciation in a city exposition in 1909. In December of that year, Annie gave the model to the Old South Association, where it resides as a popular exhibit to this day.”[3]

    Built in 1729 as a Puritan meeting house, the Old South Meeting House is best known as the site of lively public meetings in the years leading to the American Revolution, including the meeting that led to the Boston Tea Party. At the time, Old South was the largest building in Boston. Today, Old South is a museum, a Freedom Trail site, and an active gathering place. (Old South is also a center for history education, as I witnessed last week when my children and their third grade classmates took on the roles of Loyalists and Patriots and debated the tax on tea.)

    Annie Haven Thwing left a rich and invaluable legacy for Boston genealogists, historians, and institutions — and it all began with a simple desire “to find out where my ancestors lived.” For a detailed look at Thwing’s life, I highly recommend Len Travers’s article, cited below.

    1Lynn Betlock, “Annie Haven Thwing: Guardian of the Crooked and Narrow Street.” The Dial of the Old South Clock 7 (spring 1995): 1.

    2Len Travers, “‘You see I am addicted to facts’: Annie Haven Thwing and The Crooked and Narrow Streets of Boston,The Massachusetts Historical Review 1 (1999): 121–122.

    3Ibid., 120–21.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto, Genealogist

    LAVINIA (f): Female form of a Roman family name. In Roman legend, Lavinia was the daughter of King Latinus, king of Latium [the area around Rome: modern Lazio]. She married the Trojan newcomer Aeneas, hero of Vergil’s Aeneid. Her name springs from the same root as the ancient city of Lavinium, about seventeen miles south of Rome. In Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare’s bloodiest play, the eponymous hero has a daughter by this name (Clarence L. Barnhart, William D. Halsey et al., The New Century Cyclopedia of Names, 3 vols. [New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1954], 2:2399).

    Familiar forms often seen in New England are VINEY or VINNY. Lavinia Dickinson (1833–1899) of Amherst, Mass., sister of the poet Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (1830–1886), arranged for publication of Emily’s poems after the poet’s death. In the 1850 census, 5,195 women named Lavinia were enumerated. The 1940 census listed 4,436 women with that name.

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    The Weekly Genealogist Survey

    Last week’s survey asked how long you’ve been conducting genealogical research. 4,399 people responded to this survey. The results are:

    • <1%, Less than 1 year
    • 9%, 1 to 5 years
    • 11%, 6 to 10 years
    • 15%, 11 to 15 years.
    • 13%, 16 to 20 years
    • 10%, 21 to 25 years.
    • 9%, 26 to 30 years
    • 16%, 31 to 40 years
    • 16%, More than 40 years
    • <1%, I am not certain how long I’ve been conducting genealogical research.

    This week’s survey asks how many generations of your maternal line you have researched. Take the survey now!

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    Spotlight: Newspaper Databases
    by Valerie Beaudrault, Assistant Editor

    Brewster Public Library, New York

    rewster is a village in the town of Southeast, which is located in the southeastern part of Putnam County, New York. The Brewster Public Library has made a newspaper database available on its website. Click on the Databases tab and select Brewster Standard from the drop down list to access it.

    The Brewster Standard was a weekly newspaper that covered the news of Brewster, Southeast, Tilly Foster, Sodom, Patterson, Carmel, Mahopac, Somers, North Salem, and Croton Falls, New York, and Danbury, Connecticut. The database covers the period from 1870 through 1982.Click on the “on line edition” link to open the search page. Enter keywords in the search box, and, to search for a phrase, place quotes around the words. Instructions are given for advanced searches. I offer an additional search tip: to search a particular year, be sure to include the year in your keywords. Click on the title link in the search results to display the corresponding newspaper page as a PDF. You can search within the document for key words or phrases by clicking the icon at the top left of the viewable page — the icon may be a magnifying glass or binoculars, depending on your version of Adobe Reader.

    Sadie Pope Dowdell Library, New Jersey

    The Sadie Pope Dowdell Library is located in South Amboy, which is on Raritan Bay in Middlesex County, New Jersey. The library has made a digital version of the South Amboy Citizen newspaper, from 1910 to 2000, available on its website. The database is split into two parts. The first covers 1910 through 1943. To begin a search in this time period, select a year from the drop down list. Then select the month and date to access a PDF file containing the issue. Click on The South Amboy Citizen (1944–2000) link to access files for this later period. Click on a year to access a PDF file of an individual issue.The issues may be searched by clicking on the binoculars icon on the left side of the page or by using the Find function under the Edit menu. Please note that the library’s website states that you will need the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the files properly.

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    Stories of Interest

    With Rain Coming, Boston Marathon Memorials Made of Paper at Copley Plaza Archived by City
    During the process of collecting items to be moved to the city archives, archivist Marta Crilly expressed her feelings, “I’m really happy that these things are going to be preserved, and that this part of Boston’s beautiful history, this outpouring of love, is going to be documented for people to see.”

    Mystery of 200-Year-Old British Soldier Found in the Dunes of Holland
    Research on the remains of the soldier indicates he died in a brief conflict in August of 1799.

    Celebrating a 250-Year-Old House
    Yankee Magazine columnist Edie Clark wrote about the history of her venerable New Hampshire house and described the celebration she held when it turned 250 years old.

    New Worlds Older: Native Americans in 1494 Vatican Fresco
    The director of the Vatican Museums suggests that a detail in a newly-cleaned fresco may be “the first depiction of Native Americans” in European art.

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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:

    • History of Barnstable County, Mass., 1620–1890 (Item P5-MA0365H, $105.00)
    • History of Swanzey, N.H., from 1734 to 1890 (Item P5-NH0025H, $59.50)
    • History of the Town of Carlisle, Mass., 1754–1920 (Item P5-MA0408H, $39.50)
    • Pioneer Days and Later Times in Corning (N.Y.) and Vicinity, 1789–1920 (Item P5-NY0077H, $57)
    • • Keating and Forbes Families and Reminiscences of C.A. Keating, A.D. 1758–1920 (Item P4-H16359, $38.50)

    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

    Come Home to New England
    June 17–22 or August 5–10, 2013
    99–101 Newbury Street, Boston, Mass.

    One of NEHGS’s most popular programs, Come Home to New England is an intensive week of family history discovery at NEHGS headquarters in Boston’s Back Bay. Staff 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

    Details and registration:
    June 17–22
    August 5–10

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    NEHGS Library Renovations

    Due to upcoming renovations, the fourth floor of the NEHGS library will be closed from Friday, May 17, through Saturday, June 8. Several microfilm and microfiche readers will be available on the seventh floor, and the staff there will retrieve film and fiche for patrons. We apologize for any inconvenience this will cause and ask library visitors to please bear with us during these renovations and be prepared for the reduced number of available readers.

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    Copyright 2013, New England Historic Genealogical Society
    99–101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

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