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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • Vol. 16, No. 37
    Whole #652
    September 11, 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
    * Volunteer with NEHGS
    * A Note from the Editor: A Featured Blog
    * Readers Respond
    * The Weekly Genealogist Survey
    * Spotlight: Davis Cemetery, Alabama
    * Stories of Interest
    * New Titles in the Portable Genealogist Series
    * Upcoming Research Programs


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

    Vermont Vital Records, 1909–2008

    This database contains records of births, marriages, and deaths filed with the state of Vermont between 1909 and 2008. These records are currently held by the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration. The collection includes more than 950,000 birth records, more than 1.3 million marriage records, and more than 600,000 death records. Names of parents and spouses have also been indexed, when available.

    Records held in this collection refer to the statewide index of vital records maintained by the Vermont State Archives. Town clerks were required to send copies of vital records to the state beginning in 1857. The state government began creating a statewide index to these records in 1919. The original vital records are still held at the town level. It may be possible to obtain a copy of the original record by contacting the corresponding town clerk’s office.

    Earlier Vermont vital records, from 1720 to 1908, are not available online at this time, but they will be added to our digital collections in the future. Records of births, marriages, and deaths that occurred in the past five years are located at the Vermont Vital Records Office.

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    Volunteer with NEHGS

    Interested in helping others take advantage of NEHGS services and collections? Consider joining the growing cadre of Society volunteers. The time you contribute will help to enrich the NEHGS experience for current and future genealogical researchers!

    We can use assistance with a variety of library-based activities, such as welcoming visitors to the library, helping them find materials and navigate online databases, and answering basic reference questions. Our Publications team seeks volunteers with proofreading, indexing, source-checking, and organizational skills. NEHGS is continually adding to its digital collections, so volunteers are needed to scan and transcribe handwritten records. Those with a basic knowledge of Excel spreadsheets can also help to create database indexes or update website content. A list of current volunteer opportunities can be viewed at NEHGS Volunteer Program.

    For more information, contact Volunteer Coordinator Helen Herzer at or by phone at 617-226-1276.

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    A Note from the Editor: A Featured Blog
    by Lynn Betlock, Editor

    Our latest blog profile features Irish Genealogy News, written by Claire Santry. Here, Claire introduces her blog:

    There are two things family historians realize quickly when they start searching for Irish ancestors: first, that “ALL Irish records were burned in a fire in 1922” is a great myth; and, second, that the surviving records are really dispersed among numerous repositories and institutions, making it difficult for researchers to find what they are looking for and then stay up to date with developments.

    My website, Irish Genealogy Toolkit, deals largely with the former issue, and acts as a beginners’ guide to the surviving records. It was the latter issue, however, that prompted me, in 2010, to launch my blog, Irish Genealogy News. Its mission is to relay to family historians any and all news and developments regarding genealogical collections relating to Irish research. News items might be about the public acquisition of privately held material, the digitization and imminent release of archived registers and other record sets, or any changes to the general availability of Irish genealogical resources, whether they are held in Ireland, the UK, or overseas.

    I also bring general news of interest to the family history community. This tends to have a more “Ireland-based” bias, but includes items that could be very useful to any visiting researchers. Examples include details of changes to requirements for readers’ tickets at larger repositories, seasonal or temporary closures of archives, book launches, exhibition reviews, information about genealogy courses, and industry campaigns for improved or early public access to records. (The 1926 census is the subject currently exercising lobby groups.)

    I’m delighted to count both professional and amateur genealogists among my readership. I’m frequently told by genealogists that the blog has made a huge difference to their research, and they are no longer “working in the dark.” Comments such as these are music to my ears! Improving awareness of Ireland’s scattered resources was my prime motive for starting the blog, so if I’m achieving that, I’m more than happy. It means I’m saving researchers from some of the frustrations and blind alleys that I experienced when I first set out, some fifteen years ago, on my own ancestral quest.

    As well as publishing Irish Genealogy News, I produce a quarterly review of developments for Irish Roots magazine, and write occasional features for family history publications. I’m also proud to be a newly elected Fellow of the Irish Genealogical Research Society.

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    Readers Respond

    We had a number of reader emails in response to last week’s school records survey and the Name Origins article on middle names. (Please note that the Name Origins column is now on hiatus.) Below are some of the responses.

    School records

    Michael Dwyer of Pittsford, Vermont: My mother lost all her photos of her childhood and her parents in a fire in 1957. That dearth made me reach out to gather photos from other sources. In 1983, I asked my grandfather if he had a photo taken when he graduated from Wareham [Mass.] High School in 1925. He said he thought so. I then asked to whom he may have given his picture. He responded with the names of two women who still lived in Wareham. When I wrote to them, each responded by sending me my grandfather’s picture, still in its studio jacket with my grandfather’s inscription, “From your pal, Morsie.” Similarly, my grandmother completed nurse’s training in 1929. She suggested I write to one particular classmate. The classmate invited me to tea and gave me a beautiful inscribed school photo of my grandmother.

    Greg Crane of Athens, Georgia: I found a newspaper article and a photo of my grandfather in his 1895 East Providence, Rhode Island, football “uniform.” They worry about head injuries in today’s helmets. I wonder how my grandfather survived in those couple of strips of leather.

    Middle names

    Bette Wing of Byron, New York: Many of my ancestors were early Massachusetts colonists who left for Canada in the 1760s. Most settled in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. After much researching, I finally realized that most of them used their middle names for everyday life and used their given names on official documents. For the longest time I thought an ancestor had two wives, Elizabeth and Rachel. Finally I discovered the wife’s name was Elizabeth Rachel and she was known by her middle name. Once I found that key, it opened many doors. I found middle name usage common in Newfoundland, Labrador, and Nova Scotia, and much less so in New Brunswick. Apparently this was a common practice throughout the 1800s and it included the Irish, Scottish, and English populations. Hope this helps another researcher.

    Daisy Thomas of Sierra Vista, Arizona: I believe Philip Watson Challis is known as the first person in New England with three names. He was born ca. 1617, probably in Essex, England, son of John and Elizabeth (Watson) Challis and is thought to have been named after his uncle, Philip Watson. He was first recorded in Ipswich, Mass., in 1637 and married Mary Sargent in 1652. The couple lived in Salisbury/Amesbury, Mass., and had twelve children. [For more on Philip1 Watson Challis, see "The English Ancestry of Philip Watson Challis of Ipswich, Massachusetts" by Leslie Mahler in The American Genealogist 79 (2004), 57-61; NEHGS members click here.]

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    The Weekly Genealogist Survey

    Last week’s survey asked if you have used school records as part of your genealogical research. More than one answer could be selected. 3,850 people answered this survey. The results are:

    • 19%, Yes, I have used report cards.
    • 46%, Yes, I have used yearbooks.
    • 33%, Yes, I have used class photos.
    • 27%, Yes, I have used alumni directories or class books.
    • 21%, Yes, I have used school censuses or lists of students.
    • 10%, Yes, I have used administrative records.
    • 11%, Yes, I have used other types of school records.
    • 14%, Yes, I have used school newspapers and newsletters.
    • 7%, Yes, I have used school artificats, such as trophies and award plaques.
    • 35%, No, I have not used any school records.

    This week’s survey asks about researching at public libraries. Take the survey now!

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    Spotlight: Davis Cemetery, Alabama
    by Valerie Beaudrault, Assistant Editor

    Davis Cemetery, Alabama

    Davis Cemetery is a historic cemetery located in the city of Dora, Walker County, Alabama. Walker County is located in north central Alabama. Jasper is its county seat.

    According to the Davis Cemetery website, it is the oldest known cemetery in eastern Walker County. A number of resources have been provided on the website. To learn more about the cemetery’s history, click on the History link. There is also a Pictures link, which will take you to a page of links to images of gravestones.

    Click on the People Buried at Davis Cemetery link to view the alphabetical burial database. It covers the period from the establishment of the cemetery through 2012. The data fields in the index are name, date of birth and date of death. In some cases you will find a link to an image of the grave marker or even a photograph, obituary, or family history for the person buried there. The information in the name field may include parents’ names, military service, and spouse’s name.

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    Stories of Interest

    Growing Up Genomic: What Happens When You Know All a Baby’s Genes?
    “Boston-based researchers have just announced that they will be seeking subjects for a $6-million study called BabySeq that involves sequencing more than 200 babies’ full sets of genes at birth, then following them to see how that genetic knowledge affects their lives and medical care.”

    Danvers Archival Website Provides Windows on the Past
    The Danvers Archival Center has a new website, spearheaded by Archivist Richard Trask. “Trask’s ultimate wish was something that would not only appeal to people on a mission to find out about the Witchcraft Delusion, the history of Danvers and even genealogy, but those who would enjoy the hunt as one connection leads to another.”

    Mass. Woman Reunited with Scrapbook from Grandma
    “Twelve years ago, Frank Medeiros of Dartmouth found an old, brown scrapbook at a church rummage sale and saved it from a likely fate in a trash barrel.” Now the scrapbook has been given to the granddaughter of the woman who created it.

    September 11 Museum Putting Hallowed Artifacts in Place
    “Amid the construction machinery and the dust, powerful artifacts of death and destruction have assumed their final resting places inside the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.”

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    New Titles in the Portable Genealogist Series

    The NEHGS Bookstore is happy to announce three new titles in our popular Portable Genealogist series:

    Organizing Your Research by Rhonda R. McClure
    Problem Solving in Irish Research by Marie Daly
    Massachusetts State Census by David Allen Lambert

    Other Portable Genealogist titles and topics include:

    Immigration to the U.S. by Rhonda R. McClure
    U.S. Naturalization by Rhonda R. McClure
    New York State Census by Christopher C. Child
    Building a Genealogical Sketch by Penny Stratton
    Genealogical Numbering by Penny Stratton

    Order any of the Portable Genealogists online or call 1-888-296-3447

    All Portable Genealogists include FREE USPS media rate shipping. NEHGS members, be sure to log in to receive your 10% NEHGS member discount.

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    Upcoming Research Programs

    Salt Lake City Research Tour

    November 3–10, 2013

    Visit the world’s largest library for genealogy and family history when NEHGS returns to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City for our 35th annual research tour. Daily activities include individual consultations with NEHGS genealogists, lectures, and other special events.

    Details and registration

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    NEHGS Contact Information

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    Copyright 2013, New England Historic Genealogical Society
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