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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • Vol. 16, No. 52
    Whole #667
    December 25, 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.

    * Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from NEHGS!
    * NEHGS Holiday Closing
    * NEHGS Database News
    * New at the Online Learning Center
    * Readers Respond: The Value of Holiday Newsletters
    * A Note from the Editor: Preserving Memories at Christmas
    * The Weekly Genealogist Survey
    * Spotlight: Various Western States Indexes
    * Stories of Interest
    * Upcoming Education Program at NEHGS in Boston


    Merrcy Christmas and Happy Holidays from NEHGS!

    The staff of the New England Historic Genealogical Society extends to all of you heartfelt wishes for a happy holiday season.

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    NEHGS Holiday Closing

    In observance of the New Year’s holiday, NEHGS will close at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, December 31, and will be closed all day on Wednesday, January 1.

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

    Connecticut Vital Records to 1870 (The Barbour Collection)

    Newly added to Connecticut Vital Records to 1870 (The Barbour Collection): Bristol (1785–1854), Brooklyn (1786–1850), East Haven (1700–1852), and Thompson (1785–1850). Together, these towns add more than 18,000 records to this database. Compiled from an original Lucius Barnes Barbour typescript in the NEHGS special collections, this database currently contains records for 80 towns in Connecticut.

    The complete Barbour Collection contains records of marriages, births, and deaths in 137 Connecticut towns from the 1640s to about 1850 (some towns include records up to 1870). These records were collected, transcribed, and abstracted by Lucius Barnes Barbour (Connecticut Examiner of Public Records, 1911–1934) and his team of researchers between 1918 and 1928. Mr. Barbour was an NEHGS member from 1907 until his death in 1934. This set of typescripts was donated to NEHGS by Mr. Barbour’s wife and children in 1938. Remaining towns will be added to the database over the next year.

    Databases in Progress
    The next addition to the Barbour Collection is scheduled for release in late January 2014. This update will include births, marriages, and deaths for the towns of Ellington, Franklin, Granby, and Hamden.

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    New at the Online Learning Center

    Webinar Recording: Maximize your Search Results, Part II

    Thank you to everyone who attended last Wednesday’s webinar, “Maximize Your Search Results, Part II.” Web Content Coordinator Andy Hanson-Dvoracek discussed more intermediate level search strategies, including using wildcards, searching our digital journals and periodicals, and saving searches. If you missed the webinar or would like to review the material, you can watch a recording.

    Part I of this webinar series, held last month, included information on our databases, the basics of performing a search on our website, how to narrow your search results, and how to manage your records. Watch a recording of Part I.

    For more information on how to get the most out of your NEHGS online database searches, consult our subject guide on using

    Our growing Online Learning Center contains subject guides on a variety of genealogical topics, how-to videos, webinars, online courses, and more. Stay tuned for more resources in the coming weeks and months! If you have questions or feedback, please contact Online Education Coordinator Ginevra Morse at

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    Readers Respond: The Value of Holiday Newsletters

    We present a few of the many emails we received in response to last week’s note on holiday newsletters.

    Jeanette Maxey of Kalamazoo, Michigan: On our 50th anniversary year I collected all of our holiday newsletters and made a book for our family celebrating those years. I had not started writing letters until we had kids either. I also included the letters our children wrote after they were married and had children of their own.

    Quincy Abbot of West Hartford, Connecticut: I have been writing an Annual Report (family newsletter) since 1960, long enough that it now includes a “50 Years Ago” box on the front page. It is an extremely valuable resource in answering the frequent question "When did we do…?" And I am sure it will be valuable to future family genealogists.

    Alice Densmore of Mission Viego, California: I have put the Christmas cards, newsletters, and pictures I receive into a ziplock bag each year and kept them in a big organizer box. A couple of years ago, I started thinking about writing a memoir for my children and grandchildren. I only had a few years of letters on my current computer but I remembered that each time one of my Christmas cards was returned (due to an address change or death), I kept it as a reminder to update my address book. Going through my collection, I found that I had a paper copy of almost every one of my Christmas letters. Last January I reviewed and organized my collection. It was like a 35-year walk down memory lane. I then realized that my collection is a great source of information for other family members as well. I put the Christmas letters from my brother, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc., into albums in my family history bookcase.

    John D. Tew of Purcellville, Virginia: I started an annual newsletter after our sons were born and this year is the 21st year for the annual holiday newsletter. Last year, as a Christmas gift I shared a complete set—from the days of the dot matrix printer to today—with each of our sons and with our new daughter-in-law in a special three-ring binder with a copy of every newsletter (enclosed in its own archival quality protective sleeve, of course). From all reports they enjoyed reading the newsletters—and now I can supplement it each year with the latest newsletter in its protective sleeve! The newsletters are a fun encapsulation of a year’s events and they have become a part of our family’s genealogical documents.

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    A Note from the Editor: Preserving Memories at Christmas
    by Lynn Betlock, Editor

    Christmas and other significant holidays can provide genealogists with particularly rich family memories—and memorabilia. The celebration of Christmas generates quite a lot of documentation each year: cards, personal notes, holiday newsletters, photographs, artwork, recipes, and even audio and video recordings. These items can be more than an accumulation of Christmas "stuff." These sorts of records can detail holiday customs over time and contribute vivid and meaningful elements to an overall family narrative.

    I’m inclined to believe that genealogists especially recognize and appreciate Christmas family history and traditions. Some save their holiday papers and photos with an eye to the future. Some also look for other ways to preserve and pass on their family history at Christmastime. Last week I wrote about how I keep my family’s holiday newsletters and photos in an album. Years ago I had my grandparents’ 1940s home movies converted to VHS format and shared them with relatives at Christmas.

    For twenty-two years, NEHGS member Richard K. Hamlen of West Roxbury, Massachusetts, has created a “genealogical explorations” calendar that he gives to family members at Christmas. Each month of the calendar features a vintage family photograph with a caption. Almost every date contains the name of ancestors or family members born, married, or died on that day; living relatives are listed in bold. Mr. Hamlen writes that the calendar makes it easy to remember everyone’s birthdays and anniversaries—and that it is fun to think of ancestors on any given day. “The delight my family gets from the calendar gives me a lot of pleasure. At our large Christmas gathering everyone in the family opens the calendar simultaneously and is always delighted by the photographs. And my cousin in Maine tells me he always saves the calendar for last, which I find very touching.”

    A self-published book donated to the NEHGS library in 2009 offers another vision of how to commemorate a special family Christmas tradition. To Friends at Christmas: A Garland of Holiday Greetings in Verse, 1927–2009, reproduces, in color on glossy paper, each card Blake family members (parents William H. Blake and Elizabeth C. “Betty” Stanton Blake and daughter Elizabeth S. “Bettina” Blake) wrote, designed, and printed over a period of eighty-two years. Many cards reflect the circumstances of the family—and the nation—that year.


    Old Mother Hubbard
    Went to the cupboard
    When Christmas time drew near.
    Finding dishes and dust
    and one little crust-
    The winter was so severe.

    Old Mother Hubbard closed up the cupboard
    And laughed though the dog shed a tear-
    Then sat down and penned
    “Merry Christmas, my friend!
    May the cupboard be fuller next year.”


    The Christmas tree is plastic,
    Santa flies a superjet,
    And we hark to Christmas carols
    On our television set;

    Yet that old-fashioned greeting
    Is never out of date:
    A very merry Christmas
    -And a happy ’58!

    from Bettina Blake


    Fourscore Christmases are more
    Than Betty ever bargained for;
    With half that many (add a few)
    Bettina’s count is mounting, too.
    But MERRY CHRISTMAS! Though you’ve seen it
    From us often, we still mean it.

    We also mean our very best wishes for a happy,
    healthy and memorable New Year.

    Betty and Bettina Blake

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    The Weekly Genealogist Survey

    Last week’s survey asked if you send holiday newsletters. More than one answer could be selected. 4,121 people answered the survey. The results are:

    • 27%, Yes, I mail a printed holiday newsletter.
    • 8%, Yes, I email an electronic holiday newsletter.
    • <1%, Yes, I use a website, blog, or social media to distribute a holiday newsletter.
    • 14%, No, I used to send a holiday newsletter but do not send one now.
    • 57%, No, I don’t send a holiday newsletter.
    • 2%, I do not send a holiday newsletter, but I plan to send one next year.

    This week’s survey asks about holiday memorabilia. Take the survey now!

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    Spotlight: Various Cemetery and Obituary Databases
    by Valerie Beaudrault, Assistant Editor

    Wyoming—Cemetery Database
    The city of Green River is located in Sweetwater County in southwestern Wyoming. A burial database for Riverview Cemetery has been made available on the Green River Parks and Recreation Department website. Click the “Cemetery burial listing” link for an alphabetical list of about 2,800 individuals buried there. The data fields are name, deed on file, section/lot/space, and burial date. The “Map of all City Parks” link opens a PDF of “Parks, Pathways, and Municipal Areas.” Riverview Cemetery, located in the northeastern part of the city, is marked “DD.”

    Iowa—Funeral Home Database
    The Eikemeyer Funeral Chapel, with four locations in Page County in southwestern Iowa, has made an obituary database available on its website. The database, covering the early twentieth century through the present, can be searched by first name, last name, year of birth and year of death. The results returned may include a transcription of the individual’s obituary (Tribute File) and a photograph (for later records). Some records are incomplete; a person who has an individual record without birth and death dates may have an obituary transcription that includes that information.

    Utah—Cemetery Database
    Uintah County is located in northeastern Utah; its county seat is the city of Vernal. Uintah County’s Cemetery Indexing Project can be accessed through the Uintah County Public Library website. The index is hosted on the Names In Stone website, which includes cemeteries from areas outside of Uintah County. Click the “Search the Index” link to begin. The index may be searched by last name (required), first name, birth year(s), death year(s), and burial location. Include the county name in the location search box to limit your search.

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    Stories of Interest

    Was Dickens’s Christmas Carol borrowed from Lowell’s Mill Girls?
    “Dickens visited Lowell in 1842, touring the mills and taking notes for a travelogue he planned to write on American institutions. The next year, he published A Christmas Carol… Now, new research is suggesting that the book may have borrowed—quite liberally—from the amateur writings of the millworkers he visited.” (If you do not subscribe to the Boston Globe and have trouble accessing this story, make sure to click the green button on the right marked “Collapse.”)

    Nomad Who Archive Family Details
    In one region of India, “Helavas, traditional archivists, have documents containing the genealogy of almost all families in every village and town…Their traditional occupation is to visit every household in different groups, read out the genealogy, and add on details of new members of the family.”

    Discarded Wedding Album Finds Home in Oregon
    After publicizing a photo from a 1950s wedding album left for many years at a Duluth, Minnesota, nursing home, property manager Chris Seppo found a family connection in Oregon.

    Chinese-American Descendants Uncover Forged Family Histories
    Tens of thousands of Chinese immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before World War II, when the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 banned Chinese laborers from legally entering the country, used forged papers to enter illegally. Now many of their descendants are trying to sort out their family histories.

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    Upcoming Education Program at NEHGS in Boston

    Can’t Make It to Hartford? Power Researching Connectciut Genealogy Online
    99–101 Newbury Street, Boston, Mass.
    Wednesday, January 22, 2014, 6–7 p.m.

    Join us at NEHGS for a lecture by genealogist Barbara J. Mathews on Connecticut genealogy resources that are accessible from home. Whether you are preparing for the NEHGS Research Tour in April 2014 or making the most of online resources to further your research, this lecture will be valuable as you navigate Connecticut resources.

    This program is free and open to the public. Registration is required. Please email or call 617-226-1226 to reserve a space. Space is limited.

    Registration info

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

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