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  • 2002 Archive

  • Vol. 4, No. 21
    Whole #77
    August 6, 2002

    • New Databases on
    • Family History Library Week on
    • Thousands of Local History Titles Added to Online Store
    • New Research Articles on
    • Ralph J. Crandall to Speak at the Library of Michigan on October 12 & 13
    • Free Admission to NEHGS Research Library on September 11
    • An Introduction to Using
    • Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures
    • Nutshell Lectures by Mail
    • Live Chat with the Library of Congress
    • Family History Festival in Stamford, Connecticut on September 28
    • Favorite Ancestor Feedback

    New Databases on

    New Cemeteries Database Debuts!
    Inscriptions on headstones, footstones, and tombstones are one of the most valuable tools available to a genealogist. Often these are the only records of birth and/or death for individuals. Since its founding NEHGS has actively collected cemetery transcriptions from a wide geographic area. We are now converting thousands of cemetery transcriptions in our manuscripts collection into electronic format for our members. Our initial offering is five cemeteries from Woodstock, Connecticut: East Woodstock, West Woodstock, West Woodstock New, Woodstock Central, and Woodstock Hill cemeteries.

    New Towns in the Massachusetts Vital Records Database
    Ten new towns have been added to the Massachusetts vital records to 1850 database:
    Andover, Ashfield, Barre, Bedford, Bolton, Dover, East Bridgewater, Marblehead, Richmond, and West Newbury.
    Search by town, county, or all of Massachusetts at

    Master Search
    Master search all databases at

    Family History Library Week on

    Our annual research trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake is filling up fast, but there are still a few spots remaining. Scheduled from November 3 to 10, this research program offers personal research consultations with staff, lectures on genealogical topics, receptions, group meals, and of course an entire week to explore the world's largest collection of genealogical materials.

    This week turns the spotlight on the Family History Library and its vast resources. This week's featured product is Jim and Paula Warren's excellent handbook, Your Guide to the Family History Library: How to Access the World's Largest Genealogy Resource. Until September 30, take advantage of a twenty percent discount on this indispensable guide. In addition, our featured article of the week, written by the guide's co-author, Paula Warren, offers twenty excellent reasons why researchers should make the trek to the library in "A Research Trip to the Family History Library: Twenty Reasons You Should Go."

    To register for the research tour to Salt Lake City go to

    To view "A Research Trip to the Family History Library: Twenty Reasons You Should Go" visit

    To order Your Guide to the Family History Library: How to Access the World's Largest Genealogy Resource go to

    Thousands of Local History Titles Added to Online Store

    Thousands of local history titles have just been added to our online store, making available reprints of many long out-of-print titles. These titles, many offered in softcover as well as hardcover, are printed on quality acid-free paper. These titles represent the forty-eight contiguous states, Canada, and the British Isles. The addition of these titles makes the premier resource for genealogies and local histories

    Visit the online store at

    New Research Articles on

    New Topic Area — Ethnic Research
    We are pleased to add a new column — Ethnic Research — to our collection of online research articles. The Ethnic Research series will reveal the challenges and surprises one can encounter when researching different ethnic groups and offer the best methods to overcome such obstacles. Appropriate for both beginning genealogists and experienced researchers, these detailed columns will explore sources found in the United States and overseas, explain how to request foreign records, and much more. Our first article in the series is "Italian Genealogy — How Hard is It?," written by Italian research specialist June C. DeLalio.

    Ethnic Research
    Italian Genealogy — How Hard is It?
    by June C. DeLalio

    Topic of the Month
    A Research Trip to the Family History Library: Twenty Reasons You Should Go
    by Paula Stuart Warren

    Ralph J. Crandall to Speak at the Library of Michigan on October 12 & 13

    As part of the Library of Michigan's celebration of Family History Month, NEHGS Executive Director Ralph J. Crandall will give three presentations on Saturday, October 12, and Sunday, October 13.

    • "A Restless People: Migrations from New England to Michigan, 1775–1900" will be given on Saturday, October 12, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

    • "A Discipline in Transition: American Genealogical Scholarship in the Twenty-First Century" and "Services for Midwest Genealogists at the New England Historic Genealogical Society" will be given on Sunday, October 13, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

    These sessions are all free and open to the public. If you plan to attend, please register online at or call 517-373-5511.

    The Library of Michigan is located at 702 West Kalamazoo Street in Lansing.

    Free Admission to NEHGS Research Library on September 11

    NEHGS will be open to the public free of charge on September 11, 2002, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The events of September 11, 2001, have made us all more aware of the importance of traditional values of home, family, and country. The New England Historic Genealogical Society joins many of its colleagues in Boston's scholarly and cultural community by opening its doors to our community on September 11. This small gesture is made in tribute to the heroes and victims of that tragic day.

    Ralph J. Crandall, Executive Director

    An Introduction to Using
    September 11, 6 p.m.

    Learn how to use the NEHGS website to advance your research! In this free class, website administrator Darrin McGlinn will offer a step-by-step live demonstration of the Society's website, Participants will explore the site in depth, ask questions, and become more comfortable using a constantly growing number of online databases and research tools.

    The program will be held on September 11 at 6 p.m. in the education center at 101 Newbury Street, Boston. Advance registration is not required. This class will next be offered on Wednesday, October 9 at 11:30 a.m.

    For more information, please call 617-226-1209 or email

    Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures

    • "Deciphering Old Handwriting" by Jerome Anderson, on Wednesday, September 11, and Saturday, September 14

    • " Preparing Your Family Genealogy for Publication" by Christopher Hartman, on Wednesday, September 18, and Saturday, September 21

    • "A Varied Mosaic: Researching Ancestors in Nova Scotia by George Sanborn on Wednesday, September 25

    All lectures take place at 10 a.m. Advance registration is not necessary.

    For more details about NEHGS education events, please visit If you have questions, please call the NEHGS Member Services, toll-free, at 1-888-296-3447, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern time), Monday through Friday.

    Nutshell Lectures by Mail

    Can't make it to our "Genealogy in a Nutshell" lectures? Not to worry. You can borrow lectures on audio-cassette through the NEHGS Circulating Library. Tapes are available for many of the lectures from June and July 2002. And we will be taping the lectures for the upcoming September 2002 through August 2003 series.

    To find a lecture, go to the library catalog on our web site and select "search the Library Catalog". You can type a title or key word in the title field. You can also look up all of the available nutshell tapes by doing an advanced search. On the left side of the library catalog screen, choose the advanced search option. On the next screen, use the drag-down menu in the "1." field and select "series". Click on the search button. On the next screen, type the word "nutshell" into the series box. All available tapes will be displayed. Click on the number on the left-hand side to see the full citation for the tape.

    Once the full citation is displayed, you can borrow the tapes through the Circulating Library by clicking on the request button in the lower right-hand corner and following the instructions from there. Please note: You must be a member of NEHGS to borrow items through the Circulating Library. If you would like to order Circulating Library books by phone, you can call 1-888-296-3447 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern time), Monday through Friday. If you have questions, email

    Live Chat with the Library of Congress

    The Local History and Genealogy Reading Room at the Library of Congress is now open for live chat reference service. Along with ten other Library of Congress reading rooms, Local History and Genealogy is open from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. (Eastern time), Monday through Friday. They accept general research-oriented questions and have at their disposal the world's premier collection of U.S. and foreign genealogical and local history publications. The Library's genealogy collection began as early as 1815 when Thomas Jefferson's library was purchased. The chat service features text chat and URL sharing and will soon add an enhanced communications package including voice, video and application sharing. The eleven Library of Congress reading rooms featuring chat from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday are:

    • Geography and Maps
    • Motion Pictures
    • Manuscripts
    • Recorded Sound
    • Science
    • Local History and Genealogy
    • American Memory
    • Business
    • Prints and Photographs
    • Humanities and Social Sciences
    • Serials and Government Publications

    To use this service, go to and click on any reading room. An email form will open up with a chat button on the right that connects to a librarian.

    Family History Festival in Stamford, Connecticut on September 28

    The second annual Family History Festival will be held at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 800 Stillwater Road in Stamford, Connecticut, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 28.

    The program features:

    10:30 a.m. Marcia Iannizzi Melnyk — "Panning for Gold in Libraries"

    11:30 a.m. Dianne Bordeaux Lenti — "Tracing Immigrant Ancestry"

    12:30 p.m. John Celardo, Archivist — "Genealogical Holdings of NARA Northeast Region"

    Exhibit booths are planned and online research assistance will be offered.

    Registration is not required. If you have questions, you can contact Neal Doying, Director,
    at 203-656-1507.

    Favorite Ancestor Feedback

    We continue with reader submissions to the questions "Who is your favorite ancestor? Why?" If you would like to contribute information on your favorite ancestor, please send your story in 300 words or less to Lynn Betlock at Thank you to all past and future contributors!

    My 'Muse of Genealogy'
    By India van Voorhees Penney of Burbank, California

    My favorite ancestor really belongs to my husband, and isn't even in his direct line. Margaret Penney was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1883, the niece of my husband's great-grandfather. While we don't know much about her life in Grand Rapids, we do know that after her father's death in 1903 she and her mother traveled extensively throughout Europe for a number of years before settling in Pasadena, California. She made a small living as a writer and local theatre critic, never married, and died of breast cancer in 1942.

    When the second of my husband's parents died last summer, I learned that he and his siblings had almost no knowledge of their Penney ancestors. I immediately embarked upon my first genealogical journey. My guide? Margaret Penney.

    Thankfully, she had had an interest in preserving family history. I discovered letters, documents, daguerreotypes, engraved silver, etc. from the early to mid-1800s — none of which the remaining Penneys had any knowledge of, all of which had been in Margaret's possessions. Bit by bit I have unraveled some of the mysteries and can trace my husband's family back to the late 1700s through the Palmers and Fishers of Virginia, the Pendletons of Maryland, the Curtises of Connecticut, and the Sterlings and Penneys of New York.

    I have a magnificent 5" x 5" frame of intricate inlaid wood sitting on my desk. It holds a photograph of Margaret Penney, beautiful in her high-necked white dress with cameo brooch at her throat, her "Gibson Girl" dark hair framing her face under a large plumed hat. Every time I hit a brick wall, I stare at her picture and wait for inspiration. She has become my "Muse of Genealogy".

    My Favorite Ancestor
    By Wendy Hayward of West Dummerston, Vermont

    Priscilla Macomber Stinson was born in Cinncinati, Ohio, on May 3, 1833. Her parents died of tuberculosis leaving her an orphan at the age of seven. She went to live with her grandfather who was a lighthouse keeper on one of the Great Lakes. He died when Priscilla was 13 and she went to live with an aunt in territorial Wisconsin. The aunt was a religious fanatic and abusive and Priscilla was literally swept off her feet by her husband-to-be, Horace Horacio (Hod) Rich. He married her the next day. Together they helped form a wagon train from Horicon, Wisconsin, to Sacramento, California, in 1852. They left their baby girl, Eva, with Hod's mother and went West to seek their fortune. Four years later they went home via Panama to get Eva but while there Priscilla took ill and died. The stories, letters and songs were documented by my mother and aunt as told to them by Eva Glendora Rich, my great-great-grandmother.

    ". . . all by her own efforts. . ."
    By Anne Sterling of Chelmsford, Massachusetts

    My favorite ancestor is my mother's grandmother, Mary Ann Glynn McGinnis, who owned and operated her own construction/engineering firm, M. McGinnis & Sons, in Boston at the turn of the century. Departing Ireland with only a third grade education, she followed her sisters into service in the "Big Houses" in Boston, working for the Lowe family of Shreve, Crump & Lowe. After marriage and five children she was widowed young and faced with a large family to feed. She and her three young sons started by hauling coal ash out of cellars and ended with a thriving road construction business (helped greatly by the patronage of Mayor Curley). Family tradition holds that Mrs. McGinnis was the only one allowed to put the bribe in Mayor Curley's hands and that "The Purple Shamrock" would stand by her grand piano and sing sentimental Irish songs on holidays.

    Family legend also holds that she when she cruised back to Ireland in the twenties she brought with her own luxury touring car and traveled first class back to Ireland. Not bad for a woman who came to America in steerage, and whose original family home is now a chicken coop. So Mary Ann went from a chicken coop to Limoges, Caribbean vacations, and diamonds all by her own efforts in a man's world at the turn of the century. By researching her life for my college capstone achievement project, I uncovered a whole world of successful entrepreneurial women at the turn of the century. Most were immigrants, most were widows with children to feed, most wanted no praise and nothing more than to know that their daughters would never have to work as hard as they did. So, Boston had another earlier generation of super-achieving women at the turn of the century. We owe them much.

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