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  • 2002 Archive

  • Vol. 4, No. 9
    Whole #65
    May 3, 2002

    • Visit NEHGS in Milwaukee at the NGS Conference, May 15–18
    • Come Home to New England, July 28–August 4, 2002
    • New Research Articles on
    • From the Volunteer Coordinator
    • Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures
    • Finding the Famous–And the Not So Famous
    • Genealogy in the News
    • Staff Positions Open at NEHGS
    • Wheelchair Needed

    Visit NEHGS in Milwaukee at the NGS Conference, May 15–18

    The New England Historic Genealogical Society will be participating in the National Genealogical Society Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from May 15–18, 2002.

    If you are attending the conference, you can hear several different lectures by two NEHGS staff members. Michael Leclerc, Electronic Publications Director, will be giving two classroom session talks: "After Drouin, Jette, and Tanguay: French Canadian Research" on Wednesday, May 15, and "Did They Come From New England?" on Thursday, May 16, as well as the NEHGS luncheon talk, "The Family Tree: How Stable Are Its Roots?" on Wednesday, May 15. Robert Charles Anderson, Director of the Great Migration Study Project, will be giving a luncheon talk entitled "Ministers and Migration: Puritan Pathways from Old to New England" on Friday, May 17.

    Whether or not you are registered for the conference, you are invited to stop by and visit the New England Historic Genealogical Society booth in the exhibit hall. (The exhibit hall is free and open to the public.) This is your chance to see the most recent NEHGS publications: The Art of Family: Genealogical Artifacts in New England, Mallet & Chisel: Gravestone Carvers in Newport, Rhode Island, in the 18th Century, and A Guide to Massachusetts Cemeteries as well as the latest NEHGS CDs: Records of the Churches of Boston and Records of Barnstable, Massachusetts. Plus, we will have a wide variety of works by other publishers.

    To highlight the resources available on our website,, we will be offering two website demonstrations per day. In addition, NEHGS will be hosting a number of book-signings at the NEHGS booth. The schedule of events is as follows:

    Wednesday, May 15th

    1:30 p.m. demonstration

    4:30 p.m. demonstration

    Thursday, May 16th

    10:30 a.m. demonstration

    10:30–11 a.m. Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, Your Guide to Cemetery Research

    1–1:30 p.m. Maureen A. Taylor, Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs and Preserving Your Family Photographs

    1:30–2 p.m. Marsha Hoffman Rising, Vermont Newspaper Abstracts, 1783-1816

    1:30 p.m. demonstration

    3:30–4 p.m. Paul Milner, The Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Scottish Ancestors and The Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your English Ancestors

    Friday, May 17th

    10:30 a.m. demonstration

    10:30–11 a.m. Kathleen W. Hinckley, Your Guide to the Federal Census

    1:30–2 p.m. Maureen A. Taylor, Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs and Preserving Your Family Photographs

    1:30 p.m. demonstration

    2–2:30 p.m. Paula Stuart Warren and James Warren, Your Guide to the Family History Library

    3:30–4 p.m. Tony Burroughs, Black Roots: A Beginner's Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree

    Saturday, May 18th

    10:30 a.m. demonstration

    1:30–2 p.m. Marsha Hoffman Rising, Vermont Newspaper Abstracts, 1783-1816

    1:30 p.m. demonstration

    2–2:30 p.m. Rhonda McClure, The Genealogist's Computer Companion

    The NGS conference will be located at the Midwest Express Center (777 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Milwaukee). You can find NEHGS in the exhibit hall at booth number 217.

    The exhibit hall hours are as follows:

    • Wednesday, May 15 10 a.m.–6:30 p.m.

    • Thursday, May 16 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

    • Friday, May 17 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

    • Saturday, May 18 8:30 a.m.–4 p.m.

    For information about attending the conference, contact the National Genealogical Society at 1-703-525-0050 or visit

    If you would like to learn more about the New England Historic Genealogical Society's participation in the NGS conference, please call 1-888-296-3447 or email

    We hope to see you in Milwaukee!

    Come Home to New England, July 28-August 4, 2002
    At NEHGS, 101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA

    The perfect genealogical getaway awaits you here at the New England Historic Genealogical Society! Please join us for our "Come Home to New England" program, held from July 28 to August 4, 2002, at NEHGS in Boston. This intensive week-long program offers morning lectures, private one-on-one research consultations with our staff, guided assistance, and social events that offer the opportunity to meet fellow genealogists. This program is available either with lodging at the John Hancock Conference Center Hotel or at a special "commuter rate" that does not include lodging.
    Space is limited so please call soon to register!

    For more details, please visit /events/events/Default.asp?id=117. To register or inquire about the "Come Home" program, please contact the Education Department, toll-free, at 1-888-286-3447, ext. 226, or email

    New Research Articles on

    Identifying and Using Rare Book Collections
    by Michael J. Leclerc
    "One of the many benefits of being a member of NEHGS is access to the contents of the closed stacks in the research library. While most of the NEHGS collection is in open stacks, our rare book and manuscript collections are located in restricted areas. These collections contain an untold wealth of information just waiting to be tapped. While open stacks help facilitate browsing for materials, it is also important to study card catalogs to ensure that other holdings are not overlooked. Many repositories have put their catalogs online or are in the process of doing so, making access to these collections easier. You can find items from the NEHGS rare book and manuscript collections in their online library catalog, but always remember to ask about separate card catalogs when in a research repository. Many libraries keep different card catalogs for manuscript and rare book collections, or make special notations in their main catalog to identify such materials. For example, at NEHGS, all materials in the rare book collection start with "RB" before the Library of Congress call number."

    New York
    From France to New York—The Story of Three Sisters Named Marie
    By Marian Henry
    "When lands in central New York State became available for purchase after the Revolutionary War, a flood of settlers poured into the region. Against the background of this mass migration a tiny drama played out in the south central part of the state involving French aristocrats driven from their homeland during the French Revolution. In the style of traditional immigration stories, but with a twist, I relate this tale of three Maries who sailed to Philadelphia to start a new life. These were the three wealthy d'Ohet sisters, Marie Jaene (d'Ohet) d'Autremont, Marie Genevieve (d'Ohet) LeFevre, and Marie Claudine d'Ohet. My tale also includes brief mention of a few non-noble characters for decoration, namely Victor du Pont de Nemours and Capt. Joseph Juliand. My information comes from several sources and is, by turns, ambiguous, contradictory, or wrong. Using readily available primary records to corroborate these "family myths" points out that the events were not as tidy as related in these county histories."

    Trouble in the Family: Researching Massachusetts Institutions for the Poor, Mentally Ill, Chronically Ill, and Disabled, Part 2
    By Ann S. Lainhart
    The Tewksbury Asylum for Chronic Insane kept records from 1866 to 1907, which are available at the Massachusetts State Archives or through the Family History Library. These registers include the patient's name, age, sex, civil condition (single or married), birthplace, residence, transferred from (usually from the almshouse), date of transfer, how supported by state or town, date of discharge, how discharged (usually by death), and remarks. When the asylum opened on October 1, 1866, thirteen of the first thirty-five patients admitted were males, twenty-two were females, and they ranged in age from fourteen to fifty-five (two had no age recorded). Nineteen of the patients were born in Ireland, while others were born in England, France, Scotland, Charlestown, Lynn, Cape Breton, Boston, and Lowell (four had no birthplace recorded). Thirty patients died while at the asylum, three lived into the twentieth century, and one was transferred to the Worcester Asylum.

    The Computer Genealogist
    Seventeenth-Century History with a Twenty-First Century Twist: The Salem Witchcraft Trials on the Internet
    By Rhonda R. McClure
    "It has been more than 300 years since that fateful January day in 1692 when nine-year-old Betty Parris fell ill in the soon-to-be ill-fated town of Salem Village. The resounding question is still the same: "How did it happen?"

    From the Volunteer Coordinator

    My usual contribution to the enewsletter is a request for some particular volunteer help; this time I wish to express my gratitude to those of you who have been so responsive. The need for volunteer support at NEHGS is ongoing, particularly in the website and electronic publication areas. The volunteer group is busy, involved, and growing in numbers.

    Thank you so much.

    Susan Rosefsky, NEHGS Volunteer Coordinator
    ( or 617-226-1276)

    Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures

    This season's "Genealogy in a Nutshell" series continues with two new lectures:

    • "Dear Diary: Finding and Using These Valuable Resources" by Laura Prescott Duffy on Wednesday, May 8

    • "Bridge the Atlantic: Find the English Home of Your Ancestor" by David Dearborn on Wednesday, May 15

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

    To register or inquire about programs, please contact the education department, toll-free, at 1-888-286-3447, ext. 227, or email

    Finding the Famous–and the Not-So-Famous

    Most of us descend from ancestors who, while of interest to us as genealogists, led everyday lives that are not chronicled in the history books. But perhaps you have come across a relative who you might classify as "moderately famous": not someone whose name is a household word, but who might be classed among the second tier of well-knowns. If so, you might want to check the National Cyclopedia of American Biography (NCAB). This is the first source I turn to when looking for a possible biographical sketch on a local political office-holder, jurist, newspaper editor, inventor, writer, or captain of industry.

    The NCAB contains over 66,000 biographies, more than four times as many as the better-known and more scholarly Dictionary of American Biography and the new American National Biography. Published between 1888 and 1984 by James T. White & Co. of New York and Clifton, N.J., the NCAB is divided into two sections: the "Permanent Series" of 62 volumes containing biographies of deceased subjects, and the "Current Series" consisting of lettered volumes A through M, containing biographies of the living. The last volume produced, called volume N63, contains sketches of both living and deceased subjects.

    The entire set can be found in the 6th floor library stacks (the first aisle on the left) with the call number REF E 176 N27. A single-volume master index to both series can be found in the 6th floor Reading Room, right behind the library desk, with the call number R Rm REF E 176 N27 INDEX.

    While the NCAB contains sketches of notable persons of all walks of professional life, it is most useful for its coverage of merchants, manufacturers, bankers, executives and businessmen, whose activities and accomplishments might not otherwise be thought worthy of fame. Each sketch contains not only the basic biographical facts, but also vital dates, names of immediate family members including parents, spouses, children, and in most cases, the lineage from the first ancestor of the name in the country (as this information was often provided by the subject or his family, the quality of the information may be lacking, and no documentation is provided). Often, the sketches are accompanied by a black and white photograph or engraved likeness of the subject.

    The single-volume index is the key to the set, and for each entry we are given sufficient information to decide whether a particular subject is the person we're looking for. A look at the Dearborn entries gives an idea:
    Benjamin, inventor 4:473
    Brainard W., gynecologist 16:306
    Frederick M., lawyer 47:185
    Henry, Rev. soldier 1:93
    Henry A.S., lawyer 47:185
    Henry M., physician 9:350
    Richard J., patent counsel, executive F:111
    William L., engineer 9:41

    From the genealogist's point of view, the next entry is of great interest:
    Dearborn Family -- American Ancestor: Godfrey, descendants 1:93; 4:473; 9:41, 323, 350; 16:306.
    These are cross-references to biographical sketches of subjects whose descent from the 17th century immigrant ancestor, Godfrey Dearborn, is mentioned and outlined. A comparison of the volume and page numbers with those of the individuals named above shows some overlap, but may provide leads to sketches of subjects of other surnames who are descendants.

    Further citations under "Dearborn" give cross-references to biographees under the headings of Dearborn Chemical Co., Chicago; Dearborn (Mich.) Independent [a newspaper]; the Dearborn (Mich.) Institute, the law firm of Dearborn & Lapham in New York; and the Dearborn Observatory at Northwestern University in Chicago.

    These subject entries and cross-references are what make the index and the NCAB itself so very useful and user-friendly. Under the heading "Deafness," for example, there are sub-entries for "asylum for, first in U.S.," audiometer, invented," "hearing aid, improved," "hereditary factors, studied," "lip reading, instruction," and "talking glove, invented" (among other sub-headings), and in each instance we are given a reference to the surname (and volume and page number) where we will find a sketch discussing the subject.

    Places, businesses, colleges and universities, museums, non-profits, and trade names are among typical entries. Want to know something about beer? A look under the heading "Beer – marketing – six-pack introduced" leads to a biography of Sylvester Eneix Cowell (1893–1970) of Pittsburgh, Penn., an executive with Iron City Beer, who also devised the idea of putting draft beer into snap-top cans. A reproduction of a fine photograph of a very sober-looking and businesslike Mr. Cowell accompanies the biography.

    My mother has often told me the story of her grandfather, a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y. in the late 19th century, who, the story went, worked for a while as a salesman of a brand of soap called Sapolio. I had seen ads for Sapolio while looking at old newspapers on microfilm, but I wanted to know more about the product in an effort to learn more about Great-Grandfather. Checking the index for the brand name Sapolio led to biographies of several members of the Morgan family of New York who were associated with the firm of Enoch Morgan's Sons, soap and candle manufacturers, originally established in 1809 by Enoch's father-in-law.

    So, if you're looking for a biography of the famous, or perhaps the not-so-famous, try checking the National Cyclopedia of American Biography.

    David Curtis Dearborn
    6th Floor Library Supervisor

    NEHGS in the News

    The New England Historic Genealogical Society was profiled in the City Weekly section of the Boston Globe on Sunday, April 28. The article, "Just folks drawn back to their roots," by Globe correspondent Mark Leccese, introduces readers to NEHGS and discusses some of the resources available at the Society.

    You can read the article online at:

    Staff Positions Open at NEHGS

    The New England Historic Genealogical Society currently has three open staff positions:

    Director of Membership Services (in Framingham, Massachusetts)

    Director of Development (in Boston)

    Digital Production Coordinator (in Boston)

    Wheelchair Needed

    The New England Historic Genealogical Society is a fully accessible facility on all of its public library floors. Because the library features open stacks and patrons are free to browse the shelves and select books or microfilm to work on in their chosen work space, we are occasionally asked if we have a wheelchair available. Alas, we do not. If you have a wheelchair that you are not using, we would be most grateful for a donation. If you live in the New England area, we can make arrangements for a member of our staff to pick it up. Not only would such a gift represent a tax deduction for the donor, it would be warmly welcomed by NEHGS staff and patrons for many years to come.

    If you have a wheelchair to donate, please contact Pam Swain at

New England Historic Genealogical Society
99 - 101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

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