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  • 2003 Archive

  • Vol. 5, No. 4
    Whole #97
    January 21, 2003
    Edited by Lynn Betlock and Rod Moody

    We are pleased to bring you the following guide to the Society's website in two editions of eNews. We hope that this will serve as a handy guide to using our website and will introduce you to a host of important genealogical databases for New England.

    D. Brenton Simons
    Assistant Executive Director

    A Guide to, Part One
    By Rod D. Moody

    In the next two editions of NEHGS eNews, we will provide a comprehensive overview of the NEHGS website, We have come a long way since the launch of our new website in November 2001, and there is still much, much more that we have planned!

    Below is a sampling of the content currently featured on

    •Almost seventy-seven million names in our searchable databases
    •Over 250 research articles in over twenty topic areas
    •Six issues of New England Ancestors magazine
    •The inaugural volume of the Great Migration Newsletter Online (Volume 11) plus sixty bonus biographical sketches available only to online subscribers
    •A frequently asked questions section that provides detailed answers to the most common questions regarding the website
    •An “Ask a Librarian” feature in which NEHGS staff librarians answer a new selection of your research questions every month
    •The first installment of the "best of" NEHGS Nexus magazine
    •“Tales from the Manuscript Collections” – a growing exhibit featuring images of interesting items from the NEHGS manuscript collections
    •The “Visitors Area” – where individuals who are not NEHGS members can easily access over thirty free research articles on a variety of topics

    Searchable Databases

    The most popular area of is our searchable databases. We currently add three to five new databases per week to the website, most of which are not available elsewhere in electronic format. Some of these databases are generated directly from items in our manuscript collections and are not available elsewhere in any format!

    Shown below is a list of all of our searchable databases as of this writing. With over seventy-seven million names among them, you are bound to find some of your New England ancestors!

    The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 1847–1994

    More than 70,000 pages of the flagship journal of American genealogy are now at your fingertips. You will consult this colossal database — which references almost every New England family prior to 1850 — time and time again.

    Atlases and Maps

    An Hibernian Atlas; or General Description of the Kingdom of Ireland

    Published in 1798, this atlas shows Ireland and its provinces, counties, and baronies as well as a number of cities, boroughs, and villages. In addition to the descriptions of each area, there are seventy-eight full color images to accompany them.

    Biography and Genealogy

    •Legislators of the Massachusetts General Court, 1691–1780

    Prof. John A. Schutz presents detailed biographical entries for 3,117 men who served in the Massachusetts General Court between 1691 and 1780.


    Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections

    NEHGS has actively collected cemetery transcriptions from a wide geographic area since its founding in 1845. As of January 2003, this database contains records from over 800 cemeteries in 165 towns covering all of the New England states, New York, and Eastern Canada. There are many more cemeteries to come!

    Census, Tax, and Voters’ Lists

    •1740 Protestant Housekeepers of Ireland

    The 1740 Ireland Protestant Housekeepers database is based on an original census now in the possession of the Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland in Belfast. The counties of Antrim, Derry, Donegal, and Londonderry were transcribed as part of this project. This census was conducted by the Church of Ireland, but contains information on individuals in all Protestant denominations, as well as a number of Roman Catholic families.

    •Boston Tax List, 1831

    This database is useful for tracing tax information, and it can help establish dates of death when the heirs or estate administrators of individuals are paying the taxes.

    •Census of the East Ward, Framingham, Massachusetts — 1837

    List of Voters for Town Officers in the Town of Kennebunkport, Maine — March 1833

    People of Color in the Massachusetts State Census, 1855 and 1865

    Ann S. Lainhart extracted the names of every person of color from these censuses for this database. There are over 21,000 individuals listed in this database.

    Church Records

    A Catalogue of Members of North Church in Salem (1772–1827)

    Church Records of Greenwich, Connecticut, 1728–1909

    Early Church Records of Madison, Connecticut, 1791–1827

    Eighteenth Century Baptisms in Salem, Massachusetts

    This database contains baptismal records taken from six churches in Salem, including Salem Village (now Danvers Center) and the Middle Precinct (now Peabody).

    Letter of Marriages of Bath, Maine, 1805–1817

    Marriage Records by Elder Jabez True of Salisbury, Massachusetts, 1812–1835

    Marriages and Baptisms of the Rev. Ivory Hovey of Plymouth, Mass. 1775–1803

    Record of Marriages Solemnized by H.F.A. Patterson in the State of Maine, 18541892

    Records of the First Church of Milford, Connecticut, 1635–1760

    Records of First Unitarian Church of Worcester, Massachusetts, 1785–1919

    •Records of the Second Church of Milford, Connecticut, 1749–1829

    Court Records

    •Bristol County, Rhode Island Divorces, 1819–1893

    Diaries and Journals

    The Diary of Israel Litchfield, 1774–1775

    This diary provides an interesting view of the first months of the American Revolution, as recorded by Litchfield, one of the first recruits from Scituate, Massachusetts.

    The Diaries of the Rev. Thomas Cary of Newburyport, Mass., 1762–1806

    This diary was kept by Rev. Thomas Cary, one of the many ministers along the Merrimack River who encouraged the patriotism of his parishioners during the Revolutionary War.

    The Diary of William Ingersoll Champney of Boston, Mass., 1814

    William Ingersoll Champney's diary provides an excellent first-person account of Boston during the War of 1812 and contains a list of dozens of his acquaintances in Boston and elsewhere.

    The Journal of Samuel Hawes, 1775–1776

    Revolutionary War soldier Samuel Hawes kept this fascinating journal of his wartime activities from April 19, 1775 to February 10, 1776. In it he describes the attack on Bunker Hill as well as many other skirmishes during the siege of Boston.

    The Great Migration Study Project, 16201633

    Three volumes of our most popular book series are now online and searchable. Robert Charles Anderson provides sketches of over 900 families or unattached individuals who came to New England before the end of 1633. The Great Migration Study Project presents the most authoritative information on New England's earliest settlers.

    For information on subscribing to the Great Migration Newsletter Online, see the "Other Special Features" section below.


    Lists of Alien Passengers to the Port of Boston, 1847–1852

    This database lists thousands of bonded passengers who arrived in Boston between 1847 and 1852. The records often include the name of the passenger, date of arrival, ship's name, age, and place of birth.


    Divided Hearts, Massachusetts Loyalists, 1765–1790

    A comprehensive directory of more than 1,500 Loyalists and their families in late eighteenth-century Massachusetts, Nova Scotia, and elsewhere.

    Massachusetts Militia Companies and Officers in the Lexington Alarm

    Transcribing original muster rolls, this database identifies more than 1,500 individuals who served in the Lexington Alarm on April 19, 1775.

    •Massachusetts Revolutionary War Pensioners' Receipts, 1799–1807

    Massachusetts Revolutionary War Pensioners' Receipts, 1829–1837

    These unique databases contain images of original pension receipts that include signatures and marks for hundreds of Massachusetts veterans of the Revolutionary War.

    The Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati Profiles

    Membership in the Society of the Cincinnati was extended to the officers of the Continental Army, Continental Navy, and Marine officers who had served until the end of the war, plus those who had been declared no longer needed by acts of Congress, and those who had served honorably for three years during the war. Also eligible were the oldest male lineal descendants of officers who died in service and officers of the French Navy and Army who served with the American Army. This database contains information on those Massachusetts officers eligible for membership.

    Massachusetts Soldiers in the Colonial Wars

    Includes more than 40,000 service records for soldiers serving in a host of conflicts from the mid–seventeenth century to the battles of Lexington and Concord.

    U.S. Revolutionary War Naval Pensioners' Receipts, 1829–1832

    A unique database with images of original pension receipts featuring signatures and marks for many sailors of the Revolutionary War.

    Newspapers and Periodicals

    Deaths from the New York Post, 1801–1890

    Deaths from the New York Post, 1801–1890 contains tens of thousands of death notices published in this newspaper for almost the entire nineteenth century. Gertrude A. Barber, a prolific transcriptionist of the early twentieth century, provided these records to NEHGS in 1933.

    Probate Records

    •Index to Providence, Rhode Island Probate, 1646–1899

    This database indexes almost 30,000 probate cases handled over the course of two and a half centuries.

    Vital Records

    Bill of Mortality for Dover, New Hampshire — Deaths from 1708 to 1802

    In addition to the sixty-four deaths recorded for the Society of Friends' Bill of Mortality, this work also includes deaths taken from private records. There are 653 deaths recorded in all.

    Lexington, Mass. Record of Births, Marriages and Deaths to January 1, 1898

    Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850

    At the turn of the twentieth century, NEHGS was instrumental in introducing and passing legislation to appropriate funds to purchase books of vital statistics to the year 1850 for the 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. By 1945 the vital records for over 200 of these municipalities had been published. The records for 140 of these towns are available here for the first time in their original context, including the original source citations. The database is searchable in its entirety, or by town or county. It features primary records of births, marriages, and deaths, plus baptisms, burials, and cemetery transcriptions.

    Record Book of New Castle, New Hampshire, 1742–1956

    Compiled by John Eldridge Frost in 1955, this book contains records that he transcribed from the gravestones at New Castle Cemetery. It is supplemented with records from A.H. Locke's Portsmouth and New Castle Cemetery Inscriptions (1907).

    Record of Births Attended by Dr. John French in Bath, New Hampshire and Surrounding Towns, 1807–1857

    Record of Deaths in Guilford, Connecticut, 1883–1890

    Records of Provincetown, Massachusetts 1698–1859

    This database contains records of birth from 1698 to 1859, marriages from 1745 to 1850, intentions of marriage from 1796 to 1859, and deaths from 1730 to 1850. There are also some early town records included.

    •Social Security Death Index – Free Database!

    The SSDI, taken from the U.S. Social Security Administration's Death Master File, is one of the key resources available to genealogists today. It contains those individuals who were assigned Social Security numbers and whose death was reported to the SSA. It contains the names of almost seventy million individuals, most of whose deaths were recorded after 1965.

    Vital Records of Greenwich, Connecticut, 1670–1847

    Vital Records of Madison, Connecticut, 1718–1890

    Vital Records of Newtown, Connecticut, 1701–1891

    Vital Records of Rehoboth, Massachusetts, 16421896

    The town of Rehoboth was formed in 1641 and originally included the present-day Massachusetts towns of Seekonk and Attleboro as well as the present-day Rhode Island towns of Pawtucket, East Providence, Cumberland, and parts of Swansea and Barrington. This database includes records from all of these present-day towns except for Pawtucket and Seekonk, which were published separately and included in the Arnold's Vital Record of Rhode Island database.

    Vital Record of Rhode Island, 16361850, by James N. Arnold

    This major database covers the state of Rhode Island.  In 1891, James N. Arnold began publishing a series of vital records books for the towns of Rhode Island. The series would go on to include church records and newspaper records, ultimately filling twenty-one volumes with information.

    Societies and Organizations

    Boston Sea Fencibles' Signal Roll

    The Boston Sea Fencibles was chartered June 13, 1817, by the Massachusetts legislature. This organization was formed as a naval militia to serve the Commonwealth when needed. Membership was open to those over the age of twenty-one who had commanded a vessel on a foreign voyage or had served as first mate or supercargo on a foreign voyage. This listing gives the names of the members as of August 1824 as well as the number that was to be used on each person's individual signal flag.

    Other Special Features on

    What's New With the Great Migration Newsletter Online?

    In a word, everything! If you have not yet subscribed or renewed your subscription to the Great Migration Newsletter Online, the time is now. The first issue of Volume 12 will be posted in March, and the first ten bonus biographical sketches are available to Volume 12 online subscribers now. Online subscribers to Volume 12 will have access to all four issues (to be posted on a quarterly basis), new biographical sketches, and all issues and sketches from the prior volume. Subscriptions to the Great Migration Newsletter Online are only $10 per year, so act now!

    Subscribe to the Great Migration Newsletter Online at

    If you prefer to receive a printed version of the Great Migration Newsletter, subscribers will receive a professionally printed and perfectly formatted copy of the newsletter delivered directly to their homes on a quarterly basis. Subscriptions to the printed version are $20 per year.

    Unfamiliar with the Great Migration Project? Read all about it at /articles/great_migration/.

    Online Research Articles on

    We are proud to feature some of the most informative, detailed, and interesting genealogical research articles available anywhere! With over two hundred articles in over twenty separate topic areas, you are certain to find much valuable information to assist you with your research.

    Locality Research

    Our Locality Research section features articles packed with tips, advice, sources, and other information essential to conducting research in each of the New England states, upstate New York, Eastern Canada, Boston, England, and Ireland.

    Special Topics

    Our Special Topics area covers a wide variety of topics of interest to genealogists including African American research, the use of computers in genealogical research, family health histories, genetics, military research, and more.

    Topic of the Month

    Topic of the Month provides detailed information on specific subjects such as family photographs, land records, manuscript collections, and more. Other articles will tell you how to make the most of your visit to the Family History Library, find out what it takes to get children interested in genealogy, and create a family history book.

    Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources

    Do you have royal ancestry? Are you related to a famous personality? Do you descend from a Mayflower passenger? If so, or if you are not sure, you need to consult Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources, penned by our senior research scholar, Gary Boyd Roberts. In these columns, the nation's leading expert in this field offers guidance on tracing your royal descents, discovering your notable kin, and the best printed sources to advance your research. In the course of his sixty-seven columns, Mr. Roberts covers everything from medieval forebears of colonial immigrants to the New England ancestry of Clint Eastwood, and more.

    Ethnic Research — New!

    Our newest topic area is Ethnic Research, in which a variety of authors assist you in finding your ethnic roots in the U.S. and beyond, explain how to request foreign records, and much more. Have you explored every option in the United States before diving into records held by foreign countries? Find out what steps to take, in what order to take them, and what you can expect to find, all in our Ethnic Research area.

    Member and Staff Submissions

    Would you like to share your research findings, compiled genealogies, or interesting research stories with 20,000+ members of NEHGS? Submit an article for our Member and Staff Submissions area! We are always seeking new and interesting articles from our members on a variety of topics. Just submit your article (2500 words or less please) to our editor for consideration and perhaps you will soon see your name "in lights" on!

    Best of NEHGS Nexus — New!

    From 1983 to 1999, the NEHGS Nexus newsletter presented a variety of research articles from genealogists, authors, and staff librarians, as well as Society happenings, genealogy news, queries, and reviews. We have just begun to post selected articles from this popular publication of our past and will continue to do so on a regular basis until all issues are available to our members.

    New England Ancestors Magazine

    If you are an NEHGS member, you already know that New England Ancestors magazine provides a vibrant and exciting new approach to genealogy in New England and throughout the United States. But did you know that members can now access the six latest issues from our website? Featuring articles on research techniques, record sources, NEHGS events, queries, and more, New England Ancestors is now just one mouse click away!

    Ask a Librarian — New!

    Need to know where to find a certain record? Wondering how to go about finding information on your ancestors? Are you trying to determine what sources are available for a specific location or event? Want to know more about the collections at NEHGS? Our expert library staff has the answers! Ask a Librarian is a new monthly feature in which NEHGS librarians answer general questions from members about research methods, sources, techniques, and much more! Questions about specific individuals and lines should be directed to NEHGS Research Services at If you have a general research question for our library staff, email

    Tales from the Manuscript Collections — New!

    The R. Stanton Avery Special Collections Department at NEHGS is home to over one million manuscript items ranging from the seventeenth century to the present covering New England and other regions. We are delighted to be able to share some of the collection's treasures with you in Tales from the Manuscript Collections, an online exhibit featuring some of the most fascinating items on our shelves. Currently you may view a 1692 letter from Cotton Mather to Stephen Sewall; a leaf from a 1614 Psalm book thought to have been brought over by Pilgrims (which also contains handwritten life records of the Nathaniel Paine family of Boston); and a 1710 petition signed by residents of Rehoboth, Massachusetts, asking that officials forbid smallpox inoculations from taking place in the town. Stay tuned for many more items to be added in this area!

    The Visitors Area — New!

    We frequently offer non-members the opportunity to view selected research articles that normally are available only to NEHGS members. With the addition of the Visitors Area, non-members can now easily find and access over thirty research articles on a variety of topics. Of course, we do hope that those who view these free articles find them valuable enough to want to join the NEHGS family and access all 250+ articles!

    Thank you for joining us on this journey through! Look for a second special edition of eNews on Friday, January 24, which will cover:

    •Frequently asked questions about

    •Research Library, Circulating Library, and Library Catalog

    •Research Services

    •Education and Tours

    •NEHGS Books/Newbury Street Press

    •NEHGS eNews Archives


    •Discussion Forums

    •NEHGS Book Store

    NEHGS Contact Information

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    If you have questions, comment or suggestions about the enewsletter, please contact Lynn Betlock at

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