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  • 2004 Archive

  • Vol. 6, No. 32
    Whole #178
    August 6, 2004
    Edited by Rod D. Moody and Valerie Beaudrault

    Greetings from the New England Historic Genealogical Society! This newsletter has been sent to NEHGS members and friends who have subscribed to it, or submitted their email addresses on various membership and sales department forms and website notices. NEHGS recognizes the importance of its members' privacy, and will not give away, sell or lease personal information. If you would like to unsubscribe or change your email address, please click on the link at the bottom of the page and follow the instructions provided.

    Copyright 2004, New England Historic Genealogical Society
    101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116


    * New Databases on
    * Research Article from the Archives
    * Important Notice for Users of Our Discussion Forums!
    * Volume IX of Best of NEHGS Nexus Now on
    * Recent Publications of Interest
    * Website: Marlborough, Massachusetts, 1660-1910
    * Movie Screening: Mystic Voices: The Story of the Pequot War
    * Introduction to at the NEHGS Library
    * Careers at NEHGS
    * NEHGS Research Tour to Salt Lake City
    * "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Takes a Vacation
    * Favorite - and Black Sheep - Ancestor Feedback
    * NEHGS Contact Information

    New Databases on

    Marriages and Intentions in the State of Maine, 1831-1870

    NEHGS is in possession of a number of original town clerks' marriage certificates and notices of intentions. The following towns are represented:

    Albany, Auburn, Bethel, Biddeford, Bridgton, Buckfield, Buxton, Danville, Dayton, Franklin, Gray, Greenwood, Hollis, Kennebunk, Limerick, Livingston, North Bridgewater, Norway, Paris, Saco, South Berwick, Standish, Sumner, Sutton, Turner, Waterboro, and Westbrook.

    These documents are part of the R. Stanton Avery Collections, call numbers MSS SL MAI 20 and SL HOL 10.


    Search Marriages and Intentions in the State of Maine, 1831-1870.

    Tax List of Hollis, Maine - 1862

    The town of Hollis, in York County, was organized in 1798. This handwritten 1862 tax list of the town contains the names of taxpayers and the amounts of poll, real estate, and personal taxes assessed to each individual.

    The original tax list was donated by Mrs. Carle O. Warren of Moravia, New York, in 1956.

    This book is part of the R. Stanton Avery Collections, call number MSS SL HOL 10a.


    Search Tax List of Hollis, Maine - 1862.

    Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910

    Added this week:
    Indexes: 1886 to 1890
    Records: 1855

    The latest installment in this ongoing database includes the indexes to all Massachusetts birth, death, and marriage records from 1886 to 1890 and actual records from 1855 (vols. 87-95). The indexes include name of individual, town or village of event, year of event, and volume and page number of the original record.

    View a chart that displays records currently available and those forthcoming at

    For detailed information about this database, please refer to "Introduction to the Massachusetts Vital Records 1841-1910 Database" page found at This contains information that will contribute greatly to the success of your searches and will also answer questions that you may have about these records and our database. If you have questions that our article does not address, or if you are having difficulty with this database, please email

    Search Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910.

    Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections

    New this week: Transcriptions of the following cemeteries:

    Wayland (formerly East Sudbury) Cemetery and Wayland Village Cemetery in Wayland, Middlesex County, Massachusetts.


    Source: "Wayland, Mass. Epitaphs." Compiler Unknown, completed 1909. Call number MSS MS 70 WAY 2.

    Search Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections.



    Research Article from the Archives

    Italian Genealogy - How Hard Is It?

    by June C. DeLalio, CG

    Originally Posted September 2002

    If you are new to genealogy or just turning to an Italian branch of your family, it can be a bit intimidating to start researching a foreign country. Italy, however, despite dealing with a foreign language, is relatively easy to research. Nevertheless, some researchers find it very easy to go back centuries to find their Italian ancestors while others find the task nearly impossible to do for various reasons beyond their control.

    Resources in the United States

    The first question you should ask yourself is, how much do you know about your Italian family who came to the United States? This is the most vital part of tracing the family. If you are absolutely sure of the town in Italy where your family came from, you can skip this part of the article and go to the next section. If you need to find that elusive town or if you have found out that the town you thought they came from is wrong, then you must research your family in United States records. That is the only way to find the town of origin; you cannot find it in Italy. Even if you know the town in Italy and can get a jump start on the research, in the long run, it may be best to slow down a little and get additional data on the family from United States records before "leaping across the ocean."

    Researching United States records will yield valuable information on your ancestors such as the exact date they came to America, who they came with, their occupations, if they made the trip several times, and who else in the family, such as brothers, parents, etc. came to the United States too. In genealogy, the basics are always dates, names, and places. The more details you have, the more successful you will be in avoiding the so-called "brick walls."

    Of course, some of your information will be obtained from relatives and friends. This information is priceless, but only if you verify the data to ascertain that those facts are accurate. Most of us have hazy memories about dates and places of events in our family's history. Personally, as a Mom who has to fill out school forms, government applications, and other paperwork for my children, I know the dates and places of birth, marriage, etc. for all my children and my parents. My husband, however, does not. If you have ever tried to interview an older family member, you soon find out that they rarely know exact dates and can usually only give you approximate dates in relation to a war, a World Series, another family member's wedding, or some other event in their life. This is reality. We remember dates and times by their relationships to other events. Therefore, you can see the need to do research.

    In addition, you need to see the structure of the whole family, which entails constructing a family tree with what you know, which will quickly show what you don't know. For Italians, the focus of research is generally on the twentieth century as most Italians immigrated to the United States between 1880 and 1925. During the peak years of 1881 to 1915, about 13.5 million Italians came from Italy to the United States. This trend continued until Congress passed an immigration law in the 1920s, which limited immigration from Italy.

    Twentieth-century records therefore are important to Italian research. Looking at the 1900, 1920, and 1930 censuses will be especially beneficial to your research. (Note: The 1910 census for most states is not indexed and therefore not easily searched.) Each of these censuses will give you important data on your family. The 1900 census will tell you what year your ancestors arrived in the United States, the month and year of their birth, and how long they were married. If married, it will tell when the wife came to the United States, which often was much later than her husband. Of course, the census has other important information but for Italian research these items are the most important. I have mentioned the 1900 census since it may be the first one for the family after it came to the United States. You want to obtain the information from the census closest to the date of immigration before memories become fuzzy and inaccurate.

    In all census records it is important to note where the wife was born and to also determine which children were born in the United States and which were born in Italy. In the 1920 census, besides basic personal information, there was a question on what year a person immigrated and even more important, what year they became a citizen. These questions were also asked in the 1930 census with an additional useful question to genealogists - at what age was the person first married? With all the added information you glean from the federal censuses, you can generally proceed with the assurance of having correct dates and places in your family history.

    What would be next? Look for the naturalization records. These records can be found at the regional national archives nearest to the ancestor's residence or in the local courts that handled naturalizations previous to 1906. The waiting time for application to obtain citizenship was five years and most people obtained their citizenship within ten years after immigration. It is important to note, however, that many Italian immigrants did not file for naturalization for various reasons. When U.S. involvement in World War II became likely in 1940, non-citizens living in the United States had to register with the government. In 1940 and after, many Italians decided to obtain citizenship. So if you don't find an application in either the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) files at the National Archives, or at the local county clerk's office, during the period after immigration, try looking at the early 1940s.

    What if you know that your ancestor never became a citizen? Are there records for them? There most certainly are. At the beginning of 1942, all Italians, then classified as enemy aliens, had to re-register with the government and were subjected to personal restrictions. The records under this Alien Registration Act contain pages of personal information including date of birth, place of birth, date of first and last arrival in the United States along with much other personal information. You can apply to the INS for this Alien Registration Form (AR-2) by writing to:

    Department of Justice
    Immigration and Naturalization Service
    FOIA/PA Unit
    425 "I" Street NW
    Washington, DC 20536

    If you have a death certificate for the subject or if he/she was born before 1895, you do not have to fill out a Freedom of Information Act form to obtain this file as you would for most government records. If you are totally uncertain whether the person became a citizen or not, you may write to the INS and request "all information" concerning that person. You should be sure to send them as much identifying information as you have so they can discern that particular person from others of similar name if necessary. The INS should have either a citizenship file or an alien registration file or both for Italians living in the United States in the 1940s.

    By utilizing the naturalization records and alien registration records, you should be able to obtain the place of birth of your ancestor. You can then proceed to obtain Italian records. It is crucial to know the names of your ancestors' parents, and, if possible, his/her siblings, to obtain records from Italy.

    Another very popular way to find the town of origin is through passenger lists. For Italians, the Ellis Island website is a godsend. Covering the years 1892 to 1924, this database coincides with the years of heaviest Italian immigration. It has been estimated that as much as ninety percent of all Italian immigrants came through the Port of New York. The Ellis Island database gives, in most cases, the name of the immigrant, ethnicity, place of residence, date of arrival, age on arrival, gender, marital status, ship of travel, and port of departure. You must register to view the full record, but there is no charge or commitment. You may also view an image of the original ship manifest that lists your ancestor. These passenger lists can also be accessed through films at the National Archives and local Family History Centers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). Copies of such films are available at many genealogical research libraries. There is also a splendid series of books entitled Italians to America (see bibliography), which indexes the names of Italians who came to this country between 1880 and 1903 (the last book published). When using these indexes be prepared to find many people with the same name, particularly if you don't have an approximate year of immigration.

    Summary: Use records in the United States first to identify or verify information on your family, looking particularly for dates and places. The most important records for Italian genealogy are the federal censuses, naturalization records and/or alien registration files, and passenger lists. For more information on using other United States records, refer to general genealogy books for beginners.



    Readers of eNews may access the entire article here.


    Important Notice for Users of Our Discussion Forums!

    As you may know, we are in the process of a major redesign of our website, The effort will result in improvements in navigation, appearance, and search functions, as well as a new discussion forum system.

    Unfortunately, the existing messages in our current discussion forums cannot be transferred to the new system and all messages will be deleted on September 1.

    If there is information of value to your research in our discussion forums we urge you to copy it to another program by August 31. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope that you will enjoy our new and improved discussion forum format coming this fall.

    Volume IX of Best of NEHGS Nexus Now on

    From 1983 to 1999, the NEHGS Nexus newsletter presented a variety of research articles from genealogists and staff librarians, as well as Society events, genealogy news, queries, and reviews. We continue to add selected articles from past issues to our website on a regular basis. This week we have added selected articles from the six issues that comprise Volume IX, published in 1992.

    Read the Nexus!


    Recent Publications of Interest

    Several new books authored by NEHGS members have recently been published, and we are pleased to be able to share information about some of them here with our eNews readers.

    Sweet Lands of Liberty, An Historiogenealogy of Selected Branches of the Field, Douglas and Stockton Families of England, Canada and America

    William S. Field has compiled over six hundred pages of information on the above families. Included are such notables as John Field, who co-founded Providence, Rhode Island, with Roger Williams; Thomas Jefferson, whose grandmother was Mary Field, daughter of Peter Field of Virginia; Richard Stockton, son of the signer of the Declaration of Independence who married Mary Field of White Hill, New Jersey, a descendant of emigrant founder of Flushing, Long Island, Robert Field; and many more. This genealogy is priced at $49.95 plus shipping (Add $5.00 per book U.S. delivery. Per book delivery to Canada is $10.00 U.S. (allow 4-6 weeks) and $13.00 U.S. (4-7 days). Please send your name, address and payment (checks only, please) to William S. Field, 1101 First St., #208, Coronado, CA 92118.

    Letters from Nebraska Sod House Pioneers

    Authored by Dr. Leo L. Lemonds, this book details the chronological arrival of Forsythe and Newton families who came to Furnas County, Nebraska, between 1877 and 1891. Twenty photos (including six of sod houses), a chart, maps, and biographical sketches are also included. Priced at $22.50 plus $2.50 for postage and handling for domestic delivery. Available from the author, Leo L. Lemonds, D.V.M., 5180 W. Highway 6, Hastings, NE 68901-7702, email: Payment must accompany order.

    American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson, the Woman Who Defied the Puritans (San Francisco, Harper, 2004)

    Eva LaPlante narrates the fascinating story of Anne Hutchinson - a minister's daughter, wife, mother, and theologian in her own right - who was exiled from Massachusetts because of her unconventional religious views that challenged the beliefs of those in authority. Because she espoused her views freely and openly and had attracted a following, Hutchinson was seen to be wielding a degree of power that made her behavior "not comely for [her] sex." Charged with heresy and sedition, she defended herself in front of forty of the most powerful men in the colony. Anne Hutchinson ultimately lost her case and was exiled from Massachusetts. Anne Hutchinson and her family, joined by some of her followers, went into exile on Aquidneck Island (Rhode Island). This highly-praised biography is now on sale for $16.97 plus shipping at

    Website: Marlborough, Massachusetts 1660-1910

    If your ancestors resided in Marlborough, Massachusetts, you should definitely take some time to explore this website with its wide range of databases and other resources. To enter the site just click on the photograph in the center of the home page. You then click the blue dot next to the text "Continue On" to proceed to the next page which has a link (a green dot) to the "Contents" page.

    The first section of the Contents pertains to Marlborough's history. The first two links in this section provide an historical overview of the town. The information on these pages also include an early map of the town, a list of historic sites, and a timeline covering the period from 1660-1910. The remaining materials on the Contents page are arranged chronologically. They include transcriptions of colonial records of Marlborough, a list of persons receiving grants of lands in 1660, warnings out, the 1770 poll list with heads of households listed, and a list of in-town property owners with addresses for 1895. You will also find cemetery listings, lists of soldiers from Marlborough in both the Revolutionary and Civil wars and much more. There are also scanned images of early documents such as the diary of Sukey Rice (1808), the Chancy document, which is the petition to establish the town of Chancy (now Westborough), the indenture of Joseph Morse (December 11, 1737), and various deeds and wills (1678-1815). Transcriptions accompany the images.

    In addition to the databases and images described above, you will find links to images of several historical maps, the earliest being one of Marlborough Plantation drawn in 1667, under the "Maps of Marlborough" header. This section also includes links to maps of surrounding towns and historical information on local homes.

    In the "Marlborough People" section, you will find vital records, early family genealogies, name changes, transcriptions of mortgage listings from 1834 to 1853, as well as family histories, family photos, and signatures. Some of the materials included here relate to Sudbury, Marlborough's parent town. The early family genealogies were transcribed from The History of Marlborough by Charles Hudson (1862) and cover more than forty families. Surnames include Bigelow, Brigham, Dexter, Fay, Hudson, and Rice, to name a few. There is also a collection of digital images of signatures of Marlborough citizens as they appeared on items such as deeds and mortgages and documents signed at Proprietors meetings in 1702 and 1706. Perhaps you will find the signature of one of your ancestors there.

    There is a lot more on this site than has been described above. It's worth taking the time to thoroughly explore it.


    Movie Screening: Mystic Voices: The Story of the Pequot War

    Mystic Voices: The Story of the Pequot War, will be shown at the 2004 Rhode Island International Film Festival during the week of August 10, 2004, in Providence, Rhode Island.

    The film explores the relevance of the Pequot War to American history and, in addition, portrays the personal conflict experienced by Rhode Island Colony founder Roger Williams with regard to his Native New England neighbors. Mystic Voices was filmed, in part, on location on Block Island and at the Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown and the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology in Bristol.

    Show dates and times are as follows:

    Thursday, August 12, 11 a.m., Columbus Theatre, 270 Broadway, Providence*
    Saturday, August 14, 12 noon, Chamber of Commerce Screening Room, 30 Exchange Terrace. Providence

    *Due to space considerations, Festival sponsors encourage attendance at the screening on Thursday, August 12, at the Columbus Theatre.

    For more Festival information call 401-861-4445 or visit

    Introduction to at the NEHGS Library

    August 11, 6 p.m.

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

    This program will be held on Wednesday, August 11, at 6 p.m. in the education center at 101 Newbury Street, Boston. Advance registration is not required.

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

    Careers at NEHGS

    NEHGS is currently seeking to fill the position of Member Services Assistant. Please visit our careers page for further details.

    NEHGS Research Tour to Salt Lake City

    October 10-17, 2004

    NEHGS invites you to join its twenty-sixth annual research tour to Salt Lake City, taking place October 10-17, 2004! Let our experienced staff genealogists and other recognized experts in the field assist you with your research in the largest genealogical repository in the world - the Family History Library! Lectures on genealogical topics, personal one-on-one consultations with staff, computer tutorials on the Family History Library and online genealogical research, guided research in the library, and group meals are included in the weeklong program.

    NEHGS staff genealogists and guest consultants will be stationed on each floor of the Family History Library for scheduled personal research consultations. There will be plenty of time in the course of the week to confer with them about research questions and concerns.

    Lectures during the week include:

    * "Library Orientation and Guided Tour of Joseph Smith Memorial Building" by Jane Knowles Lindsey
    * "Urban Research" by David Dearborn, FASG
    * "Dissecting A Probate Packet" by Ruth Quigley Wellner
    * "Your Roots in the British Isles: Finding, Tending, Mending" by Jerome E. Anderson
    * "Genetics and Genealogy" by Christopher Child

    Computer classes (Monday and Tuesday) include:

    * "FHL Computer Orientation: Accessing the Card Catalog, the IGI, and the Pedigree Resource File" by Jane Knowles Lindsey and Ruth Quigley Wellner
    * "Researching on the Web: Using and Other Online Resources" by Ruth Quigley Wellner and Jane Knowles Lindsey

    The Family History Library is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Monday, 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and is closed on Sunday.

    For more information or to download a registration form, please visit this page.



    Genealogy in a Nutshell Takes a Vacation

    There are no Nutshell lectures scheduled for the month of August. Lectures will resume in September with

    * "Getting the Most from the Family History Library Resources" with David A. Lambert on September 8 and 11

    All lectures take place at 10 a.m. at the NEHGS Library in Boston. Advance registration is not necessary.

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

    Favorite - and Black Sheep - Ancestor Feedback

    Each week we ask the questions "Who is your favorite ancestor? Who is your favorite black sheep ancestor? Why?" If you would like to contribute information on your favorite and/or black sheep ancestor, please send your story in 300 words or less to Rod Moody at Thank you to all past and future contributors!

    Please note that NEHGS does not verify responses.

    My Favorite Ancestor
    By Elizabeth Feil of Columbia, Maryland

    My favorite ancestor was my great grandmother, Mary Myrtle Butler Wilson. Grandma Wilson lived for 101 years. She was born in 1883 in California's Sacramento Valley to an English sheep rancher raised in Illinois, John Edward Butler, and a schoolteacher from Ohio, Electa Louisa DeWolf. Myrtle became a teacher herself before marrying George Francis Wilson, a dairy-and-egg man also born in Sacramento County.

    Myrtle and George had twins, who were born and died prematurely, before having seven more healthy children. Myrtle raised her children, did the unending work of most farm wives, and served as postmistress of Rio Linda, California. She taught her children the value of hard work and education; all of her children graduated from high school, and four of the seven attended college. In what little free time she had, she loved to read and play Scrabble.

    Myrtle was born during the presidential administration of James Garfield and lived through the terms of eighteen more presidents before dying in 1984 during Ronald Reagan's administration. She grew up with horse-drawn carriages, saw the advent of cars, and then witnessed the journey to the moon. She was raised by the light of oil lamps before electricity came to the countryside in her adult life. She lived through almost the entire second half of our country's existence.

    Yet, the most important thing in Myrtle's life was her family. In 2006 the family is having a reunion, and present, along with all manner of cousins, will be her three surviving children, nineteen grandchildren, thirty-seven great grandchildren, thirty-eight surviving (of thirty-nine) great-great grandchildren, and eleven great-great-great grandchildren. (For more details about the reunion and family, visit

    I hope that, should I be granted as long a life as my great grandmother, that I can become half as hard-working, intellectually curious, and kind as she was. She was truly unique.

    NEHGS Contact Information

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