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  • 2004 Archive

  • Vol. 6, No. 36
    Whole #182
    September 3, 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


    * Introducing the New!
    * New Website Growing Pains
    * New Database on
    * We're Bringing a Little Bit of New England to Austin!
    * Coming Soon in the Fall 2004 Issue of New England Ancestors
    * Research Library Hours Change Next Week
    * Featured Website: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Archival Databases
    * Events in New England
    * Introduction to the New
    * Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures at the NEHGS Library
    * Favorite - and Black Sheep - Ancestor Feedback
    * NEHGS Contact Information

    Introducing the New!

    by Michael J. Leclerc

    NEHGS recently launched the newest incarnation of — an attractive, easily navigated site incorporating the many valuable online features on which members have come to rely, and more. The site has grown dramatically over the past three years. It now offers more than ninety million names in over two thousand databases. In the same period, the volume of research articles and other information has almost doubled, with just under three thousand pages available.

    One of the most noticeable changes is the complete redesign of the site’s appearance — the "user interface." The new interface is sleek and easy to navigate. A printer-friendly page link appears on every page, allowing users to print from the site without including the navigation areas. A help link brings up a list of frequently asked questions to assist users with problems or questions. A search link allows users to search all site areas except the databases and library catalog.

    Member login

    The member login process has changed slightly on the new interface. Login fields are now located in the upper right side of the screen. Members will use their email address that they have on file with NEHGS as their user names and their member numbers as their passwords. After their first login, members are automatically logged in every time they visit.

    Read the full article.

    New Website Growing Pains

    On September 1 NEHGS launched a new version of the website. As with any new website, we have been experiencing some bumps along the road. You may experience difficulties in viewing certain pages or accessing the site while we smooth out these bumps. Our development team is working on identifying and fixing the problems as quickly as they can. Please be patient as you use the site over the next few days and be assured that we are working diligently to resolve the difficulties.

    New Database on

    Because of the effort involved in launching and troubleshooting our new website, just one new database is offered this week.

    Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910

    Added this week:
    Indexes: 1896-1910

    Records: 1843-45 (vols. 4-15)

    The latest installment in this ongoing database includes the indexes to all Massachusetts birth, death, and marriage records from 1896 to 1910 and actual records from 1843 to 1845 (volumes 4-15). 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.

    For detailed information about this database, please refer to "Introduction to the Massachusetts Vital Records 1841-1910 Database" page.

    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 .

    We're Bringing a Little Bit of New England to Austin!

    Next week we're connecting Boston to Austin as representatives from NEHGS attend the Federation of Genealogical Societies' Conference, September 8-11, at the Austin (Texas) Convention Center. One of the major genealogical events of the year, the conference gives attendees and visitors a chance to listen to experts in the field, learn more about genealogy products, purchase books and CDs, and meet others from around the country who are interested in family history.

    The NEHGS booth will be located at the front of the exhibit hall. NEHGS staff members Dick Eastman and Laura Prescott will be at the booth in addition to a cadre of volunteers from the Austin area and beyond. You do not have to register for the conference to visit the vendor area. It is free and open to the public.

    We will be demonstrating the revamped website and a special computer will be available for you to try it out. Come by the booth to pick up your NEHGS member pin, purchase popular titles, chat with NEHGS staff, or have a book signed by one of the many authors who will be in attendance: Gary Boyd Roberts, Robert Charles Anderson, Patricia Law Hatcher, Rhonda McClure, Paul Milner, and Emily Croom. The event schedule will be posted in the booth. The exhibit hall is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, September 9-11.

    NEHGS assistant executive editor for resource development, Brenton Simons, will present the NEHGS-sponsored luncheon at 12:15 on Thursday, September 9. He will talk on "The New England Research Experience." Director of electronic publications, Michael Leclerc, will present "New England Online: Researching Your Family on" as the NEHGS-sponsored lecture at 8 a.m. on Saturday, September 11.

    More information about the FGS conference in Austin, Texas, can be found at the FGS website. We hope to see y'all there!

    Coming Soon in the Fall 2004 Issue of New England Ancestors

    Rod D. Moody provides the seventh installment of New Searchable Databases on

    Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs utilizes primary sources by and about Edward Winslow to reach the truth behind the myth in Truth and Fashion: Edward Winslow.

    Lynn Betlock discusses historic interpretation at one of New England’s most notable museums in Bringing Early Plymouth to Life at Plimoth Plantation.

    Michael J. Leclerc explains our exciting new online look and feel in Introducing the New!

    Joyce S. Pendery discusses the historical significance and benefits to researchers of Fraternal Organizations of our Ancestors.

    Chernoh M. Sesay, Jr., shares the triumphs and setbacks of his own research experience in One Among Several: Looking for Prince Hall the Freemason in the Early American Republic.

    Also in this issue . . .

    * Computer Genealogist Spotlight: World Place Advisor

    * Genetics & Genealogy: The Origins of Samuel Rose of Manchester, Vermont

    * Manuscripts at NEHGS: The Heard Family Papers

    * Bible Records at NEHGS: The Helyer Family Bible

    * Tales from the Courthouse: The Case of the Naked Quaker

    * Genealogical Publishing: Word for Genealogy Part 2

    * Pilgrim Life: Moses A Window Into Holland’s Heroic Golden Age

    And, as always, news of NEHGS and the world of genealogy, upcoming NEHGS programs and tours, new publications, notices of family association events, genealogies in progress, and member queries.

    Subscription to New England Ancestors is a benefit of NEHGS membership. If you are not a member, you may join online or call toll-free 1-888-296-3447, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, Eastern time.

    Research Library Hours Change Next Week

    Please note that beginning on Tuesday, September 7, 2004, the NEHGS Research Library will open at 10 a.m. on weekdays. On Saturdays it will open at 9 a.m. as usual. The Library is now closed on Sundays.

    New Research Library hours are as follows:

    Tuesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Wednesday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
    Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.*
    Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Closed Sunday and Monday
    *Winter hours: November 1 through March 31, Thursday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Featured Website: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Archival Databases

    The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has accepted electronic records into its holdings since the early 1970s. A number of the databases have been made available to the public online through NARA's Access to Archival Databases (AAD) System. The materials found in AAD come from more than 30 archival series of electronic records comprising approximately 400 data files with over 50 million unique records.

    You will find links to AAD Tools on the Welcome page. Click on the "Getting Started" link to access a set of instructions - in both narrative and graphical formats - on how to search the AAD databases. NARA strongly recommends that you review these instructions prior to beginning your research. In addition, there is a "Where Am I?" link on each page. If you become lost in the research process, just click on that link for assistance. The tools also include links to "AAD Help," "Frequently Asked Questions," and "What's New in AAD."

    To begin your search, click on the orange "SEARCH" button. To find out what is available in AAD, you can select one of eight options on the Search main page. The series have been grouped into eight categories. Click on a series category link or the dropdown list arrow to see the list of series or subtopics in that category. Once you make your selection, click on a series title to find additional information about the series including why it was created and how it was used. At this point, you can select the data file and begin your search.

    The records series that identify "People" will be of particular interest to genealogists. The most recent addition in this category of databases is the "World War II Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 6/1/2002 - 9/30/ 2002" (created by the National Archives and Records Administration, Office of Records Services, Washington D.C., Modern Records Programs, Electronic and Special Media Services Division). The records cover the years 1938 to 1946. The series contains the records of approximately nine million men and women who enlisted in the United States Army, including the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, during that period. While this is not a complete listing of all people who enlisted, it covers the majority of the enlistments that occurred during World War II. There are some gaps in the records as some of the punch cards were found to be unreadable despite numerous scanning attempts. The records contain the following information: serial number, name, state, and county of residence, place of enlistment, date of enlistment, grade, Army branch, term of enlistment, longevity, place and year of birth, race, education, civilian occupation, marital status, height and weight (before 1943), military occupational specialty (1945 and later), component, box and reel number of the microfilmed punch cards. I ran a search by name, state, and year of birth and was able to find my father's enlistment record.

    Another database included in AAD is "Famine Irish Data Files, 1977? - 1989" (created by Temple University, The Balch for Ethnic Studies, Center for Immigration Research). This database may be of particular interest to anyone whose ancestors came from Ireland between January 12, 1846 and December 31, 1851. These records were extracted from ship passenger lists in the records of the U.S. Customs Services. The materials identify 604,596 individuals who arrived in the United States during that period and the ships on which they came. It should be noted that approximately 30 percent of the passenger records list a native country other than Ireland. Each Famine Irish Passenger Record File contains data about a passenger and may include name, age, town of last residence, destination, arrival date, and codes for passenger's sex, occupation, literacy, native country, transit status, travel compartment, port of embarkation, and the identification number for the ship manifest.

    This is just a small sample of what is available through NARA's Access to Archival Databases system. Visit the website to learn more about the AAD databases.

    Events in New England

    The American-Canadian Genealogical Society Fall Conference & Annual Meetingwill be held on September 24-25, 2004, at the ACGS Library, 4 Elm Street, Manchester, New Hampshire.

    The library will be open regular research hours, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., on Friday, September 24, with extra librarians on for your convenience.

    Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the speaking program starts at 9. Speakers and lecture topics for the seminar include:

    Roger Perrault, writer, photographer, speaker, and historic tour guide specializing in the history of Manchester, New Hampshire, and the culture of the New England Franco-American community, "A Taste of the Old Country in the New: The Franco-Americans of Manchester"

    Sylvie Tremblay, currently at the National Archives of Canada in Ottawa and part of a team that developed the Canadian Genealogy Centre, "What's Up in Canada - 1906 Census? Church records in Quebec? Will repertoire production stop?"

    Regis Brun, writer, historian, and archivist and a founding member of the Société historique acadienne (Acadian Historical Society) in 1960, "The Acadians Before 1800: Footprints in International Archives"

    The annual ACGS business meeting begins at 3 p.m. New, used and old books will be available for purchase. The Jetté Dictionnaire, Tanguay on CD, and Stephen A. White's Dictionnaire Généalogique des Familles Acadiennes (as well as the English Supplement) are among the offerings. The library will be open Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for research if 10 or more people sign up.

    The registration fee for the conference is $25, which includes a continental breakfast. Lunch is on your own. For more information or to register, contact Constance Hamel, ACGS Conference Chair, at P.O. Box 6478, Manchester, NH 03108-6478 or visit the ACSG website. You can also call 603-622-1554 during regular business hours.

    Lecture Series: A New England Nightmare: Major Fires and Their Enduring Effects

    During the month of September 2004, The Paul Revere Memorial Association, in cooperation with The Old South Meeting House, will present a series of lectures examining significant fires in New England over the past 200 years.

    All lectures will begin at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday evenings throughout the month. Admission is free.

    September 7, 6:30 - 7:30 p.m., "Burning Questions - The Charlestown Convent Fire of 1834"

    September 14, 6:30 - 7:30 p.m., "The Legacy of the Coconut Grove Fire"

    September 21, 6:30 - 7:30 p.m., "Damrell and the Great Boston Fire of 1872"

    September 28, 6:30 - 8 p.m., The Station Nightclub Fire, West Warwick, Rhode Island"

    Lectures will take place at The Old South Meeting House, 310 Washington Street, at the corner of Mild Street, in downtown Boston. The venue is wheelchair accessible. Sign language interpretation is provided upon request (with advance notice) and assisted listening devices are available for all lectures. For directions to The Old South Meeting House, call 617-482-6439.

    For more information about the Paul Revere Memorial Association Lecture Series contact: Patrick Leehey, Paul Revere House, 617-523-2338.

    Introduction to the New

    September 8, 11:30 a.m.

    Join us for an interactive tour of our brand new website! 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, September 8, at 11:30 a.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

    Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures at the NEHGS Library

    Please note that due to new Research Library hours, all Nutshell lectures will now begin at 10:15 a.m.

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

    Many NEHGS patrons are familiar with the large collection of genealogical materials at the Society. But a lesser-known NEHGS service to members and visitors is the ability to borrow microfilms from the vast collections of the LDS Family History Library. Please join David Lambert as he describes how to borrow films and use the powerful online databases on the LDS website.

    "Cape Cod Genealogy" with Timothy Salls on September 15 and 18.

    Please join NEHGS manuscripts curator, Timothy Salls, as he discusses Cape Cod genealogy. His highly informative lecture will focus on sources in the NEHGS library and manuscripts collections for researching seventeenth and eighteenth century Cape Cod families.

    All lectures take place at 10:15 a.m. at the NEHGS Library in Boston. Advance registration is not necessary.

    For more details about NEHGS education events, please visit our online Education Center. 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 Betty Cary

    Mary Elizabeth Smith
    was born the seventh child of Philemon and Mahala Beach Smith, in Chatham, Tioga County, Pennsylvania, in 1844. She was my great grandmother. Her only surviving daughter, Eva May Manning Crowner (1885-1983), told me many stories about her. I know more about Mary Elizabeth than I know about any other ancestor.

    Mary was a strict Methodist whose children felt her rod many times. No smoking, drinking, dancing, or card playing. Unfortunately for her husband George Washington Manning, he liked all those vices and more. Mary nagged and nagged but George kept on with his sinful ways. Once in church a mouse ran up Mary's leg under her long skirt. Mary calmly crushed the creature at her knee. No commotion was to be allowed in her church.

    Mary and George eloped to her brother's farm in Ray County, Missouri, in 1858, when they were both fourteen years of age. Their first children were triplet sons who died within a week of birth. Many people drove from miles around to see the triplets. Later George and Mary decided to go back to Tioga County, Pennsylvania.

    Mary and George had thirteen children and only raised four to adulthood. The 1880 census shows George trying to make a living with dairy cattle, bees, and a tobacco patch. They never were well off. My grandmother once said her mother could make a meal from nothing and often had to. George ended up as a tenant farmer on my future grandfather's farm in Wellsville, New York, in 1900.

    After George died in 1908, Mary ran a boarding house in Wellsville. One of her boarders came home one day after looking for a job. Mary was rocking on the porch and asked him if he had found work. He said no and he was going upstairs to shoot himself. Mary told him not to get blood on his bed. The boarder went upstairs, covered his bed with newspapers and shot himself. That bed was handed down to my grandmother. Every time I slept on it, I remembered its baptism in blood.

    Mary died of lung cancer in 1921. Visitors would hear her repeat and repeat, "I sewed up my mouth, I locked it and threw away the key. Still those dirty stories would roll their way out. I am going to hell for sure."

    If Mary and I had known each other, I am sure we would have fought tooth and nail over some of her beliefs. Still I admire her for surviving her hard times and the painful loss of nine children the best way she knew how. Compared to Mary, my life has been a breeze.

    NEHGS Contact Information

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