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  • 2005 Archive

  • Vol. 7, No. 8
    Whole #207
    February 23, 2005
    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 2005, New England Historic Genealogical Society
    101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116


    * New Databases on
    * New Research Article on
    * Last Chance to Save Up to 50% on NEHGS CD-ROMs
    * New from Newbury Street Press: The Descendants of William Ames of Braintree, Massachusetts
    * Websites for African American Research
    * Spotlight on Library Websites, Part Three
    * NEHGS Research Week in Washington D.C.
    * Maximize Your Borrowing Power at the Circulating Library
    * Searching for Descendants of Famous Bostonians!
    * Changes at NEHGS eNews
    * Upcoming Genealogy in a Nutshell Lectures
    * Favorite - and Black Sheep - Ancestor Feedback
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    New Databases on

    The Massachusetts Society of Cincinnati Profiles - Free Database!

    The Society of the Cincinnati was established in 1783 by and for the officers in Continental Service. It was organized in fourteen constituent societies, one of which is the Massachusetts Society. Eligibility was based on the officer's length and terms of service.

    Membership in the Society of the Cincinnati was extended to the officers of the Continental Army - as well as 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. The officers of the French Navy and Army who served with the American Army were also entitled to join.

    This database contains information on those Massachusetts officers eligible for membership. Absence from this list does not conclusively exclude eligibility.

    The following member profiles were added to the database this week:

    Jonathan Allen, Joseph Andrews, John Bacon, James Bancroft, John Barnett, John Blake, John Bradford, John Chadwick, Jonathan Conant, and James Cooper.

    Search the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati Profiles at


    Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910
    Added this week: Records for 1866

    The latest installment in this ongoing database includes records from 1866 (vols. 186 -194).

    For detailed information about this database, please refer to the link found on the database search page (see link below) titled "Introduction to the Massachusetts Vital Records 1841-1910 Database." Here you will find a link to a chart displaying records currently available and those forthcoming.

    The "Introduction" will answer many questions 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 at


    New Research Article on

    Resources for Researching Massachusetts Slaves and Slaveholders
    by John C. MacLean

    With slave ships arriving in the 1630s and accounts suggesting that Samuel Maverick owned slaves here beginning in the 1620s, Massachusetts was the first New England colony to keep slaves. Whether a slave, a slaveholder, or an ancestor who lived in a society that allowed slavery, historical records help to reveal their stories. Reports from 1754 listing the number of slaves over the age of sixteen are available on microfilm at the Massachusetts Archives for each Massachusetts town: There were 647 males and 342 females just in Boston, where the first African slave had arrived by 1638. The report for Hanover, however, is particularly interesting, as it also gives the names of the masters and the ages of the slaves they owned. By 1765, about 2.1 percent of the overall population of Massachusetts was identified in a census either as Negro or mulatto, both free and slave. Many communities near the coast had the highest percentages of African Americans, including Boston's 5.2 percent, and Cambridge at 5.7 percent.

    By using a number of sources, we can often learn the names of slaves (commonly referred to as "Negro servants" or "servants" in the records), the identities of those individuals who owned slaves, and something about the story of slavery in the households and communities of Massachusetts.

    NEHGS members can read the entire article at


    Last Chance to Save Up to 50% on NEHGS CD-ROMs
    Choose any three of these five NEHGS CDs and pay only $75.00 plus shipping! This offer ends on February 28, so act now!

    Here's how it works:

    Choose any three of the following NEHGS CDs:

    1. Records of the Colony and State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (Rhode Island)
    2. Genealogies of the Families of Braintree, Massachusetts 1640-1850 (Braintree)
    3. Plymouth Church Records, 1620-1859 (Plymouth)
    4. Bible Records from the Manuscript Collections of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (Bible)
    5. The Search For Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in the Boston Pilot 1831-1920 (Friends)

    Enter the item number (SPEC1, SPEC2, etc.) in the Item Number field in the NEHGS Online Store that corresponds with the bundle you want to buy.

    SPEC1: Rhode Island, Braintree, Plymouth
    SPEC2: Rhode Island, Braintree, Bible
    SPEC3: Rhode Island, Braintree, Friends
    SPEC4: Rhode Island, Plymouth, Bible
    SPEC5: Rhode Island, Plymouth, Friends
    SPEC6: Rhode Island, Bible, Friends
    SPEC7: Braintree, Plymouth, Bible
    SPEC8: Braintree, Plymouth, Friends
    SPEC9: Braintree, Bible, Friends
    SPEC10: Plymouth, Bible, Friends

    Order your CD bundles now at


    New from Newbury Street Press: The Descendants of William Ames of Braintree, Massachusetts, by Ann Theopold Chaplin
    Well-documented and written in Register format, with a thorough name and place index, The Descendants of William Ames of Braintree, Massachusetts, by Ann Theopold Chaplin, covers many lines, and comes down to children of the thirteenth generation. Among the notable descendants are Oakes and Oliver Ames, shovel manufacturers and builders of the Union Pacific Railroad. Another, Ira Ames, became a member of the Mormon High Priest's Quorum in 1854 and was a close friend of Brigham Young.

    The descendants of William Ames have been found in all walks of life and all strata of society. Fifteen Ames men fought in the Revolutionary War and fifty-four served in the Civil War, on both sides. Ames men have served their country in both World Wars, the Korean War, and the Vietnam Conflict. The family has spread throughout the fifty United States and Canada.

    For more information about The Descendants of William Ames, visit or call toll-free 1-888-296-3447.


    Websites for African American Research

    If you are researching African-American ancestors, you may want check out these websites.

    The Boston Athenaeum BOSBLACK Database

    One database of interest to anyone researching African-American ancestry or history in Boston is the Boston Athenaeum's BOSBLACK Database. It developed out of a project to create a list of black voters for a display at the Massachusetts State House. Historians realized that information about Boston's black residents had value beyond the project's initial goals and the list was ultimately expanded to include all black adults.

    The database includes the names, addresses, and occupations for about 5,800 African Americans living in Boston during the period from 1820 to 1863. The sources for this information include the Boston Directory, 1820-1865; federal censuses for 1850 and 1860; the 1855 Massachusetts state census; and the Boston Tax Assessor's ward books between 1850 and 1865. The Boston Directory listed African Americans in a separate "Colored Section" until 1849. After that time, all residents were integrated into a single A to Z listing format. This change has made it more difficult to identify black residents for the ensuing years in the database. As a result, Athenaeum staff and volunteers examined other resources including the censuses - federal and state - and the tax assessors indexes. As the Fifty-fourth Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was part of the African-America community in Boston during this period, the roster of the Regiment and information about soldiers' prewar occupations, army positions, places of origin and other information in the files was included.

    Click on the link at the bottom of the home page to access the database. The records are in alphabetical order with the most frequently used spelling listed. The information is organized by individual, rather than by family, occupation, or neighborhood, which allows you to view all of the information collected about an individual at one time. You can browse through the alphabetical listing or search the database by last name, first name, street name, occupation, and source year.

    The information included in the database is as follows:

    PERSONAL INFORMATION: name (first, middle initial, last), gender, type, remarks.

    ADDRESS INFORMATION: source year, source, business/home, street # and name, ward, and remarks.

    OCCUPATION: Source year, source, age, occupation, school, status, literacy, voter, estate, real estate, town, state and/or of origin, and remarks.

    It should be noted that, where family relationships are probable, the information is given in the Remarks section.

    Slavery Era Insurance Registry (

    The State of California passed a law, effective January 1, 2001, requiring the state's insurance "commissioner to request and obtain information from insurers doing business in this state regarding any records of slaveholder insurance policies issued by any predecessor corporation during the slavery era, which policies provided coverage to slaveholders for damage to or death of their slaves," and to make this information available to the public and the Legislature. This information has been placed in the Slavery Era Insurance Registry database and uploaded to the State of California website.

    There are two alphabetical databases on the Registry site, one organized by slave name and the other by slaveholder name. The information included in the databases is as follows: slave's name, county (or parish), state, other identifying information, name of slaveholder, county (or parish), state, and the name of the insurance company that submitted the information. The 'Other identifying information' field can include some very interesting data about the insured slave. You may find the policy number, information about the type of labor performed by the insured individual, and even age and date of death. The Registry database may also be downloaded to your desktop in PDF format.


    Spotlight on Library Websites, Part Three

    Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC)

    Manuscripts, Archives & Special Collections

    In the course of exploring the Peabody Essex Museum website, I found a link to the site of The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. When I clicked on the link, I was directed to a page containing The Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections Directory, which is a guide to collections located in Massachusetts libraries (public and private), archives, historical societies, and town clerk's offices. The directory provides "one-stop-shopping" access to information about the collections found in more than 650 repositories in Massachusetts.

    You can search for collections by town/location, institution, repository, special collections department, and collection description, as well as by name and/or subject. The results of a search by town will bring up a list of all repositories in that location. A search by name or by subject will result in a list of repositories throughout the state with relevant holdings. Click on the check box and then on the view button to access a summary of the holdings of a particular repository. In addition to the collection description, the directory also provides other useful information about the institution. You will also find contact information, a list of the services available, and levels of access to the collections, as well as directions to the repository. There are generally links to an institution's catalog and, in some cases, to finding aids for specific collections.

    Exploring the MBLC website further, I also found links to a number of digital collections around the state. The link to access the Digital Collections page is located on the drop down menu under the Find Books & Magazines Online tab. This is also were you will find the link to the Manuscripts, Archives & Special Collections link if you enter the MBLC site via the homepage. From there you can access the Watertown Free Public Library's Historic Map Collection, the Massachusetts State Library's Alexander Parris Project, and the SAILS' Community Treasury (Hanson, Middleborough, Rochester), among others. From the SAILS' Community Treasury page you can access the digital collections of a number of institutions. These collections include the Keeley Library - Fall River Local History Slides, the New Bedford Free Public Library Whaling Collection Archives, West Bridgewater - Post Card Collections, the historical collections of Hanson Public Library, Massachusetts; the Middleboro Cranberry Collection, and the Rochester Community-Wide Historic and Architectural Survey 1997-1998.

    These are useful resources for anyone pursuing historical research on a Massachusetts-related topic. Visit the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners website at


    NEHGS Research Week in Washington D.C.

    March 13-20, 2005

    Join us for our popular trip to the nation's capital, which offers a wealth of research opportunities for genealogists. Enjoy the benefits of working with our expert staff at the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Library and at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). NEHGS staff genealogists Henry Hoff and David Allen Lambert will be available at these two repositories to offer individual assistance as well as scheduled personal consultations each day of the program. Early in the week the staff of both the DAR Library and NARA will offer on-site orientations to review the rich resources at each repository. Those already familiar with these collections will receive helpful updates. Participants may walk between their lodging and the repositories, take advantage of public transportation, or use local taxis. Two group dinners will allow participants to socialize and make new friends; all other meals will be on your own. Join us during this exciting week and advance your research!

    Hotel Accommodations

    Please note that hotel accommodations arranged through NEHGS at the Hotel Washington are no longer available. However you may still register at the reduced "commuter rate" and make lodging accommodations of your own choosing. Refer to the Washington D.C. Tourist Bureau website at for a list of hotel options.

    Repository Highlights

    The DAR Library (, is located on 17th at D Street. The library is open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and closed Sunday.

    The DAR Library has major collections of printed genealogies, local record abstracts, and town and county histories. It also has over 18,000 typescript volumes with family, church, cemetery, and town records from all over the United States, with an online index as a finding aid. DAR membership applications and supporting files contain millions of genealogical sources. There is a published guide to research at the DAR and an analytic index for books, periodicals, and for special materials.

    The National Archives ( is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 9th Street. It is open for research Monday and Wednesday, 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 8:45 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Saturday, 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. The National Archives holds the records of the Federal Government. Archives I holds records of genealogical interest including census records, passenger arrival records, public land records, and military records from the American Revolution through approximately 1912. Archives II, located in College Park, MD, holds photographs, maps, and nonpersonnel military records from World War I through Vietnam. Textual records are pulled at scheduled times.

    Be sure to look for a special article coming soon on titled "Researching in Washington D.C.!"

    Repositories in Washington, D.C., require government-issued photo identification and all visitors are subject to a security screening. Program components are subject to change. For additional information contact or call toll-free 1-888-286-3447.


    Maximize Your Borrowing Power at the Circulating Library

    We would like to remind NEHGS members that they can order up to six books at once through our Circulating Library. If you are interested, for example, in immersing yourself in a multi-volume series (i.e. The Barbour Collection of Connecticut) or perhaps six genealogies relating to one particular surname, this is the option for you!

    Please note that a maximum of three books is allowed using the library's new paid round-trip postage/returnable courier pouch mailing system. However, members can still borrow up to six books using traditional shipping methods. Order through the website, by phone toll free at 888-296-3447 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time) or by mailing or faxing in a written request (508-788-9500). Order forms can be downloaded from the website or requested from membership services.

    For more information on the Circulating Library or to download an order form, visit


    Searching for Descendants of Famous Bostonians!

    Author Robert Pyles is producing an audio walking tour of Boston, and he is looking for descendants (or, in some cases, near relatives) of the following people to interview and possibly narrate on the tour:

    Mary Dyer, the Quaker Martyr
    Captain John "Mad Jack" Percival
    Margaret Fuller
    Phyllis Wheatley, the first published African-American poet

    If you are closely related to any of the above-named individuals and are interested in this project, please contact author Robert Pyles at or 781-235-4289.


    Changes at NEHGS eNews
    Rod D. Moody, editor of the website and NEHGS eNews, is leaving the Society at the end of February. Rod joined the NEHGS staff in September 2001, and has co-edited NEHGS eNews with Valerie Beaudrault since January 2004.

    NEHGS director of special projects, Michael J. Leclerc, will begin editing NEHGS eNews, with Valerie's assistance, until a permanent replacement is found. You may continue sending your questions or comments regarding eNews to

    Rod would like to take this opportunity to thank all eNews subscribers, NEHGS members, and NEHGS colleagues for their support and assistance over the years.


    Upcoming Genealogy in a Nutshell Lectures

    "Ancestors on the March: Researching Revolutionary War Soldiers" with David Allen Lambert, March 2 and 5

    Have you ever sought the details of the battles in which your ancestors participated? In his lecture, NEHGS military expert, David Lambert, will teach you the steps to discover where and when your ancestors served, even if a company history does not exist. He will also discuss a variety of resources from manuscripts to published sources, and provide an overview of online sources that are currently available to aide you in your search.

    "Getting the Most from NEHGS: The Library" with a panel of NEHGS staff members, March 9 and 12.

    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 at 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!

    My Favorite Ancestor
    By Carole (Perreault) (Brigham) Heath of Fremont, New Hampshire

    My late father-in-law, Frederick Irving Brigham, kept a small packet of letters in his bureau drawer that his first wife had written to him from a hospital in New York City while he was at sea on the whaling schooner, the J.P.Morgan out of Connecticut. Edith passed away there at age twenty-three of "consumption" (tuberculosis). When the whaling vessel returned to port, World War I was being waged, and he told the story that all of the vessel's crew were arrested because they had not registered for the draft. They got off because they proved they had no knowledge that a war was being fought, as the J.P. Morgan did not have any kind of radio aboard. He said he found that Edith had passed away, and could find no trace of where she was buried, or of the boy.

    When Dad passed away in 1956, his second wife, Beatrice, my late mother-in-law, and my husband had to travel to New York City to research Edith's demise - to prove to Social Security and to the Veterans Administration that, Edith was, in fact, dead. This is where that small packet of letters Dad kept became of prime importance. They started their search at the hospital where Edith had been a patient. An elderly nun took them down into dusty archives in the cellar of the hospital, and the search provided the answers that had been only wondered about for almost forty years. Edith had been admitted under her married name, but when she passed, she was discharged under her middle name and step-father's surname! The dates of birth coincided. Thus, Edith was proven dead, and Beatrice was able to collect her widow's pension.

    Just about one year ago, I received an email from a woman in Florida asking me if the Frederick Irving Brigham in my board query was the same man as she and her husband were looking for - if he was, then Frederick was her husband Tom's grandfather! She provided me with dates of marriage, birth, and death. All I could say when I read her email was: "OH, MY GOD!!!"

    Dad had always related that he had married Edith Louise Crockett in Framingham, Massachusetts, and that she had given birth to a son "out of wedlock," before they were wed. He maintained that the child was not his, but the data that this woman gave me told a far different story - the boy had been born a whole year after the marriage!! Betsy related to me that her late father-in-law always hoped to find his father, but never had any success. He had been placed in an orphanage when he was about six years old, and stayed until his maternal grandmother took him out at about ten years old. By then the grandmother was aware that Frederick had remarried, as both she and the newly-wed couple all were living in Framingham. I think Dad had so given up on the search he concocted the "out of wedlock" story so others wouldn't think he had abandoned his son.

    Mystery solved after eighty-nine years!!


    NEHGS Contact Information

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    To view the website of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, please visit

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