American Ancestors New England Historic Genealogical Society - Founded 1845 N.E. Historic Genealogical Society Seal View Your Shopping Cart Join NEHGS
  • 2006 Archive

  • Vol. 8, No. 1
    Whole #252
    January 4, 2006
    Edited by Michael J. Leclerc and Valerie Beaudrault

    Greetings from the New England Historic Genealogical Society! This newsletter has been sent to people who asked to receive it. If you would like to unsubscribe or change your email address please click on the link at the bottom of the email and follow the instructions provided.

    * Romance in the Research Library
    * Let us Share Your Stories
    * New Database on
    * Society Seeks Director of Finance
    * Upcoming Education Program
    * Spotlight: Olmsted County Historical Society [Minnesota]
    * From the Online Genealogist
    * Research Recommendations
    * Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    Romance in the Research Library

    Many of us discover evidence of heart-warming family romances while researching our ancestors, but it’s seldom we get to report the very happy news of a romance that blossomed and grew right here in the library at NEHGS.

    It was a typical modern day dilemma. The attraction was there, but it was hard for Margaret Lemelin and Phillip Towne to find time to be together because Maggie was busy doing research for her Masters Thesis on “never-married women who owned property in Massachusetts”. Frustrated with the limited time available for courtship, Phil came up with the perfect solution. “Lets become members of NEHGS and then I can work on my family research while you do your scholarly research,” which they did in January, 2004.

    Through a couple of years of intense research (and, as Maggie remembers it, a lot of meals lovingly prepared by Phil so she could concentrate on her thesis) the couple became familiar faces at 101 Newbury, developing particularly special friendships with genealogists Julie Otto and Gary Boyd Roberts who helped them along the way.

    Fast forward to December 21, 2005: Certain by now that Maggie is “the one” and knowing that Gary is retiring from the permanent NEHGS staff, Phil planned a special setting for his proposal that would allow Gary and Julie to be present. Working with the library staff, Phil hid an engagement ring in a pouch in front of a box of microfilm containing Massachusetts marriage records. With the pretext of seeing Gary before he officially retires, and with news of a supposed breakthrough in a brick wall in his family research, Phil insisted he and Maggie visit the Society that Wednesday night. When he asked Maggie to fetch the relevant microfilm, she noticed the pouch immediately. Assuming someone had misplaced it, she thought she would hand it over to a librarian later on. It took a little coaxing from Phil to get her to find the ring inside, and then with all due ceremony, he got down on one knee in the fourth floor library and proposed. How could she say no?

    The one disappointment was that neither Julie nor Gary was at the library that night, but by the time this reaches your computer they too will know the glad tidings.

    Now begins a new family for future genealogical research. Congratulations to Maggie Lemelin and the very romantic Phil Towne from the entire staff at NEHGS.

    Return to Table of Contents


    Let Us Share Your Stories

    We love sharing your interesting genealogical tales with NEHGS members and friends in eNews, New England Ancestors magazine, and on

    We also enjoy hearing either romantic tales you’ve discovered about your family from the past (Valentines Day is coming up!), or humorous tales concerning your ancestors, or about your research process itself. We are still also looking for new submissions for our regular “Favorite and Black-Sheep Ancestors”.

    Please send only anecdotes that you would not mind being printed for others to enjoy. Those stories can also be sent to

    Return to Table of Contents


    New Database on New England

    On December 26, 2005, the contents of the three-volume Vital Records of Gloucester, Massachusetts to the end of the year 1849 became available on

    The original volumes were compiled by the Topsfield, Massachusetts, Historical Society between 1917 and 1924. This database contains almost 40,000 birth, marriage, and death records for the town of Gloucester, MA. The library call number for the three volumes is: F74/G5/G58/1917. These volumes are also available in the reference section of the NEHGS library in Boston.

    Return to Table of Contents


    Society Seeks Director of Finance

    The New England Historic Genealogical Society seeks an experienced non-profit financial manager to be responsible for the overall financial management of the organization. Reporting to the Chief Operating Officer and supervising two full time staff, the Director of Finance will:

    • Manage and maintain the organization’s financial system and direct all related activities, including account reconciliation, A/R, A/P, payroll, taxes and investments
    • Develop and manage the budget and cash flow
    • Prepare for and supervise the annual audit process
    • Provide financial leadership and advice to administration and Board of Trustees
    • Manage payroll, employee benefits, all insurances
    • Direct regulatory compliance including tax filings, corporate filings, IRS and ERISA compliance
    • Participate in the growth and development of the organization through leadership on the management team and implementation of the strategic plan

    This is a very hands-on role with an emphasis on reporting, analyzing and forecasting financial trends that will affect the successful operation of the organization. It requires a proactive approach to staying informed about all of the Society’s many activities and the non-profit regulatory environment. This is a full-time position with vacation, medical and other benefits.


    For more details visit

    Return to Table of Contents


    Upcoming Education Program

    Spring Weekend Research Getaway
    Interpreting and Preserving Our Past
    March 23-25, 2006

    Join us for a fresh approach to the Research Weekend Getaway: a program devoted to old documents as well as guided research, one-on-one consultations, lectures, and special access to the collections. NEHGS staff Timothy G.X. Salls, archivist, and Deborah Rossi, collections maintenance assistant, will begin the program with a presentation about caring for old books and manuscripts. Guest lecturer Jerome E. Anderson will discuss handwriting analysis. Diane Rapaport will share her expertise on using court records based upon her new book, New England Court Records: A Research Guide for Genealogists and Historians. Old unidentified family photographs often remain frustrating mysteries. NEHGS genealogist Julie Otto will be available to analyze one such photo for each participant.

    Bring your charts and count on making major breakthroughs! All serious genealogists should treat themselves to this special program and the opportunity to share discoveries and swap stories with other avid researchers from all over the country. Whether you are a first-time participant or have enjoyed this program in the past, you are sure to further your research by visiting the library in Boston. For accommodations, we suggest the nearby Charlesmark Hotel, which is holding a block of rooms, on a space-available basis, until February 1, 2006.

    For more information on this program visit please email Amanda Batey at

    Return to Table of Contents


    Spotlight: Olmsted County Historical Society [Minnesota]

    The mission of the Olmsted County Historical Society, located in Rochester, Minnesota, is to collect and preserve information relating to history, with an emphasis on Olmsted County and Minnesota. Click on the databases link on the Society’s homepage to access their online resources including, but not limited to,:

    Biographical Index
    The database is an index to miscellaneous items found in the collections of the Olmsted County Historical Society, including photographs, diaries, letters, newspaper articles, and other documents. There are nearly 24,000 records in the database. The data fields include last name, first name, year, source or location of the item and a comments field providing more detail about the item.

    County Histories
    The historical society library contains Olmsted County histories published in 1866, 1883 and 1910, as well as histories for other counties in Minnesota. That for 1910 has an online index containing nearly 12,000 records.

    Local Town Histories
    The site’s online town history resources include two indexes. One is an index to the history of Stewartville, The Stewartville Story, and the other indexes the histories of Chatfield, Pleasant Grove, Chosen Valley, Rochester, Viola, Douglass, and Oronoco, Minnesota.

    Wabasha Cemetery Records Index
    The cemetery inscriptions database contains nearly 24,000 records for individuals who were buried in cemeteries in Washaba County compiled from several volumes of published cemetery transcriptions. The data fields include full name and year of death, if known, as well as the book title and volume number.

    Guardianship Records
    The 5,000 records in this database are an index to the files of the original guardianship records from the Olmsted County Courthouse. Information in the database includes the names of children or adults requiring legal guardianship, the name of the guardian, reason for the guardianship, the dates of guardianship, expense accounts and more.

    Probate Records
    This database is an index to the original probate records for Olmsted County, which are housed in the Olmsted County Historical Society. Most of the files contain the date and place of death, a list of heirs, a copy of the will, if it exists, an inventory of personal property, and the final disposition of the estate. This database contains nearly 12,000 records.

    Vine Funeral Home
    This database is an index to the records of the Vine Funeral Home (1920s – 1980s), which is located in Rochester. It should be noted that most of the actual records include a copy of the deceased’s death certificate.

    Index to Military Resources
    Among the military resources held by the Olmsted County Historical Society is an online index of more than 128,000 names with responses to a questionnaire sent to veterans living in Olmsted County after World War II. Information requested in the questionnaire included name, address, names of parents, date and place of birth, name of spouse and date of marriage, names of children, education, organizations, date and place enlistment, date and place of discharge, ranks in the service, record of service, decorations and citations. In many cases the files include a photograph of the veteran.

    Rochester Death Records (1871 – 1940)
    This index contains a transcription of the names in the original books of death records for individuals who died within the city limits of Rochester, Minnesota, between 1871 and 1940.

    Rochester Newspaper Subject Index (1859 – 1912)
    This database comprises an every-name index to Rochester, Minnesota, newspapers from 1859 to 1912 created by the Works Progress Administration. Please be advised that the database was extracted from the W.P.A. file cards rather than the actual newspapers. The database can be searched by topic, newspaper, month and year.

    Visit the web site of the Olmsted County Historical Society at, if you are tracing your family in the Rochester, Minnesota, area.

    Return to Table of Contents


    From the Online Genealogist

    “I was wondering under what circumstance my Civil War ancestor’s father applied for pension after the veteran died?”

    Generally Civil War pensions were awarded to a veteran, his widow, dependent children, or dependent parents. Parental pensions are not uncommon. Generally the pension was awarded to the parent(s) of a veteran who died during the war. Or if the soldier died without a widow or children, the parents may try and put in a claim for his pension. Within the pages of the pension there are generally letters from the soldier during the war. These letters were sent home to their parents that might mention for example: “Find enclosed $5.00 of my pay”. This evidence usually would help approve the application confirming that the soldier was actually sending money home.

    If you want a glimpse into a time capsule of information on your ancestor I would strongly advise ordering the pension and also military service records from the National Archives. To order online, or order an NATF-85 form visit

    David Allen Lambert is the Society’s Online Genealogist. If you would like to ask him a question, contact him at or visit his blog at For more information about the Online Genealogist visit Please note that he will make every effort to reply to each message, but will respond on a first come, first-served basis.

    Return to Table of Contents


    Research Recommendations

    Copyright and the Genealogist
    by Timothy G. X. Salls

    Copyright plays a large role in genealogy. Some genealogists simply view copyright as a major limiting factor on which sources can be made available online without fees and permissions (money which most non-profits can’t afford) or an undesired limit on the amount they can copy. Thus for many genealogists, it is simply another impediment to their research. Yet copyright also provides a means for those hard-working authors to enjoy the fruits of their labor and serve the public good by providing an economic incentive to produce more books, articles, websites, etc. Some confuse citation with copyright law. Citation has to do with principals of scholarship while copyright is a statutory law, and as with all U.S. laws, ignorance is no excuse.

    Copyright, like trademarks and patents, is an intellectual property right. Copyright concerns those laws (Title 17, U.S. Code) that provide certain exclusive privileges to authors. You can (and should) review the law at, however, the United States Copyright Office also provides some copyright basics at Information covered includes: what is and is not covered by copyright, what is an original work of authorship, what rights are granted to authors, and limitations on the author’s exclusive rights. This website provides a wealth of other information including how to register a work, fees, electronic versions of the Office’s publications about copyright, and you can search databases for works registered and/or renewed since 1978.

    Below is a select list of resources concerning copyright. Many of the books are very helpful in highlighting important court cases that influence the application of copyright law. Some of these cases certainly influence genealogists. Robert Cogswell, for example, discusses how some court rulings started to severely limit the fair use of unpublished manuscripts. He goes on to discuss how the U.S. Copyright Office’s interpretation of these cases, if enacted into law, would restrict the fair use of unpublished manuscripts to the point that repositories would not be able to produce any photocopies for patrons!

    Print sources
    Carmack, Sharon Debartolo. Carmack’s Guide to Copyright & Contracts: A Primer for Genealogists, Writers & Researchers (Baltimore, MD : Genealogical Publishing Company, 2005)
    Cogswell, Robert. Copyright Law for Unpublished Manuscripts and Archival Collections (Glanville Publications, Inc., 1992)
    Fishman, Stephen. The Copyright Handbook: How to Protect and Use Written Works (Berkeley: Nolo Press, 1994)

    Internet sources
    Peter Hirtle’s Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States
    Stanford University Libraries’ Copyright & Fair Use
    The Copyright Law and Litigation Resource
    Copyright Clearance Center
    Creative Commons
    How to determine if a copyright was renewed
    A timeline of copyright law in the United States is available at

    Return to Table of Contents


    Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures

    Our "Nutshell" lectures explore a wide range of research skills and sources and are free and open to the public. They are offered in the Richardson-Sloane Education Center at 101 Newbury Street on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:00 A.M. unless otherwise stated. Advance registration is not necessary.

    January 11, 10:00 a.m., David Allen Lambert
    Introduction to has grown to include access to over 110 million names in 2,200 databases! Discover the depth of material available on this genealogy megasite. With a site this extensive, it is easy to concentrate on the most popular feature - databases - and overlook the many other valuable resources available elsewhere in the site. All will be revealed in this informative lecture! Learn how to use the new NEHGS website to advance your research! In this free monthly class, NEHGS Online Genealogist David Lambert will offer a step-by-step live demonstration of

    February 1, 10 a.m., Marie E.Daly
    New Visitor Welcome and Library Tour
    With the Getting Started in Genealogy program available on the NEHGS website, the on-site program will change. New visitors will be welcomed, given a chance to introduce themselves, meet other new visitors, describe their research and have knowledgeable staff advise them on how to proceed. The thirty-minute welcome will be followed by a tour of the library.

    February 8, 10 a.m., David AllenLambert
    Getting the Most from NEHGS Databases
    With over 110 million names in 2,200 databases, is the primary website for New England genealogy. This lecture will offer an exciting overview of the Society's online databases. A live demonstration of the website will offer you a chance to see how to best utilize the Society's resources from your home.

    Return to Table of Contents


    NEHGS Contact Information

    We encourage you to email this newsletter to others who might be interested. To subscribe or view back issues of eNews, please visit

    NEHGS eNews, like all of our programs, is made possible through the generous contributions of our members. For more information about giving to NEHGS visit Make your donation before the end of the calendar year and you could be eligible to take advantage of a special tax-break from the US government.

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

    To become a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, please visit

    Copyright 2006, New England Historic Genealogical Society
    101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

    Return to Table of Contents

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

© 2010 - 2014 New England Historic Genealogical Society