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  • 2006 Archive

  • Vol. 8, No. 14
    Whole #265
    April 5, 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.

    * eNews Survey
    * New on
    * Register for 2006 FGS/NEHGS Conference Online
    * New Research Article on
    * From the Volunteer Coordinator
    * Used Book Sale
    * Stories of Interest
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * Spotlight: Michigan Online Resources
    * Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures
    * From the Online Genealogist
    * Research Recommendations: The Value of Tax Lists, Part II
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    eNews Survey

    NEHGS eNews started publication in 1999 as HisGen Highlights. Since then, the electronic newsletter has undergone many changes to its content and format. Periodically we like to get feedback from our readers about eNews to assist the staff in producing a valuable pulication for you. Please take a moment to fill out this brief survey to help us in planning the future of eNews.

    Take the survey now!

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    New on
    New England Historical and Genealogical Registerdatabase
    Just added: articles from 1995

    The Society is pleased to announce that we have added another year of articles to the Register database, with more than 400 additional pages of the highest-quality research on New England families. This was a banner year for the Society as it celebrated it's Sesquicentennial Anniversary, and this volume includes special remarks from Ralph Crandall. It is also filled with compiled genealogies, such as "Thomas Varney of Boston and Some of His Descendants"; record transcriptions, such as "The Lost First Book of Barrington (R.I.) Records"; book reviews; and other valuable information.


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    Register for 2006 FGS/NEHGS Conference Online

    Several weeks ago the Federation suspended its online conference registration to implement a new system. The process took slightly longer than anticipated, but FGS has now launched a new online registration system for Birthplace of American Genealogy, the 2006 FGS/NEHGS Conference to be held August 30-September 2, 2006, in Boston. Participants can view details on each of the almost 350 sessions being offered during the conference, including workshops and meals as well as the regular sessions. Experts from Canada, England, Ireland, and Scotland will join our American professionals as part of the program.

    This new registration system offers many new features, including the ability to make changes to your registration online at any time. All registrants will be sent a confirmation email with links to review and modify their registration whenever they like. In addition to credit cards, the system allows individuals to register and pay by check as well. You can view details about the conference and register online at

    If you have any questions about registration, please contact the Federation at or 1-888-347-1500.

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    New Research Article on

    Genetic Diseases of the Blood
    Dr. Edwin M. Knights, Jr.

    There are many genetic diseases affecting the blood, some of which were among the first to be recognized as being familial and even involving royal families. Linus Pauling is credited with recognizing the molecular nature of sickle cell anemia. Diagnosis can be complicated by the presence of more than one of these diseases in the patient, plus multiple genetic atypicalities, so detailed family medical history is particularly valuable. We have provided brief summaries and some pertinent references, but there is voluminous literature about each of these if you seek more details, and there are many web sites sponsored by charitable foundations anxiously waiting to provide you with every aspect of the disorder.

    NEHGS members can read the entire article at

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    From the Volunteer Coordinator
    by Susan Rosefsky

    As our work for the website expands, we need volunteers who can proofread, index and/or format data into an Excel spreadsheet. This work is for the records that will be added to our website databases, and currently includes vital records from various Massachusetts towns.

    Volunteers must have a computer with:

    • Microsoft Excel or other spreadsheet software
    • A computer that can download a fairly large file (e.g. 1.5 MB image files)
    • A high speed connection so that files can be downloaded in a reasonable time
    • A CD-RW drive is helpful but not necessary

    Volunteers need to be comfortable editing spreadsheets. Instructions are provided by staff via email and phone. If you would enjoying helping with this work, please contact me at

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    Used Book Sale

    The NEHGS Sales department has an overstock of certain used book titles that have been priced to move. Most of these titles have been used in the NEHGS research library and have recently been replaced with newer copies. Others have been donated by other local libraries and NEHGS patrons, and have been available only at the Family Treasures book store at our Boston facility. Prices have been cut by as much as 80% on over 150 separate titles. We have a very limited quantity of many of these titles and orders will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. The sale price is good only for the titles we already have in stock. For a full list of titles available during this Used Book Sale, along with information on how to order, please send an email with the words "USED BOOKS" in the subject line to

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    Stories of Interest

    Christopher Columbus rests in Seville, Spain
    DNA evidence has confirmed that the body of Christopher Columbus rests in a tomb in the cathedral in the town of Seville. Read about this fascinating discovery at

    Dear Abby and DNA Testing
    Abigail Van Buren gives advice to a mother whose husband wants to do DNA testing on their son for genealogical purposes. Find out why the mother is so worried at;_ylt=AuJkZLtAbgDxlTBSgMexYZXNbbUC;_ylu=X3oDMTBjMHVqMTQ4BHNlYwN5bnN1YmNhdA--.

    Jewish Roots in Great Britain
    A new book published by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain aims to help the community trace their Jewish roots within the United Kingdom. Details about the book are available at

    Wampanoag Tribe Gets Federal Recognition
    The 1,463 members of the tribe got word Friday that the Bureau of Indian Affairs was ending its decades-long fight and granting the tribe’s wishes. Read more about it at

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    Upcoming Education Programs

    What's New in Essex County Research: A Day of Personal Research and Consultations with NEHGS Genealogists
    May 20, 2006 at the Phillips Library of the Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem
    Bring your family charts as well as your Salem and Essex County problems to NEHGS staff experts David Dearborn and Christopher Child for their advice and opinions. Our one-day program begins with the lecture "A Cornucopia of Records: Researching Essex County Ancestors," includes time for your personal research and consultations with our expert genealogists, and concludes with a time for sharing the day’s success stories.

    Registration Fees: $95 for members, $115 for non-members.

    Visit for more details.

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    Spotlight: Michigan Online Resources
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    If your family history research takes you to Michigan, you may want to visit some or all of these web sites.

    Michigan County Histories
    The Michigan County Histories project is a collaborative effort of Michigan’s Council of Library Directors. The website contains 170 county histories from the collection of 192 histories published during the period from 1866 to 1926. You can run keyword searches or browse through the digital images of the individual histories.

    University of Michigan Image Source
    This website has links to numerous photo archives. The local history section has several listings of interest. Among these are:

    Ypsilanti Historical Museum and Archives
    Digital Photo Archives Project
    Click on the link to the Digital Photo Archives Project on the home page of the Fletcher-White Archives of the Ypsilanti Historical Society. The photographs in this online collection come from the photographic holdings of the Archives of the Ypsilanti Historical Society. The archives contain approximately 5,000 photographs dating from the 1850s to the present, which will eventually be a part of the online collection. The image database can be searched or browsed. Your searches can be limited by collection and you can search by subject terms, description, caption, year, period, photograph number, and photographer.

    Saline Area Historical Photos
    Saline Area Historical Photos comprise a searchable collection of more than 700 photographs of Saline, Michigan for the period from the 1860s to the late 1900s. The collection includes photographs of historic homes, buildings, people, and many other subjects. There is also a link from this page to a brief history of Saline. You also can browse through the collection. Click on the thumbnail to view an enlarged image; click on the Description button to view a complete description of the photograph.

    Saline Valley Farms Photos
    The Saline Valley Farms Photos comprise another searchable collection of Michigan photographs. In this collection you will find 150 photographs of an “economic experiment in cooperative living and farming" that was developed by Harold Gray in 1932. The farm thrived until 1953. You can browse through the collection, as well.

    The Making of Ann Arbor
    This website, focused on the history of the Ann Arbor community, was developed collaboratively by the Ann Arbor District Library, the Bentley Historical Library, and the University of Michigan’s Digital Library Production Services. Ann Arbor’s history is told through texts, maps, postcards, and images of historic buildings on this web site.

    Pictorial History of Ann Arbor: 1824-1974
    The Pictorial History of Ann Arbor, 1824-1974 (Edited by J. Fraser Cocks, III, c. 1974, Michigan Historical Collections, The University of Michigan) is the source of this collection, which contains more than 400 historical images of Ann Arbor for the period from 1824 to 1974. The images can be keyword searched or browsed. In addition, the volume’s text, which has been transcribed and uploaded to the site, can be searched and browsed.

    By clicking on the Texts link in The Making of Ann Arbor banner you can access the 17 volumes currently found in this section. They are either in digital format or have been transcribed and uploaded to the site. The text section will eventually include local histories, city directories, and atlases, and will be keyword searchable.

    The Maps collection comprises local and county area historical maps. You can browse all maps or search the collection. The more than 80 maps and drawings from the Combination Atlas Map of Washtenaw County, Michigan: Compiled, drawn and published from personal examinations and surveys by Everts & Stewart (c. 1874, 1895, Everts & Stewart) can also be searched separately.

    The Ann Arbor Postcard collection contains more than 260 images of postcards of the area covering the period from 1890 to the present.

    Historic Buildings
    The Historic Buildings collection includes more than 200 photographs and historical information on houses, churches, commercial buildings and other buildings located in Ann Arbor. You can search the Historic Buildings Text and Images or browse through the image collection.

    Visit these web sites to explore your Michigan ancestry.

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    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.

    April 12, Wednesday, 10:00 a.m., David Lambert
    Getting the Most from NEHGS Databases
    With more than 110 million records in our databases, NEHGS is the place to search for your ancestors. Please join NEHGS Online Genealogist David Allen Lambert as he explores the tremendous breadth of the NEHGS databases that are available to members online at

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    From the Online Genealogist

    “I have enjoyed searching through Massachusetts city and town directories for my nineteenth century research. What should I do when looking for my families in small towns without a published city directory?"

    My suggestion would be to contact the town public library and historical society. Ask for a list of directories they have in their local holdings. Some directory publishers covered multiple smaller towns in a single volume, making them more difficult to locate. It is possible the local repository may have a sole copy of a volume that is not online or on microfiche. You will also want to look for Persons Listed books or old poll tax lists. These are listings of eligible voters.

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    Research Recommendations

    The Value of Tax Lists, Part II
    by David Curtis Dearborn, FASG
    (continued from eNews #265)

    At the very least, tax records will show that your ancestor was living in town during a certain year. Depending on the amount of detail included in the roll, you might discover how much land your ancestor owned, whether any of it had been “improved” (that is, cleared and put to some agricultural use), whether it contained a house or other buildings, how many taxable farm animals such as horses, cows, sheep and oxen he owned, and how his wealth compared with his neighbors. If the annual tax rolls survive for many years, it may be possible to find your ancestor on the list year after year. His appearance or disappearance from the rolls probably indicates about when he moved in or out of town. This is not always the case, however, as seen in the following example.

    Nathan Dearborn was an early inhabitant of the town of Bartlett, New Hampshire, at the foot of the White Mountains. His name appears on the annual tax rolls of the town beginning in 1812, though he owned property there as early as 1789. According to a later lawsuit brought by his daughter, though, the deed itself apparently was never recorded. Prior to 1812, Nathan appears to have been an inhabitant of the neighboring town of Conway. Nathan’s name appears on the annual Bartlett tax rolls from 1812 to 1817, after which his name disappears (he was the only Dearborn to appear on the rolls of Bartlett at this time). The following year the name of Jane Dearborn appears (in some years called “Widow Jane”), and from the description of the property and the amount of tax paid, it is clear that Jane was indeed the widow of Nathan. Jane is enumerated in Bartlett as head of household in the 1820 U.S. Census. When Jane’s name disappears from the rolls after 1828, we cannot be so sure of her fate. Did she die? Did she remarry? (it is possible, but probably unlikely, owing to her probable age and the fact that she did not remarry for at least a decade, if ever, after Nathan’s probable death.) Or did she stay right in town, having given up the family farm, either to move in and be cared for by another family member, or having gone to live on the town poor farm? We don’t know. Still, we have learned several important things about Nathan and his family from the tax records: that he died about 1817 or 1818 (no record of his death has been found in town records, we have discovered no gravestone, and there was no probate on his estate), he lived in town for several years prior to his death, and he was survived by a widow Jane, who lived in town for at least another decade. Not bad for one class of records!

    Tax rolls list only taxpayers, not every member of the family. Usually, the person named is the head of the household, who in most cases is an adult male. Women are listed only when they become head of household themselves, as Jane Dearborn did when she became a widow.

    Tax rolls usually contain one other very important piece of information: the poll tax. Until the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920 granting universal sufferage to women, only free males could vote, and usually only after paying a poll tax, an important source of local revenue. The poll tax holds an unhappy place in our country’s history. Starting in the 1880s, most Southern states instituted poll taxes as a way to disenfranchise blacks (and poor whites), since paying the tax was a prerequisite for voting. The 24th Amendment in 1964 disallowed the prerequisite of the poll tax in federal elections, and in 1966 the U.S. Supreme Court extended this prohibition to all elections, declaring that the poll tax violated the “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment.

    to be continued. . .

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    NEHGS Contact Information

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    Copyright 2006, New England Historic Genealogical Society
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