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  • 2006 Archive

  • Vol. 8, No. 17
    Whole #268
    April 26, 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.

    * New On
    * New Online Research Article
    * From the Volunteer Coordinator
    * Coming Soon in the Spring 2006 Issue of New England Ancestors Magazine
    * British Television Seeks American Genealogists
    * Sale on Back Issues of the Register
    * ScotlandsPeople Releases 1841 Census
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * Spotlight: Alabama Department of Archives & History (ADAH)
    * Upcoming "Genealogy in a Nutshell" Lectures
    * Stories of Interest
    * From the Online Genealogist
    * Research Recommendations:Using Newspaper Abstracts
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    New On

    Vital Records of Braintree, Massachusetts, 1643 to 1793

    This database contains 8,300 vital records for Braintree published by Samuel Austin Bates, Ed., in Records of the town of Braintree 1640 to 1793 (Daniel H. Huxford, Randolph, Mass., 1886). The Braintree records that were transcribed for this database begin in 1643 and are contained on pages 627-890 of Volume 2 of that work.

    The original volumes are available at the NEHGS Research Library, call number F74/B6B97/1886.


    Social Security Death Index - Free Access
    Updated through March, 2006

    The SSDI, taken from the U.S. Social Security Administration's Death Master File, is one of the key resources available to genealogists today. It contains the names of those individuals assigned Social Security numbers whose death was reported to the SSA.

    Data is now current through March, 2006. Access to the SSDI is FREE to all who visit This database now contains the names of 76,253,919 individuals, most of whose deaths were recorded after 1965.

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    New Online Research Article

    Before and Between Census
    by Ruby Coleman

    The easy accessibility of the decennial census means researchers often forget other enumerations. While many are not easy to locate, particularly on the Internet, they are still worth the effort of investigating.

    Before the Decennial Census
    Prior to the existence of the federal government each of the original thirteen colonies had their own censuses or lists that will substitute for census. Some of these early enumerations are extant. As with the decennial census, some have been extracted and published and others are on microfilm, Internet and electronic publications, such as CDs.

    Researching Your Mayflower Ancestors Part VI: Proving your line: Preparing lineage papers that will pass the test.
    by Alicia Crane Williams

    When you apply for membership in the Mayflower Society (see Part I of this series), the State Historian will send you a worksheet form with instructions for completing the application. In most cases, the State Historian will have filled in the blanks for the early generations with the information that has already been filed with the society - at least the first five generations as published in the "Five Generations" books (see Part III of this series) - sometimes more from previously accepted lineage papers.

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    From the Volunteer Coordinator

    This week is National Volunteer Week, and I would like to take this opportunity to say how much the staff and members of NEHGS appreciate our volunteers.

    Volunteers selflessly devote their time and talents to projects important to them, and in so doing, they themselves are fulfilled in knowing that they have made a difference and helped others. The following data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics may be of interest to those who currently volunteer, or those who are considering doing so:

    • The proportion of the American population who did some volunteer work for the year 2004-2005 was 28.8% — about 65.4 million people.
    • People close to retirement age comprise about 24.8% of total volunteers.
    • Volunteers spent a median of 50 hours on volunteer activities during the year.
    • Volunteers aged 65 and over devoted most of the time — a median of 96 hours.

    Most volunteers here at NEHGS work from five to fifty hours a month or more — far more than the national average. However, time spent is not the most important factor in volunteer work. Some tasks — such as text scanning — can be performed for only a short amount of time. Other work — such as research assistance and manuscripts processing — can be performed for many hours at a time. All of this work is valuable to the Society.

    This month I requested volunteer help from members with knowledge of spreadsheet creation and maintenance, and the required software and storage capacity. The response was immediate and positive, and those volunteers will help staff process a large number of records for NEHGS website,, thus making these data available to members all over the world. NEHGS volunteers are currently editing the Massachusetts Vital Records 1841–1910 index, which entails visiting the Massachusetts Archives. Other NEHGS volunteers worked at Plimoth Plantation last year on our joint Plymouth Ancestors project ( and enjoyed their time so much that they signed up again before requests for assistance were even sent!

    Some of the Society’s volunteers have assisted us for more than twenty years. This dedication helps NEHGS remain a strong and vital institution, and enables us to consistently provide new and exciting research information for our members worldwide. As our volunteer program continues to grow, we all benefit.

    With thanks from all of us here at NEHGS,

    Susan Rosefsky
    NEHGS volunteer coordinator

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    Coming Soon in the Spring 2006 Issue of New England Ancestors Magazine

    D. Brenton Simons relates the efforts of one family to establish connections to English nobility in Dreams of Castles: The “Lost” Dukedom of the New England Pierponts.

    James Boulden discusses a short-lived English colony off the Mosquito Coast of Central America in The Puritans and Pirates of Providence Island.

    Using genealogical techniques, J. L. Bell analyzes a 1775 letter written in Concord, Mass., in Note from a Doctor: A Story of the American Revolution.

    Helen Hannon interviews the descendant of a North Carolina slave who became a Navy sailor in Researching my Great-Grandfather, a Contraband in the Civil War United States Army: An Interview with William B. Gould IV.

    Henry Stimpson discusses the life of his ancestor in Daniel Stimpson: A Nineteenth-Century Life in Massachusetts.

    Reverend John Douhan and Zelinda Makepeace Douhan relate their tour planning experience and provide tips for others in An Unusual Publication Party — A Makepeace Family History Tour.

    David Allen Lambert provides helpful answers to member questions in New England Online.

    Also in this issue . . .

    • Computer Genealogist: Safeguarding Your Records through Digital Preservation
    • Computer Genealogist Spotlight: An Introduction to Boston Streets
    • Genetics & Genealogy: Interpreting Mutations in Y-DNA Studies
    • Manuscripts at NEHGS: The Henry Carleton Hallowell III Papers
    • Bible Records at NEHGS: The Copeland and Townsend Bible
    • Tales from the Courthouse: The Case of the Rhode Island Runaway

    And, as always, the issue includes news of NEHGS and the world of genealogy, upcoming NEHGS programs and tours, new publications, notices of family association events, genealogies in progress, and DNA studies in progress.
    Subscription to New England Ancestors is a benefit of NEHGS membership. If you are not a member, you may join online at, or call toll-free 1-888-296-3447, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, Eastern time.


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    British Television Seeks American Genealogists

    The following announcement comes from the British television production company TwentyTwenty:

    Channel 4 is making a major new documentary that will follow the compelling journey of an American individual or family tracing long lost relatives from the UK. We are looking for people in the US who think they may have relatives in the UK and vice versa – but whom they have never met or had any contact with.

    The programme will unite the relatives and discover whether blood really is thicker than water. Strong stories and motivation for taking part are essential.

    For more information call +44 207 284 1441 or apply online at

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    Sale on Back Issues of the Register

    Published quarterly since 1847, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register is the flagship journal of American genealogy and the oldest journal in the field. The Register has featured articles on a wide variety of topics since its inception, including vital records, church records, tax records, land and probate records, cemetery transcriptions, obituaries, and historical essays. Authoritative compiled genealogies have been the centerpiece of the Register for more than 150 years. Thousands of New England families have been treated in the pages of the journal and many more are referenced in incidental ways throughout. These articles may range from short pieces correcting errors in print or solving unusual problems to larger treatments that reveal family origins or present multiple generations of a family.

    Normally priced at $9.00 per issue ($36 per year), we are now offering single issues published between 1847 and 2000 for only $2.00 each (shipping included). Register issues from 2001 to the present are still $9.00 each.

    • We will need to know the Month (January/April/July/October) and the Year that you wish to purchase. If you wish to purchase an entire year, please indicate that you want the Whole year.
    • Not all issues of the Register are still available. We will fulfill as much of your order as possible.
    • We will send you the best copies available. Please note that the older Registers will reflect their age in terms of their condition.
    • Price includes standard shipping to US addresses. We will adjust the shipping cost for international orders.
    • Orders will be accepted through May 15, 2006.

    To order, send a list of the Register issues you would like, including Month and Year, along with your name, address and telephone number to, with the word Register in the subject line. Once we have your order ready, we will call you for your credit card number. Please do not include your credit card number in your email.

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    ScotlandsPeople Releases 1841 Census is an official government website offering access to over 50 million records of the inhabitants of Scotland. They recently announced access to indexes and images of the 1841 census for Scotland, adding to their impressive census collection which already offers access to the censuses of 1851 through 1901.

    In addition to the census records, ScotlandsPeople provides access to a great deal of critical information for genealogists, including:

    • Civil Birth Records, 1855-1905
    • Civil Marriage Records, 1855-1930
    • Civil Death Records, 1855-1955
    • Old Parish Registers, Births and Baptisms, 1553-1854
    • Old Parish Registers, Banns and Marriages, 1553-1854
    • Wills and Testaments, 1513-1901

    This website is an essential tool for anyone researching ancestors in Scotland.

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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.

    Come Home to New England
    June 19-24, 2006
    NEHGS invites you to participate in our classic intensive weeklong program Come Home to New England. Research your roots with our help at the extensive NEHGS library, one of the finest facilities for genealogical research in the country. Whether you are a first-time participant or have enjoyed this program in the past, you are sure to benefit from a visit to our library. We hope you will come spend this time with our genealogists and staff as they welcome you “home” to New England.

    Enjoy a week of guided research in our library, personal one-on-one research consultations, morning lectures, and special access to the library when it is normally closed to the public. The lectures will include a tour of NEHGS which introduces first-time researchers to the library and updates long-time participants on the latest resources. This year’s Come Homers can opt to take part in an optional tour of The Bostonian Society’s Old State House museum.

    Registration fee, $720; non-participating spouse, $100. Registration fees increase by $200 per category after May 20, 2006. Register now, space is limited.

    Visit for more details.

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    Spotlight: Alabama Department of Archives & History (ADAH)

    The website of the Alabama state archives has a section with resources to assist genealogists and historians with their research in the state. From the main genealogy web page you will find links a number of state sites devoted to Alabama history including Alabama History Online, Alabama Moments in American History, and the Alabama History Timeline, as well as links to historical and genealogical societies. This Week in Alabama History lists and describes important events in Alabama’s history. The resources also include a number of databases that you can access via the ‘Databases of Newspapers, Maps, Photos’ link on the Genealogists & Historians web page.

    Civil War Service Database
    From the early 1900s until 1982 the staff of ADAH assembled a card file with data related to individuals from Alabama who served in the Civil War. This information was collected from a variety of sources including muster rolls, governors’ correspondence, veterans’ censuses, manuscripts, newspapers, and pension records. Information on Alabamans exempted from military service and those who served in the militia or home guard was also gathered. ADAH is in the process of converting the card file to a database. Currently the data from more than 114,000 individual cards has been uploaded to the web site. This data covers all entries for surnames beginning with the letters ‘A’ through ‘L’. Data is being added letter by letter. Search fields include last name, first name, branch, company unit, regimental unit and company unit name.

    You can access other Alabama Civil War web sites from this page as well. Among the links are Willis Brewer’s Brief Historical Sketches of Military Organizations Raised in Alabama During the Civil War, Confederate Military Unit Histories, and the Confederate Officers Photograph Album. In addition, there is a link to the Florida Confederate Pension Applications website, as many Alabama soldiers moved to Florida after the war and received pensions there.

    1867 Voter Registration Database
    This database, a work in progress, is being compiled from the 131 volumes of the 1867 Voter Registration Records of the ADAH. These volumes comprise “one of the first statewide government documents that record African-American males living in Alabama.” Because these volumes are fragile and unindexed, the ADAH staff began to create the database in 2004. Information and images are uploaded to the website as each volume is scanned and keyed in. Currently all entries for Wilcox, Winston, Walker, and Tuscaloosa Counties have been uploaded. The data and search fields include name, race, county, precinct, election district, and comments.

    World War I Gold Star Database
    Compiled from the Gold Star files of Alabama service men who died during World War I, this database was created at the Alabama Department of Archives & History from information collected during the 1920s. The data found in the individual records varies as it was drawn a number of different sources. The fields in the database include name of the soldier, branch of service, regiment, race, town, county, bulletin information (Official U.S. Bulletin), and other information. You can search by most of the fields listed above.

    Photo Database
    The ADAH Photo Database is by no means comprehensive. As patrons request copies of images found in the archives, they are scanned and added to the database as thumbnail images. You can search the database by name, place, subject, and more.

    Those planning to travel to Alabama to research will find the following finding aid databases useful — Local Government Records Microfilm Database, the Newspaper Database and the Map Database. Click on the Family History link to learn where to find records and how to do genealogical research in Alabama. You should note that you can purchase microfilm listed in the Local Government Records Microfilm Database from the archives.

    Visit web site of the Alabama Department of Archives & History (ADAH) at

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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.

    Wednesday, May 10, Jean Maguire
    The New Millennium: Using the NEHGS Library Catalog
    The recent launch of the Society’s new, state-of-the-art online catalog has revolutionized access to the data in our extensive library collections. Whether you are searching for genealogies, local histories, passenger lists, diaries, Bible records, or other sources, searching the online catalog should be the first step in your NEHGS research. Please join us for an overview and demonstration of this valuable new discovery tool.

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    Stories of Interest

    The US Customs and Immigration Service is looking for feedback about the genealogy program being created to respond to requests for information from family historians. For more details visit

    Save Austin's Cemeteries is working to preserve the oldest cemeteries in the Texas state capital. Read about their work at

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    From the Online Genealogist

    I recall seeing published accounts of former slave interviews. Apparently these were done during the 1930’s. Do you know if I can search these online?

    The interviews are available online from the Library of Congress at

    Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938 discusses the more than 2,300 interviews that comprise the collection. The interviews were conducted during the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project for the WPA (Works Progress Administration). The narratives, which contain photographs of many of the former slaves, were compiled into seventeen volumes and published in 1941 on microfilm as Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Conduct a full text OCR search of the interviews at

    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.

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    Research Recommendations

    Using Newspaper Abstracts
    by Henry B. Hoff

    When using newspaper abstracts, be aware of their limitations. It is always possible the original newspaper has additional information that you should have. Some typical types of newspaper abstracts are the following:

    1. An index of marriage and death notices that may omit valuable information such as the name of the officiating clergyman, the name of the bride’s father, and/or place names.
    2. Abstracts of marriage and death notices that may include only notices — and omit obituaries and news items like a spectacular wedding or a gruesome death.
    3. Complete newspaper abstracts (sometimes entitled “Genealogical Data from . . . ”) usually include notices of estates, runaways, public notices, divorces, letters to be claimed, lost property, and anything else with a name and a date that was not national or international news.
    4. There are also abstracts by categories like runaways, public notices, or advertisements.

    If only marriage and death notices have been abstracted from a newspaper, you may want to look at microfilms of the original newspaper for other genealogical data, especially if your ancestors were likely to have been involved in events considered newsworthy. Of course, watch for misreadings and for missing issues, as best you can. If the newspaper is your only source for a key event, you must get a copy of the original and not rely on an abstract.


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    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

    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

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Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

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