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  • 2006 Archive

  • Vol. 8, No. 25
    Whole #276
    June 21, 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
    * NEHGS Creates Ralph J. Crandall Award
    * Massachusetts Vital Records Alert
    * New Research Article on
    * Name Origins
    * Eric Grundset Wins Filby Award
    * Only 10 Days Left for FGS/NEHGS 2006 Conference Registration Discount
    * Upcoming Education Program
    * Spotlight: Online Obituary Indexes at Indiana Public Libraries
    * Upcoming Public Lecture Series
    * Stories of Interest
    * From the Online Genealogist
    * Research Recommendations: Interviewing Relatives
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    New On

    Early History of the Medical Profession in Norfolk County, Mass.

    In 1853, Dr. Ebenezer Alden addressed the Norfolk District Medical Society on The Early History of the Medical Profession in Norfolk County, Mass. That address was reprinted in a 53-page book which is presented in full-text searchable form here. Dr. Alden recounts highlights of the training and careers of many early Norfolk county M.D.s. The book also contains a listing of the 101 members of the Norfolk District Medical Society at the time, including deceased and retired members. The Norfolk County towns mentioned in the book include: Bellingham, Braintree, Brookline, Canton, Dedham, Dorchester, Dover, Foxborough, Franklin, Medfield, Medway, Milton, Needham, Quincy, Randolph, Roxbury, Sharon, Stoughton, Walpole, West Roxbury, Weymouth, and Wrentham. In addition to the transcribed text, the scanned image of each page can also be viewed.

    We are also making a complete searchable pdf copy of this book available for download on the introductory page of this database.

    This book is also available at the NEHGS Research Library, Call Number F72/N8/A43 1853.

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    NEHGS Creates Ralph J. Crandall Award

    NEHGS is proud to announce the establishment of the Ralph J. Crandall Award to honor the distinguished career of Ralph J. Crandall, Executive Director Emeritus, by recognizing significant achievement in the study of family or local history, or other outstanding service to the Society or the fields of genealogy and history.

    The first Ralph J. Crandall Award was given to Gary Boyd Roberts for his significant achievement in all three of the areas mentioned in the description of the award: the study of family history, outstanding service to the Society, and outstanding service to the field of genealogy.

    Gary has been Senior Research Scholar at NEHGS for the past nine years. Before then he was editor of NEHGS NEXUS and director of publications, as well as a reference librarian at the Society since 1974. He is the author, editor, or compiler of dozens of books — and the author of hundreds of articles. Most of these are about “Notable Kin,” the subset of genealogy that he created and popularized singlehandedly, namely, the ancestry of famous people, how you may be related to them, and how you and they may have one or more remote lines of royal descent. His second area of publication has been in the field of American genealogical bibliography, most recently in his book, The Best Genealogical Sources in Print: Essays by Gary Boyd Roberts, Volume One, published by the Society in 2004.

    Gary has been tireless in helping NEHGS members at Come Home and other programs, many of whom cherish his additions to (and deletions from) their charts. His memory for published genealogical material is unmatched. And his knowledge of American, English, and Continental genealogy is amazing.

    He has served the Society in many ways — as an author, editor, speaker, librarian, mentor, fund raiser, consultant, donor, and friend.

    Gary is truly a leader in the field of genealogy — and richly deserves this first Ralph J. Crandall Award.

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    Massachusetts Vital Records Alert

    The following press release was received from the Massachusetts Genealogical Council:

    MGC urges all genealogists who care about access to vital records to act now!

    Legislative bills (H-3642, H-3643, and H-3644, petitioned by Plymouth Rep. Thomas J. O’Brien, et al.), currently pending in the Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee, are being pushed for passage within two weeks. They will close public records that have been open for nearly 400 years as well as the indexes to them.

    We all must contact our Massachusetts state Representatives and Senators to oppose these three (O’Brien) bills for the following reasons:

    The bills call for restricting access to all birth records since 1915 and all marriage and death records since 1955. These records are currently open public records and are the entry point for genealogical and medical history research. Restricting public access to the indexes of these records is unprecedented. It will deny use by all non-governmental individuals: researchers in genealogy, medical history, probate heirs, banks, journalists, and historians.

    Contact should be made immediately. We stopped these bills in 2003 – but now support for them in the legislature is formidable.

    If you don’t speak now, these bills will change the face of genealogy in Massachusetts and beyond.

    MOST EFFECTIVE: a signed letter with your reasons for opposing these closures, using your own words. To view a sample letter for your legislators, click here

    ALSO: telephone calls, face to face meetings, and e-mails.

    SHARE THIS ANNOUNCEMENT: urge your sympathetic relatives, friends, neighbors, and the professionals listed above to do the same.

    Contact information for your representatives and senators is available at:
    your town clerk
    the state house at (617) 722-2000
    The postal address is:
    Representative (or Senator) _______, State House, Room _______, Boston, MA 02133.

    If you have any questions, please respond to Sharon Sergeant, MGC Director of Programs and member of the MGC Civil Records Committee, at, or visit our website at

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    New Research Article on

    Grassroots and Technology
    by Ruby Coleman

    The other day I looked at a birthday cake on which was spelled out in frosting, “XXXX Is Older Than Dirt.” While I chuckled, I also mused that in some respects I am older than dirt when it comes to genealogical research. Without flat out stating my age, it is knowledgeable to friends and relatives that I have been researching ancestors for a long time.

    Grassroots Genealogy
    In 1961 it cost 4 cents per ounce to mail a domestic letter, post cards were 3 cents and air mail could be sent at 7 cents per ounce. If you were writing genealogical letters before 1961 you paid even less. Forty-five years ago telephone calls were still saved for emergencies and close family members. Gradually genealogists began using the telephone to contact researchers and relatives.

    Read the full article at

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    MILLIE (f) – If your untraceable female ancestor whose first name is “Milly” dates from the mid-eighteenth century, consider that she may actually be an AMELIA, PARMELIA, or some similar name with the middle element -mel-. I have rarely seen MILLICENT (except for certain branches of the Lockwoods of western Connecticut and eastern New York) or MILDRED (the formal names most often associated with this nickname in modern times) in VRs of colonial New England.

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    Eric Grundset Wins 2006 Filby Award

    The following announcement was received from the National Genealogical Society:

    The National Genealogical Society based in Arlington, Virginia, is
    pleased to announce the winner of the annual $1,000 NGS Filby Award
    for Genealogical Librarianship. The Filby Award is named for the late
    P. William Filby, formerly the Director of the Maryland Historical
    Society and author of many of the core genealogical reference tools
    that genealogists have relied on for decades. The Award was created and
    first presented at the annual 1999 NGS Conference in the States. It is
    currently being sponsored by ProQuest.

    The 2006 Filby Award was presented to Eric Grundset, MLS, Library
    Director, Daughters of the American Revolution Library. Eric joined the
    staff of NSDAR as Library Director in 1983 and has worked to make the
    library more user friendly and the patron experience an enjoyable and
    profitable one. An avid genealogist, he has published eleven books
    including Research in Virginia for the National Genealogical Society,
    African American and American Indian Patriots of the Revolutionary War
    (2001) and, with Steven B. Rhodes, Genealogical Research at the DAR,
    Washington, D.C., 2nd edition

    A former board member and vice president of the National Genealogical
    Society, he has also served as a board member and president of the
    Virginia Genealogical Society, and as program chair of the 1990 and 1993
    National Genealogical Society Conference in the States. His efforts to
    expand and improve the collection at the DAR library have helped make it
    one of the premier family history research institutions in the East and
    enabled numerous family history researchers to expand their family history.

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    Only 10 Days Left for FGS/NEHGS 2006 Conference Registration Discount

    Only ten days remain to register for the 2006 FGS/NEHGS Conference at the discounted rate of $155. Take advantage of the myriad opportunities available in the Birthplace of American Genealogy. The library of the New England Historic Genealogical Society has extensive collections for not only New England, but New York and the Mid-Atlantic states as well as materials for other US states. The international collections are particularly strong for eastern Canada, England, Ireland, and Scotland as well.

    The educational opportunities abound at Birthplace of American Genealogy, which will be held August 30-September 2, 2006, including the chance to visit with repositories from five different countries outside of the United States. Over a dozen luncheon functions give attendees the chance to network with other genealogists and compare research tips and stories.

    Visit to see the details of the conference and register today to take advantage of the discount rate.

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    Upcoming Education Program

    Salt Lake City Research Tour
    October 29 - November 4, 2006
    NEHGS invites you to join its twenty-eighth annual research tour to Salt Lake City. Participants will receive assistance in their research from our experienced staff genealogists and other recognized experts in the field. In addition, there will be orientations to our tour and to the Family History Library and its computer system, personal one-on-one consultations and guided research in the library with NEHGS staff, and several group meals included in the weeklong program.

    NEHGS staff genealogists David Allen Lambert, online genealogist, and Ruth Quigley Wellner, research services coordinator, will serve as tour leaders. They will be joined by Christopher Child, NEHGS genealogist and Scott Steward, NEHGS director of scholarly programs. Guest consultants include former staff person Jerome E. Anderson and Maryan Egan-Baker. Staff will be stationed on each floor of the Family History Library for scheduled personal research consultations. Participants will be able to sign up for consultations early in the program and there will be plenty of time in the course of the week to confer with our staff about research questions and concerns.

    Lodging will be at the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel. Participants who desire accommodations before and/or after the Research Tour to Salt Lake City are responsible for making those arrangements on their own. NEHGS secures lodging for the program and cannot serve as an intermediary in securing extra lodging. The Plaza can be reached at 1-800-366-3684.

    Registration is $1,450 single and $1,150 double. If you are sharing a room with someone not participating in the program the fee is $1,850. Commuters can register for $750.

    For more information contact us at

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    Spotlight: Online Obituary Indexes at Indiana Public Libraries

    The Garrett Public Library
    The city of Garrett, Indiana, is located in DeKalb County. Garrett Public Library offers an obituary database on its website. The project began in 2000 as part of a federally funded digitization project. The database contains full-text obituaries from the local newspaper, The Garrett Clipper. It can be searched by first name, last name, or date of death. The search results are returned as a list. Each entry contains last name, first name, date of birth, if known, and date of death, if known. If an image of the obituary exists in the database there will be an icon in the shape of a “rolled-up” newspaper next to the record. Click on this icon to view the image. You can also browse through the entries by selecting the first letter of the last name of the decedent. It is a work in progress with new data being added over time.

    Fulton County Public Library
    The Fulton County Public Library has scanned and uploaded obituaries to its website for the period from 1914 through 2004. These obituaries were originally published in the Rochester Sentinel. Wendell C. and Jean C. Tombaugh compiled and published the obituary books from which the database was created. The database files are quite large and may take a while to open, as most of them contain more than 200 pages. The files are available in both PDF and html format. While the html files will open faster, the PDF files can be saved to your desktop for reading at a later time offline. All surnames in the obituaries (not just those of the decedents) have been capitalized.

    Hammond Public Library
    Hammond, Indiana is located in Lake County in the northwestern part of the state. The Hammond Public Library has indexed obituaries from the Times for the period from 1939 through 2005. The index has been compiled by library staff and volunteers. The names are organized alphabetically by year. Click on the first letter of the surname you are researching to bring up an alphabetical list of deceased individuals. The indexes contain varying amounts of information. In 1940 the data fields are minimal and include surname, given name, date on which the obituary appeared in the newspaper, and page on which it appeared. Other years offer the following data fields: surname, given name, age, date on which the obituary appeared, page number, maiden name, and notes. Copies of obituaries can be ordered from the library for a small fee.

    Marion Public Library
    Marion, Indiana is located in Grant County. The Marion Public Library’s obituary index contains obituaries published in Marion’s newspapers for the years 1948 and 1950 through 1959. The alphabetical index is in Microsoft Excel format. Click on the first letter of the last name of the individual you are seeking to begin your search. You can search the database by using the Find option under the Edit menu. The data fields in the database include last name, first name, middle name, maiden name, city, and fields with the names of the local newspapers, which contain the date on which the obituary was published. Copies of obituaries can be ordered from the library for a small fee.

    Edinburgh Public Library
    Edinburgh, Indiana is located in Johnson County. The library offers a searchable obituary database on its website for individuals buried in Rest Haven Cemetery in Edinburgh. It covers the period from 1990 to the present. Click on the Rest Haven Obituaries link on the library’s home page to access the database search page. You can search by entering individual or multiple keywords in the search box. The search results contain the first four lines of the obituary as it appears in the newspaper, the number of keywords matched, and a button to click on for more information. Clicking on the More Info button will bring up the Full Obituary.

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    Upcoming Public Lecture Series

    Our 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.

    June 28, Wednesday, 10:00 a.m., David Lambert
    Researching Veterans from the Great War (WWI)
    Explore the resources available for researching your relatives who served in World War I. The presentation will focus on records relating to the veterans from the United States and Canada who served during “The Great War.” A variety of sources from the local town level through records of the provincial/state and national governments will be discussed. Suggestions for researching veterans outside the United States and Canada will also be discussed.

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    Stories of Interest

    231 years after the battle was over, the Breed family is still fighting the Battle of Bunker Hill. Associated Press Reporter Allen G. Breed discusses the story at

    Reuters reports on efforts to use DNA testing in China to "clear up Confucious confusion" and establish a database of descendants of the famous social philosopher at

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    From the Online Genealogist

    I have seen some entries occurring with maiden names in the Massachusetts Vital Record 1841-1910 Index at Why is that not consistent and where is the maiden name search field?

    Deaths and marriage indexes often, but always, contain a maiden name for married women. Maiden names are searchable in the “First Name” field. Even though the actual vital record may contain a lady's maiden name it is not always searchable. If the maiden name was not included in the original index it would not have been included in our online database. It is unclear why the original indexers in the early 20th century did not standardize the process. Do not ignore an entry based on the lack of a maiden name in the death or marriage index.


    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

    Interviewing Relatives
    by Ruth Q. Wellner

    One of the best resources for genealogical information available to you is your living relatives. Reconnecting with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles can not only be fun, but it can lead to gleaning a great deal of useful information. It will help you put some depth into the cast of characters which is your ancestry. Be sure to ask only questions which cannot be answered with a yes or no. Ask about their childhood, what they remember of their parents and grandparents, where and when they were married and like questions. Ask if they have any interesting documents (passports, photos, bibles, diaries, etc.) languishing in the house or attic. Interviewing family members is the most fundamental way to begin your genealogical search.

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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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