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  • 2006 Archive

  • Vol. 8, No. 37
    Whole #288
    September 20, 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 in Images of the Manuscript Collection: The Vermont Flood of 1927
    * Name Origins
    * CEO D. Brenton Simons Presenting at Beacon Hill Seminars
    * NEHGS Video Sale
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * Spotlight: Online Resources in Kansas
    * Upcoming Public Lecture Series
    * Stories of Interest
    * From the Online Genealogist
    * Research Recommendations: Using Google for Locality Information
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    New Database on New

    Vital Records of Brookline, Massachusetts to the Year 1849

    Brookline, Massachusetts was officially incorporated as a town on November 13, 1705. Prior to that time, Brookline was a part of Boston known as “Muddy River.”

    This addition to our “Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850” database includes the records of 2,269 births, 1,909 marriages, and 1,541 deaths. It was originally published by the Essex Institute in 1929. The original volume is available in our Research Library, call number F74/B9/B74 1929.

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    New in Images of the Manuscript Collection: The Vermont Flood of 1927

    The newest addition to our online gallery of interesting images is a collection of photographs of the Vermont Flood of 1927. Photographs of the St. Johnsbury Flood, 1927 [November 4] Mss A 3113 is a collection of photographs and postcards of the Vermont flood of November 3-4, 1927. Donated to the Society in 2003, the images depict the damage the devasting floods caused to the towns of St. Johnsbury and East Barnet. Included with the photographs are notes written to a relative by the photographer providing a firsthand account of the destruction.

    This exhibit can be viewed at

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    DOROTHY (f) – From the Greek for ‘gift of God,’ thus related to THEODORE/THEODORA.

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    CEO D. Brenton Simons Presenting at Beacon Hill Seminars

    NEHGS President and CEO D. Brenton Simons will be presenting Witches, Rakes, and Rogues: True Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder, and Mayhem in Boston, 1630-1775 for Beacon Hill Seminars, from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon on four consecutive Wednesdays: October 4-25, 2006.

    Beacon Hill Seminars is a membership organization of people who have a vigorous interest in continuing their intellectual growth. It is dedicated to a concept of learning with and from peers. BHS members create and lead a diverse group of courses designed to follow a seminar format of small group discussions and learning.

    For more information visit

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    NEHGS Video Sale

    Get the advice of our experts and consultants in your own home. The NEHGS lectures on tape series continues with topics to expand your research skill set. Videos are standard VHS tapes.

    Finding a Wife's Maiden Name, with David C. Dearborn
    In this video, NEHGS librarian David Curtis Dearborn shows you effective step-by-step methods for deducing hard-to-find maiden names, along with helpful suggestions on locating marriage record substitutes, published indexes, finding aids and more.
    Item SVID-MN1

    Genealogical Writing: Style Guidelines and Practical Advice, with Henry B. Hoff.
    Henry Hoff discusses making choices for your publications-to-be, and he outlines thoughts about structure, style, organization, and presentation. As editor of The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, he also gives tips on what editors look for in a book or an article.
    Item SVID-GWS.

    Getting Started in Irish Genealogy, with Marie E. Daly
    Noted Irish expert Marie E. Daly arms you with advice on how to start your research in Irish American records and successfully move your search to the Old Country to unlock the secrets of your Irish ancestry. The lecture focuses on 19th-century North American sources for locating birthplaces in Ireland using a case study of an Irish Catholic immigrant to New England.
    Item SVID-IRE.

    Jewish Genealogy: A Common Sense Approach to Finding Your Ancestors, with Alexander Woodle
    An overview of steps to take with your collected family data is followed by a broad look at genealogical resources at the local, state, and national level. Electronic resources are presented and a review of hard copy resources and a brief look at international research concludes the video.
    Item SVID-JG1

    Researching Your Union Civil War Ancestor, with David Allen Lambert
    An explanation of local and federal sources details how to find vital records, cemetery records, probates, and deeds. Published and manuscript sources are discussed during this informative and entertaining lecture. This video will assist the genealogist, local historian, or collector of Civil War militaria.
    Item SVID-CWA.

    Upstate New York Research, with Henry B. Hoff
    Well-respected New York research expert Henry Hoff shows you how to explore major sources for upstate New York research, including those of "feeder" areas, particularly New England. He also discusses methods for research.
    Item SVID-UNY.


    Normally priced at $17.95 each, we are now offering them at the spectacularly low price of $10.00 each! Shipping is $4.00 for the first item, $2.00 for each additional item. To order any of these videotapes, please call 1-617-226-1212 or 1-617-536-5740, ext 212. Supplies are limited, so act quickly! Sale ends September 30th, 2006, while supplies last.

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    Upcoming Education Programs

    Witches, Sex, and Scandal in Colonial Boston Walking Tour
    September 23 and October 28, 2006
    This walking tour, led by Maureen Regan and based on Witches, Rakes, and Rogues:True Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder, and Mayhem in Boston, 1630–1775, by NEHGS president and CEO D. Brenton Simons, begins at Faneuil Hall at 10:30 a.m. and lasts for about ninety minutes. Walk in the footsteps of wayward colonial Bostonians — bigamists, accused witches, and assorted black sheep — whose exploits made the city streets tremble. Meet the author for a brief book talk and signing. (Rain date: November 11, 2006.) Pre-register to guarantee your participation. Registration is limited and will be available on the day of the walking tour on a space-available basis only. Please pay with exact change. Fees double after September 15, 2006, for the September 23 walking tour, and after October 21, 2006, for the October 28 walking tour.

    Current Registration Fees:
    September 23: $20 adults/$16 children under 12
    October 28: $10 adults/$8 children under 12

    Visit to register.

    Salt Lake City Research Tour

    October 29 - November 5, 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, Newbury Street Press 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 $1,750 single and $1,450 double. If you are sharing a room with someone not participating in the program the fee is $2,150. Commuters can register for $1,050.

    To register for the Salt Lake City Tour, visit

    For more information about NEHGS programs visit

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    Spotlight: Online Resources in Kansas

    Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library

    The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library has made an obituary index available on its website. To access the database page just click on the Community Resources link on the library’s homepage. This will bring you to the Community Resources page, which offers three searchable databases. Click on the obituary index link to access its search function. The obituary database contains information found in Topeka newspapers for the period from 1906 to 1935 and from January 1, 2004 to the present. This database is a work in progress and, as noted on the website, obituaries are being added for the period between 1936 and 2003 to the online index. Initial search results include the name of the deceased and the date that the obituary appeared in the newspaper. Clicking on the Title link will allow you to access more detailed information, which includes the following fields: notes, publisher (newspaper name), date the obituary appeared, title (Obituary of . . .), abstracts, subjects, and page information. The notes field may include information regarding other newspapers where the individual’s obituary appeared.

    Kansas State Historical Society (KSHS)

    The Kansas State Historical Society’s website offers users a number of online resources to assist them in carrying out their research. In addition, website visitors will find detailed descriptive information about the society’s holdings, including numerous Finding Aids.

    Vital Records
    Click on the Vital Records link to access two searchable databases. The Kansas Biographical Name Index contains biographical sketches and obituaries found in publications owned by the KSHS. At present the information found in this database comes from seven sources: The History of the State of Kansas by Alfred Thayer Andreas with William G. Cutler (1883); Kansas Biographical Scrapbooks; Taps. United Spanish War Veterans, an index to death notices of the members of this fraternal order of Spanish-American War veterans; Journal of the Kansas Medical Society; Kansas State Soldiers' Home Admissions and Military History of Members. c. 1880-1957; The Purple Pinnacle: the Top 40 Athletes in Kansas State History by David Smale; and Kansas related sketches from selected volumes of Who was Who in America, with World Notables. One can also access Kansas Biographical Name Index by clicking on the Individuals link.

    Topeka State Hospital Cemetery.
    The Topeka State Hospital operated from 1872 to 1997. Some of the patients housed in this institution for the mentally ill were buried in the hospital’s cemetery. This searchable database is an index to the 1157 individuals who were buried in that cemetery. KSHS holdings include patient case files from 1872 until the 1960s on microfilm. Relatives of the deceased patients and former living patients can request information from the files, however, only genealogical information on deceased patients may be given out.

    This section provides information about places in the state of Kansas. Via the Counties link you can access brief histories of current and former Kansas counties with a map showing their location and links to additional resources. Through the Post Offices link you can access histories of Kansas post offices. There is a searchable database that can help you find the location of all known Kansas post offices with their dates of operation. There are links from this page to a number of websites with maps of Kansas. They include maps from Cutler's 1883 History of Kansas, Everts' 1887 Atlas of Kansas, and the Wichita State University online maps.

    The Kansas State Historical Society has over 500,000 photographs in its collection on a variety of subjects related to Kansas and Kansans from the 1850s to the present. In addition there are a number online image collections and two Special Projects on the web site. Click on the Online Holdings link to access the photo exhibits. One of the Special Projects is Territorial Kansas Online, which uses personal letters, diaries, photographs, and maps to explore the territorial period from 1854 to 1861 when the status of Kansas, as a free state or slave state, was the center of the debate over slavery. The second Special Project is the Western Trails Project, an extension of the Colorado Digitization Program. KSHS digitized four collections of photographs and other materials documenting various aspects of transportation in Kansas.

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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.

    W.E.B. Du Bois and the Enyclopedia Africana
    October 18, 2006, 6 p.m.
    NEHGS is proud to co-sponsor a lecture by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University, as part of the anniversary celebrations of Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, entitled "Facets of Mount Auburn Cemetery: Celebrating 175 Years of a Boston Jewel." The lecture "W.E.B. Du Bois and the Encylopedia Africana" will be offered at the Boston Public Library's main branch in Copley Square. Free and open to the public.

    For more information about lectures offered by New England Historic Genealogical Society please go to the Education homepage at or call 1-888-286-3447.

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    Stories of Interest

    Many seventeenth-century graves were either unmarked or marked with objects that did not stand the test of time, such as wood. John Johnson died in Andover between 1685 and 1688, but nothing has survived to mark his grave. Read about one desdendant's push to have a marker placed in the cemetery in the North Andover Eagle-Tribune at

    Archaelogists recently announced the finding of the Cascajal block, a slab of rock with writing dating back to 900 BC. It is believed to be the oldest written language in North America. Once translated, will it contain heretofore unknown birth, marriage, and death records or perhaps an ancient census? Read the story at

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    From the Online Genealogist

    While reading a will from 1777 I found mentioned in my ancestor's inventory “in old purse one eleven penny bit.” What type of coinage is this?

    This coin was legal tender in colonial New York and Pennsylvania. It was also referred to as a “York Shilling”. In the latter half of the 18th century it took eight shillings to equal one dollar.

    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 Google for Locality Information
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    The Google search engine offers many tools to genealogists, and it is easy to get stuck in their main search functionality. Take a few moments to use these other Google tools to help identify specific locations, and to garner additional information about them.

    Google Maps

    One can search for any location in the United States and view it. Viewers can also get directions to and from locations. Maps can be viewed as a road map, satellite image, or a hybrid that superimposes the street map over the satellite image.

    Google Earth

    Google Earth can be extremely helpful in finding places anywhere in the world. One can search for places anywhere by street address or city or county. The program provides latitude/longitude information and some versions will plug right in to GPS devices. Google Earth Plus and Google Earth Pro are subscription versions of the software that provide additional functionality.

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    NEHGS Contact Information

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


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