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  • 2006 Archive

  • Vol. 8, No. 50
    Whole #301
    December 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.

    * Happy Holidays from NEHGS
    * New on
    * Name Origins
    * Volunteers Needed for Indexing Project
    * New Books and Other Resources in NEHGS Library Catalog
    * Research Recommendations: Genealogy at the Holidays
    * Spotlight: Oregon Resources Online
    * Upcoming Public Lecture Series
    * Stories of Interest
    * From the Online Genealogist
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    Happy Holidays from NEHGS

    Whether your tradition is Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or simply celebrating the start of the New Year, NEHGS would like to wish all of its members and subscribers a happy holiday season, and the fulfillment of all of your wishes in the New Year.

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    New Databases on New

    Massachusetts State Census Transcriptions for 1855 and 1865

    Massachusetts took state censuses in 1855, 1865, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925, 1935, and 1945. There are published summaries for most of these, but the actual schedules exist for only 1855 and 1865. Between 1986 and 1992, Ann Lainhart transcribed the records of 71 towns in the counties of Essex, Middlesex, and Plymouth:

    Census results for the following towns are currently available in this database: Acton, Bedford, Billerica, Boxboro, Boxford, Bridgewater, Brighton, Burlington, Bradford, Carlisle, Dracut, Dunstable, Duxbury, E. Bridgewater, and Essex.

    Data for the remaining transcribed towns will be added to this database in the future. The remaining transcribed towns are Georgetown, Groton, Groveland, Hamilton, Halifax, Hull, Hanover, Hanson, Hingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Ipswich, Lexington, Lincoln, Littleton, Lynnfield, Manchester, Marshfield, Medford, Melrose, Middleboro, Middleton, Nahant, Natick, Newbury, N. Andover, N. Bridgewater, Pembroke, Plympton, Rochester, Mattapoisett, Rockport, Saugus, Sherborn, Shirley, Stoneham, S. Reading, Stow, Sudbury, Swampscott, Tewksbury, Topsfield, Townsend, Tyngsboro, Wareham, Wenham, W. Bridgewater, W. Cambridge (Arlington), Westford, W. Newbury, Weston, Wilmington, Winchester, and Watertown.

    The Berkshire Genealogist has published some of the towns in Berkshire County. Microfilms of the 1855 and 1865 Massachusetts state censuses are available at NEHGS, the Massachusetts State Archives, and through the Family History Libraries.

    There are three important features that make these state censuses different from the Federal censuses. First in 1865 is a column that asks whether the person is married, single, or widowed. This can help determine relationships in a household. Secondly, also in 1865, it asks whether a person is a ratable poll, legal voter, or naturalized voter. This can help to determine when someone became a citizen.

    The third feature is that 22 towns in 1855 and 96 towns in 1865 give specific town of birth rather than just state and some give town or county of birth for those of foreign birth. Some of these towns are among the ones transcribed here and a complete list can be found in Ann Lainhart's book State Census Records (HA215 / L25 / 1992), available in the NEHGS Research library.

    The original transcriptions are available in our Boston Research Library.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    DILLIE, DILLY (f) – Nickname for names (e.g. DELIA, ADELIA, FIDELIA, etc.) containing accented –del– syllable.

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    Volunteers Needed for Indexing Project

    NEHGS and are joining forces to index the 1855 and 1865 Boston Censuses using the internet-based indexing capability developed by When indexing of these censuses is complete, both and will offer the ability to search and view this census data.

    NEHGS members and supporters may join the effort by emailing a request for a login and password to

    Before signing-up, prospective volunteers need to have PC or Mac and high-speed (e.g., broadband or DSL) internet connection to download the indexing software and access the indexing materials. Volunteers should also complete the indexing tutorial offered in the indexing “Help” section at, to make sure they understand the process. The process is intended to be as intuitive as possible, but basic computer skills are necessary, and some experience with using spreadsheets is helpful.

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    New Books and Other Resources in NEHGS Library Catalog

    NEHGS has posted the most recent list of new titles added to the library collections. To see if there is something relevant to your research on this October to November 2006 list, go directly to the New Books page at You can also access the list by going to the catalog’s main search page, and clicking the “New Books” link beneath the search box. To view more details about any title on the list, simply click the title, which is hyperlinked (underlined), and you will be taken to the full catalog record. The list is sorted in call number order.

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    Research Recommendations

    Genealogy at the Holidays
    by Michael J. Leclerc


    One of the best things about the holidays is spending time with family members whom we don’t get to see frequently. I recently attended a party celebrating my grandmother’s 95th birthday. Not only did I see aunts and uncles that I see just a few times a year, I saw cousins and their families I haven’t seen in several years. There were of course, numerous questions asked of the family genealogist at the party. It started me thinking of ways to share your family history at the holidays.

    Many of us have piles of unidentified photographs begging to be organized. The holidays are a great time to pull out some of these for family members to see while they are visiting. Who knows, one of them might be able to help you identify your nameless portrait.

    If you have starting writing up your family history, the holidays are a perfect time to start to share the bits and pieces you have learned. A few pages written up about a particular family member or an event that occurred around the holidays that has found its way into family lore can bring enjoyment to a holiday gathering. Make photocopies for all of the attendees, or take a few moments to read the story aloud to folks (just make sure the story does not paint an unflattering picture of the evening’s hosts).

    Do you have older family members or friends who are also interested in genealogy? Make their gift something that will last the whole year long. Give them a membership to NEHGS or another genealogical society, or perhaps a subscription to their favorite genealogical magazine. Many older folks are on limited budgets and would greatly appreciate the opportunities such a gift would bring.

    This holiday season, take the time to enjoy your family, and don’t forget to take a long paper and pen to write down the family stories you hear at gatherings (or to record the events of that evening’s activities). You’ll be glad you did when you find research clues in the casual remarks of family members.

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    Spotlight: Oregon Resources Online
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    Genealogical Forum of Oregon

    The Genealogical Forum of Oregon (GFO) maintains a large collection of materials to assist researchers in tracking their Oregon ancestry. There are two databases on the website, which index resources found in the Forum Library. Click on the links on the homepages to access the databases.

    Multnomah County Marriage Records
    With only 465 square miles Multnomah County is the smallest county in Oregon geographically, yet due to the high density found in Portland and the surrounding cities it contains approximately 20% of the state's population. Multnomah County was created on December 22, 1854. Many of the original county marriage books and indexes are housed at the Forum Library. In addition to indexes, GFO also has marriage certificates (1855–1924), and marriage affidavits (January, 1903–October, 1915) in their collections. An online index to the Multnomah County Marriage Books covers the period from 1855 to 1906. Click on the date range link to access the records for that period. The data fields in the index include surname, given name, spouse’s surname and given name, year, volume and page number. The index for the period from 1855–1874 contains sixteen pages with approximately 200 records per page. Photocopies of marriage records may be requested from GFO for a fee.

    Newspaper Obituary Collection
    The obituary collection currently contains 47 pages, with approximately 160 records per page. The data fields in the index include surname, given name, publication title, date, volume, and page number. In some cases only the name of the deceased has been indexed; in others every name in each obituary has been indexed. This information can be found in the volume column. There is a key to the volume legend on the obituary database home page. Photocopies from the collection can be ordered from GFO for a fee.

    Rogue Valley Genealogical Society
    The Rogue Valley Genealogical Society (RVGS) is located in Jackson County, located in southern Oregon on the California border. Several databases can be found on the RVGS website, including:

    Obituary Index (1953–2005)
    The Obituary index was created from years of obituaries clipped from newspapers by RVGS volunteers. The obituaries indexed in this database come from the following Oregon newspapers: Ashland Daily Tidings, The Medford Tribune, and The Upper Rogue Independent of Eagle Point. The names in the obituaries have been indexed alphabetically by surname, maiden name, and previous marriage name. The data fields include full name, year, volume, and page number. It should be noted that the newspaper title does not appear in the online index. Copies of obituaries for an individual can be ordered from RVGS for a fee. If there is a death notice rather than an obituary, they will endeavor to find additional information in their holdings about the deceased.

    Jackson County Deed Index (1853–1899)
    Digitized images of the Jackson County Deed Indexes for the years 1852–1899 have been collected by an RVGS volunteer and are available in their library. Other volunteers have transcribed the indexes for this online database. The indexes currently found on the website have been indexed by the grantor’s last name. They plan to add those indexed by grantee last name in the near future. They are adding indexes letter by letter and are currently up to the letter I. Each entry includes grantor full name, listed alphabetically, grantee full name, and year. Researchers can use their web browser’s Find function to search for the name of a specific grantee. Photocopies of actual deeds can be ordered from RVGS for a fee of $15. Photocopies of up to 4 additional deeds can be ordered at the same time for $5 each.

    Jackson County Juror List Index (1854–1899)
    The juror lists can be found in the Jackson County Commissioners’ Journals that are housed in the County Clerk’s office in Medford, Oregon. They often included the residence and occupation of the juror, in addition to his name. The juror lists for the period 1854–1899 were transcribed from these journals. The database only contains the full name and Journal page number(s). Alternate spellings of names are also indicated in the index record. Detailed information from the Journals can be requested from the library for a fee.

    Jackson County Death Certificate Index (1904–1927)
    The RVGS currently has in its collections copies of death certificates gathered from local Jackson County records for the period from 1904 to 1927. Alphabetical indexes by year have been made available on the website. The data fields include only full name of the deceased and the page number. Copies of death certificates can be ordered for a fee from RVGS.

    Birth Announcement Indexes (1988–2005)
    Wedding Announcement Indexes (1853–1877, 1889–1907, 1942–1980, 1988–2005)
    Over the years, volunteers have collected birth and wedding announcements from local newspapers. There are indexed volumes of these announcements in the RVGS library’s holdings. The society has begun to upload the indexes to their website. Birth announcements are available in the library for the years 1862–1926, 1961–1975, and 1988–2005. The online birth announcement indexes cover the years 1988–2005. Wedding announcements for the years 1850–1924 and 1942–2005 are available in the RVGS library. The online wedding announcement indexes cover the years 1853–1907, 1942–1980, and 1988–2005. These are simple indexes giving only names and page number information. Again, the newspaper title does not appear in the online index. In addition, the specific year of the event has not been included in the online index. The birth and wedding announcement databases are works in progress. Copies of the announcements can be ordered from RVGS for a fee.

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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.

    Getting Started in Genealogy

    January 6, 2006, 10:00 AM
    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.


    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

    Genealogist Tina C. Jones has worked hard to get recognition for a distant cousin, Oscar Marion. A slave belonging to the Swamp Fox, Revolutionary War General Francis Marion, Oscar's image is included in a Revolutionary War painting that has hung in the U.S. Capitol since 1899. Read about Oscar’s story and his recent recognition in a proclamation signed by President George W. Bush at

    The First Church of Salem, Massachusetts, was founded in 1629. Among the early members of the congregation were both victims and judges in the Salem witch trials. The church is set to auction off fourteen silver tankards, flagons, and beakers it has owned for centuries. Unlike other churches that are selling prized possessions to replace contributions from dwindling members, the First Church is selling these items to raise funds to assist the church in handling the demands experienced by the tremendous growth of the parish in the last decade. Read the full story in the Boston Globe at

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    From the Online Genealogist

    I have been enjoying the Early American Newspapers offered through NEHGS online. Can you clarify what “ult.” and “inst.” in a death notice stand for, and give me an example that clarifies why it is used?

    These abbreviations are commonly found in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century death notices. Let me give you a hypothetical example to illustrate their use and meaning:

    The Patriot Ledger, December 16, 1875

    “In Braintree, John Doe, 28th ult., aged 65 years”

    “In Boston, 7th inst. Mrs. Susan Wheeler, aged 98 yrs.”

    In the case of John Doe his death notice occurs on December 16, and his date of death is the 28th ult., an abbreviation for the Latin word “ultimo,” which translates into “last.” In this case the 28th of last month – November. John died November 28, 1875.

    Susan Wheeler’s death notice also appeared on December 16 and her date of death is the 7th “inst.” This reference to “inst.” is an abbreviation for “instant” and indicates the death occurred within that month, December 7, 1875.

    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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    Upcoming Education Program

    Research Week in Washington, D.C.
    February 25 - March 4, 2007

    Join us for our poplar trip to the nation's capital which offers a wealth of research opportunities for genealogists. Enjoy the benefits of working with our expert staff at the Library of Congress, the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Library, and at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). NEHGS staff genealogists Henry Hoff and David Allen Lambert will be available at these repositories to offer individual assistance as well as scheduled personal consultations each day of the program. Staff from each repository will offer an orientation to review their rich resources. Those already familiar with these collections will receive helpful updates. Participants may combine walking, public transportation, and taxis to get from their hotel to the repositories. Group meals will allow participants to socialize and make new friends; all other meals will be on your own. Join us during this exciting week and advance your research!

    Additional details are available at

    Future programs include:

    Winter Weekend Research Getaway February 8 – 10, 2007
    Tutorial program with research consultations in Boston

    African American Genealogical Research February 10, 2007
    Seminar in Boston (February is Black History Month)

    Research Week in Washington, D.C. February 25 – March 4, 2007
    Lodging: Hotel Washington

    Writing Your Family History: Organizing Your Material and Getting Started March 31, 2007
    Seminar in Boston

    DNA and Genealogy April 21, 2007
    Seminar in Boston

    Research Day at NARA Northeast Region May 16, 2007
    Location: Waltham, MA

    Come Home to New England #1 June 18 – 23, 2007
    Tutorial program with consultations in Boston

    Come Home to New England #2 August 6 – 11, 2007
    Tutorial program with consultations in Boston

    English Family History Research Tour to London September 9 – 16, 2007
    Lodging: Bloomsbury Holiday Inn

    Research Tour to Salt Lake City October 28 – November 4, 2007
    Lodging: Salt Lake Plaza Hotel

    For more information about many other NEHGS programs visit or email Amanda at

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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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