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  • 2007 Archive

  • Vol. 9, No. 10
    Whole #312
    March 7, 2007
    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
    * Name Origins
    * Autographed Copies of Witches, Rakes and Rogues Now Available
    * Bureau County Genealogical Society [Illinois]
    * Research Recommendations:
    * Spotlight: New Bern-Craven County Public Library [North Carolina]
    * From the Online Genealogist
    * Stories of Interest
    * Upcoming Public Lecture Series
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    New Databases on New

    Enhancements to the Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 database

    Our ongoing project to add images and corrections to our ‘Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850’ database continues this week. 

    This week, we are re-releasing the enhanced and corrected vital records of Carlisle, Georgetown, Groton, and Waltham.  We will continue to release enhanced records on a town-by-town basis as our volunteer team completes the work.  When searching records of these towns, you’ll find an ‘image’ link on the search results page that will display the image of the original VR page.

    We have also added a new “Browse” feature for the VR page images that is accessed via the “Browse” button on the Mass. Vital Records to 1850 page. Page images may be browsed by selecting a town and record type, and optionally entering a surname or page number. For instance, to browse for births for the surname “Smith” in the Groton vital records, select ‘Groton’, ‘Birth’, and type ‘smith’ in the ‘Last name or Page #’ field. Click the ‘Go’ button and you’ll see the first page of ‘Smith’ births. The ‘Previous page’ and ‘Next page’ buttons will move one page at a time, and the ‘First page’ and ‘Last page’ buttons will jump to the beginning or end of the current record type.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    HITTY (f) – Nickname for MEHITABEL.

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    Autographed Copies of Witches, Rakes and Rogues Now Available

    The NEHGS Sales department is offering personally inscribed copies of the hugely popular work Witches, Rakes and Rogues by NEHGS President and CEO D. Brenton Simons!

    By scouring family records and public archives, Simons demonstrates convincingly that the narrow, twisting streets of colonial Boston were also crawling with murderers, con men, identity thieves, and other blackguards. Bostonians may have been prayerful, but they were also prurient—and violent. Added to his extraordinary rogues gallery are several misunderstood women who were tried and executed as witches. Simons even uncovers the truth about the first documented serial murder in Boston history.

    Here are just a few of Simons's tales of Witches, Rakes, and Rogues:

    • Jane Hawkins, Boston’s First Witchcraft Suspect
    • The Inheritance Scheme of Robert Palmer
    • The Kidnapping of the Misses Mackintosh
    • The Duel of Benjamin Woodbridge and Henry Phillips
    • Hanged for a Witch: The Turbulent Passions of Ann Hibbins
    • Murder by Arsenic
    • Bigamy in Boston

    Winner of the 2006 Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History.

    The cost of this soft cover book is $13.00 (plus $4.00 shipping). To order, please call 1-617-226-1212. Prices good through March 19th, 2007, while supplies last.

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    Bureau County Genealogical Society [Illinois]

    During the winter of 1990 a group of people met to discuss the need for a genealogical society in Bureau County, Illinois. NEHGS member Carol McGee was one of those initial leaders. A few months later officers were elected and the Bureau County Genealogical Society started monthly meetings. They started collecting research materials which were kept at the Matson Public Library. The group held its first conference the following year.

    As the collections of the Society grew, there was a need for more dedicated space. In 2002 Carol McGee offered to purchase a building on Main Street in Princeton for the Society’s use, agreeing to donate the building to the organization if they were able to handle it. The Society started renovations to the building and part of it was opened to the public that summer.

    The Society’s collections include:

    • Atlases (1875, 1892, 1905, and 1916)
    • Bible Records
    • Bureau County Farm/Poor House (1858–1959)
    • Church Records
    • Family Histories
    • Funeral Home Records
    • Illinois marriage index project for Bureau County (1827–1903)
    • Local Histories
    • Master Cemetery Index and Supplement, and records of more than 100 cemeteries in and near Bureau County
    • Newspapers (microfilm of more than 20 newspapers)

    Their active record abstraction and indexing projects started immediately. Among their current projects are:

    • Indexing all death information from Bureau County newspapers up to 1916;
    • Updating the Master Cemetery Index covering all the persons buried in Bureau County;
    • Making a substitute for the missing 1890 Federal Census for Bureau Co. using tax records and the 1892 atlas;
    • Copying Bureau County church records from the 1800's to add to the collection;
    • Assisting the Circuit Clerk in obtaining a grant to microfilm Bureau County probate records prior to 1956 and put them on the Internet.

    Carol has been a driving force behind the organization from the beginning. NEHGS is proud to have members like her working so hard to make such valuable contributions to family history. Visit the Bureau County Genealogical Society online at

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    Research Recommendations
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    As genealogists there are two things we accumulate more than almost anyone else: paper and books. Keeping both organized is a challenge. My friend Laura Prescott recently introduced me to a valuable website for keeping my books organized. No small task, since I estimate that I currently have about 1,000 books in my personal collection! helps users to catalog the books in their collection. Users catalog their books together, making it easy to discover others who have the same (or similar) titles in their collections.

    The site was created by Tim Spalding, a web developer who used to work at Houghton Mifflin in Boston. He created it as a program to catalog the books in his own collection, and it expanded from there. It launched publicly in August, 2005, and has grown to include more than 11 million books owned by more than 158,000 users. employs a professional librarian and archivist, Abby Blachly, to assist with “everything but the coding.”

    Signing up for the site is free, and perhaps the easiest I have seen on any site. If you do not have an account, simply type a username and password into the login area, and a new account will instantly be created for you. Accounts are free and allow you to catalog up to 200 books. Users can upgrade to a paid account for $10 per year. You can also sign up for a lifetime membership for $25. You can make your user information public, or keep it private.

    You can start adding titles immediately. Enter a title, author, ISBN, LC number, etc. into the search box to see if your book has already been entered. If someone has already entered it into the system, a single click adds it to your catalog. If not, you can manually enter the information yourself. Images of the books (and of the authors) can be easily added as well. Books can be tagged with subjects to locate them more easily.

    Users can view their library online, sorting by author, title, publication date or tags. There are default views, but users can customize up to five different views for their online catalog. The catalog can be printed, or exported to a comma- or tab-delimited file.

    Another unique aspect of this site is the social interaction. Users can submit reviews and recommendations for their books. There are discussion groups and message boards for a myriad of different categories. can be viewed anywhere you can get an internet connection. One of the most convenient features is a mobile page that allows you to access from your mobile phone. Nothing better than standing in the used bookstore and looking to see if you already have a title. I can think of several instances when I personally could have used that feature to save duplicate purchases!

    I can tell that I will be spending a great deal of time in the coming months trying to catalog my books. I strongly recommend you check it out today. Thanks, Laura, for showing me yet another way to spend my free time!

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    Spotlight: New Bern-Craven County Public Library [North Carolina]
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    The New Bern-Craven County Public Library is one of nine member libraries in The Craven-Pamlico-Carteret Regional Library System. The Library is located in New Bern, North Carolina. Craven County was established in 1712. It was the site of North Carolina's first capital, New Bern. The city is the current county seat. Craven County is located in the eastern part of the state.

    The library’s extensive Local History and Genealogy Collection is housed in The Kellenberger Room. A number of electronic resources can be accessed from the Online Resources for Research link located on the Kellenberger Room web page. These resources include the Craven County Digital History Exhibit, the New Bern Obituary Index, and Photographs, as well as African American, Genealogy, Colonial/Revolutionary Era, Civil War Era, and Military resources.

    Craven County Digital History Exhibit
    The digital history exhibit started as a joint project of the New Bern-Craven County Public Library in The Craven-Pamlico-Carteret Regional Library, and Tryon Palace Historic Sites and Gardens. Its many images include books, ephemera, currency and maps related to Craven County’s history. You can also click on the Digital History Exhibit link on the library’s homepage to access these resources.

    Books Exhibit
    This exhibit includes twelve volumes published around the time of New Bern’s Bicentennial Celebration in 1910. Titles include the 1893 New Bern Business Directory, Illustrated City of New Bern (1914); Craven County, North Carolina and New Bern, Its Capital (1913); Short Historical Sketch of Christ Church Parris by Dita Roberts (1911); and North Carolina Revisited by William Garrison Reed (1887). The volumes are presented both in transcription and images.

    Ephemera Collection
    This collection contains thirty-six items, such as programs, cards, a funteral home fan, a check from the National Bank of New Berne (1887), and playbills. The list, which comes up in alphabetical order, can be sorted by date.

    North Carolina Paper Currency
    This collection contains the images and history of paper currency printed in North Carolina. Users can browse through images by denomination, by year and by vignettes (Animals, Buildings, Military, Mottoes, People, and Symbols & Miscellaneous).

    Maps, Plans and Surveys in the Collection of Tryon Palace Historic Sites & Gardens
    This digital collection contains images from the holdings of Tryon Palace Historic Sites & Gardens, which “focuses on printed maps of the new world, with an emphasis on maps depicting the Carolinas from the period of discovery to the Revolutionary War.” One can browse through a chronological listing of all of the maps and charts in the collection or look through lists by geographic area: maps of New Bern and Craven County, maps of North Carolina, maps of North America, maps of the West Indies, maps of Europe, maps of Asia, and maps of the World.

    New Bern Obituary Index
    This index contains more than 109,000 obituaries and death notices. They cover the following periods: 1751–1883, 1902–1903, 1906, 1908–1909, 1911, 1914–1926, and 1968–February, 2007. The obituaries have been compiled from over fifty newspaper titles, most of which were published in New Bern. Victor T. Jones, Jr. and John B. Green, III, library staff in the Kellenberger Room, are responsible for creating the obituary database.

    Using the simple search feature, the index can be searched by first name, middle or maiden name, or last name. The advanced search feature allows you to search by year in addition to searching by the name fields. There are two Advanced Search options: one returns the results in alphabetical order and the other in chronological order. It is important to note that the date field contains the date on which the obituary appeared in the newspaper, not the individual’s date of death.

    The data fields include last name, first name, middle/maiden name, date of obituary, newspaper, and page and column numbers. The middle/maiden name field may sometimes contain information about circumstances surrounding the individual’s death or the names of the parents of a child who and died. The Newspaper field contains a link to a page where you can learn more about the newspaper in which the obituary was found. Copies of the obituaries or death notices may be ordered from the library for a small fee.

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    Stories of Interest

    We recently reported on a story about Senator Strom Thurmond's ancestors owning the ancestor of Rev. Al Sharpton. Sharpton has now requested a DNA test to determine whether or not there is any familial relationship between the two. Read the full story on CNN at

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    From the Online Genealogist

    I understand there was once a photographic collection in Boston for Civil War veterans called the MOLLUS collection. Do you know how I might find this collection?

    The photo collection for MOLLUS (Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States) can now be accessed via the U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. To search their catalog of over 1.2 million photographic images go to


    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 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 the Most from NEHGS Databases
    David Lambert, March 14
    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

    Researching Immigrant Documents: The Prendergast Letters
    Shelley Barber and Marie Daly, March 17 (Saturday at 10:00 am)
    Come celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with an exciting lecture about the correspondence of an Irish family in the years leading up to the Great Famine. Written by James and Elizabeth Prendergast to their children in Boston, this noteworthy collection of letters offers a rare, first-hand, contemporary account of the Great Famine in Ireland. Boston College Burns Library staff member Shelley Barber and NEHGS Library Director Marie Daly will discuss the recently published book, The Prendergast Letters: Correspondence from Famine-Era Ireland, 1840–1850. Shelley Barber will discuss her significant work in transcribing and interpreting the letters, and will describe the Prendergast origins in County Kerry, Ireland. Marie Daly will present a fascinating account of the Prendergast family and their descendants in Boston. She will also review sources for descendant research in New England.

    Future programs for the first quarter of 2007 include:
    March 21, Martin Hollick, New Englanders in the 1600s
    March 28, Rhonda McClure, Using Your Computer for Genealogical Analysis

    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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    Upcoming Education Programs

    Each year the Society presents a large number of lectures, seminars, and tours for genealogists. The following major programs will be held March-November 2007:

    Writing Your Family History: Organizing Your Material and Getting Started
    Saturday, March 31, 2007 (Seminar in Boston)
    It is a constant refrain: genealogists love the ancestral search but often find the distillation of their hard work unappealing -- and so they end up missing out on what can be the enjoyable experience of writing up their results. Join expert NEHGS consultants for a one-day seminar addressing how to organize your material, plan what to write based on that newly-organized material, and then how to "build" your family history step by step. Henry B. Hoff, editor of The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, will speak on the progression from research notes to a written draft, and on what decisions must be made before starting to write. Rhonda R. McClure, NEHGS genealogist, will speak on organizing both paper and computer files. Helen Schatvet Ullmann, associate editor of the Register, will show how to use Microsoft Word to compose a family history, step by step.
    Registration fee: $95

    For more information, or to register, please visit

    Genetics and Genealogy Saturday, April 21, 2007
    Seminar in Boston
    Join us for this day-long seminar with noted genealogist Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, who will give four lectures. Her topics will include tracing your roots with DNA, exploring genetic genealogy options, challenging cases, and the struggle to find the real Annie Moore (the first immigrant to the United States via Ellis Island).

    For more information, or to register, please visit

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

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

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

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

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

    For more information about NEHGS programs visit or email

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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 2007, New England Historic Genealogical Society
    101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

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