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  • 2007 Archive

  • Vol. 9, No. 13
    Whole #315
    March 28, 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
    * NERGC Early Registration Deadline April 1
    * NEHGS Offices Closed April 16
    * Name Origins
    * Used Book Sale
    * Research Recommendations: Records of the Poor
    * Spotlight: Resources of the Broward County Historical Commission, Florida
    * From the Online Genealogist
    * Stories of Interest
    * Upcoming Public Lecture Series
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    New Databases on New

    Vital Records of the Town of Shelburne, Massachusetts to the end of the Year 1849

    The district of Shelburne was formed from part of Deerfield on June 21, 1768. On Feb. 19, 1775, Shelburne was made a town. The vital records of Shelburne were published by the Salem Institute in 1931.

    The data from this book are being added to those in our existing Massachusetts VR to 1850 database. Images of the original pages from this book may be viewed from the search results page of that database. These page images may also be browsed via the “Browse” function of that database.

    This database addition contains the records of 2,437 births, 1,080 marriages, and 1,206 deaths. The original volume is available in our Boston Research Library, call number F74/S52/S5.

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    NERGC Early Registration Deadline April 1

    Sunday, April 1 is the deadline for getting the early registration discount for the 2007 New England Regional Genealogical Conference. Registrations will be accepted after that date, but meals, workshops, and other functions may be full and tickets no longer available. NERGC is one of the largest regional conferences in the country.

    An exciting program has been prepared, with featured speakers Patricia Law Hatcher, Cyndi Howells, and Hank Jones. NEHGS staff members Henry B. Hoff, David Allen Lambert and Michael J. Leclerc will be making presentations during the conference. Helen Schatvet Ullmann, assistant editor of The Register, will also be speaking.

    More than forty organizations will be present in the exhibit hall, showing the latest genealogical books, magazines, CD-ROMs, and software. NEHGS will be in booth 27, 28, 37, and 38 in the exhibit hall. Stop by to see us, meet the staff, and say hello to the Society’s President and CEO, D. Brenton Simons. The Society is proud to sponsor the Friday evening banquet, where “Pat Tells All: Who Did What for Whom,” a lively presentation by Patricia Law Hatcher.

    More details, and full registration information, are available at

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    NEHGS Offices Closed April 16

    The Society’s offices will be closed Monday, April 16, in honor of Patriots’ Day. The Research Library will be open the previous Saturday, April 14. Patriots’ Day commemorates the battles at Lexington and Concord in 1775, the “Shot Heard Round the World” that marked the start of the American Revolution. The Boston Marathon is run each year on Patriots’ Day to celebrate that event. The 26.2-mile route runs through eight cities and towns, and the finish line is just two blocks from the Society’s offices. We wish all of this year’s runners much luck in completing the course.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    Sound shifts to watch out for: Initial M to P
    The name MARY obeys the same linguistic sound shifts in changing to MOLLY or POLLY that MARTHA does in changing to its variants PATTY, PATSY or MATTIE, and MARGARET to PEGGY, MEG or MAGGIE (MAISIE too, but this is a Scottish form). The “a” in MARY, in certain areas, was originally more of an “ah” than at present, so the vowel shift is also less than we might now think.

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    Used Book Sale

    The NEHGS Sales department has an overstock of certain used book titles that have been priced to move. Most of these titles have been used in the NEHGS research library and have recently been replaced with newer copies. Others have been donated by local libraries and NEHGS patrons, and have been available only at the Family Treasures book store at our Boston facility.

    Prices have been cut by as much as 80% on more than 150 separate titles, many of which have a limited quantity available. Orders will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. The sale price is good only for the titles we have in stock. For a full list of titles available during this sale, along with complete ordering information, please send an email with the words "USED BOOKS" in the subject line to

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    Research Recommendations

    Records of the Poor
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    Most of us have ancestors who, at one time or another in their lives, experienced financial difficulties. Prior to the founding of the social welfare system we have today, towns in New England took care of the poor. The records of these individuals can shed new light on your ancestors’ lives. The Colonial Society of Massachusetts recently published one of the most valuable works in print for these individuals – The Eighteenth-Century Records of the Boston Overseers of the Poor.

    More than a decade in the making, this work provides valuable insight, not only on the poor, but the system of taking care of them as well. More than 1,000 pages are packed with information of great use to genealogists. The one hundred pages of front matter could have made a book in and of themselves. Editor Eric Nellis of the University of British Columbia composed an introduction that includes detailed information in three sections: The Historical Setting: The Boston Poor and the Records of the Overseers; The Overseers and Their Functions; and The Almshouse and the Workhouse. Nellis does a wonderful job of explaining the origin of the overseers, as well as the difference between the “deserving poor” and the “undeserving poor.” This is followed by an explanation of the editorial method used in transcribing and arranging the records for publication.

    The book then delves into transcriptions of records from the Almshouse (1756, 1758-1800); children bound out (1756-1790); overseers; finances (1738-1769); Samuel Whitwell’s accounts (1769-1792); and miscellaneous financial documents (1795-1800). The carefully transcribed information includes a great deal of information about individuals including dates of admission to the almshouse, births and deaths in the almshouse, bills to other towns for caring for individuals from those towns, and cash amounts disbursed to individuals.

    Six appendices complement the information in the main body: The Massachusetts Township Act, 1692; The Massachusetts Poor Relief Act, 1794; The Boston Workhouse Act, 1735; The Boston Workhouse Rules of Managemetn, 1739; The Boston Overseers Incorporation Act, 1772; and The Lists of Elected Overseers, 1690/91–1800.

    The Eighteenth-Century Vital Records of the Boston Overseers of the Poor is publication number sixty-nine of The Colonial Society of Massachusetts. It is distributed by the University of Virginia Press for the Society. It sells for $85. For more details, or ordering information, visit You can find out more information about The Colonial Society of Massachusetts at

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    Spotlight: Resources of the Broward County Historical Commission, Florida
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    Fort Lauderdale is the county seat of Broward County, located in southeastern Florida. The Broward County Historical Commission’s web site offers a number of online resources for family history researchers, in addition to providing links to a number of area local history societies and organizations. These resources include:

    Broward County Marriage Index
    This index covers the period 1915 – 1937. It currently includes individuals with surnames beginning with the letters A through P. The surnames of brides and grooms have been organized into a single alphabetical list. The data fields include the last names and first names of both spouses, book and page numbers for the marriage record, and the year in which the marriage took place. The transcription was done by the Lighthouse Point Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Marriage records can be ordered from either the Florida Office of Vital Statistics or the Broward County Archives Division, depending on when the marriage took place.

    Broward County Cemetery Records
    The records of five cemeteries have been transcribed to create this database: Evergreen Cemetery, Pompano Beach Cemetery, Deerfield Beach Memorial Cemetery, Lauderdale Memorial Park, and Dania Memorial Park. The records can be viewed with the names listed alphabetically or with the names in the order in which they appear in the cemetery. A brief description of the cemetery and its history are also provided. A diagram of the cemetery is provided for your information when you view the index ‘In Order’. The data fields in the index include last name, first and middle names, birth date (year only or complete), death date (year only or complete), date of internment, section and row where buried, comments, and photo name. The Comments field may contain a transcription of the information that appears on the gravestone. Digital photographs of gravestones may be requested and purchased for a small fee.

    Broward County Elected Officials
    The names of the Broward County Commissioners in this database were extracted from Broward Legacy, Vol. 6, No. 1 & 2 and Vol. 13, No. 3 & 4. The data fields includes last name, first name, post office, birth date, death date, place of death (county and state), birth place, place of burial, and additional information for the county for each individual.

    Broward County World War I Veterans
    This database contains information about World War I veterans who either resided in Broward County or were living there when they enlisted. The data fields in this index include surname, first name, birth date, death date, place of death (county and state),service information, and where buried.

    Founding Fathers of Pompano Beach
    This database comprises two groups. The first set contains the families who participated in the vote to incorporate Pompano Beach on June 6, 1908, and the second group contains families found in the 1910 Pompano Beach census. The data fields include last name, first name, date of birth, date of death, place of death (county and state), birthplace, and place of burial.

    Founding Fathers of Fort Lauderdale
    This database contains an alphabetical listing of families residing in Fort Lauderdale when it was incorporated on March 27, 1911. The data fields include last name, first name, date of birth, date of death, place of death (county and state), birthplace, place of burial, additional information, and whether the individual was a veteran. In some cases the first name column contains information regarding a wife’s maiden name, status as first or second wife, name of husband or parent when there are several individuals with the same surname.

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    Stories of Interest

    Former NEHGS Council Member forwarded us a story in The Guardian, a British newspaper, about the search for Myrtilla, an African who died in 1705 at Warwickshire. Barbara Willis-Brown is working to uncover Myrtilla’s story, and what that story means for modern British black identity. Read this intriguing story at,,2038360,00.html.

    Wikis have become very popular in the past few years. Dick Eastman started the Encyclopedia of Genealogy wiki, and most internet users are by now at least familiar with Wikipedia – the online encyclopedia of user-contributed information. Many see one of the biggest benefits of the wiki – that anyone can add, edit, or delete content from any article – as also being one of its biggest drawbacks. Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger is trying to build upon the Wikipedia model and create an even better work. This week he launches Citizendium: The Citizens’ Compendium. Operated similar to Wikipedia, there are two major differences. First, all contributors will be required to sign an article with their name, improving accountability. Second, many articles will be reviewed by experts in the field, and given an editorial “seal of approval.” Read more about Citizendium in The Boston Globe at and visit their site at

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    From the Online Genealogist

    I was looking at a land record that starts with “To all Whom these Presents shall come Greting Know ye that I William Merryfield of Cape Cod in ye County of BarnStable in ye province of Massachusetts Bay.” The document was signed by William Merryfield of Cape Cod. I was hoping you could tell me whether this means that William Merrifield was born on Cape Cod or just that he resided there?

    Thank you for your note. While it may be possible that he was born there, the location on this type of document usually refers to his place of residence at the time the document was created not his place of birth. If you have any further questions please let me know.


    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 at 10:00 A.M. unless otherwise stated. Advance registration is not necessary.

    New Visitor Welcome & Library Tour
    Marie Daly, April 4
    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.

    Bringing Your Ancestors to Life: Using Diaries & Letters for Genealogical Research
    Judy Lucey, Saturday, April 14
    “August 26 1838. Yesterday my dear husband arrived in Fairhaven, today has again, met with his family and friends.” So writes Deidawia (Bowen) Swift on the return of her husband, Hallet Swift, master of a whaling ship, from a recent voyage. Diaries such as these not only offer a glimpse of the past but can bring life to our family histories. Please join NEHGS Assistant Archivist, Judy Lucey, as she presents some of the diaries, letters and journals found in our manuscript collection that can assist you in your genealogical research. The care and preservation of these treasures will also be discussed.

    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:

    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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