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  • 2007 Archive

  • Vol. 9, No. 19
    Whole #321
    May 9, 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
    * NEHGS Memorial Day Closures
    * In Memoriam
    * Handwriting Becoming Obsolete?
    * Name Origins
    * NEHGS at 2007 NGS Conference
    * Research Recommendations: – Connecticut's Research Engine
    * Spotlight: The Itawamba Historical Society, Mississippi
    * From the Online Genealogist
    * Stories of Interest
    * Upcoming Public Lecture Series
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    New Databases on New

    Boston Deaths, 1700-1799

    In 1999, NEHGS published Boston Deaths, 1700-1799 by Robert J. Dunkle and Ann S. Lainhart. This two-volume, 1,136 page work contains 41,880 records, including duplicate reports of deaths from different sources. Over 320 different sources are cited.

    From the introduction:

    “During the 18th century, the Boston town clerk did not keep records of deaths. There are numerous sources in which death and burial records can be found: newspaper obituaries and death notices, church records, sexton’s burial bills, private diaries, published Bible records, vital records of other Massachusetts towns, manuscripts at Boston City Hall Archives and the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and cemetery records. While much of this material is in print, it can take an enormous amount of time and effort to search all the possibilities. The purpose of this book, and the companion volume on Boston cemeteries, is to save the researcher time by identifying the source or sources in which the death of a particular person may be found.”

    “This book is primarily a reference work to allow researchers to easily find death records, notices, and obituaries. We include the pertinent information, if given, from each source: name of deceased, date of death, and the code for the source. Some additional biographical information or details on the death may be found in the original sources. There are duplicates of many entries, especially well known people, but we present them all since there may be different or contradictory information from the different sources. In some cases we have the death date, the burial date, and the date of the death notice from a paper for one individual.”

    These two volumes are also available in our Boston Research Library, call number F73.25 D86 1999 V1 & V2.

    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 New Braintree, Northboro, Rockport, Tewksbury, and Weymouth.  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.

    Also, be sure to try the “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 Arlington vital records, select ‘Arlington’, ‘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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    NEHGS Memorial Day Closures

    The NEHGS administrative offices will be closed on Monday, May 28 in observance of Memorial Day. The Research Library will be closed on Saturday, May 26 in honor of the holiday.

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    In Memoriam

    The genealogical community has lost two great friends. Former Archivies of the United States Robert M. Warner, and Jack Brissee of Wisconsin have both passed away.

    Robert M. Warner was appointed the sixth archivist of the United States in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter. At that time, the federal government was in disarray, and it soon experienced massive budget cuts under President Reagan. He paved the way for the archives to become an independent agency, instead of a branch of the General Services Administration. He also oversaw the release of President Nixon’s White House tapes.

    Dr. Warner passed away on April 24 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, after a year-long battle with cancer. Many obituaries were published for him, including the following:

    John W. "Jack" Brissee died yesterday morning at dawn. Jack has been actively involved in genealogy for decades. Among his many accomplishments were two terms as president of the Wisconsin State Genealogical Society and a director of the National Genealogical Society, a position he was still active in at the time of his death. Jack will probably best be remembered, however, for his tireless efforts to maintain access to records for genealogists. From 1996 to 2000 he served as chair of the FGS/NGS Records Preservation Committee, fighting against record closures around the country. He was the recipient of both the George E. Williams Award for outstanding contributions and the David S. Vogels, Jr. Award for outstanding career contributions to FGS. His presence will be sorely missed. Arrangements are still pending.

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    Handwriting Becoming Obsolete?

    Controversy over the impending obsolescence of handwriting has haunted society since the development of the typewriter in the nineteenth century. Nowadays many worry that the impact of computers will dethrone handwriting. While, as history shows us, this is highly unlikely, it is true that computers have been affecting the quality of our handwriting — especially among younger generations, who are being raised with computers from a young age. Businesses are now sprouting up to assist people in improving the quality of their handwriting.

    The Boston Globe recently examined this phenomenon. You can read all about it at You can find tips for improving the quality of your own handwriting at Take a moment to read these articles. Your descendants will be glad you did!

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    SINA (f) – Often a nickname for ASENATH

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    NEHGS at NGS 2007 Conference

    The 2007 NGS Conference and Family History Fair, entitled Rediscover Virginia: 400 Years of Family History, will be held May 16-19, 2007 in Richmond, Virginia. The event is part of the celebration of the quadricentennial anniversary of the founding of the Jamestown colony in Virginia. NEHGS staff members Henry B. Hoff and Rhonda McClure will be making presentations during the program. President and CEO D. Brenton Simons will be the speaker at the Society’s luncheon on Thursday, discussing News from New England: What’s New at the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

    The Society will have a booth in the exhibit hall. If you will be attending the conference, please stop by the booth and say hello. Staff members will be available to answer any questions you might have about the Society and your membership.

    For more information about the conference visit

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    Research Recommendations Connecticut's Research Engine
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    Connecticut residents rejoice! Your state government has created a great information resource for you. As more and more libraries are faced with trying to serve their patrons through the internet, costs have far outpaced budgets for many institutions. Many are unable to afford the steep fees charged by commercial organizations for access to their databases. The recent move by ProQuest that left many organizations without access to HeritageQuestOnline made it even more difficult for many genealogists to conduct their research.

    The Connecticut State Legislature saw a need, and has funded a special project of the Connecticut State Library and the Department of Education. The project is, which bills itself as “Connecticut’s Research Engine.” provides access to an unparalleled array of information of great value to genealogists – too much to be able to enumerate it all here, but I will highlight a number that are of interest to genealogists.

    Modern issues (roughly the past two decades' worth) of the following newspapers are provided: Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and Washington Post. Also available are historical copies of the Hartford Courant from October 1764 through 1922. The Associated Press Photo Archives provides access to images of major U.S. and world events from 1840 through the present time.

    The History Reference Center provides articles from magazines, journals, reference and non-fiction books, biographies, and documents, as well as maps and photographs.There is also a database of Connecticut History Online and an Encyclopedia of Connecticut History.

    iConn also offers access to HeritageQuest online databases. The reQuest Statewide Library Catalog allows users to search more than 400 library catalogs from institutions throughout the state, and to place interlibrary loan orders.

    The research databases are available only to Connecticut residents, but the reQuest Statewide Library Catalog is open to anyone. Connecticut residents must obtain a library card from their local public library to log in to the system. Visit for more details.

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    Spotlight: The Itawamba Historical Society, Mississippi
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    The Itawamba County Historical Society is located in Mantachie, Mississippi. It operates the George Poteet History Center, the Gaither Spradling Library and the Bonds House Museum. Founded in 1836, Itawamba County is located in northeast Mississippi on the Alabama border. The Online Digital Archives of the Itawamba Historical Society contain a variety of resources for the family history researcher. They include the following:

    Census & Tax Records
    The state tax lists found on the site are for the years 1836, 1837, 1838, and 1866. Each file consists of an alphabetical listing of the personal property taxpayers’ names. The 1836 tax list can be considered the first census of Itawamba County, as the county was formed in that year. In addition there are census indexes for 1840, 1880, and 1900, as well as the 1850 Mortality Schedule. The data fields in the Mortality Schedule include the full name of the deceased, age at death, sex, marital status, where born, month of death and cause of death. The list is organized alphabetically and covers the period from July 1, 1849, through June 30, 1850.

    Civil War Records
    The Civil War Records include service record information and muster rolls for various companies (Mississippi Yankee Hunters, Fulton Guards, Capt. Finley’s Company, James Creek Volunteers) and lists of veterans and pension lists (Civil War Veterans for 1910, 1898 Confederate Pensioners, Register of Confederate Pensions, Confederate Pension List for 1925). Some of these files include background information on the units and the lists, in addition to the names of the soldiers and pensioners.

    Marriage Records
    Indexes to the records from four marriage books for Itawamba County can be found on the website. They cover the period from 1837 through 1856. The data fields in each index include page number, groom’s name, bride’s name, date of the marriage and the name of the individual who married the couple. Use the ‘Find’ function under the ‘Edit; menu to search the files. The books also include the registrations for clergy, which were required in the late 1830s and 1840s.

    Property & Court Records
    The databases in this section include deed books, probate packets, and a short file of police court minutes for 1837-1838. The Deed Book databases contain abstracts of the records for the period 1836-1839, with page references to the original records. The Probate Packets database comprises a list of names found on the covers of probate packets located in file cabinets at the Itawamba County Chancery Court Clerk’s Office. They cover the period from 1836 through about 1900. The data in the index also includes the packet file numbers.

    Individual Probate Records
    These files contain transcriptions of individual probate records for eighteen Itawamba County residents.

    Miscellaneous Records
    The miscellaneous records in the Online Digital Archives include both indexes and digitized photographic collections. Researchers will find Clergy Registrations 1838-1869, the 1838 County Jury List, transcriptions of McFadden Family Letters, and Police Court Records: 1872-1875. Five late-nineteenth-century maps of Itawamba County can also be found in this section of the website. The 1922 IAHS (Itawamba County Agricultural High School) Mirror Yearbook has been digitized and uploaded to the site. The high school is located in Fulton, which is the county seat. The Gaither Spradling Library houses a collection of historical photographs. The historical society is in the process of digitizing and uploading these photographs to the website in the digital Archival Photograph Collection.

    In addition to the indexes the researcher will find historical background information on Itawamba County in General County History and Genealogy and a section containing links to external sites containing information on Itawamba County Families. As noted on the website some of the information found in these files has not been proven by the Itawamba Historical Society and should be used with that in mind.

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    From the Online Genealogist

    When I visited NEHGS last month, I copied pages from the New Hampshire Town Records surname index. I was able to burn these to a CD-Rom so I can make copies of the records when I return this summer. I am unclear as to the meaning of the abbreviations on my index cards, and why some records do not have abbreviations.

    The card index generally has two abbreviations: F.R. and M.R. The F.R. stands for family records, and will often contain a combination of births and deaths for a particular family or individual. The M.R. (Marriage Record) can be either a marriage intention or the record of marriage. A card without those two abbreviations will be specifically town records, including tax lists, polls, town meeting minutes, etc. It is important to examine all references. However if you only wish to view vital records then copying only the F.R. and M.R. references will speed up your research.

    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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    Stories of Interest

    The Cincinnati Post recently did a piece on the Encyclopedia of Genealogy in their Genealogy Tips column. Read the story about this remarkable website, started by Dick Eastman, at

    Travel and Tourism News Middle East, published in Bahrain, recently did a story on a hotel amenity family historians wish were more common. The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa in Edinburgh, Scotland, has added a genealogy concierge service for their guests. Read about it at

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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.

    A Cornucopia of Records: Researching Essex County [MA] Ancestors, David C. Dearborn
    May 23, 10:00 AM

    Mystic River and the Boston Jewish Community, Prof. Ellen Smith
    May 31, 5:00 PM (Thursday)

    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 May-November 2007:

    Research Day at NARA Northeast Region Wednesday, May 16, 2007
    Location: Waltham, MA
    Join NEHGS staff members Marie Daly and David Curtis Dearborn for a day at the National Archives in Waltham. Participants will receive a special introduciton to the collections of the archives, as well as hands-on assistance from NEHGS staff.

    Come Home to New England #1 Monday, June 18–Saturday, June 23, 2007
    Tutorial program with consultations in Boston, featuring Marie E. Daly, David Curtis Dearborn, F.A.S.G., Michael J. Leclerc, and D. Joshua Taylor.

    Come Home to New England #2 Monday, August 6–Saturday, August 11, 2007
    Tutorial program with consultations in Boston, featuring Marie Marie E. Daly, David Curtis Dearborn, F.A.S.G., Henry B. Hoff, C.G., F.A.S.G., and D. Joshua Taylor.

    English Family History Research Tour to London Sunday, September 9–Sunday, September 16, 2007
    Lodging: Holiday Inn Bloomsbury. Features Christopher Child and David Curtis Dearborn, F.A.S.G.

    Research Tour to Salt Lake City Sunday, October 28–Sunday, November 4, 2007
    Lodging: Salt Lake Plaza Hotel. Features Jerome E. Anderson, Maryan Egan-Baker, Christopher C. Child, David Allen Lambert, and Rhonda McClure.

    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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