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  • 2007 Archive

  • Vol. 9, No. 37
    Whole #339
    September 12, 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
    * NARA Needs Feedback
    * Get Grandpa's FBI File
    * Name Origins
    * Five Books by Carl Boyer III
    * Research Recommendations: Are you a Good Ancestor?
    * Spotlight: Fairfield County, Connecticut Newspaper Databases
    * Stories of Interest
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    New Databases on New

    Vital Records of Attleborough, Massachusetts to the end of the Year 1849

    This week, we are adding the vital records of Attleborough, MA to our existing Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 database. These vital records were published in 1934 by the Salem Institute.

    Attleborough was originally known as the ‘Rehoboth North Purchase’ and was set off from Rehoboth in 1694. On June 17, 1914, Attleborough was incorporated as the City of Attleborough.

    This database contains 9,000 births, 7,240 marriages, and 3,268 deaths. The majority of these records are dated between 1700 and 1849.

    Page images are also available for this book and may be accessed from the search results page, or via the ‘Browse’ button on the Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 database introduction page. The original four volumes are available in our Boston Research Library, call number F74.L9 L951 1930.

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    NARA Needs Feedback

    The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration is looking for feedback on their digitizing plan. Their Draft Plan for Digitizing Archival Materials for Public Access, 2007-2016, is now available for public comment. They are particularly interested in your comments on collections to be digitized, and their partnerships with Google, EMC, the University of Texas, Footnote, and FamilySearch (formerly the Genealogical Society of Utah), as well as their guidelines for future partnerships. You can view the plan at Comments are due by November 9, 2007.

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    New Research Service Rates

    Michael Ravnitzky has created a free website to assist in requesting files from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Michael has creatively called the website Get Grandpa’s FBI Files. The site provides a form that is easily filled out with your contact information and search request. It will then automatically generate letters that you can print out and send to the FBI to request copies of the files. Visit the site at

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    GEO (m) – Abbreviation for GEORGE.

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    Five Books by Carl Boyer III

    The NEHGS Sales Department is pleased to offer five titles by author Carl Boyer III at discounted prices, for a limited time.

    Medieval English Ancestors of Robert Abell: Who Died in Rehoboth, Plymouth Colony, 20 June, 1663, with English Ancestral Lines of Other Colonial Americans
    This new book is a companion to Weis' "Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists." It contains details of additional English ancestral lines for Robert Abell, who died in Rehoboth, Plymouth Colony, in 1663. It is also of real value to those researching many of the royal and noble English families published in Weis' work. Published in 2001, 344pp.
    Normally $35.00, now $25.00

    Medieval English Ancestors of Certain Americans
    Mr. Boyer treats the baronial ancestry, roughly 1050 to 1300, that is shared by most Americans of royal descent. The accounts of wars, captures, castles ransacked, offices held, and abbeys founded introduces the reader to the wide panorama of Norman/English history from the Conqueror until the reign of Edward I. Published in 2001, 327pp.
    Normally $35.00, Now $25.00

    Medieval Welsh Ancestors of Certain Americans
    This pioneering work responds to a tremendous need. So many genealogists trace lines to medieval England but give up on their Welsh lines. Unfamiliarity with the language, the naming system, the geography and history of Wales causes many to abandon the search. In addition to biographies and history, this book has a list of more than 95 key figures in Welsh history. Data cross references to the Medieval English Ancestors books. Published in 2004, 431pp.
    Normally $40.00, Now $27.50

    Ancestral Lines From Maine to Virginia
    Nine years of research culminates in this work, which covers fifty seven families in The Netherlands, England, Ireland, France, Germany, Ohio, Missouri, California and the Eastern seaboard. Published in 2003, 247pp.
    Normally $25.00, Now $17.50

    Ancestral Lines, Third Edition, 206 Families in England, Wales, the Netherlands, Germany, New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania
    This massive work deals primarily with families centered on Rehoboth, Massachusetts (50); Portsmouth and Block Island, Rhode Island (31); Albany and early New York City, New York (26); and Chester Co., Pennsylvania (19). Some of the covered families have been the subject of much new research. It includes extensive citations, a bibliography, and name and place indexes. Published in 1998, 960pp.
    Normally $70.00, Now $50.00.

    To order, please call 617-226-1212. Shipping is not included.

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    Research Recommendations

    Are you a Good Ancestor?
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    Eric Sager, professor of History at the University of Victoria, has written an excellent opinion piece for the Globe and Mail on the 2006 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada, the governmental body responsible for conducting the census and tabulating data, earned a troubling reputation with genealogists and historians after their efforts to destroy the 1911 census without releasing it to the public. Their refusal to release the 1911 census records to the archives prevented genealogists from using the information for years after it should have been accessible.

    Seven years ago, the Expert Panel on Access to Historical Census Records determined that census data is not sensitive, and that even the information that might be considered sensitive (such as income levels) would lose its sensitivity as time passed. The 1911 census records were eventually ordered opened, and Statistics Canada was forced to release the material. In 2006 they ensured that the census would provide information on only slightly more than half of the population of Canada to future researchers.

    Statistics Canada has created additionial problems where, as Sager puts it, "we have now denied to our descendants the same right to history that we grant ourselves." Against the recommendations of the panel, they implemented a check-off system for the 2006 census. This system required Canadians to authorize release of their information in 92 years. 44% of those who filled out census forms did not authorize the release. Although none of us today will be around to witness it, I wonder what will happen in 2098 when their descendants wish to access the information? You can read Professor Sager’s excellent article at

    This story brings up a salient point for all of us. How often in our daily lives do we fill out information in forms? Will that information still be around in the future? And will it be accessible to our descendants?

    What records do we use to place an individual in a locality? Land records, city and telephone directories and drivers license records can often help. I do not own property. I have not had a land-line telephone since 2000. Like many of my city-dwelling friends, I haven’t driven a car since moving to Boston. (I heard that audible gasp from those of you living in rural areas, but trust me that it is different when you live in a city.) For most of the almost two decades of my residence in Boston, the major record of my existence is my voter registration record, carefully renewed each year.

    As you move through your daily life, think once in a while about what records you are leaving for your descendants. Do you fill out all of the information in government forms, even the non-mandatory ones? Have you made provisions for your genealogical research? While passing it on to family members is wonderful, consider donating it to an archival repository that will carefully preserve the materials and ensure that they can be accessed by many future generations of the family. And make sure you leave a nice, wide trail of government and private records in your path for your descendants to discover.

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    Spotlight: Fairfield County, Connecticut Newspaper Databases
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    Fairfield County is located in the southwestern corner Connecticut. The county's largest cities are Bridgeport, Stamford, Danbury, and Norwalk.

    Wilton Bulletin Obituaries Index

    Wilton is located in the western part of the Fairfield County, not far from New York City. Researchers will find the Wilton Bulletin Obituaries Index on the Wilton Library Association’s website. The database covers the period from January 1937 through September 2005. You can search the database by date and by name (“Last name, First name”). The data fields include the deceased’s full name, the date on which the obituary was published, and the page on which the obituary appeared. Enter the last two digits of a year to view a complete list of the obituaries appearing the newspaper in a particular year. Full-text obituaries for the period beginning September 3, 2003 can be found on The Wilton Bulletin website. Click on the link on the search page to access them.

    Obituaries from The Ridgefield Press
    Ridgefield is also located in the southwestern part of Fairfield County. It is just north of the town of Wilton and borders the state line with New York.

    Since spring 2000, The Ridgefield Press has placed full-text obituaries online. Currently, you can view the complete obituaries of current and former Ridgefield residents that appeared in the newspaper between mid-2000 and mid-2005 free of charge. Later obituaries can be found in the newspaper’s “Archives” on its website. There is a small fee for the obituaries in the “Archives.”

    The website also has an online obituary index that includes the period from 1875 to 1999. Volunteers from the Ridgefield Library compiled the entries for this alphabetical index from obituaries and death notices that appeared in the newspaper. The data returned includes last name, first name, year of birth, and date on which the obituary appeared in the newspaper (Press Date). The text from these obituaries is not online. It is, however, possible to order a photocopy for a small fee, which varies according to whether the image is available on paper or microfilm.

    Fairfield Citizen News Index
    Fairfield is located in southern Fairfield County on Long Island Sound. The Fairfield Public Library has two indexes to the Fairfield Citizen News for most years from 1984 through 2004. The index is in PDF format, and contains information from the main section of the newspaper. Some years of the obituary index are in html format and others are in PDF format. The data fields in the index are last name, first name, the date of newspaper, page number, and column number. You will need to download free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the PDF files.

    Norwalk Hour Newspaper Index
    The city of Norwalk is also located on Long Island Sound, and is part of the New York metropolitan area. The Norwalk Public Library System has placed online cumulative birth, marriage, and death indexes from the Norwalk Hour for the period from 1983 to the present. They are in PDF format. You will need to download free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these files. They have provided a link on the Adobe site for your convenience. The alphabetical files are large. They are keyword searchable. You can use the FIND button under the Edit menu to search through them. The search results include full name, the date on which the obituary appeared in the Norwalk Hour, and page information. Maiden names are also included in records. The newspapers are available on microfilm at the Norwalk Public Library. You can call 203-899-2780 X109 or email for assistance.

    In addition, there is a general index to the Norwalk Hour for the period from April 1983 through May 2003.

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    Stories of Interest

    NEHGS staff genealogist Christopher Challender Child was interviewed for a story on the ancestry of Barack Obama recently published in the Chicago Sun Times. Get the details at,CST-NWS-otreemain09.article.

    Steven Pinker is a Canadian-American professor of psychology at Harvard University. He wrote the cover feature for the August 6 edition of The New Republic — Strangled by Roots: The Genealogy Craze in America — and posted it on the internet. You can read the story at

    Genealogists are becoming more familiar with, a valuable resource for historical and genealogical research. Reporter Tom Harvey recently did an interesting story on them in The Salt Lake Tribune. You can read more about their work at

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    Upcoming Education Programs

    Each year the Society presents a number of dynamic lectures, seminars, and tours for genealogists and the general public. Programs are held at 101 Newbury Street unless otherwise indicated.
    The following programs will be held September–October 2007:

    Lost Houses of Scotland
    September 18, 2007, 6:00 p.m.
    Join NEHGS for a special program hosted by The Royal Oak Foundation featuring Ian Gow, Curator of the National Trust for Scotland. Mr. Gow will present his new book Lost Houses of Scotland, a discussion about the country’s most important lost houses and the 20th century as an era of destruction. For more information please visit

    A Celebration for the 250th Anniversary of the birth of the Marquis de Lafayette
    September 24, 2007, 6:30 p.m.
    In conjunction with members of the French Heritage Society, Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati, the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of New Hampshire, and the Consulate General of France in Boston, NEHGS will co-host a talk by author James R. Gaines, former editor of Life, People, and Time magazines. Mr. Gaines will present his new book “For Liberty and Glory: Washington, Lafayette, and Their Revolutions.” The presentation will be followed by a book signing and reception. A minimum $25 donation is requested.
    To RSVP with your donation, please call Ryan Woods at 617-226-1226.

    NEHGS Comes West
    September 26, 2007
    Join NEHGS President and CEO D. Brenton Simons and California Genealogical Society (CGS) President Jane Lindsey, along with Online Genealogist David Allen Lambert, for a one-day conference devoted to helping you find your New England ancestors. The conference will take place at the historic Scottish Rite Center in Oakland, California. Learn more at

    What’s New in New England Research?
    October 4, 2007
    The Fiske Genealogical Library in Seattle, Washington will host a one-day seminar on New England resources featuring NEHGS President and CEO D. Brenton Simons and Genealogist of the Newbury Street Press Christopher C. Child. For more information, or to register, please contact the Fiske Library at 206-328-2716 or visit

    Boston Discovers Boston: 17th-Century Treasures
    October 13, 2007, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
    NEHGS and The Partnership of the Historic Bostons (PHB) will present a free one-day seminar featuring the history and treasures of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The seminar will include discussion and display of original books and documents from the officers of the Mass. Bay Colony; participants will also learn the unique historical connection between Boston, Massachusetts and Boston, Lincolnshire, England. To register, please call Ryan Woods at 617-226-1226 for more information.

    The Naked Quaker
    October 17, 2007, 6:30 p.m.
    Award-winning author and popular contributor to New England Ancestors Diane Rapaport will present an engaging look at her forthcoming book, The Naked Quaker: True Crimes and Controversies from the Courts of Colonial New England. As a lawyer and historian, Ms. Rapaport provides a unique and revealing perspective on the underside of Puritan life. The presentation will be followed by a book signing and reception.

    Great Migration Study Project One-Day Seminar
    October 20, 2007, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
    To mark the publication of The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England: 1634-1635, Volume V, M-P, NEHGS will host a one-day seminar with the director of the Great Migration Study Project, Robert Charles Anderson, who will speak on new developments in the project. Registration fee $95. Please call Ryan Woods at 617-226-1226 for more information.

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

    For more information about NEHGS programs, visit or email

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    NEHGS Contact Information

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

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