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  • 2007 Archive

  • Vol. 9, No. 44
    Whole #346
    October 31, 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 Receives Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant
    * New England History Festival
    * Name Origins
    * From the Sales Department
    * Research Recommendations: TNA's Paleography Tutorial
    * Spotlight: Resources of The Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS)
    * Stories of Interest
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    New Databases on New

    Vital Records of Marshfield, Mass. To 1850

    In 2007, The Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations granted permission to NEHGS to digitize and present this work. The original was originally published in 1970 and is now out of print.

    From the introduction:

    “Less than one-third of the Vital Records of Marshfield to 1850 have previously appeared in print. These constitute the first 111 pages of this book, photo offset from the literal transcriptions of the legendary George E. Bowman, in the Mayflower Descendant quarterlies. Mr. Bowman printed in the issues of 1900-07, the Marshfield Vital Records from Volume I, and in 1931-34, part of the Vital Records from Volume II. Having checked his work against the original records, we are impressed with Mr. Bowman's accuracy: Only six discrepancies were found to be of enough significance to warrant correction by footnotes.

    "We have transcribed all other vital records through the year 1849 from microfilm, to form pages 113-368. These additional records are from Volumes II, IIA, III, IV, V, and the Register Vol. I. The names of persons and places have been copied exactly; all other spellings are modernized. Standard capitalization has been used for clarity. Dates are not changed from old to new style. Marriage intentions have been abstracted to save space, and the word 'published' incorporated with each, to avoid confusion with the marriages. On items of doubtful interpretation, we have checked with each other and with the original record books. Any items of which we were still unsure, we have footnoted.

    "On pages 369-425 we have offset from Mayflower Descendant issues of 1906-12, many Marshfield Gravestone Records. We have not included the Records of the First Church, which appear in Volumes 11, 31 and 32 of the Descendant.

    "The two pages of appendix contain a few vital records which were missing from or incomplete in the Marshfield record books. These are copied from the Plymouth Colony records, Early Massachusetts Marriages, or from Miss Thomas' compilation in early volumes of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register.”

    This database contains 4,215 births, 5,586 marriages, and 2,241 deaths.
    This volume is also available in our Boston research library, call number F74/M4/S47 1970.

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    NEHGS Receives Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant

    The Massachusetts Cultural Council, an agency which receives funding for the Commonwealth's arts and cultural institutions each year at the discretion of the Massachusetts State Legislature, has awarded NEHGS a grant award in the amount of $35,800, as part of a 3-year grant cycle. The Society has received generous support from the MCC for the past decade, which is especially meaningful due to the rigorous nature of the grant application. This award is most appreciated because it provides unrestricted operational dollars for the Society and helps to support our single largest source of operational funding -our Annual Appeal.

    For more information about the Massachusetts Cultural Council, visit

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    New England History Festival

    The Inaugural New England History Festival will take place on Saturday, November 24, at 6:00 PM at the Hibernian Hall in Watertown, Massachusetts.

    Come and enjoy a series of slide shows and lectures dedicated to great moments in New England History. The speakers will include author and reporter Stephanie Schorow. Stephanie, whose books include Boston on Fire and The Cocoanut Grove Fire, will be speaking about her latest book, The Crime of the Century, which chronicles the events of the Brinks Robbery, which took place on January 17, 1951 in Boston’s North End.

    Steven Puleo, whose books include The Boston Italians and his newest release Due To Enemy Action, will be speaking about his benchmark book Dark Tide. Puleo, who was recently awarded the prestigious 2007 I Migliori Award by the Pirandello Lyceum for his significant contribution to society, will be speaking about the Great Boston Molasses Flood.

    Michael Tougias, whose books include Ten Hours Until Dawn, King Philip’s War and Nature Walks In Eastern Massachusetts, will be speaking about his latest book Fatal Forecast: An Incredible True Tale of Disaster and Survival At Sea, which recounts the exploits of two small fishing boats that were caught and decimated in a monster maelstrom.

    John Horrigan, the event’s producer, is a New England Folklorist and “pocket historian” who has lectured on historical fires, weather and astronomical events such as The Great Hurricane of 1938, Winters of The Revolution, Earthquakes of Olde New England, The Great Brant Rock Fire, The Great Nantucket Fire and The Night The Stars Fell. Horrigan will be presenting New England’s Dark Day, about the events of May 19, 1780.

    Admission is $10.00 for the general public and $5.00 for seniors, students and all current members of historical societies. There will be trivia, prizes, exhibits, concessions and souvenirs. Tickets can be obtained by vistiing

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    NAT (m) – Nickname for NATHANIEL.
    NATE (m) – Nickname for NATHAN.

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    Sale Extended to November 4

    Just in time for Halloween
    Witches, Rakes, and Rogues: True Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder, and Mayhem in Boston, 1630-1775, by NEHGS President and CEO D. Brenton Simons

    When most people think of Boston between its founding in 1630 and the height of the American Revolution, they probably imagine a procession of Puritan ministers in black followed by Revolutionaries like Paul Revere on horseback. Brenton Simons's Witches, Rakes, and Rogues will change a few minds and shock a few others.

    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

    To order:

    Hardcover, Normally $24.95, Now $20.00.

    Soft cover, Normally $14.95, Now $12.00.

    Books can also be ordered by calling 617-226-1212. Prices do not include shipping. Sale prices good until November 4, 2007.

    Classic Reprints Catalog Sale
    Did you know that NEHGS offers a catalog of classic reprints of more than 10,000 hard-to-find or out-of-print books? The NEHGS Special Orders Catalog includes high-quality reprints of books that have long been out of print or are hard-to-find. Some recently ordered titles include:

    • The Story of Worcester, Massachusetts (1877)
    • Brewster Ship Masters [Massachusetts]
    • The History of Guilford, Connecticut
    • Iroquois Folk Lore, Gathered from the Six Nations of New York
    • Phelps Family of America & Their English Ancestry (1899)
    • Desc. of John Drake of Windsor, Connecticut (1933)

    All special order books are printed on acid-free paper in hardback bindings and many are available in soft cover. Find your family in our massive new catalog! We are so sure you will love this catalog that with its purchase you will receive a coupon towards $10 off your first order from it!

    Special Sale Price until November 4, 2007: $9.00 + shipping. To order the catalog visit

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    Research Recommendations: TNA's Paleography Tutorial
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    The National Archives of England and Wales (TNA) is developing an incredibly rich website. In addition to the many wonderful records, such as wills from the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, they have a large number of resources to assist you in your British research. One of these is a guide to paleography (or palaeography as it is spelled in Britain).

    Paleography is the study of old handwriting. The online tutorial at TNA was developed with the School of Library, Archives, and Information Studies at University College London, and won The Times Higher Awards 2006 for the Most Imaginative Use of Distance Learning.

    The first section of the tutorial tells you where to start. It gives you a discussion of reading, standard phrases, transcribing (vs. abstracting), spelling, and abbreviations. There is also a discussion of the Old English letter called a thorn, which looks like today’s letter ‘y.’ It is always pronounced as a ‘th,’ never as a ‘y.’ For example, “Ye Olde Tea Shoppe” is pronounced “The Old Tea Shop.” Ye and Yt should always be transcribed as the and th[a]t. The next section is a quick reference guide for dating calendar and regnal years, numbers, money, measures, and counties.

    The tutorial itself is interactive, with ten documents ranging from easiest to hardest to read. Each document gives you information about the specific document and transcription tips specific to that exercise. The first (and easiest) document, for example, is a letter dated 16 March 1554 from Elizabeth I, when she was a princess, to her sister, Queen Mary I.

    The next page shows an image of the original document, which you can magnify to see more easily. There is a box underneath the image for you to transcribe, line by line, the entire document. The Elizabethan letter, for example, has 54 lines. You then click submit, and it will tell you how you did with your transcription. You can also download a PDF of the entire tutorial.

    The next section provides links to numerous sixteenth-to-eighteenth century documents and their transcriptions for you to do additional practice with. There is a game section, the ducking stool game, which uses a woodcut of a seventeenth-century woman who is about to be lowered into the river. Whether she is completely submerged or not depends on your ability to transcribe certain words. The tutorial wraps up with a bibliography of additional resources for further reading.

    This online tutorial is an easy, no-pressure way for you to learn how to read ancient documents. Try it out and see for yourself how much easier it will be for you to read those documents yourself instead of having to get someone else to translate them for you. You can see the tutorial at

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    Spotlight: Resources of The Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS)
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    The Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS) was organized in 1964 to “foster interest in genealogy, preserve genealogical materials, and train researchers in effective and accurate techniques.” According to its website, the SCGS is “the largest volunteer-managed genealogical society west of the Mississippi.”

    Los Angeles City Cemetery
    Among the resources available on the SCGS website are materials about the Los Angeles City Cemetery. Researchers will find an overview of the cemetery’s history. The Los Angeles City Cemetery was the first non-Catholic cemetery in city. It was also known as Protestant Cemetery, Fort Moore Hill Cemetery, Fort Hill Cemetery, and “the cemetery on the hill.” The earliest documented burial in the cemetery was that of Andrew Sublette, originally from Kentucky, He was buried on December 19, 1853, after he lost his life in a fight with a grizzly bear in the Santa Monica Mountains.

    According to the website, some sources viewed the cemetery as a single entity with both public and private sections. Other sources considered the private portions as separate cemeteries for groups such as the Masons, Improved Order of Red Men, French Cemetery (Societe Francaise), and IOOF (Odd Fellows), among others. The city took charge of the cemetery about twenty years after it was established. Around the turn of the twentieth century, unused parts of the city cemetery were given to the Board of Education for a high school, which took over more and more of the land. In May 1947, the last bodies were removed from the abandoned cemetery.

    A long lost Burial Journal for the Los Angeles City Cemetery was rediscovered in 1999. It covers the period 1869–1888. A copy of the journal can be found in the SCGS library. There are other sources for interments in the cemetery. Lists of names and other burial information have been provided on the website. The information comes from a monograph by Edwin H. Carpenter entitled Early Cemeteries of Los Angeles and Los Angeles Times articles on Memorial Day ceremonies and activities of local G.A.R. posts noting the names of veterans buried there, as well as from other LA Times articles, including obituaries and news articles.

    There are two indexes to Los Angeles City Cemetery Burial Journal on the website. One is an alphabetical listing of individuals buried in the cemetery. The other is a listing by burial date. The data fields are the same for both indexes. They include image number, name, burial date, age, sex, condition (marital status, child), nativity, remarks, and cemetery. The remarks field contains cause of death information. The cemetery field contains information as to whether the individual was buried in the public section of the cemetery or in one of the private sections.

    Los Angeles County Burial Permits 1870-1892
    To compile this index, volunteers from the Southern California Genealogical Society and Family Research Library have extracted information from burial permits on file at the Los Angeles County Vital Records Department, located in Norwalk, California. The Burial Permits index covers the years 1870 through 1892 and contains information about individuals who died in Los Angeles County. Burial permits were signed by such individuals as Catholic priests, ministers, doctors, medical attendants, and Justices of the Peace of Los Angeles County or by individuals who were in attendance when the person died. This may not be a complete listing, as some records were hard to read because they were faded.

    The data fields include ID number, name, date of death, age, race/color, sex, condition, nativity, place of death/residence, place of burial or church, occupation, miscellaneous, and certificate number. Information found in the miscellaneous column includes information such as number of years the individual lived in Los Angeles and name of a parent or spouse. There is a key to the abbreviations used in this index.

    1890 Project
    The 1890 Project of the SCGS is their effort to reconstruct 1890 U.S. Census for Los Angeles County from a variety of sources. The project’s goal is to account for everyone who would have been enumerated on the 1890 census. The primary source for the project is an ‘every local-name’ index of the Los Angeles Times from January 1, 1890, through December 31, 1890. Other sources of information for the project will include vital records, church records, education records, city directories for the Los Angeles area, immigration and naturalization records, cemetery listings, occupation information, military rosters, and property and tax records.

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    Stories of Interest

    Red Sox Nation
    As the Boston Globe put it, “2004 was an exorcism. 2007 is an exclamation point.” After almost nine decades without winning the World Series, the team has now won two in four years. Among the objects in The Massachusetts Historical Society collections is a medal commemorating the 1912 World Series nail-biting win by the Red Sox. You can see it, and read more about the medal and the Sox win that year, at

    The Ghost of Old Moll Garfield
    A 1736 Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, farmhouse built by a relative of President James A. Garfield is now up for sale. The house was supposedly inhabited for more than two hundred years by the ghost of Old Moll Garfield. Take a tour of the house and read more about the story 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 November 2007:

    New Visitor Welcome & Library Tour
    Saturday, November 3, 2007 10 a.m.
    New visitors will participate in an introduction and orientation to the Society, including the opportunity to describe their research and have staff genealogists offer general advice on how to proceed. The free thirty-minute introductory lecture will be followed by a tour of the library.

    Dwelling Place of Dragons
    Saturday, November 10, 2007, 10 a.m.
    Author Marjorie Harshaw Robie, seen on The Today Show and PBS, will present a three-part discussion of her new book Dwelling Place of Dragons, a fascinating look at the dangers of religious tyranny in Ireland between 1830 and 1849.

    Getting the Most from NEHGS Databases
    Wednesday, November 14, 2007, 10 a.m.
    With over 110 million names in 2,200 databases, is the primary internet resource for New England genealogy. This free lecture will offer an overview of the Society’s website and online databases.


    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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