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  • 2007 Archive

  • Vol. 9, No. 51
    Whole #353
    December 19, 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.

    * Penalty for Keeping Christmas
    * New on
    * NEHGS Holiday Closures
    * Make a Gift to NEHGS This Holiday Season
    * Name Origins
    * Sales Department Holiday Closure
    * Research Recommendations: Twelve Days of Genealogy
    * Spotlight: Stark County District Library (Ohio)
    * Stories of Interest
    * From the Online Genealogist
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    Penalty for Keeping Christmas

    Christmas in America has not always been the holiday it is today. Caroline Kennedy, in her new book A Family Christmas (Hyperion, 2007), illustrates this on page 234, with an excerpt from the Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England:

    For preventing disorders arising in severall places with this jurisdiction, by reason of some still observing such festvalls as were superstitiously kept in other countrys, to the great dishonnor of God and offence of others, it is therefore ordered by this Court and the authority thereof, that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of person labour, feasting, or any other way, upon any such accounts as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall pay for every such offence five shillings, as a fine to the county. And whereas, not only at such times, but at severall other times also, it is a custome too frequent in many places to expend time in unlawfull games, as cards, dice, &c, it is therefore further ordered, and by this Court declared, that after publication hereof, whosoever shall be found in any place within this jurisdiction playing either at cards or dice, contraty to this order, shall pay as a fine to the county the some of five shillings for every offence.

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    New on

    Vital Records of Dedham, Mass., 1635-1845

    From the introduction:

    “In the Town Report, published in 1885, the town clerk called the attention of the town to the importance of printing its records, and recommended that a small appropriation be made each year for that purpose, to the end that eventually the whole of its records might be reproduced in print. The subject was brought before the town at the April meeting, 1885, and an appropriation was made for the purpose of printing the record of births, marriages and deaths, under the direction of the town clerk. An additional appropriation was made at the April meeting, 1886.

    “Under these votes the present volume has been printed. It contains the first two volumes of town records of births, marriages and deaths, and covers a period of 210 years — 1635 to 1845. An appendix is added, containing the certified copies of records of marriages solemnized prior to 1800, returned from other towns, in compliance with the provisions of Chap. 84, Acts of 1857. The original volumes were never indexed.

    “A copy of the first book was made, and furnished with an index, over twenty years ago by Calvin Guild, a member of the Dedham Historical Society, and author of the Genealogy of the Guild Family. This copy was accepted by the town, March 7, 1864, and has since been generally used by those who have had occasion to consult these records.

    “The leaves of the manuscript volume are very brittle, and although the first book was several years ago carefully interleaved and rebound, yet in many places the leaves have broken, and parts thereof been lost. In such cases when it was possible the lost parts have been supplied from Mr. Guild's copy, but in brackets.

    “The book containing the original entries for the first forty years has disappeared. At a meeting held 15:11:1672, 'it was ordered that the register shall be transcribed at the town's charge,' which seems to have been done soon after, for the entries in the first volume from the beginning of the book to 1674 are in one handwriting.

    “In 1880 the second volume was copied by order of the town, and certified by the town clerk, and furnished with an index. This book contains the records to 1845. Since that date they have been kept in the books provided by the State, containing blanks for a more detailed record under the provisions of statutes passed about that time.”

    This database contains 5,835 births, 4,984 marriages, 4,934 marriage intentions, and 1,621 deaths. The images of the original book pages may be viewed from the search results page. This volume is also available in our Boston research library, call number F74.D3 D32 1895.

    Social Security Death Index - Free Access
    Updated through November, 2007

    The SSDI, taken from the U.S. Social Security Administration's Death Master File, is one of the key resources available to genealogists today. It contains those individuals who were assigned Social Security numbers and whose death was reported to the SSA. Data is now current through November, 2007. Access to the SSDI is FREE to all who visit This database now contains the names of 79,331,467 individuals, most of whose deaths were recorded after 1965.

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    NEHGS Holiday Closures

    The NEHGS research library will be open Saturday, December 22, and Saturday, December 29, 2007. The administrative offices will be closed on Monday, December 24. The administrative offices will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Monday, December 31. The research library is closed on Mondays. Both the research library and administrative offices will be closed December 25 and January 1.

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    Make a Gift to NEHGS This Holiday Season

    During this Holiday Season, give a donation in honor of a friend or loved one. Your continuing support of the Society helps us provide you with quality genealogical databases online, research trips and lectures, and a knowledgeable staff of genealogists here to help with your research needs. Without your support, these resources would not be possible. A gift to our Annual Appeal to help us keep America’s family stories and history alive. Support NEHGS Now.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto

    RANEY (f) – Nickname for LURANA, LORAINE, URANIA, etc.

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    Sales Department Holiday Closure

    The NEHGS Sales Department will be closed from Friday, December 21, through Tuesday, January 1. It will reopen on Wednesday, January 2. All orders placed during that time will be filled after the department reopens. If you have any questions during that time, please contact member services at

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    Research Recommendations: The Twelve Days of Genealogy
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    Kimberly Powell’s Excellent genealogy blog on is a great place to learn about new resources for your research. This week I’ve borrowed an idea from her and will discuss the 12 Days of Online Genealogy. Following is a list of websites I consult regularly (in many cases, daily) for research. This is my own personal list, in alphabetical, not preferential, order. You are likely to be familiar with most of these, but hopefully you will try at least one or two new ones.

    1. America’s Historical Newspapers, 1690–1922
    Created by Readex through partnership with the American Antiquarian Society, Library of Congress, and others, this database provides access to newspapers from around the country. A variety of search features make it easy to find pertinent results. Many public and private libraries offer access to this database, or you can subscribe individually as part of

    Although subscriptions can be steep, provides one of the largest collections of online data available anywhere for genealogical research. The new U.S. Passports database has provided me with a great deal of documentation for dates and places of birth for people born where no records of these events were kept. Well worth the price for the World Subscription, which gives you access to materials from Great Britain, Australia, Canada, Germany, and other locations.

    3. Canadian Genealogy Centre
    The Canadian Genealogy Centre includes all of the physical and electronic holding of Library and Archives Canada. Not only can you search records online, but you can discover more about what is (and is not) available at the national level in Canada.

    4. provides access to millions of passenger arrival records. Make sure you read the tips on basic and advanced searching to help you search (or use Steve Morse’s research tool). You can also find a great deal of historical information about the immigrant experience on this site.

    The Family History Library’s website provides access to vast amounts of information from around the world. Not only can you search databases for your ancestors, you can consult research guides to familiarize yourself with resources available in a new location. You can also search the Family History Library Catalog to find out which records are available on microfilm.

    Formerly, is a commerical website that has a number of valuable databases, including the index to vital records, outgoing passenger lists, and military records for Great Britain.

    Footnote has developed a huge amount of information in a very short period of time. Their search mechanism is easy to use (and an advanced search interface is currently in beta testing). The images are easy to view and to download. Their collaboration features are impressive as well, and subscriptions are fairly inexpensive.

    8. JSTOR
    JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization that archives and provides access to important scholarly journals. They currently provide access to 773 titles. Unfortunately individual subscriptions are not currently available, but you can usually access JSTOR through a public or university library (often remotely).

    The hundreds of millions of names available through the research databases on the New England Historic Genealogical Society's website provide access to centuries of information on New England families. The Massachusetts Vital Records databases have search capabilities unavailable at other websites, and may allow you to find previously hidden information.

    Started by volunteers, RootsWeb is now part of The Generations Network, parent company of Volunteers are still continually adding new data to the site, which is available free of charge.

    11. USGenWeb
    Another volunteer-driven organization, has numerous projects going on. When searching the website, make sure you check the data in the archives and project sites as well as the individual county and state locations.

    WorldVitalRecords is adding records faster than I can keep track. British parish registers, newspapers from around America, and Everton’s Online Library are only some of the materials available. You can join for a month for $5.95 to try it or take advantage of the current special — two years for $79.95.

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    Spotlight: Stark County District Library (Ohio)
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    Stark County is located in the northeastern part of Ohio. The main branch of the district library is located in Canton, the county seat.

    The Stark County District Library has made a number of historical indexes available on its website. The library provides separate online request forms for sixteen different types of records. If none of these fits your needs, you can click on the email link to contact them. They ask that your requests be limited to three per week. There is a small fee for photocopying services, but replies made by email are free.

    The online resources include four local history volumes. The first is A Standard History of Stark County, by John H. Lehman. This book has been digitized and can be accessed by clicking on the title link. In addition to reading through this book, you can also perform a keyword search.

    The remaining three volumes, plus the Stark County District Library Index to Pedigree Files, are in PDF format. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view them. The volumes include alphabetical every-name indexes to A History of Hartville, Ohio, Louisville – The Way It Was 1834–1975, and the Marlboro Township Heritage Handbook. The index files are in PDF format. The pedigree files indexed here are available in the library. The data fields include surname, first name, middle name, title, birth and death dates, chart number and remarks.

    Other online resources include the following:

    Index to the Stark County Tax Lists for 1810–1820
    The data fields for index to the Stark County Tax Lists include surname, given name, township, year, page number, if available, and notes. Notes may include such information as the taxpayer’s non-resident status and, in come cases, where they resided.

    Index to Notices in the Ohio (Canton) Repository between 1815 and 2004
    The newspaper indexes are alphabetical listings, by surname, of various types of notices that appeared in The Repository, the Canton, Ohio, newspaper. The early notices are grouped by blocks of years. There is a gap in the indexes from 1884 to 1899. For the period from 1815 to 1883, the records indexed in the databases include marriage, death, divorce, administration notices, and a few guardianships. The data fields include surname, given name, type of record, date notice appeared, page and column numbers, and remarks. The remarks include a variety of information such as alternate spellings of the surname and place of origin or residence. The alphabetical databases for the period from 1900 to 2004 index only obituaries. The data fields include surname, given, and maiden name; title; year, month, and day published; and page number.

    Please be advised that the link to “Stark Court Offices with online indices” does not take you to those sites. It, instead, takes you to a page with links to other websites with Stark County resources and useful general genealogy links. You should check this page out if you have Stark County ancestors.

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    Stories of Interest

    Cousin Nefertiti?
    Lexington Herald-Leader reporter Cheryl Truman published an interesting look at genetic genealogy on December 18. As she says: “A cheek swab and about $150 to $850 later, you might not know who's your daddy, but you can get a pretty good idea who's your cousin.” Read the full article online at

    Bad Girls, Bad Boys
    Soon to be past president of the Association of Professional Genealogists Sharon Moody is also a columnist for the Tampa Tribune. She writes with humor about black sheep ancestors in Bad Girls, Bad Boys – We’re Gonna Come For You. You can read the column at

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    From the Online Genealogist

    Do you know if records for the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Cambridge, Massachusetts, are available to family members? My grandfather, who was blinded 85 years ago, was helped by the Institute for a while, and I would like to learn the reason for his blindness.

    Thank you for your note. There are records available for family members that you can request. To find out more about his records, please contact:

    Jan Seymour Ford
    Head Librarian at the Perkins Institute for the Blind
    175 North Beacon Street
    Watertown, Massachusetts 02472

    I have already discussed your request and forwarded your email to her. In fact I must thank you for your inquiry, as my own great-aunt, Gertrude Florence (Poor) Clews (1886-1976), was blinded by cinders from a locomotive and Jan is checking records for my family as well.

    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 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. For more information, please contact Ryan Woods at 617-226-1226 or

    The following programs will be held January 2008:

    New Visitor Welcome & Library Tour
    Saturday, January 5, 2008, 10:00 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.

    Getting the Most from NEHGS Databases
    Wednesday, January 9, 2008 10:00 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.

    New Royal Descents and Notable Kin
    Wednesday, January 16, 2008, 10:00 am
    To ce;ebrate the 2008 edition of Royals Descents of 600 Immigrants to the American Colonies, NEHGS senior research scholar emeritus Gary Boyd Roberts will offer a free lecture about the various new discoveries over the last several years of royally descended immigrants to New England.

    Lafayette in America 1824 and 1825
    Monday, January 28, 2008, 6:30 pm
    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, the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Connecticut, and the Consulate General of France in Boston, NEHGS will co-host a talk by author Alan Hoffman on his new unabridged English translation of Auguste Levasseur’s Lafayette en Amérique en 1824 et 1825. A book signing and reception will follow. A minimum $25 donation is requested. Please RSVP at 617-226-1226.

    By Faith Alone
    Wednesday, January 23, 2008, 6:30 pm
    Join NEHGS for a special evening with distinguished journalist and CNBC anchor Bill Griffeth as he discuses his new book, By Faith Alone: One Family’s Epic Journey Through American Protestantism. The lecture will be followed by a book signing and reception. A minimum $15 donation is requested. Please RSVP at 617-226-1226.

    Seminars and Tours
    For more information or to register for any of these events, please contact Ryan Woods at 617-226-1226 or

    Weekend Research Getaway
    #1 Thursday, February 7–Saturday, February 9, 2008
    #2 Thursday, April 10–Saturday, April 12, 2008
    Weekend Research Getaways in Boston are among the most popular NEHGS programs in recent years. Escape to 101 Newbury Street and experience a guided research program, with one-on-one consultations and special access to the collections. Whether you are a first-time participant or have participated in a guided research program before, an on-site visit to NEHGS with our expert staff is sure to further your research. Bring your charts and expect some breakthroughs!
    Registration fees: $300 for the three-day program; $100 for a single day.
    For more information visit

    Technology and Genealogy Seminar
    Friday, February 22–Saturday, February 23, 2008
    NEHGS is proud to offer a two-day in-depth seminar exploring the important relationship between technology and genealogy. NEHGS staff experts will provide lectures, demonstrations, and discussions focusing on key aspects of technology in family history research. Topics will include internet search techniques, evaluations of genealogical software, use of PDAs in genealogical research, how scanning can improve your data collection, organizing your research with Microsoft, and digital assistance in the publishing age. Participants will also have an opportunity to enter a drawing for software packages, including Adobe Photoshop Elements and ACDSee PhotoManager.
    Registration fee: $150
    For more information visit


    Quebec Research Tour
    Sunday, June 15–Sunday, June 22, 2008
    Celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec by joining NEHGS staff experts Michael J. Leclerc and Pauline Cusson for a research week in Montreal, Quebec. This unique opportunity will allow participants to take advantage of two premier Canadian repositories, the Société Généalogique Canadienne-Française (SGCF) and the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ). These archives hold documents from the earliest settlement of Quebec through the English period, down to the twentieth century. Participants will receive one-on-one consultations, providing guidance and suggestions for research. Whether your ancestors spoke French or English, the archival records will help you to break through your brick walls and discover where they came from.
    Registration Fees (includes seven nights lodging at the Hôtel Les Suites Labelle): Single, $1,550; Double, $1,350; Double with non-participant, $1,850; Commuter, $775 (no lodging).
    For more information visit


    Great Migration Tour to England
    Tuesday, August 5–Friday, August 15, 2008
    Based in Chelmsford, England, this inaugural Great Migration tour with Robert Charles Anderson will visit the historically significant locations in Essex and Hertfordshire associated with the families who migrated to New England in 1631, 1632, and 1633. The primary focus of the tour will be the migrations and activities connected to four influential ministers of the period: Thomas Hooker, John Eliot, Thomas Weld, and Roger Williams.
    Registration fees: Registration is full. To be added to the wait-list, please contact Ryan Woods at

    Other 2008 Tours
    Massachusetts Archives Research Day

    Thursday, March 27, 2008
    For more information visit

    National Archives Research Day
    Thursday, May 22, 2008

    Come Home to New England
    #1 Monday, June 23–Saturday, June 28, 2008
    #2 Monday, August 11–Saturday, August 16, 2008

    Salt Lake City Research Tour
    Sunday, November 2–Sunday, November 9, 2008

    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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