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  • 2007 Archive

  • Vol. 9, No. 52
    Whole #354
    December 26, 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 Holiday Closures
    * Make a Gift to NEHGS This Holiday Season
    * Name Origins
    * Sales Department Holiday Closure
    * Research Recommendations: Genealogical Writing: Guide to Grammar and Writing
    * Spotlight: Online Newspaper Databases
    * Stories of Interest
    * Upcoming Education Programs
    * NEHGS Contact Information


    New on

    Early Vital Records of Sheffield, Mass.

    From the Introduction to the typescript:

    “The earliest Town Record book of Sheffield is a well-preserved volume, although on some pages the ink is fading and the edges of the sheets are somewhat worn. The book has been rebound and the pages covered with silk.

    “Beginning in the front of the book there is one page with a record of earmarks for cattle, then two pages of an incomplete index, and then the pages containing the vital records. These are numbered from 1a to 154 (although there appears to have been a mistake in the paging and several numbers in the page series are missing).

    “Reversing the book and beginning again from the back, there are first several more pages with earmarks for cattle, then the long series of pages containing the minutes of the Town Meetings (beginning with the notice to the Constable to call the first meeting dated January 11, 1733 and continuing through the meeting dated December 30, 1776), then a number of pages of Highway surveys, then several pages of records of stray animals taken up, and then several more pages of highway surveys.

    “In the vital record section of the book it was evidently the clerk’s intention to allot a page to each family, entering at the top of the page the marriage record of the parents, to be followed below by the birth records of the children as they occurred. As time went on, however, it became necessary to insert the records of new families on some of the, pages, and sometimes even in the case of a single family the record is carried over to a later page.

    “In this particular page-by-page copy of these records there are given all the Vital records contained in this first volume of Sheffield Records. Although all the names and dates are as given in the record book, some abbreviation of wording has seemed advisable. In the book a marriage record is usually given in this form:

    ‘August 10: 1736. Then John Smith and Mary Jones were Lawfully Joyned together In Marriage’.

    A birth is usually recorded in this manner:

    ‘James Smith, Son of John Smith and that which his wife Mary bore to him was born May 19, 1737’.

    “In the case of several families where the marriage had occurred before the parents came to Sheffield there is no marriage record and the family record begins at the top of the page with the birth of a child.

    “(There are a few cases of illegitimate birth records in which the word wife is omitted and the full name of the mother given). In the death records even of adults the name of the father and mother are usually given.”

    While the record dates range from 1690 to 1813, the majority of records are for the period 1724-1788. The database contains records of 1,313 births, 370 marriages, and 164 deaths. Images of the original typescript pages may be viewed from the search results page.

    The original typescript is part of the R. Stanton Avery manuscript collection at our Boston research library, call number MSS A 5932.

    The Essex Antiquarian – Volume 10 (1906)

    This week, we are releasing the tenth volume of The Essex Antiquarian, "An illustrated ... magazine devoted to the biography, genealogy, history, and antiquities of Essex County, Massachusetts," which was published and edited by Sidney Perley between 1897 and 1909. The journal was published monthly from January 1897 to June 1901, and then quarterly from July 1901 to October 1909. Each yearly volume contains 200-220 pages consisting of genealogical articles and a variety of photographs, maps, illustrations, gravestone inscriptions, all pertaining to Essex County. The thirteen original volumes of The Essex Antiquarian are available in our Research Library, call number: F72.E7.E74 1897-1909.

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    NEHGS Holiday Closures

    The NEHGS research library will be open Saturday, December 29, 2007. 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 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

    Initial W to B: WILLIAM to BILL.

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    Sales Department Holiday Closure

    The NEHGS Sales Department is closed through Tuesday, January 1. It will reopen on Wednesday, January 2. All orders placed during the closure 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: Genealogical Writing: Guide to Grammar and Writing
    by Michael J. Leclerc

    The Capital Community College Foundation of Hartford, Connecticut, is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting scholarships, faculty development, and curriculum innovation. Among their accomplishments is the Guide to Grammar and Writing website available at

    The site was developed in 1996 by Dr. Charles Darling. Originally designed to help his students write their papers and to give them a place to find their own answers to grammar questions, the site rapidly became extremely popular with people around the world. He thought that it was essential that the site remain a free service.

    The site is divided into six sections: Word & Sentence Level; Paragraph Level; Essay & Research Paper Level; Ask Grammar, Quizzes, Search Devices; Peripherals & PowerPoints; and GrammarPoll, Guestbook Awards. Each section has a dropdown box to easily navigate to different areas.

    There are many instructive areas, and links to other sites. My favorite area so far discusses writer’s block:

    “American poet William Stafford offers this advice to poets who suffer from Writer's Block: "There is no such thing as writer's block for writers whose standards are low enough." This sounds terrible at first. "What? I'm supposed to write junk? I need a good grade! I'm better than that!" No, Stafford is not encouraging writers to produce garbage. He is suggesting, however, that it's easy to take yourself too seriously, to think you're going to write a poem or an essay that is going to be the greatest poem or essay ever written, that you're going to formulate the greatest, loveliest, most intelligent statement ever made. So you sit there, thinking how unworthy you are, cursing the day you were born, wondering why you ever went to college, hating the very act of writing that has you so stymied. A writer has to let that go, forget about judgment. Go ahead and write drivel at first, as long as you write. Out of your nonsense and ramblings, however, believe that something good will come, some idea will catch fire right there on the page, there will be sparks, patterns will emerge. Be willing to throw stuff out. It's all right. Do you think Shakespeare didn't litter his kitchen floor with balled-up pieces of paper? One nice thing about the word-processor is that you're not wasting paper and trees; you're just exercising the delete key. But this is no time to worry about the environment. Fill that wastebasket with paper and trust that something will come of all this scribbling. It will.”

    When you need help with your writing and grammar, a quick visit to this site might help. And if you enjoy it, please consider making a tax-deductible gift to the Capital Community College Foundation so that they can keep this free site up and running.

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    Spotlight: Online Newspaper Databases
    by Valerie Beaudrault

    Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

    The aim of the National Digital Newspaper Program is to make newspapers from throughout the United States more readily accessible. The Program comes out of a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. The end result of the project, which is expected to take about 20 years to complete, will be a “national, digital resource of historically significant newspapers from all the states and U.S. territories published between 1836 and 1922.” The free, searchable database will be permanently housed and maintained by the Library of Congress.

    The “Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers” website contains two databases. One is a prototype of the free, searchable database that will eventually reside on the Library of Congress website. It currently contains newspapers from six states — California, Florida, Kentucky, New York, Utah, and Virginia — for the period 1900 –10. The each of these states was awarded grants to digitize 100,000 pages for the database.

    Nearly 50 newspapers have been digitized for the prototype database. You can search the database by keywords and limit the search by selecting a specific date or a range of dates between 1900 and 1910. You can also select newspapers by state or by title. Search results can be displayed as a list of links or as thumbnails. They can be sorted by relevance, state, title, or date. Click on the title link or thumbnail to view an enlarged image of the newspaper. You can zoom in to read any article on the page.

    The other database is a directory to newspapers from across the United States published between 1690 and the present. You can browse through the list of newspapers by title or you can search the database by the following: where the newspaper was published (state, county, city); when the newspaper was published (1690–2007); and keywords, plus frequency of publication, language, and type of newspaper, which includes the ethnicity of the press. This database was developed from library catalog records that were created by state institutions during the NEW-sponsored United States Newspaper Project.

    Winona Newspaper Project

    If your family lived in southeastern Minnesota, you may want to visit this website. The Winona State University website serves as host for the database. Winona is located on the Mississippi River in southeastern part of Minnesota on the Wisconsin border. During the nineteenth century it was an active steamboat port. This searchable database contains Winona newspapers for the period from 1855 to 1946.

    Searching and viewing the newspapers is done through Active Paper by Olive software. Search by choosing a publication or all publications and then select your keywords. You can limit your search by date or by article type—articles, pictures, and ads. Click on the thumbnail images to read the articles in the search results.

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    Stories of Interest

    Homestead of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins Honored
    Many are familiar with Longfellow’s story of his ancestors, John Alden and Priscilla Mullins. Earlier this month, an advisory board to the National Park Service recommended that the John Alden House Historic Site receive the designation of National Historic Landmark. While there are more than 80,000 sites listed in the National Register, fewer than 2,500 have the designation of landmark. You can read more about the story in the Boston Globe in “An Ode to History, Love” by Tania deLuzuriaga at

    Magna Carta Auctioned for $21.3M
    Sotheby’s auction house recently sold a 710-year-old copy of the Magna Carta, the document that became the foundation for English law. The copy dates to the time of the signing of the original in 1297. It was bought by a private individual. Read more in the Boston Globe 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. 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 honor 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.

    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.

    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

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    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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