Tip: How to Navigate the Boston Evening Transcript Genealogy Columns

This week we thought we’d highlight The Boston Evening Transcript Genealogy Columns, 1911-1941.  The Boston Evening Transcript ran a genealogy column about twice a week during this time period. Readers would submit and respond to genealogical queries, provide corrections to published genealogies, and give background and theories on longstanding genealogical puzzles. Correspondents were not just from Boston, but hailed from around the country.

Our current collection is image-only, which means it is not searchable by name.  We’ll cover things to know to avoid frustration while navigating through this database.

The American Genealogical-Biographical Index to American Genealogical, Biographical, and Local History Materials  is a compiled index which includes the Boston Evening Transcript genealogy columns.  It is available in print from our library, and online from Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org or the Godfrey Memorial Library Online.  We’ll go through an example of how to connect this index to our database.

William Holman lived in Cambridge, MA in the 1600s and had a wife named Winifred who was persecuted for witchcraft.  William can be found in Volume 82, page 262 of the AGBI, which directs one to the genealogy column from April 1, 1931 (among other columns).

  1. Start on our A-Z Database List page and type Boston Evening Transcript in the search box.
  2. Click on the camera icon next to the database title.  This should bring you to the first page of the first column (in this case, an image of the file folder in which the fragile original materials are kept).
  3. Use the Volume drop-down menu to choose the 1931 volume.  Again, this will bring you to the first page of this volume.

Image names in this database are a compilation of an abbreviation for the month and a number that references the number of columns that were published in that month.  The first page of every volume is Month:Title, while the others take the form Month:ColumnNumber.  You can know how many columns were published in a certain month by visiting the transcript page, which will say something like, “Apr 1931 – page 1 of 10,” meaning 10 genealogy columns were published in April 1931.

4. Since we’re looking for a column from April 1st, it should be pretty easy to guess that we should type Apr:1 into the page number box on the upper right.  I mentioned above that Mr. Holman can also be found in other BET columns–if I were looking for the reference to him on Oct., 27, 1932, I’d probably look at the transcript page for Oct:Title to figure out how many columns were published in October 1932, then I would guess one of the later ones (Oct:9, for example).  If I guessed wrong, I could use the blue arrows on the upper right to page forwards or backwards within the volume.

5. Here on page Apr:1, I’ve found William Holman in the upper right corner.

Good luck with your search!

Please note:  This database is available to Individual-level and above NEHGS members only. Consider membership .