Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1620-1850 is one of our most popular databases. In the past three months it has consistently been one of our top 10 most-accessed databases; in July it was 5th on the list, in August it was 9th, and in September it was 8th. I’m sure it will stay on the list for October!
This database builds on the work of transcribers from the early 1900s– at that time original town records that were often in varying states of disrepair due to problems such as age. In 1902, NEHGS used the bequest of a benefactor, Robert Henry Eddy, to set up the Eddy Town-Record Fund. Read Sam Sturgis’ Vita Brevis post, “Who was Robert Henry Eddy and Why Should You Care?” to learn more about this project. In summary, the Eddy fund and the Massachusetts “Vital Records Act” provided resources to transcribe and preserve many of the early vital records of Massachusetts that are now presented in this database.
This database offers the vital records of many (but not all) towns in Massachusetts. The volumes that comprise this database come from a variety of different sources including vital records published by NEHGS (thanks to the Eddy Fund), vital records published by other individuals or organizations (such as Franklin P. Rice, the Essex Institute, or the General Society of Mayflower Descendants), and manuscripts from the NEHGS collection.
Since each volume in this database comes from a different source, we have created a new resource to help researchers understand exactly what they are looking at and trying to cite. We’re offering a new “Source Citation PDF” that lists the volumes in this database with a citation in Chicago style to the physical source from which they come. Each of these physical sources is available in the NEHGS Research Library.
This PDF is now available in the Database Description, which you can find on the Database-specific search page (scroll down), and on any image, record display, or transcript page (again, scroll down underneath the image).
We’re always trying to use the Database Description to provide context for researchers, so that they understand the links between digital words on a screen and the physical source that they come from. This is another tool towards this goal!
We’d like to thank Sam Sturgis and Linda Weaver for their work on this project.
Please note: This database is available to all NEHGS members. Membership options.