Author Archive

Expansion of Suffolk County, MA Probate File Papers

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Map of Boston in 1842. Public Domain, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Today we are excited to announce an expansion of the Suffolk County, MA Probate File Papers database. This addition includes case numbers 33068-35451, for the years 1842-1847, and it adds over 54,000 new file paper pages. The complete database now contains 496,000 file papers and 36,000 searchable names.

This database was created from digital images and index contributed to NEHGS by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives. The probate cases include wills, guardianships, administrations, and various other types of probate records. We’d like to thank our wonderful volunteers Sam Sturgis and Bruce Shaw, without whom this update would not have happened.

The complete Suffolk County File Papers collection will eventually cover cases 1-94,757, which includes years up to 1893. The cases are indexed chronologically, which allows us to present them in sections while digital photography is taking place. The digital photography is expected to continue through 2020. We will continue to add additional cases as they become available.

If you have questions on how to search this database, or about our collaboration with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives, please watch our video, How to Search Massachusetts Probate File Papers. The Massachusetts Archives also have a very helpful website that serves as a directory as to where you can find which pieces of probate information.

Please note: This database is available to all NEHGS members.

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Hints Now Available for Database Search

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Sample Record Display page with hints included

We have released an update to the search user experience that makes hints available to online users of search. Until now, hints from American Ancestors databases were only available to users of American AncesTREES. Now they are available to everyone.

You can see an example of hints on the image above. Here we have the Record Display page for the birth of Nathan Snow in 1725 from the Massachusetts Vital Records, 1620-1850 database. On the right side you can see the heading “Hint” and the suggested records underneath. If there are no suggestions, this section will not appear.

Each hint is prefaced with the name of the database that contains the hint record, the first and last name of the suggested person, and the birth and/or death year of that person as extracted from the source of the hint. An annotated sample is shown below. The name and date part of the hint is the hyperlink. You can click on it and go there directly, or right click and open the hint in a new tab or window.

The hints are listed in a relevance sequence with the best fit at the top of the list. A maximum of 10 hints are displayed. Not all databases currently provide hints. As new databases become hint providers, we will send an update on DB News, such as this one from last summer.  You can also use Browse Database A-Z for a current list by typing “Hint” in the Search field.

We hope that this enhancement helps you with your search efforts. If you have any questions, please let us know by using the Comment or Question box or Report Error button on Record display. You can also email us directly at webmaster@nehgs.org.

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Enhancement to Database Search Results

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New Search Results page when no records found

Today we have introduced some enhancements to the database search results processing on American Ancestors. These updates are intended to answer two of the most commonly asked questions about search:

  1. Why did I get Zero records for my search – Typically found when using Advanced Search (https://www.americanancestors.org/search/advanced-search)
  2. I received results, but they don’t seem like a good fit – Usually found with Database or Category Search

For the case of Zero records, you will now see a blue box in the results area that provides some suggestions on how to proceed. An example is in the image above. The contents of the box provide suggestions that are adjust for the query parameters that you have used. The Learn More link takes you to a short document reviewing a general set of suggestions for how to avoid this problem. Other items provide specific instructions to change your search parameters and help you find results. There are also links to a recorded webinar on search, start over with a new query or even contact Research Services for a thorny research problem.

The approach for the case of results that don’t seem like a good fit is similar. With Database and Category search the default experience is to get results that match any your criteria. This can be very helpful if here is something close, but it looks strange if there is not a good match on the last name. The picture below gives an example of what it looks like when this happens. The Learn More link takes you to a document reviewing the main suggestions on next steps.

We hope that these context specific additions to the search experience will help you get the most of your search time on American Ancestors.

Please contact us at webmaster@nehgs.org if you have any questions or suggestions for the database search experience. We are always happy to hear from you!

New Search Results page when there is not a strong fit

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Mayflower Descendant Volume 63 (2014) Now Available

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Cover of the Autumn 2014 issue of the Mayflower Descendant with a portrait of Myles Standish.

Volume 63, for the year 2014, has been added to The Mayflower Descendant is fully searchable. This update adds approximately 275 new pages and 2,700 searchable names.

Mayflower Descendant has been published by the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants since 1899. It is an essential source of information on many New England families, and its focus is not limited to those with Mayflower lineage. The journal includes transcriptions and abstracts of deeds, wills, vital records, and other original documents. In addition, it features compiled genealogies and analytical studies of genealogical problems.

The indexing for these records includes full names, Publication year (not the year of the record), and article titles and authors.

This update is made possible by the efforts of our volunteer David Anderson. If you have a few hours a week and would like to get involved in the digitization and indexing process please contact Rachel Adams, Database Services Volunteer Coordinator via email at rachel.adams@nehgs.org.

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

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Rhode Island Roots Volume 40 (2014) Added

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Picture from page 33 of volume 40.

We are very happy to add volume #40 (2015) to the Rhode Island Roots genealogical journal database. This update adds over 260 pages and nearly 2,700 searchable names.

The Rhode Island Genealogical Society publishes Rhode Island Roots quarterly. It features many Rhode Island records, such as cemetery and tax lists, General Assembly petitions, civil and military records, and genealogical articles — all focusing on Rhode Island families. Other features include articles about Rhode Islanders in other state census records, queries and a list of RI research volunteers. The authors include well-known genealogists as well as RIGS members with stories of their own families to tell.

The indexing for these records includes full names, Publication year (not the year of the record), and article titles and authors.

This update is made possible by the efforts of our volunteer David Anderson. If you have some time and would like to get involved in the digitization and indexing process for genealogical databases please contact Rachel Adams, Database Services Volunteer Coordinator via email at rachel.adams@nehgs.org.

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

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Enhanced Database Browse and Category Updates

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Enhanced Browse Databases Page

Today we introduced an enhancement to the Browse Databases A-Z page, recategorized some databases to improve searchability.

The Browse Databases A to Z page has been enhanced to dynamically adjust the list of databases as you type. This can speed up the search process for finding a specific database. The user interface has been changed slightly, so that the field for entering your search terms is now above the list of databases, rather than on the left. You can see this in the image above. We hope that you will enjoy this update.

Database Category changes have been made ensure that all the databases in the Journals and Periodicals category have the same approach to indexing and search. Specifically, the records contain first and last name, and the year contains the year of publication. The following eleven databases primarily contain birth, marriage, death records, so they have been moved to the Vital Records category:

  • Albany Argus: Records of Deaths and Marriages, 1826-1828
  • Boston Recorder and Telegraph: Death reports, 1827-1828
  • Boston Recorder and Telegraph: Marriages, 1827-1828
  • Christian Intelligencer: Death reports of Reformed Dutch Church, 1830-1871
  • Christian Intelligencer: Marriages (Reformed Dutch Ch.), 1830-1871
  • New Canaan [CT] Era: Marriages and Deaths in New York State, 1868-1871
  • New Hampshire Gazette: Vital Records, 1756-1800
  • New Hampshire: Marriage and Death Notices Published in Newspapers, 1848-1856
  • Otsego County, NY: Newspaper Records, 1808-1831
  • Portsmouth, NH: Abstracts from Newspapers, 1776-1800
  • Springfield [MA] Republican: Marriages and Deaths, 1847

As a reminder, the category specific search pages search all databases in that category at once. The blue button on the top right side of the page provides a link to the current list of databases in the category. The search tips provide information on what the best fields are for searching them. For reference, the full list of categories can be found on American Ancestors under the Search menu, They can also be found on the Advanced Search page on the right side of the page.

If you have any additional questions, please email us at webmaster@nehgs.org.

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New Database: The Mayflower Quarterly

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Edward Winslow House, 1754. Public Domain, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Just in time for 2020 and the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing, we are very excited to announce the new database based on the first fifty years of the The Mayflower Quarterly. There are approximately 5,000 pages and 92,000 searchable names in this database.

The Mayflower Quarterly is a publication of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD). The Quarterly contains news, pictures and articles on activities and events surrounding GSMD and its Member Societies throughout the US, Canada, and Europe. Articles often include names of GSMD and Member Society leadership.

This new database is the second major deliverable from our partnership  with GSMD, which previously resulted in the publication of the database Mayflower Families Fifth Generation Descendants, 1700-1880.

This database index includes all names and article titles for the first fifty years of publication, from 1935 through 1984. The database is organized into volumes that correspond to the issues of the Quarterly, and the volume name includes the year it was issued (in parenthesis).

This update is made possible by the efforts of our volunteers: Nell Nies, Elizabeth Handler, Lois Houghton, Tom Clements, Renda Smith, Jan Lundquist, Gale Stevenson, Wendy Sheppard, Ron Wilson, Meg Mills, Karen Ristic, Ray Ristic, Carol Botteron, Diane Arbuckle, Marie Wells. If you have some time and would like to get involved in the database digitization and indexing process please contact Rachel Adams, Database Services Volunteer Coordinator via email at rachel.adams@nehgs.org.

The entire run of The Mayflower Quarterly is available at the NEHGS Boston research library, call number F72.E7 E62.

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

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Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Database Updated

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Gravestone of Nathaniel G. Carpenter from Swan Point Cemetery in Providence (41°51’10.37″N 71°22’58.8″W).

We are very happy to have expanded the content in the Rhode Island: Historical Cemeteries, 1647-2000 database. In this update we have added gravestone images for over 8,000 people that did not have them before. In addition, we have added over 10,500 new records and searchable names to the database.

This update was made possible by support from John Sterling and the transcriptions and images produced by the volunteers of Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Transcription Project who work in cemeteries across Rhode Island.

This database is organized into 42 volumes based on the city or town of the cemetery and provides information for 460,000 people and over 932,000 searchable names. The efforts to capture images of the gravestones is not complete; approximately 25% of the records have an image to go with them. For the remainder, there is a placeholder noting that the image is not available and that you can see the birth and death details on the transcript page.

For most of the cemeteries, there GPS coordinates displayed on the transcript. This can be copied and pasted into a web site such as Google Maps to see where the cemetery is located.

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

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The Maine Genealogist Volume 36 Available

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York Harbor, Coast of Maine, 1877, by Martin Johnson Heade. Image of painting courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, and Wikimedia Commons. This is in the public domain in the United States.

We are very happy to add volume 36 for the year 2014 to The Maine Genealogist database. This update adds over 230 pages and 4,500 searchable names.

Published since 1977, The Maine Genealogist is the quarterly journal of Maine Genealogical Society, founded in 1976. Beginning as a newsletter for the society, the publication evolved into The Maine Seine, published until 1990. The title was changed to The Maine Genealogist in 1991, and each issue, now 48 pages, contains scholarly articles on Maine families, emphasizing the solving of long-standing problems and primary source documentation.

The indexing for these records includes full names, Publication year (not the year of the record), and article titles and authors.

This update is made possible by the efforts of our volunteer David Anderson. If you have some time and would like to get involved in the database digitization and indexing process please contact Rachel Adams, Database Services Volunteer Coordinator via email at rachel.adams@nehgs.org.

The entire run of The Maine Genealogist is available at the NEHGS Boston research library, call number F16 .M345.

Please note: This database is available to all NEHGS members.

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Essex Genealogist Volume 34 (2014) Now Available

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Geological map of Essex County, Massachusetts, Author: Sears, John Henry. Publisher: Essex Institute Date: 1893. Wikimedia.org under the Creative Commons 2.0 Generic License in 2008.

We are very happy to have added Volume 34, covering the year 2014, to the genealogical journal The Essex Genealogist database. This update contains over 250 pages and 2,100 searchable names.

The leading publication for genealogical research in Essex County, Massachusetts, this quarterly journal has been published since 1981 by The Essex Society of Genealogists (founded in 1975). Within the pages of this journal are selections of cemetery transcriptions, bible records, vital and church records relating to families from Essex County, Massachusetts. The Essex Genealogist has had published numerous Ahnentafel’s (Ancestor Tables) of the ancestry of their members, as well as verbatim transcriptions of lectures over the years. This journal continues to serve those researching Essex County families with valuable resources now entering nearly four decades in print.

The indexing for these records includes full names, Publication year (not the year of the record), and article titles and authors.

This update is made possible by the efforts of our volunteer David Anderson. If you have some time and would like to get involved in the database digitization and indexing process please contact Rachel Adams, Database Services Volunteer Coordinator via email at rachel.adams@nehgs.org.

The entire run of The Essex Genealogist is available at the NEHGS Boston research library, call number F72.E7 E62.

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

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