Author Archive

Searchable Archdiocese of Boston Sacramental Records

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Today we are launching Massachusetts: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, 1789-1900!  Thanks to the wonderful work of our volunteers, this database will make searchable the sacramental records we are digitizing in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Boston.

Upon launching, this database includes

14,347 Records

32,185 Names

and the following volumes:

Immaculate Conception (Boston) Baptisms, 1865-1898 and Marriages, 1870-1900

Immaculate Conception (Boston) Baptisms, 1898-1900

Immaculate Conception (Boston) Confirmations, 1860-1900

Immaculate Conception (Boston) Marriages, 1870-1900

Providence, RI, 1828-1830 (Mission)

St. Cecilia (Boston) Baptisms, 1889-1900

St. Cecilia (Boston) Marriages, 1888-1900

St. John, New Brunswick, 1816-1819 (Mission)

To search this database, on our advanced search page, choose Massachusetts: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, 1789-1900 in the drop-down database menu.  Make sure you do not choose Massachusetts: (Image Only) Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, 1789-1900, the free unindexed companion to this new collection.

First names, last names, confirmation names, parents’ names, spouse’s names, witnesses’ names, record type, location, and date are all indexed for this collection.  Latin names have been anglicized where possible.

We are continuing to add to this collection; keep watching Database News for updates!

To learn more about this project, consult catholicrecords.americanancestors.org.

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

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Tip: How to Navigate the Boston Evening Transcript Genealogy Columns

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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 .

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New records from St. James the Greater, Boston

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Image Credit: By Hazen, J. C. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

We’re adding St. James the Greater to our Massachusetts: (Image Only) Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, 1789-1900 collection.  This parish was established in 1854 in what is now Chinatown, serving the many Irish immigrants who lived in that area.  Learn more about the early history of the parish in James S. Sullivan’s One Hundred Years of Progress.  Harvard University’s Pluralism Project explains how St. James now ministers to the Asian Catholic community in Boston.

This update consists of the following volumes:

St. James the Greater (Boston) Index to Baptisms, 1854-1873

St. James the Greater (Boston) Baptisms, 1854-1864

St. James the Greater (Boston) Baptisms, 1865-1874

St. James the Greater (Boston) Baptisms, 1874-1875

St. James the Greater (Boston) Baptisms, 1875-1879

St. James the Greater (Boston) Baptisms, 1879-1883

St. James the Greater (Boston) Baptisms,1883-1888

St. James the Greater (Boston) Baptisms, 1888-1900

St. James the Greater (Boston) Confirmations, 1858-1900

St. James the Greater (Boston) Marriages, 1855-1873

St. James the Greater (Boston) Marriages, 1874-1884

St. James the Greater (Boston) Marriages, 1884-1894

St. James the Greater (Boston) Marriages, 1895-1900

 

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New sketches! Western Massachusetts Families to 1790

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Image Credit: By Tichnor Bros. Inc., Boston, Mass. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

We have added seven new sketches to Western Massachusetts Families in 1790. This database focuses on families listed in the 1790 census in historic Berkshire and Hampshire counties, an area which includes parts of modern Franklin and Hampden counties as well.  Sketches are submitted by NEHGS researchers and members and edited by Helen Schatvet Ullmann, CG, FASG.  The following sketches comprise this update:

Joseph French (Sandisfield)

Richard Morton (New Salem)

Denison Robinson (Windsor)

Thomas Robinson (Windsor)

Daniel Sherman (Adams)

Peter Tower (Cummington)

Samuel Wells (Greenfield)

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

Database Tip: On the transcript page, click the plus sign next to any person’s name. You can download a PDF of the entire sketch rather than having to download each page image separately.

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Search our Probate Databases for Free

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A map from a probate record in Suffolk County which shows the division of Robert Billings’s property after his death.

This week our probate databases are available for free to everyone.  We have 32 databases which fall under the Court, Land, and Probate Records category.  We’ve pulled together some material to better help you understand these collections on americanancestors.org/features/probate.

Get a clear definition of what a probate record is, and how they can help be helpful in genealogical research.

Explore probate records which feature famous people including poet Emily Dickinson, author Nathaniel Hawthorne, education advocate Mary Lyons, and inventor Elias Howe.

Learn how best to search the probate record databases offered by americanancestors.org by watching these videos:

How to Search Massachusetts Probate File Papers (A quick note to emphasize from this video: Many people become confused when they are first presented with the first page of a case file, which has only a little information on it.  Please continue to browse through a case by clicking the blue arrows on the top right of the screen!)

Searching New England Probate Databases on AmericanAncestors.org (An overview of databases ranging from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, and Rhode Island)

How to Search New York Probate Databases on AmericanAncestors.org (An overview of our databases which focus on probate records from New York)

If these short videos leave you wanting to know more, immerse yourself in the study of probate records by watching David Allen Lambert’s webinar on the topic.

Finally, learn about other sources both online and offline where you can find information about probate records.

 

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Bristol County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1686-1880

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Image Credit: http://maps.bpl.org [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

We are now offering a new database, Bristol County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1686-1880.  This database was created from digital images contributed to NEHGS by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives. The collection contains the records of 29,531 Bristol County probate cases filed between 1686 and 1880. The probate cases include wills, guardianships, administrations, and various other types of probate records except adoptions, which are not public records in Massachusetts.

These Bristol probate cases were not labeled with official case numbers, so an index had to be created from the microfilmed file papers. The resulting index is mostly alphabetical. However the file papers were not microfilmed in strict alphabetic order and case numbers were assigned as the cases were examined to create this database. Thus, the statement “mostly alphabetical.”

For a time, the borders of Massachusetts and Rhode Island (where Bristol County is located) shifted considerably as the two states swapped parcels of land.  Bristol County, MA borders Bristol County, RI.  Wikipedia explains this is one of ten instances in which adjacent counties in bordering states share the same name, and the only example in New England.  Other examples include Teton County in Idaho which borders Teton County in Wyoming and Kent County in Maryland which lies next to Kent County, Delaware.  You can consult History of Bristol County, Massachusetts edited by D. Hamilton Hurd for more details on the border changes in the 1700-1800s between Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

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Update to Western Massachusetts Families in 1790

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We have added six new sketches to Western Massachusetts Families in 1790. This database focuses on families listed in the 1790 census in historic Berkshire and Hampshire counties, an area which includes parts of modern Franklin and Hampden counties as well.  Sketches are submitted by NEHGS researchers and members and edited by Helen Schatvet Ullmann, CG, FASG.

If you are particularly interested in this area of research, you may want to consult one of our newest publications–the 3rd volume of Western Massachusetts Families in 1790!  

The following sketches are new to this update:

Martin Chamberlin (Dalton)
Amasa Cranson (Ashfield)
Elisha Mack (Montague) (Elisha Mack may be of special interest to LDS genealogists–he was the brother of the grandfather of Joseph Smith.)
Abner Phillips (Ashfield)
Lemuel Phillips (Ashfield)
Philip Phillips (Ashfield)
John Shattuck (Conway)

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

Database Tip: On the transcript page, click the plus sign next to any person’s name. You can download a PDF of the entire sketch rather than having to download each page image separately.

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New Middleborough and Florida, Massachusetts records

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East Portal of the Hoosac Tunnel , Florida, MA, a 4.75 mile railroad tunnel built in the 1850s-1870s.

We’ve updated Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850.   Middleborough – V1 and Middleborough – V2 are now searchable by parents’ and spouse’s names.  Florida – V1 is new, containing births, marriages and deaths.

The Middleborough records come from Barbara Lambert Merrick and Alicia Crane Williams’s Middleborough, Massachusetts Vital Records, a compilation of transcribed records originally published in the Mayflower Descendant and some later transcriptions for this southeast Massachusetts town.

The Florida, MA records originate in Jay Mack Holbrook’s microform Massachusetts Vital Records: Florida, 1781-1900, which collects a register of early records from this town in western Massachusetts.    

We would like to thank all of our volunteers who worked on these two projects!

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New sketches: Early Vermont Settlers to 1784

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Map of New York and Vermont from the early 1780s by Louis Brion de la Tour

Early Vermont Settlers to 1784 now has five new sketches, enumerated below.  This database focuses on families that lived in Vermont prior to the end of the Revolutionary War, as identified in Donald Alan Smith’s thesis “Legacy of Dissent: Religion and Politics in Revolutionary Vermont 1749 to 1784” (Clark U., Ph.D., 1980).

These five new families came from Windsor, VT, where the Constitution of Vermont was signed in 1777.  This constitution created the Republic of Vermont, an independent nation.  The Republic of Vermont existed until 1791 when Vermont became part of the United States.

Ebenezer Hoisington (Windsor)
Joab Hoisington (Windsor-Woodstock)
William Smead (Windsor)
William Smead, Jr. (Windsor)
Zephaniah Spicer (Windsor)

Database Tip: If you click “Download PDF” from any record on the search results page, you will have a copy of the entire sketch–you will not have to download each individual page!  The “Download PDF” link can also be found on the transcript page.

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Update to Hampshire County Probate File Papers

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A topographical map of Hampshire County Massachusetts by Henry Francis Walling (By http://maps.bpl.org [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

This update to the Hampshire County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1660-1889 adds 6,538 additional case records and 175,000 individual file papers.  This database is possible through our collaboration with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives and the Hampshire County Probate & Family Court.  The collection contains the records of Hampshire County probate cases filed between 1660 and 1889. The probate cases include wills, guardianships, administrations, and various other types of probate records except adoptions, which are not public records in Massachusetts.

Rather than sequential case numbers, the Hampshire County file papers are numbered by file box (1-267) and then folder within the box. The case number naming convention is [box number]-[folder number]:[page number]. For example, the first page of the first folder in box 1 is “1-1:1”.

For more information about this database, please consult our introduction which contains helpful information and examples for understanding and interpreting this collection.

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