When it comes to technology, change comes quickly. In one decade, devices can transform almost beyond prediction. Back in April 2008, I could not have foreseen how technological advances would transform NEHGS.
Many advances came before my time. As Brenton summarizes: “We’d had a website since ’96, but it was a billboard. And in 2000, we launched the first searchable website, which had the Register on it.” Continue reading A decade of growth: technology→
Even on holiday the diarist Regina Shober Gray could not escape anxieties about the health of family members – indeed, her sister Lizzie was beginning a fatal decline, and would die later in the year.
Marion, Massachusetts, Thursday, 24 August 1865: A clear cold autumn day, which makes us bundle up in shawls enough for an Arab Sheik! I came back from Boston, in the rain storm of Tuesday – and did not bring Ella G[ray]. Her cough is troublesome again and her mother is afraid of the dampness here – which has certainly been very chill and penetrating for the last two weeks; a very different air from the soft, balmy, almost oppressive warmth of the earlier part of our visit.
Lizzie Shober is better – but I think she and Mary [Shober] will be glad to get away from here. They are engaged this morning making a cross and triangle of white flower and evergreens for the funeral of a young sea-captain, who died a few weeks since of dysentery in some West Indian port – he leaves a young wife not 20 years old and a babe. Continue reading ‘All of our set’→
I recently drove from Maryland to New England for a week of genealogical research with the NEHGS Research Tour in Hartford. I went up a day early to start my week with a day in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, where my great-great-great-great-grandfather, Porter Cross, had lived. What a day it was!
A year ago I discovered Porter Cross’ obituary while researching in the archives of the Museum of Springfield History. According to the obituary, Porter “was a trustee of Wesleyan academy at Wilbraham and while living in that town designed and constructed the Methodist memorial church.” Continue reading Ancestral homes→
Well, I have not yet finished the blue banyan that I promised my husband back in February, but the death and funeral of former First Lady Barbara Bush have caused me to lay aside that work to write about some important deaths recorded in the diary of the Rev. Thomas Cary – my (half) first cousin six times removed. In my previous post, I finished with Thomas traveling home to Charlestown, Massachusetts, just in time for his seventeenth birthday on 7 October 1762, but a celebration was not the purpose of his trip.
In fact, the only thing written on that date was “Thanksgiving Day.” The reason for his trip was that his mother was gravely ill; the date following his birthday he recorded these few words: “My mother died.” Five days later (which was an exceedingly long delay for the period), he wrote simply, “My mother was buried.” Continue reading Tea with Granny→
My grandfather and his cousin Emily (Morse) (Rees) Wetherbee (1906–1964), lovingly known as “Sunshine,” remained close throughout her life. Their fondness for one another is already evident in this family photo, taken in July 1909.
“Sunshine,” given the name Emily for her paternal grandmother, Emily Clapp (Waters) Morse (1855–1896), became the conduit through which remembered ties to Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony passed to me. Continue reading Inheriting Mayflower lines→
In addition to laying foundations for progress, over the past ten years NEHGS has greatly increased an already-impressive collection. Better still, we now find it much easier to access vast quantities of content.
When I first volunteered at NEHGS in 2006, its new leader, D. Brenton Simons, reached out to NEHGS members. “In my new role as president, I ask for your help in expanding our collections and increasing donor support in order to preserve our invaluable holdings. Together we can move our remarkable institution forward while still valuing our great traditions.” Within the year, NEHGS launched Preserving New England’s Records: An Initiative for Family and Local History, and its goal has been to gather additional and varied materials for the R. Stanton Avery Special Collections. We still have a vibrant collecting program, and you can learn more about donating here. Continue reading A decade of growth: content→
As genealogists spending time researching our ancestors’ lives, we often overlook our personal histories. Having this tendency myself, I now make a point of celebrating significant anniversaries by reflecting on the relevant years. This month marks my tenth anniversary as a full-time employee at NEHGS. Over the past decade, I have experienced first-hand the great march of progress here at NEHGS, but until I spoke with D. Brenton Simons, President and CEO, I had not realized just how closely our institution’s evolutionary waves coincided with my personal growth here. Continue reading A decade of growth: foundations→
A common story among Americans is that their immigrant ancestors changed their names (or had their names changed) upon arrival to the United States in order to make their names sound more “American.” This can make researching immigrant ancestors difficult, especially if you aren’t sure under what name to look for your ancestor. This challenge is prevalent in Irish research, as surname and given name spellings can vary widely from record to record, making it difficult to determine if you’ve located the right person. Continue reading ‘More American’→
When I attended a workshop in Seattle put on by NEHGS, Lindsay Fulton told attendees that one can often find useful genealogical tidbits in old diaries, especially those written by public figures in a community. She recommended searching for diaries of anyone who lived in locations your ancestors did, even if they’re apparently unrelated to your family. You might get lucky and read about births, weddings, and deaths – and perhaps even some juicy gossip – that can flesh out your family history.
If diaries belonging to total strangers can be useful, imagine the thrill I felt when I read in the “Weekly Genealogist” of 28 March that the diary of my (half) first cousin six times removed is now available online – digitally and in transcription – through AmericanAncestors.org! Of course I had to dive right in, even though I had taxes to do and a belated birthday present to sew for my husband.