The 1920s, the ’20s, the twenties: writing dates

A few months ago, we agreed that apostrophes do not belong in plurals: To make a plural, generally you add an s or es. No apostrophe. The same rule applies when you are referring to a decade, say, the 1920s. It is absolutely fine to put a letter after a number without..

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Why I Love Revolutionary War Pension Records

Sheilagh Doerfler’s recent post about finding Revolutionary War ancestors reminded me of the story I tell people about how much I love Revolutionary War pension records. They often contain significant genealogical information—but the first time I ever consulted these..

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8 More Vital Record Alternatives

Bible record for the Ebenezer Berry family, 1835-1936. R. Stanton Avery Special Collections, NEHGS.

Yesterday I wrote about substitute records that can be used to locate elusive modern vital records. These alternative records can be especially beneficial when an..

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7 Vital Record Alternatives

Both sides of a prayer card for Delia B. Carey, 13 January 1965.

A great way to begin tracing your family history is to interview living relatives, asking for relevant birth, marriage, and death information. These interviews sometimes yield specific information (or..

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Divorce, Abandonment, and Family Secrets

There has always been some secrecy surrounding the Heisinger side of my family. My grandfather did not know anything about his paternal grandfather, Charles Heisinger, because my great-grandfather, Walter Heisinger, never spoke of his father. We were not even sure of..

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Immigration of the Slapshot

Letter from the Black Hawks seeking authorization to import three players.*

While my personal ancestry does not have anyone who immigrated later than the 1700s, I have long been intrigued by the experiences of those who came in the latter 1800s and the early 1900s,..

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Finding the Fahys in Ireland

Grandmother Fahy's house, County Galway.

I recently went to Ireland to visit my dad’s family. Having investigated my grandmother’s ancestry on a previous trip, I wanted to focus this time on learning more about the Fahys.

Thomas Fahy, my paternal grandfather, died..

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An Ancestral Connection with Prohibition

Two men with a whiskey still, sometime between 1920 and 1930. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Recently I uncovered some interesting information about my husband’s great-grandfather, Peter Consigli. According to the 6 September 1930 Boston Herald,

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Where did the first Boston Marathon winner go?

John J. McDermott, winner of the first Boston Marathon. Boston Sunday Journal, 1 May 1898.

As a lifetime Bostonian who has seen her share of snowstorms (especially this year), I always look forward to Patriot’s Day (April 20 this year). It’s the official anniversary..

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Finding Revolutionary War Ancestors

Frederick Wingdorf's record in the Index to Revolutionary War Service Records.

Patriots’ Day—the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord—is fast approaching here in Massachusetts. This particular holiday makes many of us a little reflective. Was my..

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Read the problem; Trust, but verify

Click on Register page to enlarge.

My father, the MIT graduate, used to try to tutor me in math. His most frequent frustration was getting me to remember to “read the problem.” All the answers were there, he claimed, if I understood the problem. Alas, I never..

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Indexing your family history

If you’re writing a family history, you’re ultimately going to index it, right? If you’ve ever consulted a printed genealogy in hopes of finding an ancestor . . . only not to find an index to help you, you’ll know the importance of creating an index for your own work.


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Finding Uncle Morris

Family Tradition versus Fact, and a few shades of Gray

Gravestone of Morris Larned Healy.

One story often repeated in my family concerned the mystery of my grandfather’s uncle, Morris Larned Healy, who reportedly had died of “lead poisoning” at a..

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Twin Pastimes: Baseball and Genealogy

David's signed Bill Henry baseball card.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved baseball. My father would tell me stories about his own childhood, recalling Ted Williams batting at Boston’s Fenway Park, and Warren Spahn pitching at the former Boston Braves field. My..

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Crossing Paths: Two Stories of Buchenwald

U.S. Army troops in Germany, 1945. Photograph by Herbert Gorfinkle. From the Papers of Herbert Gorfinkle, P-904 at the American Jewish Historical Society-New England Archives.

April 11, 2015 is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Buchenwald concentration camp...

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Testing the “strength” of a local legend

Elmer Bitgood and his back press board weighted with stones in Voluntown, CT. account of William Molis, Jr.

Voluntown, a small eastern Connecticut town of just over two thousand, was once home to a national legend who is all but forgotten today. From..

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Beacon Hill Place

At center, a view of the intersection of Tremont and Beacon Streets. G. W. Bromley & Co., Atlas of the City of Boston: City Proper and Roxbury (1890), Plate 2. Click on the images to expand them.

Mrs. Gray’s Boston, at least during the 1860s, was one largely arrayed..

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Choosing a Lineage Society

Program of the Boston Tea Party Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Photo by Karen M. True.

So you’ve decided to join a lineage society. Maybe you’ve found an ancestor who meets the qualification for a society you’ve known about for years. Or..

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Becoming American: A Look at the Process

The National Archives’ Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service—which many genealogists informally call “Record Group 85”—is one of the best sources of data on immigrants to America, covering the years 1787 to 1993. It’s a common misperception that Record..

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New "My Lists" in the NEHGS Library Catalog

We recently implemented a new feature in the NEHGS library catalog that will make it easier to keep track of library resources that are relevant to your research. The function is called “My Lists,” and it allows you to save lists of titles to your NEHGS library account..

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In Search of Livelihoods

You know the names and dates, but do you know how your early New England ancestors worked to survive? Tracing these individual stories is challenging with limited records, but not impossible.

As a child, I used my allowance to purchase a family tree fan chart at the..

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King Richard III’s Matrilineal Kin

News of King Richard III’s reburial last week was interesting, especially the stories regarding descendants of the King’s sister, who each placed a white rose (the..

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