Passing the torch

Portland’s current mayor, Ted Wheeler, poses with our former principal. During senior year, Ted served as class president and I as class historian, so I guess we both ran true to form!

I recently attended a gala celebrating the 150th anniversary of my high school in..

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Well played

The last surviving windmill on Nantucket (ca. 1746) is also the oldest operational mill in the United States. It is mentioned in one of Cato Cary’s deeds.

In my very first post for Vita Brevis, I mentioned that I’d learned a wonderful tip from NEHGS staff: many..

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Curiouser and curiouser

The interior side of the Hancock Mansion’s front door, preserved in the Massachusetts Old Statehouse. This is the side that Cato Hancock would have known well.

I truly went down a rabbit hole recently, and all the credit goes to NEHGS’s Chief Genealogist, David..

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Preventative measures

Nancy de Freitas, aged 8.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a message from a woman curious to know why her grandmother was in my online family tree. This is hardly a unique occurrence, since I enjoy tracking down fairly distant family connections. In this case,..

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'They shall not grow old'

Courtesy of

One of my sons discovered last month that we had an opportunity to view Peter Jackson’s film They Shall Not Grow Old, a documentary constructed from World War I motion picture footage owned by the Imperial War Museum in London. The movie..

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Gifts from Genealogy Santa

My Christmas gifts, lying under a simulated scrimshaw ornament of Nantucket’s Pacific Bank.

I’m sure that many of you asked for – and even received – some genealogical resources this holiday season. Hopefully they will be as rewarding as the items Genealogy Santa..

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The dress is all

At the end of October, I shared the exciting experience of touring the Gov. Bellingham-Cary House, where my distant cousin – the Rev. Thomas Cary (1745–1808) – spent time as a young adult. I mentioned near the end that I’d found something curious at New York’s..

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"Grandfather Mustache"

Fred Athearn's official portrait for his second year on the University of California football team, 1899.

The 31 October edition of NEGHS’s Weekly Genealogist ran a quiz asking readers whether they had any ancestors who participated in organized sports as adults. It..

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The fabric is all

It has been a while since I’ve written an installment about the Rev. Thomas Cary’s diary. Indeed, it has been a while since I’ve written a post about anything, since I’ve been on a five-week trip with my husband along the East Coast as part of his sabbatical. Now I’m..

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More fires

Stone sculptures purchased on vacation in British Columbia were the only items in my father’s house to (mostly) survive the October 1991 Oakland Fire.

Just after 5:30 a.m., last October 9, I got a text from my half-sister letting me know that she and her children..

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