Category Archives: Stories-from-the-archives

Ships Logs and Genealogy

I spent over a decade volunteering at the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport, Massachusetts. During that time I’ve helped with many projects, but one of the most exciting began when I uncovered a ship log with an unusual provenance. Unlike the vast majority of..

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When You Have Touched Those Records

Some people might plan a trip to New York City to see a Broadway show or go shopping. For me, my true thrill is hopping the ferry and visiting Ellis Island.

As the ferry was docking on my first visit, I had tears in my eyes. Though I don’t personally have any ancestors..

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The Bone Ring

Stored in the archival collection of the Dorchester (MA) Historical Society is a ring, brown in color and lightweight, with the number forty-four carved into it. Until recently, not much was known about the ring’s origins. An old label stored with the ring lists it as..

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A Secret Government Hideaway in the Allegheny Mountains

Photos courtesy of the Greenbrier Hotel.

It’s really hard for me to go on vacation without being tempted to do genealogy. I don’t mean my own family—that’s its own problem—I mean researching the history of the place I’m visiting, or the family history of the people..

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The True Story of Young Willie McBride

Have you ever wondered if a favorite song of yours had a basis in fact?

In the song “The Green Fields of France,” the narrator reflects upon the grave of Willie McBride, a young man who died as a soldier in World War I. In one verse, he asks Willie:

Or are you a..

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Meet the Ghosts who Haunt our History (Part I)

Mary Todd Lincoln with the ghost of her husband Abraham Lincoln behind her, circa 1872. Photo by William H Mumler.

Thank you to everyone who answered our call for submissions! I had so much fun going through the treasure trove of strange, poignant, and even funny..

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Discovering Caleb Dyer, the Only Shaker Ever Murdered

Caleb Dyer ca. 1863, via Enfield Shaker Museum

Plenty of people own Shaker furniture or have heard of Shaker-style craftsmanship, but it's less common to find someone with Shaker ancestry. There’s good reason for that: the Shakers, or the United Society of..

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Mr. John Griffin and the Boston Common Treasure

Detail of 1814 map of Boston Common by John Groves Haley.

As anyone who as ever spent time doing genealogical research can tell you, searching through historical records can oftentimes feel like a little bit of a treasure hunt. When I noticed an unusual headline..

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