28 April 2012

Massachusetts' connection to the Titanic

RMS Titanic
Traveling from Southampton, England, to New York City, the maiden voyage of the luxury liner RMS Titanic ended in disaster. On April 15, 1912, the Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean and sank, along with more than 1,500 passengers and crew members. Slightly more than 700 people survived, after being loaded onto lifeboats and picked up by the RMS Carpathia.

Over the years, this maritime disaster has captured the hearts and interests of people worldwide, from books and movies to memorabilia. In 1963, the tragedy inspired Edward S. Kamuda to found the first and original Titanic Historical Society in Indian Orchard, Massachusetts. Its museum contains rare artifacts given to the Kamudas and the society by survivors (and their descendants) from the Titanic. The collection includes the cork life jacket worn by Mrs. John Jacob Astor (whose husband went down with the ship); clothes and personal effects Selena Rogers Cook wore that night; Ernest Allen's Seaman's Discharge Book; ship menus; personal accounts and diaries; and much more. The museum also holds a nearly nine-foot Titanic model, blueprints from the builders of the ship, 100 years of memorabilia and reproductions, and even a 27-foot collapsible lifeboat used in James Cameron's Titanic movie.

Unlike Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit, the Titanic Historical Society in Massachusetts does not have many items from the 1985 and later salvage expeditions.

14 April 2012

Volunteers create access to many genealogy records

When Clarence Almon Torrey (1869-1962) first set out to compile what became known as New England Marriages Prior to 1700, he didn’t expect fame or monetary rewards beyond his imagination. He just quietly and methodically researched many, many records to uncover nearly 37,000 couples married in the 17th century. You could say he was obsessed, like many of us are, with genealogy. And that's a good thing for millions of people who descend from his original list. Imagine what New England research would be without Torrey—or any of the other great genealogists we rely on day in, day out.
In fact, we rely on the contributions of many people to build our family trees. Some are paid, but many are volunteers. To me, it has been inspiring to see so many people volunteering their time and efforts to index the recently released 1940 census. It says a lot about the genealogy community as a whole. As English writer John Heywood (1497–1580) said, “Many handis make light warke.”
So what can you contribute to the genealogy world?
In a recent post, I mentioned how the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists (MSOG) had partnered with FamilySearch to create an index to the Boston Passenger Lists 1820-1891. The group then took on the challenge—like many other groups and individuals—to index the 1940 census. In fact, I decided to try it myself. I signed up with FamilySearch Worldwide Indexing. I found myself transcribing Texas death records, not because I had any relatives in Texas (I don’t), but because the job was marked with high priority. I was so excited to see the Texas index go online at FamilySearch, free for anyone to view, knowing I was a part of making it happen. FamilySearch has a huge vault of records from all over the globe, and volunteers are scouring the far reaches of the world to add more, so there’s a huge need for volunteers to index these records.
Projects Big and Small
I have been a county coordinator for the USGenWeb since 1998. With the goal of providing “free genealogy for everyone,” the USGenWeb volunteers host web sites for every county in the country. Not only is the group looking for more people to “adopt” a county, but each state is looking for people to transcribe materials for the web sites, special projects, and archives. A similar premise is behind GENUKI, a site that covers England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man.
Every time I look at Find a Grave, it seems like volunteers have added yet another million more grave listings to the site. Founded by Jim Tipton in 1995, the web site grows daily due to the thousands of contributors who submit new listings and upload photographs of our dearly departed. You can add your ancestors’ final resting places to the site, transcribe cemetery records, or fulfill other people’s requests to photograph their relatives’ graves. Another site, BillionGraves, has volunteers with GPS-enabled smartphones snapping photos at graveyards and uploading them to the site.
Go Local
Besides these big national and international online projects, there are genealogy societies big and small that need your help.
For instance, New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) offers opportunities for volunteers to “work in the library, manuscripts, research, conservation, website, or membership areas at NEHGS headquarters or on special projects from home.” 
Founded in 1980, the Massachusetts Genealogical Council “is the umbrella organization representing Massachusetts genealogists, historical societies and individuals who are concerned about records preservation and free and unfettered access to civil records.” The council holds an annual seminar every summer, which requires many volunteers to make it a successful event.
As already mentioned, the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists (MSOG) is involved in indexing the Boston Passenger Lists and the 1940 census.
There are many genealogy and historical groups and libraries looking for volunteers. Find one that matches your interests and abilities—and volunteer. 

12 April 2012

Best newspaper resources for genealogy

The first newspaper in Colonial America was Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, published in Boston on 25 September 1690. After one issue, the government ordered the paper to be suppressed and all copies destroyed. From that point on, all such printed materials required a license. The second newspaper, The Boston News-Letter, started publication in 1704 and successfully ran for 74 years. Unlike one-page broadsides, these newspapers typically consisted of four pages and offered local and British news, events, and advertisements. 

Newspapers are a treasure trove for genealogists. We search them mainly for birth notices, wedding announcements, and obituaries. But they’re also useful for mentioning tidbits such as a distant relative visiting family in town; participation in local society events; accidents and injuries; local political news; shipping news; society pages; opinion pieces and letters to the editor; and much more. Plus, advertisements and legal notices may concern our ancestors’ businesses, property, and estate affairs.

Newspapers are historical snapshots worth saving. In fact, the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress have funded the United States Newspaper Program to collect and preserve newspapers from all 50 states. Visit the site to find out which newspapers have been microfilmed.

In addition to print, most newspapers today have an online version available. Like the print edition, online newspapers often are divided into sections (local, national, world news; business, finance; sports; arts & entertainment, etc.). The bonus with the online version, however, is the search engine—and access to earlier editions. 

Local Access

The Boston Globe has a subscription-only site as well as a free site, with many stories being archived (and available for a fee) after the first month of publication. Through my local library, I can access Proquest’s Historical Newspapers: Boston Globe 1872-1979 and Massachusetts Newsstand: Boston Globe 1980 to current.

Check with your local public library to see if it offers in-library or home access to newspaper collections. My local library offers free home access to the back issues of my local newspaper, Gale newspaper collections,  the Boston Globe, and the New York Times. When I was doing research for my neighbor, for example, I learned I had access to the Lowell Sun from 2004 to current through my local library. After that, I needed to visit the Pollard Public Library in Lowell, Massachusetts, for library-access-only of The Sun online 1879-1977 and on microfilm.  

Newspaper Web Sites

Before subscribing to commercial web sites for newspaper access, check to see if the site covers the regions, newspaper titles, and publication dates you need.

19th Century U.S. Newspapers: 1.7 million pages from hundreds of newspapers. (Available through New England Historic Genealogical Society and Godfrey Memorial Library memberships; free at FamilySearch Centers.)

Ancestry.com: Ancestry has so many different kinds of records. You need to “Search all records,” type in person’s first and last name, then narrow your search by category to get at “Newspapers & Publications.” You also can use the Card Catalog to search Newspapers & Publications by title or keyword and filter by location and/or date. Ancestry also has the United States Obituary Collection and Historical Newspapers, Birth, Marriage, and Death Announcements 1851-2003 that collect stories from eight major U.S. newspapers. (Subscription.)

Chronicling America: Search select U.S. newspapers from 1836 to 1922. (Free.)

Early American Newspapers, Series 1, 1690-1876: More than one million pages. (Available onsite at New England Historic Genealogical Society and Godfrey Memorial Library.)

FamilySearch: You can use a filter to find obituary collections, pick the area of interest, and search from there. You also can create, preserve, and share an obituary for a loved one or search what others have written. (Free.)

Findmypast: Collection includes U.S., Canadian, British, Irish, and World (China, Denmark, France, Germany, South Africa, Jamaica, Virgin Islands, Panama) newspapers and PERiodical Source Index (with some links to full articles) as well family history records. (Subscription or pay-as-you-go plan.)

Fold3: Mostly a military web site, but includes some newspapers. (Subscription, some free material.)

GenealogyBank: Between Historical Newspapers 1690-2007 and Newspaper Obituaries 1977 to Present, GenealogyBank offers 5,850-plus different newspaper titles. (Subscription.)

Google News is free to search, with sometimes a fee to view an article.

Legacy has recent obituaries from newspapers and funeral homes nationwide on its site. It also is the power behind the search engine for many newspaper obituary collections. Recent obituaries and guest books are free; archived ones cost a nominal fee. Legacy also branched out into public notices and celebrations (such as weddings).

Newspaper Archive: Billed as “the world’s largest online newspaper archive.” (Subscription.)

Newspapers.com3,500 newspapers from the 1700s to 2000s”; owned by Ancestry.com. (Subscription.)

New York Times Archive: For 1851-1923 and 1987-present, you can view up to 20 articles a month, but for 1924-1986, you pay per article. Check to see if your local library has access. 

Paper of Record: Canadian, U.S., and other countries. (Subscription.)

ProQuest Archiver: 130 newspapers from U.S., Canada, U.K., and Israel. Check to see if your local library has access; if not, pay by article or with a 24-hour pass.

Small Town Papers Collection offers Google search and browsing by issue for 45 states from 1865 to present. (Free.)

WorldVitalRecords contains two newspaper collections: Newspaper Archive and Small Town Papers Collection. (Subscription.)

Special Projects

Historians, libraries, and genealogists have created special newspaper collections—and some are offering online access. The Center for Lowell History has indexes to birth, marriage and death notices published in Lowell, Massachusetts, newspapers since 1865. The Boston Public Library has an index for obituaries that appeared in the Boston Globe and Boston Herald, currently available from 1953 to 2010. The Brooklyn Public Library in New York has digitized 147,000 pages of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, making the years 1841 to 1902 searchable by date or keywords.

Individuals and groups have abstracted or compiled newspaper clippings and obituaries. Some of the notable ones can be found on Newspaper Abstracts: Finding Our Ancestors in the News, the Olden Times: Historic Newspapers Online, and an index at Obituary Daily Times. You also may find obituaries and other newspaper clippings on county pages or in the archives of the USGenWeb project or on genealogy-specific message boards.

03 April 2012

1940 census: Massachusetts enumeration district (ED) numbers

Like previous censuses, the 1940 U.S. census is divided by state, by county, and then by enumeration district (ED). Whenever we source a census record, it's important to include the publication number, the microfilm number, and the ED number. Since the 1940 census was released on April 2, 2012, without an everyname index, those ED numbers become critically important while waiting for various volunteer groups to finish indexing the census. 

If you have the 1940 street address but need the ED number, check Steve Morse's Unified 1940 Census ED Finder. Type in the address, select "ED description," and then "More Details" for ED number. 

If you have your ED number, you can focus your research on a specific location. Besides the National Archives and Record Administration's official 1940 census site, other web sites such as MyHeritage.comFamilySearch, and Ancestry are hosting the 3.8 million images.

For the 1940 census, the publication number is T627. Below, you will find a chart that includes the microfilm number, county (city), and ED numbers.

1940 U.S. Census (T627) for Massachusetts
Roll #: County (City): ED Numbers
1565: Barnstable: 1-1 to 1-33
1566: Barnstable: 1-34 to 1-59
1567: Berkshire: 2-1 to 2-16, 2-18 to 2-36
1568: Berkshire: 2-37 to 2-73
1569: Berkshire: 2-74 to 2-107
1570: Berkshire: 2-108 to 2-133, 2-135 to 2-145, 2-17, 2-134
1571: Bristol: 3-1 to 3-27
1572: Bristol: 3-28 to 3-63
1573: Bristol: 3-64 to 3-93
1574: Bristol: 3-94 to 3-120
1575: Bristol: 3-121 to 3-147
1576: Dukes: 4-1 to 4-20
1577: Essex: 5-1 to 5-31
1578: Essex: 5-32 to 5-56
1579: Essex: 5-57 to 5-99
1580: Essex: 5-100 to 5-132
1581: Essex: 5-133 to 5-151
1582: Essex; Essex (Lawrence): 5-152 to 5-157; 5-158 to 5-181
1583: Essex (Lawrence): 5-182 to 5-212
1584: Essex (Lawrence): 5-213 to 5-227
1585: Essex: 5-228 to 5-243
1586: Essex: 5-244 to 5-273
1587: Essex: 5-274 to 5-298
1588: Essex: 5-299 to 5-326
1589: Essex: 5-327 to 5-370
1590: Essex: 5-371 to 5-405
1591: Franklin: 6-1 to 6-3, 6-15, 6-48, 6-4 to 6-29
1592: Franklin: 6-30 to 6-65
1593: Hampden: 7-1 to 7-36
1594: Hampden: 7-37 to 7-66
1595: Hampden (Holyoke): 7-67 to 7-101
1596: Hampden (Holyoke); Hampden: 7-102 to 7-125; 7-126 to 7-139
1597: Hampden: 7-140 to 7-160
1598: Hampden: 7-161 to 7-204
1599: Hampshire: 8-1 to 8-41
1600: Hampshire: 8-42 to 8-81
1601: Middlesex: 9-1 to 9-31
1602: Middlesex: 9-32 to 9-46, 9-482, 9-47 to 9-54, 9-205, 9-536, 9-55 to 9-63
1603: Middlesex: 9-64 to 9-109
1604: Middlesex (Everette): 9-110 to 9-135
1605: Middlesex (Everette): 9-136 to 9-154
1606: Middlesex: 9-155 to 9-178
1607: Middlesex: 9-179 to 9-203, 9-537, 9-204, 9-206 to 9-210
1608: Middlesex (Malden): 9-211 to 9-239
1609: Middlesex (Malden): 9-240 to 9-271
1610: Middlesex: 9-272 to 9-295
1611: Middlesex (Medford): 9-296 to 9-318
1612: Middlesex (Medford): 9-319 to 9-354
1613: Middlesex: 9-355 to 9-392
1614: Middlesex (Newton): 9-393 to 9-419
1615: Middlesex (Newton): 9-420 to 9-444
1616: Middlesex (Newton); Middlesex: 9-445 to 9-463; 9-464 to 9-469
1617: Middlesex: 9-470 to 9-481, 9-483 to 9-497
1618: Middlesex: 9-498 to 9-524
1619: Middlesex (Waltham): 9-525 to 9-535, 9-538 to 9-570
1620: Middlesex (Watertown): 9-571 to 9-599
1621: Middlesex (Watertown); Middlesex: 9-600 to 9-607; 9-608 to 9-627
1622: Middlesex: 9-628 to 9-658
1623: Nantucket: 10-1 to 10-13
1624: Norfolk: 11-1 to 11-28
1625: Norfolk (Brookline): 11-29 to 11-57
1626: Norfolk (Brookline); Norfolk: 11-58 to 11-73; 11-74 to 11-91
1627: Norfolk: 11-92 to 11-101, 11-118, 11-102 to 11-117, 11-119
1628: Norfolk: 11-120 to 11-151
1629: Norfolk: 11-152 to 11-171
1630: Norfolk (Quincy): 11-172 to 11-198
1631: Norfolk (Quincy): 11-199 to 11-232
1632: Norfolk (Quincy); Norfolk: 11-233 to 11-246; 11-247 to 11-258
1633: Norfolk: 11-259 to 11-289
1634: Norfolk: 11-290 to 11-313
1635: Plymouth; Plymouth (Brockton): 12-1 to 12-15; 12-16 to 12-32
1636: Plymouth (Brockton): 12-33 to 12-58
1637: Plymouth (Brockton); Plymouth: 12-59 to 12-78; 12-79 to 12-86
1638: Plymouth: 12-87 to 12-93, 12-96, 12-94, 12-95, 12-97 to 12-109, 12-111, 12-128, 12-110, 12-112 to 12-117
1639: Plymouth: 12-118 to 12-127, 12-129 to 12-156
1640: Plymouth: 12-157 to 12-185
1641: Suffolk (Chelsea): 13-1 to 13-33
1642: Suffolk (Chelsea): 13-34 to 13-51
1643: Suffolk (Revere): 13-52 to 13-74
1644: Suffolk: 13-75 to 13-107
1645: Worcester: 14-1 to 14-12, 14-326, 14-13 to 14-30, 14-152, 14-31, 14-32
1646: Worcester: 14-33 to 14-58
1647: Worcester (Fitchburg): 14-59 to 14-88
1648: Worcester (Fitchburg): 14-89 to 14-107
1649: Worcester (Gardner): 14-108, 14-109, 14-317, 14-110 to 14-130
1650: Worcester: 14-131, 14-132, 14-245, 14-309, 14-133 to 14-141, 14-151, 14-142 to 14-149
1651: Worcester: 14-150, 14-153 to 14-181
1652: Worcester: 14-182 to 14-208
1653: Worcester: 14-209 to 14-244, 14-246, 14-247
1654: Worcester: 14-248 to 14-268
1655: Worcester: 14-269 to 14-278, 14-324, 14-279 to 14-304
1656: Worcester: 14-305 to 14-308, 14-310 to 14-316, 14-318 to 14-323, 14-325
1657: Suffolk (Boston): 15-1 to 15-27
1658: Suffolk (Boston): 15-28 to 15-59
1659: Suffolk (Boston): 15-60 to 15-91
1660: Suffolk (Boston): 15-92 to 15-126
1661: Suffolk (Boston): 15-127 to 15-157
1662: Suffolk (Boston): 15-158 to 15-189
1663: Suffolk (Boston): 15-190 to 15-222
1664: Suffolk (Boston): 15-223 to 15-255
1665: Suffolk (Boston): 15-256 to 15-287, 15-769 to 15-771
1666: Suffolk (Boston): 15-288 to 15-327
1667: Suffolk (Boston): 15-328 to 15-358
1668: Suffolk (Boston): 15-359 to 15-391
1669: Suffolk (Boston): 15-392 to 15-420
1670: Suffolk (Boston): 15-421 to 15-451
1671: Suffolk (Boston): 15-452 to 15-479
1672: Suffolk (Boston): 15-480 to 15-502
1673: Suffolk (Boston): 15-503 to 15-527
1674: Suffolk (Boston): 15-528 to 15-553
1675: Suffolk (Boston): 15-554 to 15-581
1676: Suffolk (Boston): 15-582 to 15-611
1677: Suffolk (Boston): 15-612 to 15-632
1678: Suffolk (Boston): 15-633 to 15-655
1679: Suffolk (Boston): 15-656 to 15-683
1680: Suffolk (Boston): 15-684 to 15-712
1681: Suffolk (Boston): 15-713 to 15-739
1682: Suffolk (Boston): 15-740 to 15-768
1683: Middlesex (Cambridge): 16-1 to 16-39
1684: Middlesex (Cambridge): 16-40 to 16-75
1685: Middlesex (Cambridge): 16-76 to 16-108
1686: Middlesex (Cambridge): 16-109 to 16-136
1687: Bristol (Fall River): 17-1 to 17-30
1688: Bristol (Fall River): 17-31 to 17-76
1689: Bristol (Fall River): 17-77 to 17-104
1690: Bristol (Fall River): 17-105 to 17-142
1691: Middlesex (Lowell): 18-1 to 18-39
1692: Middlesex (Lowell): 18-40 to 18-80
1693: Middlesex (Lowell): 18-81 to 18-106
1694: Middlesex (Lowell): 18-107 to 18-136
1695: Essex (Lynn): 19-1 to 19-37
1696: Essex (Lynn): 19-38 to 19-80
1697: Essex (Lynn): 19-81 to 19-111
1698: Bristol (New Bedford): 20-1 to 20-36
1699: Bristol (New Bedford): 20-37 to 20-67
1700: Bristol (New Bedford): 20-68 to 20-98
1701: Bristol (New Bedford): 20-99 to 20-132
1702: Middlesex (Somerville): 21-1 to 21-35
1703: Middlesex (Somerville): 21-36 to 21-64
1704: Middlesex (Somerville): 21-65 to 21-80
1705: Middlesex (Somerville): 21-81 to 21-107
1706: Hampden (Springfield): 22-1 to 22-20
1707: Hampden (Springfield): 22-21 to 22-48
1708: Hampden (Springfield): 22-49 to 22-83
1709: Hampden (Springfield): 22-84 to 22-120
1710: Hampden (Springfield): 22-121 to 22-137
1711: Hampden (Springfield): 22-138 to 22-165
1712: Worcester (Worcester): 23-1 to 23-19
1713: Worcester (Worcester): 23-20 to 23-42
1714: Worcester (Worcester): 23-43 to 23-78
1715: Worcester (Worcester): 23-79 to 23-106
1716: Worcester (Worcester): 23-107 to 23-133
1717: Worcester (Worcester): 23-134 to 23-154
1718: Worcester (Worcester): 23-155 to 23-185
1719: Worcester (Worcester): 23-186 to 23-220

To look up other states' ED numbers, visit NARA's 1940 census finding aid.

If you would like to help index the 1940 U.S. census, check out my article on how you can help. The more indexers, the quicker we'll have an everyname index ready to go!

02 April 2012

1940 U.S. census is now available

Seventy-two years after a United States census is taken, it is released to the public. Today, April 2, 2012, at 9 a.m. ET, the 1940 census became available to genealogists everywhere. But this release is new and different because it's the first time that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has uploaded the census pages online (all 3.8 million of them!). 

Instead of visiting a NARA branch to scroll through microfilm, like we did 10 years ago, now we can see the images on our computers, for free, thanks to a partnership between NARA and Archives.com (a subscription site). 
With the excitement generated by the 1940 census release, NARA has had technical difficulties "due to extraordinary demand." The web site is undergoing updates as I type. But in the meantime, if you haven't done it already, you need to know the addresses and enumeration district (ED) numbers to find your families in the 1940 census. Why? Because there's no index to the names yet. However, countless volunteers are working together to create an index through FamilySearch Indexing. Read my article about volunteering as an indexer. 

Look for old address books, city directories, phone books, letters, and whatnot to find street addresses. In addition, subscription site Ancestry.com is offering free access to 1 billion U.S. 1940s-era records to help. This offer is good through April 10, 2012, at midnight ET. Records include the 1930 census, city directories, World War II draft cards, school yearbooks, obituaries, and much more. 

Other 1940 Census Projects

Besides the official 1940 NARA site, other genealogy sites such as Ancestry.com (subscription only) and FamilySearch (free) received the files to upload at 12:01 this morning. As the day progresses, you'll see updates on their web pages to see how far they've gotten in uploading all these images.

It looks like a lot of genealogists will be up all night doing research!