On this Memorial Day Weekend every city, town, and village in America will have its commemoration. At NEHGS and AmericanAncestors.org, we are continually inspired by the annual Memorial Day installation that takes place on the nearby Boston Common, just blocks from our headquarters in Back Bay.
On a slope of the Soldiers & Sailors Monument, more than 37,000 flags are waving in a garden of red, white, and blue in tribute to the active duty military casualties from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts recorded since the start of the Revolutionary War. It’s a dramatic reminder that here in the U.S. we’re privileged to be living in “the home of the free – because of the brave.”
I was recently a guest lecturer for a graduate museum studies class as part of the American Indian Studies program at Minnesota State University, Mankato. When I agreed to speak to the class I assumed I would be focusing on my academic work: my work as a public historian, work outside of genealogy. I was surprised to find that the students were most interested in discussing my genealogical work in the context of public history. Continue reading Public genealogists→
My nineteenth century immigrant ancestors have caused me a lot of headaches. With the exception of my Muir ancestor, Robert, who listed his specific birthplace, my immigrant ancestors were very vague in listing their birthplaces on records in the U.S.
Though most of my ancestry is Irish, I have a German line that has always interested me. My great-great-grandfather, John Henry Hampe, came to the New York in 1872, and eventually moved to Boston. Though he claimed to have been naturalized in later census records, I was never able to locate a naturalization record for him, which I hoped would list his birthplace. Continue reading Surname maps for genealogical research→
There appears to be a bit of trepidation among new researchers about what is meant by “verifying” sources. It probably sounds horrendously difficult, time consuming, and redundant, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as some would think – and any time spent spent “auditing” sources can return great benefits. Here are a few pointers.
When the movie Seabiscuit (2003)was released in theaters, my family and I decided to throw our own version of a Hollywood movie premiere party. Seabiscuit was a well-known racehorse during years of the Depression. My mother’s paternal aunt, Agnes Conlon, was the wife of John “Red” Pollard, a jockey who rode Seabiscuit in a number of races. I saw the movie with fifteen of my relatives, followed by a get-together at my aunt and uncle’s home. Although my great-aunt Agnes was not included in the storyline of this movie, it was fun to watch Tobey Maguire portray my great-uncle Red.
Red Pollard and Seabiscuit were viewed by many as underdogs. Pollard suffered various injuries throughout his racing career, including an injury which resulted in blindness in his right eye. He kept that a secret, out of fear that he would not be allowed to ride. Continue reading Multimedia sources for family research→
During my recent sabbatical, I made a visit to Jacksonville, Florida, to see one of my great-grandfather’s earliest commissions, the 1902 Mercantile Exchange Bank (today the Old Florida National – or Marble – Bank). I reached Jacksonville during a torrential downpour, although the skies cleared (briefly), allowing me to take photos of the building as it stands today. Continue reading Accidental geography→
David Allen Lambert’s April post on livelihoods inspired me to consider my own “family’s business.” In looking at my ancestry, one occupation pops up again and again and again: shoemaker. From Great Migration immigrants to Italian calzolai to French-Canadian shoe factory workers, my ancestors knew shoes.
The earliest shoemakers or cordwainers to New England arrived in 1629. My ancestor (on my father’s side) Anthony Morse (abt. 1607–1686) arrived in Newbury aboard the James in 1635 with his brother William. Both appear on a passenger list as shoemakers.Continue reading “If the shoe fits”→
Recently, I had the pleasure of attending this year’s annual conference of the Massachusetts Library Association as a panelist for its Genealogy 101 discussion session. The goal of the session is to inform public librarians about how the staffs of genealogically-oriented libraries and organizations work with patrons to answer their reference questions. Assisting patrons with genealogical questions is increasingly frequent for public librarians, given the popularity of prime time shows such as Who Do You Think You Are? and Finding Your Roots. My fellow panelists were Joy Hennig, Worcester Public Library; Susan Aprill, Kingston Public Library; Barbara Burg, Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston; and Marie Lamoureaux, American Antiquarian Society in Worcester. Continue reading Genealogy 101: the librarians’ view→
The Petty Sessions Court Registers are an invaluable source for Irish ancestral research. These court records are chock-full of fantastic information, and can offer a depiction of your ancestor that traditional Irish sources will not. Continue reading Irish Petty Sessions Court Registers→