All posts by Alicia Crane Williams

Alicia Crane Williams

About Alicia Crane Williams

Alicia is the lead genealogist on the new NEHGS study project, Early New England Families, 1641-1700. Prior to joining the NEHGS staff, she compiled and edited numerous important genealogical publications including The Mayflower Descendant, the Alden Family Five Generations project, and the Harlow Family : Descendants of Sgt. William Harlow (1624/5-1691) of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Alicia has served as Historian of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, Assistant Historian General at the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, and as Genealogist of the Alden Kindred of America. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in History from Northeastern University. In October 2016, Alicia was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists.

Fireside chats, 2016

Alicia Crane WilliamsThis year’s holiday Open House at the NEHGS library on Saturday, December 10, included several Fireside Chats. In the morning Marie Daly and Judy Lucey discussed Irish genealogy.

In the afternoon Chris Child covered the different types of DNA testing – Y-chromosome, mitochondrial, and autosomal. This last is the “hot” fad right now; it’s the type you see on TV, such as “I thought all my ancestors were [fill in the blank], but…” I am no expert on the complexity of DNA inheritance, so it was interesting to learn that European (including the British Isles) DNA is greatly affected by thousands of years of migrating groups that have mixed up the pool to the point of making specific interpretations difficult. On the other hand, test results are accumulating to the point where surnames will be identifiable! Continue reading Fireside chats, 2016

The Winthrop Papers

Alicia Crane WilliamsA new database on AmericanAncestors that you might not think to look at is Gov. John Winthrop Papers, Vol. 1–5, 1557 to 1649. These five volumes were originally published by the Massachusetts Historical Society between 1929 and 1947. (The sixth volume, published in 1992, is still under copyright restrictions.) This collection is different from that known as the “Winthrop Journal,” published in 1853, although that also includes some correspondence.[1] Winthrop Papers contains correspondence of members of the extended Winthrop family, including the governor’s father, Adam Winthrop, and his son John Winthrop, the Younger. Continue reading The Winthrop Papers

Generations of Johns

Alicia Crane WilliamsThe name of “John” Alden was passed down for five consecutive generations.

John1 Alden, of course, was the passenger on Mayflower with his soon-to-be bride, Priscilla Mullins.

John2 Alden, their first son and second child, was born about 1626. He went to the big city, Boston, where he became a very successful ship captain and merchant. His wife, Elizabeth (Phillips) Everill, was the daughter of William Phillips, a large land owner, and widow of Abiel Everill. Continue reading Generations of Johns

Harvard graduates

Alicia Crane WilliamsOne of the best sources I use is Biographical sketches of graduates of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. John Langdon Sibley compiled the first three volumes, covering the classes of 1642 through 1689 (published between 1873 and 1885). The collection is still colloquially known as “Sibley’s Harvard Graduates,” although his successor, Clifford K. Shipton, published more volumes covering classes from 1690 through 1771 (between 1933 and 1975), a total of 17 in all. The text from these books is available in the database Colonial Collegians: Biographies of Those Who Attended American Colleges before the War for Independence on americanancestors.org. Continue reading Harvard graduates

The Depression of 1641

Alicia Crane WilliamsSixteen forty-one was the first year after the end of the Great Migration. Between 1620 and 1640, an estimated 80,000 people left England because of the religious and political chaos there. About 20,000 each went to one of four places: New England, Ireland, the West Indies, and the Netherlands.

The political situation in Old England came to a critical point in 1640 when King Charles I, who had disbanded the Puritan-led Parliament in 1629, now needed the body to authorize money for his continuing religion-based wars in Scotland, Ireland, and on the Continent. Continue reading The Depression of 1641

A cautionary tale

Alicia Crane WilliamsOkay, time to get my feet back on the ground. Reader David Cummings recently brought to my attention an error in the Early New England Families Study Project sketch for Samuel Jenney – that the second wife of Samuel’s son, John3 Jenney, was Mary (Mitchell) Shaw, not Phebe (Watson) Shaw. In the pursuant investigation I discovered that I also had the wrong information about John Jenney’s first wife – who was definitely not Margaret Hicks.

So how did that happen? Clearly, I was distracted. Continue reading A cautionary tale

Honors

Alicia Crane WilliamsI was just given the honor of being elected a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists. So exactly what do those initials after my name mean?

The American Society of Genealogists (ASG) was conceived in 1940 by three giants in the field: Dr. Arthur Adams, John Insley Coddington, and Merdeith B. Colket, Jr. When it was incorporated in 1946, the first directors were Adams, Colket, Harry Wright Newman, Milton Rubincam, and Herbert F. Seversmith. Milton once confided to me over drinks at a genealogical conference that it all began as a bunch of guys getting together for drinks! The purpose was to associate themselves and others for their mutual benefit and for the advancement of genealogy (see www.fasg.org). Continue reading Honors

Journaling

Alicia Crane WilliamsHas anyone else gotten into the new analog journaling craze? Often called “Bullet Journaling,” it is a return to the old, handwritten method of keeping records. There are many templates that can be followed, but the Bullet Journal (BuJo) is intended to be thoroughly individualized by the writer to suit his or her needs.

Among records that might be kept in a BuJo are calendars, daily schedules, events, future planning, goals, inspirational quotations, doodles, and collections. Some people decorate their BuJos with neat hand lettering, images, icons, washi tape, and more (check out Pinterest and YouTube for ideas). Some keep all of their information in one journal, others have specialized journals for different subjects. Continue reading Journaling

Phantoms and red herrings

Alicia Crane WilliamsBob Anderson has a “Phantom File” at the end of his Great Migration Begins series (3: 2097–2104), with names that have been misread or misconstrued (e.g., John Allen for John Alden), meaning that no real person by the mistaken name existed.

An example of a phantom in my own family is the reference to “Samuel Crane” on page 1 of Records of the Town of Braintree 1640 to 1793, where he is included in a list of men deputized for town affairs in 1640. Continue reading Phantoms and red herrings

Turning green

Alicia Crane WilliamsI have been diddling with the sketch for Samuel Green of Boston for over a year and I’m still confused. Samuel2 Green, son of Bartholomew1 Green, was of the famous family of printers who operated the only printing press in the English colonies until 1665, and over Samuel’s fifty-year career his press printed 190 imprints, including the John Eliot “Indian” Bible. Samuel became the progenitor of a dynasty of printers that lasted 190 years and six generations. One would think the records for this family would be plentiful and accurate, right?

Not so much. Continue reading Turning green