I have tried to make it a point in my blogs to give heartfelt thanks to indexing efforts of the New England Historic Genealogy Society (NEHGS) volunteers whenever we bring a new or updated collection online. Several people have asked me exactly how volunteers fit in the indexing process. Answering this question requires a little perspective on what is involved in creating one of our databases.
Typically, the first step is scanning images from the original source materials. The volunteers come to the library here in Boston. Then, using a flatbed scanner or 35mm camera-based book scanner, the volunteer captures every page in the book. A critical part of this phase is to take care that the images are clear and that no pages have been inadvertently skipped. This seems straightforward, but when you are processing a few hundred pages extra vigilance is required. Continue reading Acts of genealogical kindness→
Regina Shober Gray often used her final diary entries for a year to review the previous twelve months. At the end of the year 1864, death was much on her mind, with the recent loss of her brother John; another close friend, generally noted in the diary as Miss Jones, had died the previous winter.
61 Bowdoin Street, Boston, Sunday, 25 December 1864: A splendid Christmas day – but oh – how sad such days become to us, as life wears on, and our paths are more and more strewn with wrecks of lost hopes and “loves where death hath set his seal.” It is all I can do to keep back the tears to-day – to seem cheerful for the children’s sake. The past year has carried away 2 most precious friends, and all future life is shadowed with a sense of “retrieveless loss.”
In this diary entry Mrs. Gray depicts some of the economic forces on an upper-class Boston family, one dependent on the largesse of wealthier family members. Her brother John Bedford Shober had died in November, survived by Mrs. Gray, several unmarried sisters, and a younger brother:
61 Bowdoin Street, Boston, Sunday, 18 December 1864: The business firm will go on at present under the old title – “Shober & Co.” – though Antony Kimber being the elder of the surviving partners has the right to insist on the appearance of his name, if he choose to – more especially as he is the more experienced business man, and largest capitalist of the two.
Dear John’s will was just what we all knew beforehand – all the property but $10,000 left to his devoted sister Mary, expressly left in trust for the use of his unmarried sisters, to keep up an affluent home for them; this has been for years the darling object of his life. Continue reading ‘Generosity and magnanimity of character’→
Philadelphia, Sunday, 4 December 1864: One week to-day since our precious brother died – died to earth with all its torturing pain, its long drawn weariness and waked to peace and rest – “the rest that remaineth to them that love the Lord” in Heaven.
He was seized with convulsions on Friday p.m. about 6 o’c. and they lasted with intervals of two or three breathings – and once of 2 hours, till about 3 p.m. on Sunday, when he sank, with a few sobbing breaths, ever fainter and fainter into the everlasting stillness … Continue reading ‘Business without change’→
The NEHGS Library is always adding new and interesting items to our collections. These come from purchases we make, and from numerous donations to the Society.
You can keep current with additions to our collections by viewing our monthly list of new titles, available through the library’s online catalog. Check here to view new items from the past few months. A new list will be posted at the beginning of each month, along with occasional special featured lists. Currently we have a list of genealogies with online versions, and a list of Italian genealogy and history titles. You can find new materials, and other featured lists, from the main search screen of the library catalog, as shown at left: Continue reading What’s new in the Library?→
The last months of 1864 marked the beginning of the end of the Civil War, as well as the final illness of Mrs. Gray’s beloved brother John Shober. An effort at economy – by giving up a resident seamstress – left the diarist feeling uneasy as she prepared to go to her brother’s bedside in Philadelphia.
61 Bowdoin Street, Boston, Sunday, 20 November 1864: …Friday evg. I took the children to the “Sailor’s Fair,” where they met a crowd of young friends, and had a good time, though they had but little money to spend. Their Aunt Sallie Gray presented them with the entrance tickets, very kindly. The whole theatre was a glare of heat & light & blazing colour, very gorgeous, but very wearying; and after walking round with Morris [Gray] for 2 hours I was glad to come home, leaving the older boys to stay as long as they liked. I made but 2 purchases – one of Barnum’s Self-sewers for my machine – it seemed to me a very good thing; and some shells for Morris’s Christmas gift. Continue reading ‘The last was wonderfully effective’→
Mrs. Gray’s diary continues, with the results of the 1864 presidential election:
61 Bowdoin Street, Boston, Wednesday, 9 November 1864: The great election-day passed off without disorder or disturbance – and, Thank God, Lincoln is re-elected by splendid majorities. Every New Eng. state, Penna. & New York state have gone for him. New Y. city went McClellan by 30,000 majority – but that was expected; & he has New Jersey & Kentucky – all the others are Lincoln.
Kansas did not even have an opposition ticket, so heartily Republican was the whole state. The long anxiety, suspense, & dread are over – a good God has overruled the madness of home traitors for their own ruin, and the salvation of the country; that accursed Chicago platform, the offspring of foul treason, cowardice, and political corruption, happily trampled McClellan’s hopes to nothingness. He might have had some chance but for that. Continue reading ‘The salvation of the country’→
The diarist Regina Shober Gray began the Civil War with mixed feelings about the new American president; by late 1864 she had no doubts about his integrity or his importance to the nation.
61 Bowdoin Street, Boston, Sunday, 6 November 1864: Mr. Foote gave us a good discourse on the distinction to be held between religious form & religious formalism, and illustrated his meaning by an eloquent allusion the love for our country’s flag – which is after all naught in itself but a piece of coloured bunting, our love for which in times of peace and prosperity is but a form of words, a mode of thought, used to sound the periods of a fourth of July nation. But when war and peril assail its sacred folds, it becomes to us the emblem of all man holds most dear on earth – the holy emblem of all the great ideas for which true men are ready to suffer & die now, as were the martyrs of old. Continue reading ‘True as the needle to the pole’→
By the fall of 1864, hints of the ultimate outcome of the American Civil War could be discerned. For Regina Shober Gray, the period was also marked by worry about her family members’ health; she looked for consolation to the minister of King’s Chapel, and did not always find it.
61 Bowdoin Street, Boston, Sunday, 23 October 1864: A splendid autumn day – Mary & Frank [Gray] are at church and the younger boys I have just sent off for a walk – they are none of them right well. It is distressing to see the healths run down, as soon as school begins; and yet we do not let them over work there; and if we keep them away from school the time hangs so very heavy on their hands… Continue reading ‘All honour & respect’→
[Author’s note: This series, on Mrs. Gray’s reading habits, beganhere.]
After a summer holiday in Manchester, the Grays were back in Boston. The engagement of a family friend reminded Mrs. Gray of some of the undercurrents which must have swirled unnoticed about her own engagement in 1844:
61 Bowdoin Street, Boston, Sunday, 11 September 1864: A dull lowering day has settled into a steady rain – so we shall probably not get out to “The Pines” tomorrow, as proposed, to dine – for which I am sorry. I want to go myself, and I want Sue [Shober] to see the place & house. I hear it is handsome and commodious enough within, to amply compensate its outward unsightliness – which is saying a good word for its accommodations certainly, as externally the house does not satisfy the eye at all. Continue reading ‘A very serious thing indeed!’→