All posts by Don LeClair

Don LeClair

About Don LeClair

Don is the Associate Director, Database Search & Systems, at NEHGS. He first got involved with genealogy while in college and spent many a day in the NEHGS library tracing his ancestors through New England and New York. Don also did volunteer indexing work for the library before joining the staff in 2016. Previously, Don had a 30-year career in the software industry working in and leading engineering and product management teams focused on IT Management products. Don has a B.A. and M.B.A. from Boston University.

‘The perfect is the enemy of the good’

Figure 1

Originating in an Italian proverb in 1603 and popularized by Voltaire in 1770, we have all heard the phrase “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” This phrase is very well-suited to the topic of searching genealogical databases, and particularly for AmericanAncestors.org.

Over the last year, the NEHGS web team has been researching a wide variety of things that we can do to improve the search experience for our 250,000 members. Along the way it has become clear that one of the bigger problems our members face is the dreaded “0 records returned” message (Figure 1). You just know that the record you are looking for is out there, but you can’t seem to find it when you fill out the search form. Continue reading ‘The perfect is the enemy of the good’

Acts of genealogical kindness

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

Ancient burying grounds

gravestone-1
Find a Grave image for Ebenezer Paddock (see Note 5 below).

Because of the dedication of our many volunteers, we at the New England Historic Genealogy Society have the opportunity to continually expand the range of databases we provide to family researchers. Recently we have made a lot of progress indexing cemetery transcriptions from NEHGS manuscripts, creating a database complete with accompanying images. You may wonder why we are bothering to index these old manuscripts when there are so many other sources of cemetery information widely available on the Internet today. Continue reading Ancient burying grounds

A Loyalist history lesson

history-of-putnam-county-p01-detailOne of the delightful things about genealogy is that it often leads us to learn, and re-learn, our history lessons in unexpected ways.

I have struggled for many years trying to find any New York documents on my immigrant ancestor John LeClear. He came from France probably at some point in the 1760s. I had first found him in the 1790 U.S. Census living in Half Moon, Albany County, New York. My only other clues came from copies of copies of some letters written by his then 93-year-old grandson, Shubael, which laid out the names and marriages of the first couple of generations of the family, mostly without places or dates. Shubael did state the John lived near Poughkeepsie before moving north to Albany. However, no church, cemetery, or vital records have emerged to help support this statement. Continue reading A Loyalist history lesson