All posts by Henry Hoff

About Henry Hoff

Henry Hoff is Editor of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register and is a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists as well as a Fellow of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. He is also a Certified Genealogist. His genealogical interests include New York and the West Indies.

Henry is the author of more than 125 genealogical articles in numerous scholarly journals and is the co-author, compiler, or editor of seven books.

A significant anniversary in genealogy

ASG coverThe American Society of Genealogists (ASG) was founded on 28 December 1940 in New York City as an independent society of leading published scholars in the field of American genealogy. An honorary society, ASG is limited to fifty lifetime members designated as Fellows, who may use the initials FASG (see the ASG website, fasg.org, for lists of Fellows past and present). In 1940 nothing existed to honor significant achievement in the field of genealogy or to identify competent genealogists. The three founders of ASG – Arthur Adams, John Insley Coddington, and Meredith B. Colket, Jr. – wanted to change that situation.

From the outset, ASG was (and still is) dedicated to (1) advancing genealogical research methods and encouraging publication of the results, and (2) securing recognition of genealogy as a serious subject of research in the historical and social science fields of learning. Continue reading A significant anniversary in genealogy

Reflections on connections

[Editor’s note: Henry B. Hoff, C.G., F.A.S.G., is editor of The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Excerpts from some of his Vita Brevis posts can be read below.]

Writers-Guide-front-cover--webFrom Just how reliable is that source?: Many of us have been betrayed, genealogically speaking, by a source that appears to be reliable but is not. Often the source is reliable for the most part. But that fact gives you no comfort when the information in which you are interested turns out to be incorrect…

Often the betrayal is of our own making. We rely on a source to be complete and it isn’t. For example, the Barbour Collection of Connecticut Vital Records does not cover all the towns in Connecticut or even all the records of the towns it includes – yet it is easy to forget these caveats and assume no record exists of a particular birth, marriage, or death. Continue reading Reflections on connections

Cousins and their connections

Jaudon wedding
Click on image to expand it.

My father and his brother were the principal heirs of their father’s second cousin (and friend) Emily Bennett. As a result, a box of her papers ended up in my parents’ attic. The contents of the box included this undated and unattributed newspaper clipping. Current online research revealed that the clipping was from the Japan Weekly Mail of 30 November 1901, page 573.

I realized that “the late Mr. Peyton Jaudon” must have been related to Emily Bennett, whose mother was Maria Conrey (Jaudon) Bennett. Fortunately, a good Jaudon genealogy shows that the bride, Julia Ayamé Jaudon, and Emily Bennett were second cousins. Julia’s father, Samuel Peyton Jaudon (1831–1897), a resident of Japan, had married Oshidzu Matsura – and Julia was their only child.[1] Continue reading Cousins and their connections

Further thoughts on genealogical writing

Writers-Guide-front-cover--webFor the past several years NEHGS has been giving seminars on writing and publishing a family history. These have been very popular, and as a result, Penny Stratton and I refocused the two previous NEHGS writing guides to reflect the contents of the seminars. The resulting book is the Guide to Genealogical Writing: How to Write and Publish Your Family History (Boston: NEHGS, 2014), just released. In twelve chapters this Guide covers everything from preparing a short informal booklet up to publishing an elaborate compiled genealogy. Chapters on writing for the Register and for American Ancestors were adapted from the two previous guides. To help readers visualize some of our specific examples, we included plenty of illustrations, most of them from recently published Newbury Street Press books. Continue reading Further thoughts on genealogical writing

Using heraldry for genealogical research

William Bainbridge for blog
Commodore William Bainbridge (1774-1833)

I have had two good personal experiences with heraldry — and no bad ones.

When I was developing the West Indian ancestry of my ancestress, Susanna (Heyliger) Bainbridge, I found that her grandson (my great-grandfather) had drawn up an elaborate coat of arms for her husband, Commodore William Bainbridge, based on the arms of an unrelated Bainbridge family, quartering the arms of an unrelated Taylor family. (The Commodore’s mother was Mary Taylor. For an explanation of quartering arms, see this Wikipedia article.) Included in this heraldic disaster as a single quartering were the supposed arms of the Heyliger family. And, as it turned out, they were valid arms — though not for the Heyliger family. Continue reading Using heraldry for genealogical research

Learning from our mistakes

We often learn from our mistakes. A promise that “I won’t do that again” can be a valuable tool. And, if repeated enough times, it becomes known as experience.

A decade ago I had a luncheon talk entitled “My Ten Worst Mistakes in Genealogy.” When the title appeared, Robert Charles Anderson commented, “and he updates it frequently!” In fact, I do update it, but now I separate the mistakes that did not appear in print or in a lecture from those that did. And I’m glad to say the former far outweigh the latter. Continue reading Learning from our mistakes

Just how reliable is that source?

Records of the Reverend Thomas Cheever
Records of the Reverend Thomas Cheever, 1697-1742, Mss C 1143, R. Stanton Avery Special Collections

Many of us have been betrayed, genealogically speaking, by a source that appears to be reliable but is not. Often the source is reliable for the most part. But that fact gives you no comfort when the information in which you are interested turns out to be incorrect. Continue reading Just how reliable is that source?