Tag Archives: Research tips

Irish name variations

Recently Mary Ellen Grogan at NEHGS shared a great resource with me. It is called the Special report on surnames in Ireland [together with] varieties and synonymes of surnames and Christian names in Ireland by Robert E. Matheson. It is available in the NEHGS library. Copies of the “special report on surnames” and the separate “varieties and synonymes of surnames and Christian names” are also available digitally on HathiTrust. Continue reading Irish name variations

ICYMI: Shorthand systems

[Editor’s note: This blog post originally appeared in Vita Brevis on 3 October 2016.]

From Alfred Janes, Standard Stenography: Being Taylor’s Shorthand (1882), courtesy of Google Books.

One day, when searching through the town records of New Haven, Connecticut, I was struck by one of the entries. The writing appeared like nothing I had ever seen before. After asking others for their thoughts, we found that none of us had ever seen this form of writing before. After some research, I discovered that what I had found was notation written in Taylor Shorthand, a system of writing developed by Samuel Taylor in 1786, the first system of shorthand writing to be widely used across the English-speaking world.[1]

Shorthand has long been used as a method of notation, often when time or efficiency is imperative, and as a result, it often appears in court documents and meeting minutes. Continue reading ICYMI: Shorthand systems

A treasure indeed

On the list of books of which you have probably never heard is Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana; or, The Ecclesiastical History of New-England…, originally published in 1702.[1] Roughly translated as The Glorious Works of Christ in America, it might not sound all that interesting and certainly doesn’t sound like a genealogical resource, but it really is a rich treasure of biographical information for early New England ministers.

The Rev. John Ward (1606–1693) of Haverhill, Massachusetts,[2] who was in New England by 1639, was the son of Great Migration immigant Rev. Nathaniel Ward, who arrived with some of his family in New England in 1634.[3] Continue reading A treasure indeed

Assessment

Do we really need to assess all the published resources we use in our genealogical research? It obviously takes time and effort to consider even the ten categories we are using for this experiment in “scoring” genealogies, not to mention that assigning numbers to subjective criteria is tricky. In the end, however, the exercise does give us a way to compare the enormously disparate genealogical sources we use. Our two test subjects – The Phelps Family of America and The Bulkeley Genealogy – are similar, yet they scored very differently. From a maximum score of 100, The Phelps Family eked out a 40, while The Bulkeley Genealogy nearly topped the chart with 90. Continue reading Assessment

An imperfect score

Continuing a review of Donald Lines Jacobus’s Bulkeley genealogy of 1933:

Citations: Jacobus notes in his preface that “Full references are given in the section of this volume which relates to English origins, but in a volume of this size it was found impractical to make acknowledgment to the very large number of printed sources utilized… So far as possible, we checked with original record sources…” “Checked with” … but did not cite. Footnotes are sporadically used by today’s standards. In the English origins section, bibliographic lists of “Authorities” are provided and long abstracts of “documentary evidence” are identified to their sources, but Jacobus apologizes that “We have done what could be done with the imperfect data offered by printed authorities.” Continue reading An imperfect score

Belated recognition

In the Summer 2017 issue of Mayflower Descendant,  we published an interesting article by NEHGS member Gregory J. Weinig entitled “Elisha Freeman of Provincetown, Massachusetts (ca. 1758/9-1825).”[1] The article clarified his age and parentage (establishing his mother but not his father), and his descent from Mayflower passenger William Brewster.

The article also clarified Elisha’s military service, and provided data that he served several tours from 1775 until 1778, including an eight-month stint in Rhode Island, which prior researchers had assumed to be different men of the same name. Continue reading Belated recognition

DNA and a brick wall

Click on the image to expand it.

Recently I’ve been playing around with DNA Painter. It is a colorful, easy-to-use tool for understanding the chromosome segments you received from an ancestor. This free program lets you map DNA segments and assign or “paint” them various colors on your different chromosomes.

I created the chromosome map above by first determining a common ancestral couple between myself and a match. Then I download our shared segments and added them to DNA Painter. You can do this for any results found on 23AndMe, FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, or GEDMatch. For each match I assigned them a color based on our most recent common ancestors. Continue reading DNA and a brick wall

Three Eatons of Watertown

Dr. John Eliot Eaton (1756-1812) of the Reading Eatons.

After my recent post on my Eaton ancestors, my aunt e-mailed me, curious to know if “those Eatons” were related to our “other Eatons”? The quick answer is yes, but I don’t know how! Let me explain.

Through my great-grandfather, I descend (in two unique ways, including via the Eaton family of the last post), from the immigrant John Eaton (ca. 1605–1659) of Dedham, Massachusetts. Through my great-grandmother, I descend from Jonas Eaton (ca. 1618–1674) of Reading, Massachusetts (see chart below).

Here is what we know on each Eaton man. Continue reading Three Eatons of Watertown

Accessibility

Until very recently, the vast and rich world of genealogical publications was limited to those who could visit a library with a specialized collection, such as NEHGS. Most genealogies are, as one would expect, privately published by the author or client in limited numbers. Sometimes only a handful of copies were made and distributed to a few, select libraries, plus a small number of relatives, and that does not even begin to cover manuscript material of all those genealogies that never saw print, or collections of multiple family research by noted genealogists.[1]

The good news, of course, is that this is a case where the Internet has had a positive influence, with nearly every book in the world being digitized and made available online and exploding access to digitized manuscript material from every library and archive to boot.[2] Continue reading Accessibility

Analyze what?

Genealogical articles, such as those published in the Register, very often address a problem or omission from a previously published genealogy. The author explains the problem, describes methods and sources used to address it, reports results and, then, if the answer is not clear cut, presents an argument as to why one conclusion is preferable to another.[1]

Every family has its share of complications that need to be addressed in their genealogy. The most common egregious element of nineteenth-century genealogies, in particular, is the claim of English/royal ancestry. Continue reading Analyze what?