Thursday, July 31, 2014

New York Times Highlights MA Historians' Church Record Preservation Efforts

On Wednesday the New York Times ran an article highlighting two historians', Dr. Cooper and Dr. Bendroth, race to find and preserve old church documents.  Many of these records have incredible historical significance that absolutely cannot be duplicated in anything else and, tragically, it truly is a desperate race to try and save them.  Fire, water, mold, budget crisis, and neglect can spell doom for these fragile documents.  Many churches cannot house the records in the proper conditions for preservation and the longer they sit the greater the risk of losing them forever becomes.

Like Dr. Cooper and Dr. Bendroth in Massachusetts, the Godfrey is also embarking on a quest to preserve the records of Connecticut churches.  We have several church record books stored with the Godfrey collection in our climate controlled building.  We have also made deals with a few other churches who wished to keep their physical records at the church: they lend us the records and we create a digital and paper copy.  The church receives a digital copy and we are allowed to add the paper copy to our physical collection and the digital copy to the Godfrey Scholar.  So far we have records from five Connecticut churches and one church from New York on the Scholar.

Just this Wednesday we added the index to the North Stonington Church, "Breakneck"Church in South Killingly, and Killingly Church records to the Godfrey Scholar.  These indexes allow viewers to browse entries in the baptisms, memberships, admissions, and marriages sections in alphabetical order by last name, making it much easier to find precisely who you might be looking for!  In addition we use these indexes to make the church records searchable through our Scholar Search function.  And don't forget that you can also view scans of the original records!  If you have ancestors who may have lived in those towns between 1727 and 1849 why not take a look?

The information in these records is invaluable for historians and genealogists alike.  It's incredible to flip though the pages and experience a slice of life from centuries ago. The highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows are recorded in these pages.  Babies are born, people die, and little snippets of everyday life forgotten for ages suddenly become known again when you flip through these pages.  You can learn about Sally Rawson, who was expelled from the church for the sin of intemperance, or note the tragic number of people killed in accidents or by preventable diseases.  For many people these church records may be the last remaining evidence of their existence.  For the sake of their memories and for genealogists and historians everywhere, we cannot sit by and allow it to disappear.

You can read the New York Times article, titled "In Church Attics, Clues to Private Life of Early America", here.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

This Week in the Scholar

In 1924 two brothers from Middletown, CT opened the Dunn Funeral Home at 530 Main Street.  The Godfry Library is lucky enough to have exclusive access to the records of the Dunn Funeral Home records from 1910 to 1966, from before the official location was even opened!  Before the official funeral home opened caskets were built in the local furniture store and viewings were held in the families' homes.  And now all eleven volumes of these records are available on the Godfrey Scholar!  In a few weeks we'll have them indexed and searchable as well.

We've also added more genealogies, biographies, and a few more records from the Doolittle Funeral Home.

Funeral Home
Doolittle Burial Returns: Volume 59: Oct. 1959 to Sep. 1961*
Doolittle Burial Returns: Volume 60: Sep. 1961 to May 1963*

Dunn Burial Returns Volume 1: September 1910 to November 1913*
Dunn Burial Returns Volume 2: November 1913 to July 1916*
Dunn Burial Returns Volume 3: July 1916 to October 1918*
Dunn Burial Returns Volume 4: October 1918 to March 1921*
Dunn Burial Returns Volume 5: March 1921 to August 1923* 
Dunn Burial Returns Volume 6: August 1923 to February 1926*
Dunn Burial Returns Volume 7: February 1923 to April 1927*
Dunn Burial Returns Volume 8: July 1936 to July 1942*
Dunn Burial Returns Volume 9: July 1942 to September 1947*
Dunn Burial Returns Volume 10: September 1947 to January 1953*
Dunn Burial Returns Volume 11: January 1953 to May 1966*

History of the Adams and Evart Families*
The Story of the Arndts*
General History of the Burr Family in America*
Genealogy of the Descendants of Anthony Collamer*
The Courtright (Kourtright) Family*

A Record of the Descendants of Robert Dawson of East Haven CT*
Genealogy of the Feltus Family*
Genealogical Advertiser Vol. 1*
Genealogical Advertiser Vol. 2*
Genealogical Advertiser Vol. 3*
Genealogical Advertiser Vol. 4*

Families of Ancient New Haven Volume 1*
Families of Ancient New Haven Volume 2*

Confessions of Boyhood: James Albee*
Alexander Viets Griswold Allen*
Autobiographical Sketches and Personal Reflections by Geo. T. Angell

State and Local Histories
Refugee Loyalists of Connecticut*      

Not a Scholar?  Visit our website to subscribe today or call the library at (860) 346-4375. 


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The AGBI: A Brief Overview

A phone call from a curious Godfrey Scholar prompted us to think once again about library founder Fremont Rider's greatest contribution to the field to genealogy, the American Genealogical-Biographical Index.  For those who are unfamiliar, the American Genealogical Biographical Index, or AGBI, is a 226 volume index of all names mentioned in nearly every genealogical work available at the time of the index's publication.  It was a massive undertaking, one that Fremont Rider sadly did not live to see completed.

Until last year the only way to read the AGBI was to visit one of the few libraries and historical centers with sets or to request scans of pages you needed from the Godfrey.  Now that the AGBI is available in full on the Godfrey Scholar doors are opened to researchers all over the world, no matter their proximity to a physical copy of the index!

Of course, being able to read the index is of little use if you do not know how to interpret the information.  Rider and his assistants set up the AGBI using Rider's own system of cataloging and abbreviation that can be difficult to decipher.  Names are arranged alphabetically by last name.  Each page has two columns of names, the head of each column being the last name and the following entries being the first names of people corresponding to the last name.  The work in which the person is mentioned and the page on which they are mentioned, as well as brief genealogical information (approximate dates of birth and death, military service, place of residence) are listed after the name.  Unfortunately, due to this abnormal setup we are not able to make the AGBI searchable through the Scholar Search portion of our website- browsing using the Page Viewer is the best method of navigation.  A detailed guide to using the AGBI is available in the Scholar digital library as well as on the library's website.  It can be viewed here.  

The names of genealogical works have almost all been abbreviated in the AGBI.  Rider provides a key to those abbreviations in the first volume and the Godfrey has also created a Abbreviation Key for ease of use.  Our Abbreviation Key, located on the Godfrey Scholar, contains not only the key to decoding the abbreviations, but also links to any of the sources that are available for free online.

Although no longer a complete index of every genealogical work published, the AGBI is still an unparallelled source of information.  Patrons tell us time and time again that what they find in the AGBI has broken through walls in their research and exposed them to sources they never knew existed.  If you're a Godfrey Scholar and haven't checked it out, why not do so today!  If you aren't a Godfrey Scholar you can still request page scans from the AGBI or make an AGBI search request, for a small fee.

To request page scans or to become a Godfrey Scholar please contact the library at (860) 346-4375

Saturday, July 19, 2014

This Week in the Scholar

At long last every book on the Godfrey Scholar, with the exception of a few miscellaneous volumes, is available in our Page Viewer and completely searchable!  No more loading immense pdfs and no more painstakingly searching through every book on the off chance it mentions the person you are looking for!

As an aside note we recently discovered and fixed a bug preventing users of Internet Explorer 10 and previous version from utilizing the Page Viewer fully.  We apologize for any inconvenience this might have caused. 

We've also added more volumes of Doolittle Funeral Home Burial Returns and begun work on adding scans and a complete index of eleven volumes of burial records from the Dunn Funeral Home in Connecticut!  Check back next week to see the full set!

Funeral Home Records
Doolittle Burial Records Volume 56, November 1952 to 1954
Doolittle Burial Records Volume 58, May 1955 to January 1958

The Southmayd Record*

Revolutionary War
Pennsylvania Archives Series 2, Volume 13*

Civil War
Michigan in the War*

State and Local Histories
This Collective History of Worcester County Vol. 2*
Campbell's Missouri Gazetteer*
The History of Pike County Missouri*
A Collective History of Albany, New York Vol. 1*
A Collective History of Albany, New York Vol. 4*
An Introduction to the Ontario Land Purchase*

Vital Records
Extracts from Colchester Connecticut Records*
Vital Records of Kingston Massachusets to the year 1850*
Vital Records of Norton Massachusetts to the year 1850*
Vital Records of Taunton Massachusets to the year 1850*
Vital Records of Weston Massachusetts*
Vital Records of Wrentham Massachusets*

 Not a Scholar?  Visit our website to subscribe today or call the library at (860) 346-4375. 


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Forty Five New Books Available for Purchase

We can't speak about anywhere else in the country, but here in Connecticut the weather has been waffling between major thunderstorms and humidity so oppressive you can barely breathe!  Precisely the type of weather that makes you want to hole up in your home or air conditioned public building of your choice.  While you do your best to the heat why not crack open a new book?

Forty-five new books from all areas of interest are now available for purchase through the Godfrey Book Sale!  Take a peek at our inventory and see if anything strikes your fancy.  Don't wait!  Some of the new books we've added to our ebay store have already been sold!

Genealogies- Now including the genealogy of the Eaton family of Nova Scotia, the genealogy of Richard Spelman of Middletown, CT, biographies of Simeon North, the first pistol maker in America, and the second book of Mark Mathabane's autobiography, Kaffir Boy in America, among others.

Genealogy Resource Books - If you're looking for guidance in your research we almost guarantee you'll find it in one of the books here!  Newly available are American Surnames and The History of the Family, A Record Book, a beautiful book where you can record your own family history!
Connecticut-From broad genealogical publications like issues of the Connecticut Nutmegger to more specific works like town histories and a selection of yearbooks from various schools around the state, if you're researching or interested in Connecticut in any way don't pass up these amazing books!

New England-Like the Connecticut section of our book sale, our inventory of New England books includes issues of genealogical and historical publications like the New England Historical Genealogical Society down to town histories and other more focused works from around the region.  New to this section are

Historical Data Relating to Countries Cities and Towns in Massachusetts, A Sketch of the History of Newbury, Newburyport and West Newbury, and others!

States Other Than New England & United States History-While these two sections may not have quite as many new books in the inventory, what they do have is not something to be ignored!  With vital records, town histories, and general histories from all of the United States, these books contain a bevy of information for any researcher looking into the United States as a whole or any non New England Region.

Military- Again, not too many new books added here.  Even so, our inventory of books on the United States military remains strong, with works regarding the Revolutionary War, Spanish American War, Civil War, as well as World War I and II.

Immigration and International-  We have some really fantastic offerings for anyone interested in their foreign ancestors or histories!  New books on Irish history and Canadian genealogy like The History of Ulster and
In Search of Your Roots: A Guide for Canadians Seeking Their Ancestors, among many others, may be just what you're looking for.  We have an especially interesting selection of books relating to Canada and Canadian genealogy research.

Follow the links above to navigate to the respective sales list for each category.  If you would like to purchase a book you may do so online through ebay (only available for certain books) or over the phone by calling the Godfrey at (860) 346-4375

Monday, July 14, 2014

This Week in the Scholar

This week we have an eclectic mix of new material on the Scholar, from military records, to Massachusetts histories, to unique genealogical research!  Almost all of materials from our State and Local Histories section are now available in the Page Viewer and fully searchable.  By the end of next week we fully expect the entire section to be complete!

Peter J. Alberton's Boyhood on the Frontier*
Boseck Family History*

Revolutionary War
Delaware Archives Military Rolls, Vol. 1
Delaware Archives Military Rolls, Vol. 3
State Papers of New Hampshire Vol. 15: Rolls of the Soldiers in the Revolutionary War*
State Papers of New Hampshire Vol. 16: Rolls of the Soldiers in the Revolutionary War*
State Papers of New Hampshire Vol. 17: Rolls of the Solciers in the Revolutionary War*

Pennsylvania Archives 2nd Series, Vol. 16: Battalions and Militia 1775-1783*
Pennsylvania Archives 5th Series, Vol. 7: Muster Rolls of the County of Lancaster*
Pennsylvania Archives 5th Series, Vol. 8: Muster Rolls of the County of Northhampton*
Pennsylvania Archives 6th Series, Vol. 1: Muster Rolls of the County of Philadelphia*
Pennsylvania Archives 6th Series, Vol. 2: Muster Rolls of the County of Washington*

Massachusetts' Histories
History of the Town of Gloucester*
History of Hampden County Vol. 1*
History of Hampden County Vol. 2*
History of Hampden County Vol. 3*
History of the Town of Hingham*
History of Middlesex County Vol. 1*
History of Middlesex County Vol. 2*
History of Middlesex County Vol. 2, 2*
History of Nantucket*
History of Newburyport*
History of Norfolk County*

History of Woburn*
History of Worcester County Vol. 1*

 Not a Scholar?  Visit our website to subscribe today or call the library at (860) 346-4375. 


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Researching your Civil War Veteran Ancestors

Working off of last week's post about researching your Revolutionary War veteran ancestors we thought the logical next step would be to highlight how the Godfrey can help you research your Civil War veteran ancestors!  More than 2.8 million men and an estimated few hundred women served on both sides of the Civil War.  To this day the Civil War remains the most deadly war fought by American soldiers.  A study performed in 1889 by William F. Fox and Thomas Leonard Livermore approximated that 620,000 soldiers died over the five years of fighting but more recent estimates place the number dead as high as 850,000.   To compare, an estimated 680,778 American soldiers have died in all other wars combined, including the present war on terror.

So, let us say you have researched your Civil War veteran ancestor extensively.  You know dates of service, vital information, even a few notes on specific events that happened to while they served.  Of course the next thing you will look for is which battles they served in.  The National Archives themselves warns you to be careful when pursuing this information!  Presuming that someone fought in a battle because their dates of service indicate the person was with a specific company at a specific time is not recommended.  Muster rolls are only accurate for the day they were taken, and even then the possibility exists that someone on combat duty could have been relegated to other tasks that day.  The only way to come close to conclusively proving your ancestor fought in a specific battle, in most cases, is to see their name mentioned in records or histories as having done so. 

This is where the Godfrey comes in.  The library houses over 500 histories and biographies relating to the Civil War, 104 of which are available in the Scholar+ Digital Library.  These include biographies and autobiographies of famous generals from both sides of the conflict.  But more important for those researching battles and individual soldiers is the extensive collection of regimental histories from Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.  Everything about the regiments, from the members to location they were stationed to the battles they participated in, can be found in these histories. They are well worth a look for anyone researching their Civil War veteran ancestors!

For those of you looking for general information on the Civil War rather than histories of specific regiments and people, the Godfrey has that too!  From histories of the war as a whole to accounts focusing on either the Confederate or Union armies, we've got a little bit of everything!  Our collection even contains a history of prominent female participants in the war, Frank Moore's Women of War.  So if you're researching your ancestors of just the Civil War in general be sure not to overlook the Godfrey's collection!

Official military records for Civil War veterans can be found at the National Archives in Washington DC and regional archives around the United States.  These include Compiled Service Records, Pension Requests, and, in some cases, records of events- compiled histories of companies or units put together using information from the muster rolls.  Records of events can differ drastically in the level of detail and amount of information included.  More information on these records and how to obtain them can be found on the National Archives' website.  

Saturday, July 5, 2014

This Week in the Scholar

This week we started transferring pdfs from the State and Local Histories Section of the Scholar into the page viewers. All books regarding Connecticut and Maine are now searchable in the Page Viewer, as well as half of the books about Massachusetts!  Indiana's Rolls of Honor has been moved from the State and Local Histories to the Civil War section where it belongs.

Due to technical difficulties we were not able to add as many new books as expected, but there are some new additions to the Revolutionary War section.  In this week's previous post we wrote on how pension records are one of the most helpful sources of information regrading Revolutionary War Veterans and now we've added a book on Connecticut Pensioners to the Scholar!  Check back next week for more unique Revolutionary War content as these technical issues are resolved!

Revolutionary War
Connecticut Pensioners*
Colonel Mitchell's Cumberland County Regiment Bagaduce Expedition*

Civil War
Indiana's Rolls of Honor*

State and Local Histories
History of Fairfield County*
The Memorial History of Hartford County Volume 1*
The Memorial History of Hartford County Volume 2*
History of the City of New Haven*
History of New London County*
History of Windham County*

History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell*

The Massachusetts Civil Lists for 1630-1774*
The Massachusetts Magazine Vol. 1*
Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Berkshire County Massachusetts, Vol. 1*
Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Berkshire County Massachusetts, Vol. 2*
The Memorial History of Boston, Vol. 1*
The Memorial History of Boston, Vol. 2*
The Memorial History of Boston, Vol. 3*
The Memorial History of Boston, Vol. 4*

 Not a Scholar?  Visit our website to subscribe today or call the library at (860) 346-4375. 


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Look into your Revolutionary War Veteran Ancestors this July!

On July 4 Americans will gather to celebrate the 238th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the moment when thirteen colonies formally declared themselves to be the United States of America.  Six years later that independence was officially realized at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War.  Take a moment to think about how different American history would have been if the men and women of the colonies did not stand up to Great Britain.  Perhaps one of these unsung everyday heroes is even your ancestor.  

There are numerous obstacles that get in the way of finding information about your Revolutionary War veteran ancestors, the first of which is determining whether they served at all!  Since the first United States Census was conducted in 1790, eighteen years after the end of the war with only limited data recorded, and much of the original data destroyed or lost not much is to be found there.  Death records, grave markers, and local histories can provide better clues, but may be difficult to locate due to their age.

In 1800 and 1814 most of the military records for the Army and Navy belonging to the War Department were destroyed, including records from the Revolutionary War.  Since then an effort has been made to recreate the data in those records, called Compiled Military Records, by collecting information from as many supplementary materials regarding individual veterans as possible.  This includes data from muster rolls, enlistment and discharge papers, hospital records, payrolls, prison records, and rank rolls, among other sources.

Some of the most helpful records for genealogists concerning Revolutionary War veterans are pension records.  Pension records can contain supporting military documents, marriage certificates, birth records, death certificates, among other relevant documents.  Because of their age, pension records for Revolutionary War veterans may not contain as much information as those for veterans of later wars.  A look into land bounty records may also be worth your while.  Land bounties were grants of land given by the government in return for military service between 1775 and 1855.  The applications often contain information similar to that of the pension records.  Pension and Land Bounty records are kept on file at the Textual Archives Services Division in Washington D.C.  You can learn more about the Textual Archives Services Division and how to make record requests here.

The Godfrey is planning on adding 20 new records to the Revolutionary War section of the Scholar by the end of July.  This includes muster rolls, regimental histories, histories of state involvement, general histories, and pension records.  If, in the spirit of Independence Day, you feel like researching your Revolutionary War era ancestors be sure to make the Godfrey Scholar's Revolutionary War collection a part of your search!