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Please note: Classes are always on a Monday night, usually from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. Classes will not always be in the same room. They will either be in Special Collections near the back of the first floor or in the ITTC (aka the computer training center) on the second floor. Check each class below for its location. Registration is required and will usually start at the beginning of the month before the class is being offered. Call a reference desk at 617-796-1380 to register. Also clicking on the title of the first two classes below should also get you to the registration form.

Class: Starting Your Genealogy Research Online with Census and Vital Records

Date: 23 October 2017
Room: ITTC
Time: 7:00-8:30 pm

Description: When people start going online to research their family history, the first documents they usually come across are the United States census (generated by the federal government) and birth, marriage, and death records (generated locally). I will discuss these documents in the context of computer-driven research. Some records can be used as proof of a relationship. Others are only signposts toward more reliable information. Tips relating to online research in general will also be incorporated. Registration is open now. (Limit: 12) You can register by clicking title above. (Limit: 12)

Class: Tracking Your Ancestors Using Local Resources — Yours and Theirs

Date: 6 November 2017
Room: Special Collections
Time: 7:00-8:30 pm

Description: Typically, you begin your family research with the resources closest to you, including your public library. But you shouldn’t stop there. This class is about tracking your ancestors in the towns and cities, counties and states where they actually lived. Here is where fresh discoveries are made, obstacles are broken down, and wonderful stories can be discovered. How do you track down digitized collections, special records, newspaper articles, books, and/or manuscripts that have been generated locally about people, families, and events in that community? I will discuss how to uncover online the resources available in places you’ve never visited. You will learn how to find libraries and history and genealogy societies relevant to the communities you are researching. You may discover relatives still living there, perhaps some you know nothing about and who may be working on a parallel track in a genealogy quest of their own. Eventually you may decide that there are places you want to actually visit. As you identify the localities you need to search, the focus and the scope of your project may shift and expand — prepare yourself for surprises. Registration is now open. (Limit: 15)

Class:  Brick Wall Genealogy

Date: 18 December 2017
Room: Special Collections
Time: 7:00-8:30 pm

Description: The further back you go in your family research, the more “brick walls” you are going to hit. A brick wall is anything that keeps you from finding the information you need to connect with an ancestor, that prevents you from reaching back to another generation.  Who builds these walls?  Often, we do ourselves. This class will be about how we build them and how we might be able to go under, around, over, or through them.  Often the bricks are made of our assumptions and our inexperience.  Join me and let’s discover what we can do about this. Trust me. I’m an expert at inadvertently laying bricks, then demolishing them.  Registration will be open at the beginning of November. (Limit 15)

 

vea/4 October 2017
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  
http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net

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I would normally be posting the day’s schedule beneath this poster here on the blog.  This time I am posting just the link. I noticed that on the far right of each event listed there is a space for a link to Presentation Materials and Handouts that you can download.  There is nothing there at the moment and may not be until we get closer to the date of the fair.  I don’t want you to miss them, so here is the link you can save and check periodically.  https://www.archives.gov/calendar/genealogy-fair/2017/schedule-handouts  Posted handouts are useful even when you can’t attend an event. If you are interested in a particular presentation and can’t watch it on the 25th, check the archives site later. Often these are posted so people can access them after the event is over.

vea/30 September 2017
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  
http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net

In September 1774 the farmers of Middlesex County rose up and ended royal government in most of Massachusetts. For the next seven months, Patriot activists and the British governor raced to seize artillery. Cannon disappeared from ships, shore batteries and even armories under redcoat guard. In Newton, citizens voted to form their own artillery company. Join John Bell, author of The Road to Concord, as he uncovers the hidden history that led to the Revolutionary War. The program is cosponsored by Historic Newton. A book signing will follow. [From the Newton Free Library’s online Calendar of Events.]

From the publisher of The Road to Concord:

“Here is the suspenseful story of how a handful of mechanics in 1774 smuggled Boston’s brass cannon out of town from under the noses of the British troops. J. L. Bell is a historical detective par excellence who has recovered an important, little-known episode of the onset of the American Revolution.” —Alfred F. Young, author The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution

“In this well-researched narrative, Mr. Bell provides an interesting twist on the usual account of the British march to Concord on April 18-19, 1775. Mr. Bell’s retelling of the story from the point of view of missing cannon demonstrates in a compelling and convincing manner why General Gage was especially anxious that his troops reach Concord.”—Patrick M. Leehey, Research Director, Paul Revere House, Boston

In the early spring of 1775, on a farm in Concord, Massachusetts, British army spies located four brass cannon belonging to Boston’s colonial militia that had gone missing months before. British general Thomas Gage had been searching for them, both to stymie New England’s growing rebellion and to erase the embarrassment of having let cannon disappear from armories under redcoat guard. Anxious to regain those weapons, he drew up plans for his troops to march nineteen miles into unfriendly territory. The Massachusetts Patriots, meanwhile, prepared to thwart the general’s mission. There was one goal Gage and his enemies shared: for different reasons, they all wanted to keep the stolen cannon as secret as possible. Both sides succeeded well enough that the full story has never appeared until now.

The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War by historian J. L. Bell reveals a new dimension to the start of America’s War for Independence by tracing the spark of its first battle back to little-known events beginning in September 1774. The author relates how radical Patriots secured those four cannon and smuggled them out of Boston, and how Gage sent out spies and search parties to track them down. Drawing on archives in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, the book creates a lively, original, and deeply documented picture of a society perched on the brink of war.

J. L. BELL is the proprietor of Boston1775.net, a popular website dedicated to the history of the American Revolution in New England. A Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society and American Antiquarian Society, he is author of the National Park Service’s study of George Washington’s work in Cambridge, and has delivered papers to the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Organization of American Historians, and historic sites around greater Boston.

From The Curious Genealogist: Take a minute to click on the link to Bell’s blog Boston 1775 in green directly above.  If you have any interest in history or Boston, you’ll probably be staying far longer than a minute. It will be time well spent.

vea/6 July 2017
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  
http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net

Celebrate Independence Day with free access to AmericanAncestors.org.

Family historians and genealogists–declare your independence from an incomplete family tree! Search and browse the 1.4 BILLION records on AmericanAncestors.org, the award-winning NEHGS website.

These databases include vital records (state, church, cemetery, and more), U.S. census records, genealogical journal articles, probate records, and other collections that can help advance your research. Already a Guest Member of NEHGS? Your password is your passport to freedom–and to many new discoveries. NEHGS members can share this special offer with family and friends and invite them to join the celebration.

Visit our website from 12:01 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday, June 29, through 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, July 6, for access to all AmericanAncestors.org databases–with only a Guest Registration. Questions? Contact us!

Written by NEHGS

vea/28 June 2017
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  
http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net

Are even the computerized microfilm readers obsolete? If the LDS microfilm loan program is any indication, the answer is yes.

On September 1, 2017, FamilySearch will discontinue its microfilm distribution services.  (The last day to order microfilm will be on August 31, 2017.)

The change is the result of significant progress made in FamilySearch’s microfilm digitization efforts and the obsolescence of microfilm technology.

• Online access to digital images of records allows FamilySearch to reach many more people, faster and more efficiently.

• FamilySearch is a global leader in historic records preservation and access, with billions of the world’s genealogical records in its collections.

• Over 1.5 million microfilms (ca. 1.5 billion images) have been digitized by FamilySearch, including the most requested collections based on microfilm loan records worldwide.

• The remaining microfilms should be digitized by the end of 2020, and all new records from its ongoing global efforts are already using digital camera equipment.

• Family history centers will continue to provide access to relevant technology, premium subscription services, and digital records, including restricted content not available at home.

Digital images of historical records can be accessed today in 3 places on FamilySearch.org under Search.

• Records include historical records indexed by name or organized with an image browse.

• Books include digital copies of books from the Family History Library and other libraries.

• Catalog includes a description of genealogical materials (including books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, etc.) in the FamilySearch collection.

When approved by priesthood leaders, centers may continue to maintain microfilm collections already on loan from FamilySearch after microfilm ordering ends. Centers have the option to return microfilm that is available online or otherwise not needed. As more images are published online, centers may reevaluate whether to retain microfilm holdings.

The above announcement comes directly from FamilySearch.

For additional information and explanation, see Amy Johnson Crow’s Posting: The End of FamilySearch Microfilm Loans: What It Means to You.

vea/26 June 2017
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  
http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net

 

Yearbooks and How They Can Be Used

Part of Newton Free Library’s Collection of Yearbooks

Most of us are familiar with high school yearbooks. We probably have at least one from our own senior year. They may be filled with signed comments from our fellow graduates, some funny, some not so much. … Going through them brings back all sorts of memories and can spark stories. You may have tucked graduation programs and other loose mementos into it that were important to you. Collections of high school yearbooks in public libraries are potent resources that are used often and for various purposes. They can be consulted by reporters for news stories, checked by people writing biographies, searched by people looking for pictures of their parents or grandparents or for birth parents whom they have never seen.

One Special Yearbook

The yearbook with its acid-free archival case.

What is it that sparks my current focus on yearbooks? A local high school is making available to our library whatever yearbooks we need or would like to add to our collections.  A member of our reference staff, Kim Hewitt, is working with materials in our Special Collections room. In this capacity she visited the high school library to take a look at what it has. When Kim checked a copy of one 1937 Newtonian yearbook for loose ephemera, she discovered something extraordinary. Someone had kept clippings about the graduates, especially those who served in World War II. On almost every page there were tipped-in newspaper articles about graduates pictured on that page, usually stories about their military service. Some described their current activities overseas. Some were death notices. The articles span events and battles over a number of years. Personal milestones, such as marriages, are the subject of other clippings. In short, it is a genealogist’s gold mine of information.

If something has been “tipped in,” it means you can lift the material and see what’s underneath.

This yearbook has now become a part of Newton’s Special Collections. If you have a relative who graduated from Newton High School in 1937, it’s worth a look. If you are interested, its catalog title is Newton High School Class of 1937 and World War II.” The call number is N 373.34 N38M.  Clicking on the preceding title will take you directly to its entry in our online catalog.  It does not circulate and must be used within the library.

Compact Shelving with one opening. If you want to get into the first bay on the far left, all the other bays have to be moved forward.

A Note about Compact Shelving and Viewing Material from Newton’s Special Collections

Since the 1937 yearbook mentioned above is so unique and also fragile, it will be kept in what is known as compact shelving, not on the open Special Collection shelving.   Using compact shelving saves a great deal of space but requires the movement of heavy shelving electronically. Newton’s compact shelving is run by machinery that is old and can be somewhat cranky.  It needs two people to open it to retrieve material kept there. If you are thinking of coming in to look at this item, or other collections from compact shelving, it would help if you let us know in advance. If we know when you are coming, we can pull material for you ahead of time.

Actually it’s always a good idea to plan ahead with any library you are visiting. Check in advance for any special restrictions or rules for viewing or copying fragile or unique material. What are the library’s hours? Do they change depending on the season? Will the library be closed due to construction or maintenance during the period you are planning on coming? Are all its collections on site or does it need time to retrieve them from offsite storage? Whenever you request an item from a library, having its name and call number will speed up the process. Any library should allow you to search its online catalog, no matter where you live.

You and Your Own Family’s Yearbooks

Do you know if your family members, especially aunts, uncles, and grandparents, have yearbooks they would be willing to show to you? They might even share memories of their high school years and their friends.  Don’t forget that many local libraries actively collect and also accept gifts of high school yearbooks. Each one that has been owned by a graduate has unique inscriptions by classmates and some may have the owner’s own notations. Public libraries located near where your relatives or ancestors lived may have their own such treasure troves from their local schools.  Some may even have been given to them by your relatives or their friends. It’s worth checking. While you’re at it, don’t forget to look in your own attic, basement, or bookcase. Do you have your parents’ or grandparents’ yearbooks?  You might want to take a closer look at them. You never know when you’ll strike unexpected gold. And if you find them in the basement or attic, you might want to move them to a bookcase on your main floor. They’ll last longer.

Good luck with your quest, wherever it takes you.

vea/13 June 2017
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  
http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net

1917 "Somewhere in France" 1918 Diorama at Newton City Hall, Newton, Massachusetts

1917 “Somewhere in France” 1918, from the Diorama at The War Memorial, Newton City Hall, Newton, Massachusetts

 

The following links are offered to help you find more information on the war that changed the world.

National Archives (United States)
World War I Centennial: Remembering the Great War

New England Historic Genealogical Society
American Ancestors
World War I and World War II U.S. Veteran Research
Study Guide by David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist

Massachusetts in the World War: A Bibliography
Prepared by James T. Controvich
March 28, 2017
Massachusetts World War I Centennial Commission

Boston at War:  Massachusetts in World War I Stories
By Anatole Sykley
Massachusetts World War I Centennial Commission

World War I: The Great War
Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites on the Web

(Re)Discovering the Great War
by Simon Chaplin and Jeffrey S. Reznick
Posted by Circulating Now from the U.S. National Library of Medicine

The United States World War I Centennial Commission
Why the Great War Matters
World War I Genealogical Resources
 
National World War I Museum and Memorial
Kansas City, Missouri

 

vea/6 April 2017
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  
http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net

A Genealogist In The Archives

FINDING ANSWERS AT THE NEWTON FREE LIBRARY http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net Newton, Massachusetts

Boston 1775

FINDING ANSWERS AT THE NEWTON FREE LIBRARY http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net Newton, Massachusetts

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

The Daily Online Genealogy Newsletter

The Legal Genealogist

FINDING ANSWERS AT THE NEWTON FREE LIBRARY http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net Newton, Massachusetts

Nutfield Genealogy

FINDING ANSWERS AT THE NEWTON FREE LIBRARY http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net Newton, Massachusetts

One Rhode Island Family

My Genealogical Adventures through 400 Years of Family History