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Archive for the ‘Massachusetts’ Category

Welcome to BostonA reminder:  Tonight, June 14, at 8pm PBS’s Genealogy Roadshow arrives at Boston’s Faneuil Hall. The trio of genealogists helps locals uncover links to the Salem Witch Trials, orphan trains, and Boston’s founders.

Next Tuesday, June 21, the Roadshow reconvenes at the Providence Public Library. There an investigation reveals how one key document – a passport– sheds light on how one family survived the Holocaust. Other segments cover an African American who served in World War I, and a man’s Amish relatives.

PBS affiliates often show these programs at staggered times after the original telecast. Full episodes, as well as previews of future episodes, should also turn up on the PBS website.

vea/14 June 2016
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

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Wayland Public Library has started a Genealogy Club. The following flyer is for a program they are presenting in May.  Newton also has their Genealogy Club Meetings on the second Wednesday of the month, otherwise I’d be going myself.  If you are working on Massachusetts genealogy it sounds like a place you should be.  Check it out.

Basic Information if you are planning to attend: The Wayland Public Library is located at 5 Concord Road in (of course) Wayland.  To get there from the intersection of Route 20 and Route 27, you turn north onto Route 126. Bear right at the fork. The library is the large red brick building immediately on the right. On Wednesdays the library closes at 9:00 pm.  Their website is: http://waylandlibrary.org.  Enjoy.

Wayland Program Flyer

vea/14 April 2016
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

 

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American Ancestors NEHGS logo

Do NOT mistake this site for Ancestry.  American Ancestors is the web site of one of the premier genealogy societies in the country.  The New England Historic Genealogical Society (Newbury Street, Boston) has resources  that are unique. The NEHGS is opening up its website, American Ancestors, to everyone  for free for one week. From today, Wednesday, April 6th to April 13th, you can go to http://www.americanancestors.org/Free-Billion and hunt for your ancestors.  Though obviously an extraordinary site for New England research, check this out even if you have (as far as you know) no New England ancestors.  There is a reason why they changed the name of their website from New England Ancestors to American Ancestors. Check it out.

vea/6 April 2016
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

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The Durant-Kenrick Homestead" October 2012Historic Newton is so committed to helping you preserve your family’s unique history that they want to help. Do you have family photos, slides, documents, or movies that are precious to you? Do you wish to understand what is needed to protect them so they will be available for future generations? Then you will want to come to the Durant-Kenrick House at 286 Waverly Avenue in Newton on Tuesday, November 17th at 7:00. At that time Hisoric Newton will be presenting two very knowledgeable speakers on this topic.

Eric Niloff, owner of EverPresent, will explain the services that his company Picture from Historic Newton on Saving Family Historyoffers.  His business is based on helping people share their family history. Included will be a variety of formats. He will also answer questions about how best to organize these cherished family heirlooms and build a digital preservation plan.

Sara Goldberg, Historic Newton’s own archivist, will guide you in the care of the originals once they have been digitized and returned to you.  She will help you understand what can to done to help these truly irreplaceable family keepsakes stand the test of time.

vea/3 November 2015
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

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SummerofSharing

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Digital Commonwealth, begun in 2007,  hopes to do two things:  to facilitate the creation of digital collections within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and to provide a central site for access to these collections. Funding for Digital Commonwealth  has come from two sources: the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and membership fees.  There are fees for participating members.  For of small institution the fee is $50.00.  For a larger one it is $100.00.  For Group Sponsoring Organizations it is $500.00.  (For more information on membership, see the Membership Information link below.)

Camera setup at the BPL

Camera setup at the BPL

The Boston Public Library has also long been committed to developing and maintaining free digital access to library material.  The initial funding for the BPL’s scanning and digitization lab came from a portion of the insurance money received as a result of the August 1998 flood that took out much of the library’s basement.  They also have received grants through  various sources, including the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).  In 2007 the BPL committed to a two year project to scan their government documents collection, which took a major hit during the flooding.  In 2008 they partnered with Open Library/Internet Archive with the ultimate goal of  digitizing  all their public domain books. (The genealogy books located in the Social Sciences Department have all been done. )  The main building of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square  has two labs, one for the Internet Archive (see my earlier post of 15 October below) and their digitization lab, where the pictures included in this posting were taken on 18 July 2012.

Digital Commonwealth  partnered with the Boston Public Library in November of 2011. A letter of agreement between Digital Commonwealth and the BPL “states that Digital Commonwealth will take the lead on planning outreach activities and conferences and that the BPL will take the lead on developing and maintaining the technological infrastructure, creating user-friendly instructions, and providing some customer service for participating members.”   (Click on the previous sentence to learn more about the agreement.)

Who can have material digitized? Massachusetts libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies can have collections digitized. The Digital Commonwealth considers itself a resource for all libraries in the Commonwealth. The group hopes to build a broad based, state wide coalition. Even individuals can have material digitized and added to Digital Commonwealth.

Helen Keller's Bathing Suit

Helen Keller’s Bathing Suit

What can be digitized? Basically, if it can fit through the door they can do it. Digital Commonwealth works with books, maps, glass slides, photos, objects, even Helen Keller’s bathing suit …  If a map is too large, they will do it in sections and Photoshop it back together again. There is, however, one exception.  They do not digitize newspapers. Think of the difference between the setup of a book and a newspaper. Digitizing newspapers is a whole different ballgame.  It requires separate, specialized hardware and software.

Scanner and Storage

Scanner and Storage

What do you need to do and how much will it cost?  My understanding is that Digital Commonwealth will do the digitization for free, through an LSTA grant they receive.   However, if you want them to digitize your material, there is a certain amount of work that needs to be done in advance.  First, if needed, the material must be conserved.  Digitization is never a replacement for conservation.  After you have the original material conserved, then you must create a specific description for each item.  Digital Commonwealth can advise you on what information needs to be included.  You may need a grant to get all of this done.  Again, check with Digital Commonwealth.  They can come to you to assess what is needed to digitize your material, to give you advice on how to proceed and, when ready for digitization, to pick up and return your material. Another point of note, this should not be considered a piecemeal project. They encourage the digitization of entire collections, not a bit here and a bit there.

To learn more, click on:

Digital Commonwealth.

Digital Commonwealth Collections  (listed as the Collection Tree)       Once here, click on an individual library and then click on the specific collection of interest to access the material.

Digital Commonwealth Membership Information

Digital Commonwealth Contact Information

Digital Commonwealth News Blog

Digital Commonwealth List of Members

Digital Commonwealth Member Resources

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The Boston Public Library’s blog, the BPL Compass, published a series of blog postings about Digital Commonwealth in March and April of 2012. I have listed the links below.

Digitization at the BPL and a Digital Library for Massachusetts: Introduction

Digitization at the BPL and a Digital Library for Massachusetts: Chapter 1

Digitization at the BPL and a Digital Library for Massachusetts: Chapter 2

Digitization at the BPL and a Digital Library for Massachusetts: Chapter 3

Digitization at the BPL and a Digital Library for Massachusetts: Chapter 4

Digitization at the BPL and a Digital Library for Massachusetts: Chapter 5

Digitization at the BPL and a Digital Library for Massachusetts: Chapter 6

vea/3 January 2013/links updated 7 January 2012
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass

Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net

Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com

Exploring Newton’s Past (a LibGuide): http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy?hs=a

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Imagine visiting 315 city and town clerks and going through all their vital records.

The Story

Thanks to Jay and DeLene Holbrook, approximately 17 million birth, marriage and death records from Massachusetts are being digitized and made available online through Ancestry.com.   Over a period of thirty years these two people personally visited each of 315 (out of 351) cities and towns in the state  of Massachusetts.  They inventoried and, where necessary, organized the material.  Then they took the original records to a professional imaging service to have them filmed by a special flatbed camera.  Just this one detail tells me that the records were in good hands. The couple obviously understood the importance of the preservation of the original records.  All of this was done with the permission of each city and town clerk. The film became microfiche.  When the copying was done, the Holbrooks returned all the records, complete with a microfiche copy, to the town.

When you imagine all the dust these two people breathed in over the years, it is not surprising that they finally had to retire from their mammoth undertaking and move to a dryer clime in Utah.  It was at this point that they sold their collection of microfiche to Ancestry.com.  Ancestry has already digitized over 9 million of these records and placed them online as of Tuesday,  March 20th. They will continue to add records until all 17 million have been done.

As the Secretary of State has pointed out, all of these records are available free of charge from the individual cities and towns.  However, anyone who has tracked down vital records from various locations knows how the costs for gas, food, and sometimes lodging, can escalate quickly, not to mention the time involved. We are and have always been a nation of people on the move. As family researchers we often feel lucky if we have several generations who stay in the same state, let alone the same city or town.

How to Access the Records for Free

Although Ancestry does charge individuals for access to their records, did you know that you can access these and many other records at no cost at a local public library.  Although not all libraries subscribe to Ancestry, many do.  Check with your own public library.  If they do not have Ancestry, call other nearby libraries until you find one that does.

Libraries can only offer Ancestry to their patrons in house.  You will have to go to the library and use one of their public computers.  These computers will most likely require a library card to log in.  If you have a card from your local library, check with that library to see where else you can use it.  Your  library probably belongs to a network.  In the state of Massachusetts, if you go to a library outside your network, the library you are visiting should be able to configure your card to work in that library as well. If you are from out-of-state, many libraries provide guest passes.

Once you have settled into your computer, click on the Ancestry database.  If it’s not obvious where it is, don’t hesitate to ask the nearest librarian.  That’s one of the things we do–answer questions.

This is how you find the records collected by the Holbrooks. Once Ancestry’s home page comes up, you will see two large boxes, one above the other.  Under the words “MORE COLLECTIONS” in the lower box, you will see the words “recent” and “all databases.”  The name of the collection you are looking for is “Massachusetts, Town Vital Collections, 1620 – 1988.”  If you click on “recent” you look by the  date, which will be  3/15/2012.  If you click on “all databases”, you look alphabetically by the name of the collection.  Once you get to the collection, click the browse drop down menu in the upper right to see which towns are included. (Remember, only 315 out of 351 had their records copied by the Holbrooks.)  Happy hunting.

Two Other Links You Might Want to Investigate

If you would like to see what one person has already accomplished using these records, click here for “What I Found in the New Massachusetts Town Records.”  It’s from the One Rhode Island Family blog done by Diane MacLean Boumenot. It’s a good blog, well worth checking out.

You can find more details about the Holbrooks by clicking on the  Boston Globe article  “A New Window on Bay State’s Vital Records.”

vea/22 March 2012
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com

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