Archive for the ‘Newton Free Library’ Category


In the Newton Free Library’s December Newsletter is a very succinct, well written description of four databases that are made available through the library by the City of Newton. The author is Cathy Balshone, another member of the Reference staff here at the library.

e-RESOURCES for You: Genealogy and More*

American Ancestors:  Access records collected by The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS). View centuries of records that will help trace ancestors as far back as our first American settlers. Use filters to narrow by century and country of origin. Make use of practical aids like family tree templates and research tracking logs. In library use only.

Ancestry Library Edition: Important genealogical reference sources, census and other records are now available online. Explore by Location offers an interactive map listing specific resources by geographic search. Other bonus features include Learning Center and Charts and Forms. Make a memory book from yearbook photos to spark family stories! In library use only.

HeritageQuest Online is equally engaging for students, writers, history buffs and genealogists. Primary source material from census, bank, war and pension records will add context and interesting detail to your writing or research. Available remotely to Newton residents with a Newton library card.

Digital Newton: offers a large collection of Newton materials. Assessed Polls list registered voters, Blue Books and City Directories list residents and street addresses. There are also high school yearbooks, biographical pamphlets, diaries and more. Available remotely to anyone: http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/digitalnewton.  CB

Not from Newton?  Check your own local library to see what they offer. Subscription databases may be provided at no cost through your local library.  Also note that no matter where you live, you can check out Digital Newton.  It’s free.  No cost. No subscription fees.

Quick Tip: Always remember to check the resources that are local to places where your ancestors lived. Local public libraries often have both written and human resources that can be made available to you,  even if that library is a thousand miles away. All you have to do is check them out  — and that includes their librarians.  Local librarians may know of a descendant of one of your ancestor’s siblings still living near by. (Some members of the family may have been happy to stay put.) Or that local library may have a collection that includes material about your family. You may strike gold if only you dig for it. VEA


*Bold face has been added.

21 December  2015/vea and cb
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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Genealogy LibGuide at the Newton Free Library

The Genealogy LibGuide: Available to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere

What on earth is a LibGuide?  Springshare created LibGuides for use by institutions such as universities, colleges and libraries.  They are a great tool for learning and teaching various subjects. Without LibGuides,  individuals would have to rely on a webmaster to enter their information into an institutional website. They would have to get in line with other individuals who needed the same service.  You might have quite a wait.  LibGuides allow you to enter your information into your own subject guide in a matter of seconds.  The Newton Free Library has been using LibGuides for several years to promote resources available to you in a number of subject areas.

How are LibGuides set up?  A LibGuide relies on subject tabs (also referred to as pages) near the top of the LibGuide.  You click on a tab to get to a specific part of a specific LibGuide.  Tabs/Pages are made up of various boxes that can have basic information,  booklists,  links to sources, almost anything that you think will help the people you are trying to reach.

Confronted with the basic information above, I still wouldn’t have a clue what it meant if I had never seen a LibGuide.  This is where I become your guide.  I created and am in charge of the library’s genealogy/family history LibGuide.  I have set it up so that you can use it to learn about different genealogically related topics.  I also teach from it.   If anyone else reading this blog wants to use this LibGuide to teach, feel free to go to it. (Of course you give credit where credit is due whenever you use another person’s work.)  None of our guides are restricted for use by certain people in certain geographical locations.  If you are half way across the world and want to use one of our LibGuides, all your would need to know is the web address. Got that?  Anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Now I would like to introduce you to the Newton Free Library’s Genealogy LibGuide.  If you are impatient and just want to go there and explore it yourself, click on this web address: http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy.  Feel free to take a look and then come back here if you want an explanation of the tabs.  If you have questions, you can either  enter them here in the blog or on the LibGuide itself.

The first tab is an introductory tab.  Here you will find selected genealogical topics that relate to the Newton Free Library.  The one area in the entire LibGuide that you may not be able to use, unless you are a resident of Newton, Massachusetts, is the first thing you will see, the Database List.  Some databases you will only be able to use within the library building, like American Ancestors and Ancestry.  Others you can access remotely if you are a Newton resident (Heritage Quest).  If you are not from Newton,  you want to check with your local library.  They may offer these as well.   Below the database section you will find information on the Newton Genealogy Club, recommended websites, and the Dewey numbers for genealogy. (The library uses the Dewey Decimal Classification System to categorize books.)  In the side frame you will be able to link to this blog.  My answers to two questions round out this page.  What are the questions?  Take a look.

I put together the next tab, First Advice, for people just beginning their family and ancestor research.  Here you will find advice and links that should take you step-by-step into beginning your research. I hope it will keep you from making all the mistakes I made when I first started out. The next tab, appropriately named What Next, pulls together the First Advice tab into a consecutive list of what you need to do to track down your ancestors.  Included as well are books that can help you with your research as well as a forewarning  of some broad problem areas you will encounter.  As my grandmother would say, forewarned is forearmed.

The next tab, Going Online, should help you with your online research.  I include useful websites and suggested books. Take special note to the two boxes on the top left.  These are  instructions for how to use Family Search (a database anyone can use for free) and Ancestry (accessed only in a library at no cost or from home with an individually purchased subscription).  I include instructions and  a screenshot for every step. I developed this system for myself.  When I need to remember how to do something computer related over a stretch of time, I created this combination so I would have a clue what I needed to do the next time I had to do the same procedure, usually three months down the line.  It worked for me.  It works for my classes. I hope it will work for you.  If you use it and have a problem, please let me know.  If you click one of these “how to” sheets and nothing seems to happen, check your downloads.  Links to your downloaded material may appear in the upper right corner or lower left of your screen. Once you find it you can click on it and print it. You can also copy the link and save it in your computer.

Now that you have the hang of using a LibGuide, I think the other tabs are fairly self-explanatory.  If you are curious about the LibGuides other librarians here have created for other subjects,  you can take a look at all topics covered at http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net.  Enjoy.

vea/20 June 2014
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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Please notice that this piece was originally published on 13 December 2011. All of the links have just been updated as of 11 December 2013.

Digital Newton first went online on October 1st of this year.  Materials you could only see if you came to the Newton Free Library, you can now look at from any Internet connected computer anywhere in the world.  Materials you can view include city directories (1868- 1934), Assessed Polls (voting lists from 1884 to 1942), , early photographs and albums including the Newell Family Album, trade cards, information and photos of the Jersey Stock Club and the Hunnewell Club, High School Yearbooks from 18851890, 1895, and 1900, as well as early books and historic maps.  Click  Digital Newton to discover all the treasures. You might even  find an ancestor.  And please feel free to leave a response to the material included here.  There is a link for your comment in each section

Digital Newton is in a format known as a LibGuide.  To go from section to section, click one of the tabs of interest near the top of the page.  Some, such as the “Images of Historic Newton” tab, will have drop down menus to get you into a number of albums and collections. I chose just one above, the Newell Family Album.  Don’t miss the others.  They are well worth the time.  You can get lost in another time looking at these photos and books.

This is an ongoing project.  Please note that the photos themselves are not, for the most part, links to anything else.  There is one exception. [Note that the following is no longer the case.  More photos of the Villages have been added. Click on this link Villages of Newton Photographs as of 11 December 2013.] On the first page you will see a link to Newton Corner/Nonantum.  When you click on any one of the photos in this set, you will get additional information about the photo you are viewing.  Consider this a preview of coming attractions.

During the month of December, the Newton Free Library is also hosting an exhibit with objects based on, but not limited to, Digital Newton.  If you are in the area, drop by and take a look.  Featured are an overview of the project with reproductions of maps and trade cards, as well as “Mayor Warren Then (1907) and Mayor Warren Now (2011)” and various three dimensional objects that will take you to another era. Check out the doll and the child’s drinking cup.  Below the photos of the two Mayor Warren’s are samples of items you might typically find in each man’s pocket. A great deal of imagination and historical knowledge went into this display. The picture above depicts only one small section of it.

You will find this material in the three first floor display cases.  Just park in our lot and walk in the side entrance over the bridge. You will find the cases on your right.  Click Newton Free Library for hours and directions.

Digital Newton is funded in part by the citizens of Newton through the Community Preservation Act, a Federal LSTA Grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (via the Institute of Museum and Library Services) and the Library’s municipal appropriation.

vea/13 December 2011
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com

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First, a Word Regarding Databases


What is the difference between a website and a database?  There are more technical and precise definitions of each term, but for our purposes a website is free to everyone.  A database must be paid for either by the individual or the institution wishing to use it.  The library provides access for its patrons to some subscription databases. Depending on the provisions of individual database providers, a patron who lives in Newton may be able to access the database from home.  Others can be used by anyone using the library, but must be used at the library only, not off site.  For a complete list of all databases, click  here. Those provided by the state of Massachusetts can be accessed from anywhere within the state. The list of genealogical databases provided through the library follows.

Ancestry Library Edition (In Library Only)

Ancestry Library Edition allows you access to more than three billion names using a number of different records that it provides online.  Once you find a transcribed record through Ancestry’s “Search” function, the database often allows you to click onto a photographic copy of the original record. Never rely on a transcription when you have access to an original record.  There can be major discrepancies between the original and the transcription.  Another Ancestry tip: their section on federal census records allows a search for neighbors. This is often very useful for finding additional family members.  If you are looking for recent immigrants, it also helps you find other people from the town or village of origin. People coming to a strange country often settled around other people they knew or who shared the same culture. Ancestry does not allow the library to provide remote access, so it must be searched here at the Newton Free Library.

American Ancestors:  Member Website of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (In Library Only)

The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), founded in 1845, is the nation’s oldest and largest genealogical society with a research library of over 200,000 volumes. Even if you do not have New England ancestors, you will find that NEHGS is an important resource for helping you to track information about your family history.  If you do have New England ancestors, it is a treasure trove that you must check.

This database provides most of what is available to its members online to anyone using one of the library’s computers. Here you will find extensive family resources, including databases, how-to articles, research columns, bibliographies, free queries, and discussion groups. You may also browse through the online book catalog for New England, New York, and other regions.  This site is not limited to the New England area as its new title suggests.  Non-members can access some sections of the American Ancestors site from home.  Anyone working within the library can access the database as though you were a member.  Check with a librarian if you need help.

America’s Obituaries and Death Notices (Home Access Available for Newton Residents Only)

America’s Obituaries and Death Notices database contains the largest and most comprehensive online collection of newspaper obituaries and death notices published from 1980 to the present.  Each obituary or death notice is indexed by the name of the deceased person. In addition, the text of each obituary or death notice is searchable, making it easy to find other categories or leads such as a place of residence, occupation, names of family members, or other personal information.   There are over 29 million listings.  Not all newspapers are included.  For a list of newspapers and the dates covered by each, click here.

vea/4 January 2011
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass.

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Newton Free Library November 2010

On Tuesday, December 14, from 7:00 t0 9:00 p.m.,  the Newton Free Library is hosting a viewing of the program “Who Do You Think You Are” featuring Zoe Wanamaker. It will be presented in the Druker Auditorium (first doors on your left as you come into the library  from the parking lot.) Following the showing, there will be  a  question and answer session on researching family history led by Carol Clingan,  Vice President of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston.

This episode of “Who Do You Think You Are” is from the original British  version, not the recently aired American series. The program shows how Zoe Wanamaker,  a British-American actress, researches her father’s past in America and his reasons for emigrating to Great Britain.  She then tracks her grandfather, Maurice,  a Russian Jew who settled in Chicago.  Ultimately she is able to follow her family name back to the Ukraine.   Whether you are already well into your family history research or just starting to trace  your family tree, you should find both the film and the question and answer session that follows informative and useful. 

On Tuesday, January 11th, beginning at 7:00 p.m. in Druker Auditorium, there will be an additional program, an Introduction to Jewish Genealogy.  Cary Aufseeser, a member of the Board of the Jewish Genealogical Society, will be the presenter. He  began his own genealogical research in 2002 and has been able to trace some of his family lines back to the Middle Ages. 

All are welcome.  No reservations are needed. If you are (or want to become) involved in your own family search, you should take advantage of the opportunity offered by these two programs. You do not have to have Jewish ancestors to find the information given here extremely relevant to your own journey of discovery.

vea/9 December 2010
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass.

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380 years and counting. Newton was first settled by the English in 1630.  By 1691 it was officially established as a town. Approximately 182 years later, in 1873, Newton became a city .  In other words, there is a great deal of history to be found here.  You just need to know where to look.

Three key historical resources are the Newton Collection, located at the Newton Free Library at 330 Homer Street; Historic Newton at the Jackson Homestead Museum and Archives, at 527 Washington Street; and the City of Newton Archives, located in both Newton City Hall, located at 1000 Commonwealth Avenue directly across the street from the library, and the Newton Free Library itself.  The pamphlet pictured to the left gives more detailed information on each of these three collections.  Click Finding Historical Info Newton 2010-1 to download and look at or print out the pdf version of this pamphlet.

When you decide which you would like to explore, click on the name above for a link to the site.  The link for the Newton Collection will bring you to the Newtoniana, an index to the collection.  Type in keywords and clickable categories will appear. The link to Historic Newton brings you to their main site.  It is well worth exploring.  Click on the various options to the left.  The link to Newton City Hall will bring you to the City Clerk’s Department.  It is the City Clerk’s Department that is responsible for collecting and preserving the records of the City of Newton.  To find out more about Newton, you might also want to check Resources on the City of Newton website.

vea/17 September 2010
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com


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