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Archive for the ‘Vital Records’ Category

Newton Free Library in Autumn

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 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.

Class: Bare-Bones Genealogy for Beginners: Starting from Scratch

Date: 9 January 2016

Room: Special Collections

Description: The emphasis of this first class of the new year will be on setting up your family history and how to start your research. I will begin by explaining family group sheets and then expand from there. This will not be a computer-based class. You will be introduced to strategies of organization, citing living people as sources, and where to look for more information that you (or someone in your family) may already have. Computer genealogy will be slowly introduced into the mix in February (Mother Nature permitting).  Registration is now open.  (Limit: 15)

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

Date: 6 February 2016

Room: ITTC Room

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 will be open at the beginning of January. (Limit: 12)

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

Date: 13 March 2016

Room: Special Collections

DescriptionTypically, 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 local people, families, and events? 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 will be open at the beginning of February. (Limit: 15)

vea/2 December 2016/vea
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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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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The Massachusetts State House was the former home of the Massachusetts State Archives

Online at the Massachusetts State Archives

Status of the 1916-1920 Vital Records Project

Posted by the State Archives on June 27 2011

We are pleased to announce that the contract between the Archives and the GSU/Family Search has been finalized. Digitization of the 1916-1920 vital records should begin this summer and the GSU has confirmed that the process will take approximately 18 months from the start date. At the end of that time we will have an indexed database complete with images of our vital records, 1841-1920, available on our website.

The approximate 18-month duration of the scanning process is something that is determined by FamilySearch. We are told, given the scope of their operations and the detail of the indexing involved, that this is the fastest turn-around that they can provide. Though this does little to lessen the inconvenience of the long wait for these critical records, we hope that it might clarify for you the reasons for the delay.

With the needs of our researchers in mind and given the complex process of digitization, we have worked out an arrangement whereby we can accommodate requests for searches resulting in certified copies of the 1916-1920 vital records. Although the physical volumes will remain inaccessible for in-person research and photocopies, in an effort to make the materials as accessible as possible, we have made arrangements so that we might process search requests for certified copies as we do for the earlier vital records.

Your patience and understanding are appreciated as we work to provide, to the fullest extent possible, access to these important records. If you have any questions about this project, please contact us.

I discovered this information from the intrepid Dick Eastman in his Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter.

vea/8 September 2011
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com

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Taken by the Curious Genealogist 15 May 2010

To Newton City Hall and the City Clerk's Office

Vital records ( birth, marriage, and death records) are key to genealogical research. The collection of these records is usually the responsibility of cities and towns in the United States. In other words, they are best located locally. Copies are sent to the state on a time table determined by each state.  In Newton, the City Clerk’s Office holds these records.

Remember, when you want a copy of a vital record, it is usually less expensive to apply directly to the city or town responsible for the record you are seeking, rather than going through the state.  The first fee might not seem like very much, but it can get very expensive over time. Also, if the town is small enough, the people working with vital records may actually know  of the family you are  researching.This is much less likely to be the case at the state level.

To learn more about vital records in the state you are researching, look at Red Book: American State, County and Town Resources. To learn more about using vital records in your research, check pages 203 to 232 in Val Greenwood’s The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy or pages 603 to 649 in Ancestry’s The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy.  If you cannot find a specific vital record, The Source will also give you some ideas for alternative places to find the same information.

vea/9 September 2010
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com

 

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Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

The Daily Online Genealogy Newsletter

One Rhode Island Family

My Genealogical Adventures through 400 Years of Family History