A project that began in 2017 to digitize important sacramental records in the history of Boston’s Catholic Church has just been expanded. Here’s the latest on this important project from American Ancestors and the Archdiocese of Boston.
Historic Catholic Records Online Project Expansion
Announced by American Ancestors and the Archdiocese of Boston
20 Additional Years of Records—from 1901 through 1920—and more than 60 Additional Greater Boston Catholic Parishes Are To Be Added to the Historic Digital Genealogy Project at AmericanAncestors.org
August 7, 2019—Boston, Massachusetts—American Ancestors and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston (RCAB) today announced an expansion of its ongoing program to digitize important sacramental records in the history of Boston’s Catholic Church. This expansion of a project collaboration announced in early 2017 will effectively double the original 11 million names of parishioners to be included when the project is completed to encompass a total of approximately 21 million names—a treasure in research terms for historians, genealogists, scholars, and the public at large. Images are available to browse now. Name-searchable records will be available in an expanded database from American Ancestors on their award-winning website AmericanAncestors.org.
These historic records document several sacraments of the Catholic Church in Boston and surrounding towns including baptism, confirmation, holy communion, marriage, and the anointing of the sick. They are valued for research because they contain detailed information about the Catholic parishioners of greater Boston, their relationships with each other, the church, and often the community.
When announced in January 2017, the Historic Catholic Records Online Project—the first of its type in the U.S. to digitize a significant number of sacramental records from any U.S.-based Catholic archdiocese—encompassed 154 parishes in 84 towns within the Boston Archdiocese, covering the years 1789 to 1900.
Today’s announcement extends the project’s reach to cover records through the year 1920—adding 20 additional years of sacramental records to the project and eventually bringing more than 60 new parishes within it—all formed within the Boston Archdiocese after 1900.
Catholic parishes in the towns of
- Forest Hills,
- North Andover,
- and Winthrop
will now be included—covering important phases of greater Boston’s early 20th-century history and stories of immigration, social, and cultural change.
Brenton Simons, President and CEO of American Ancestors, also known as New England Historic Genealogical Society, celebrated the amplification of the project, noting “Throughout our 175-year history, New England Historic Genealogical Society has collected and shared countless manuscripts, artifacts, data, and other resources that tell the inspiring story of the American family. The expansion of this historic collaboration between the Boston Archdiocese and American Ancestors will enrich the research of family historians in America and beyond and be especially informative in Irish, Italian, and French Canadian genealogy. Newer parishes from the 1900s add Lithuanian, Polish, and Portuguese genealogical data of interest.
“I offer our deep gratitude to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston for recognizing the historical value of this data—especially Thomas Lester, the Archivist and Records Manager of the Archdiocese, whose forward-thinking vision toward preservation and collaboration inspired this important project and its expansion we are announcing today,” Simons said.
Lester, as the Boston Archdiocese’s leading advocate for records preservation, stated “We recognize the value of this collection to many groups, foremost among them historians and genealogists. This second, expanded phase of our project with American Ancestors, is a result of the overwhelming positive feedback received during the initial phase announced with them in January 2017.
“Use of the records by researchers around the world has exceeded our original expectations and we are excited to offer additional content, with more insights, and deeper glimpses into the history of the Roman Catholic people and parishes in greater Boston. Of equal importance is that we are continuing to create a digital backup to help preserve these irreplaceable records.”
“The completion of the expanded project, covering all records through the year 1920 is now anticipated to be by the year 2029,” stated Molly Rogers, Database Coordinator for American Ancestors, “with all browsable (non-indexed) and indexed names from all parish archives expected to be online by that time.”
The project is enormous in scope, with a large amount of data to be digitized and then laboriously, manually indexed, transcribed, and, in most cases, translated to English for name-searching capabilities.
Some of the first records from this expanded time period—browsable images of pages from parish archives—are available and may be viewed at AmericanAncestors.org/image-example by members of American Ancestors and by non-members alike, with a free online registration as a Guest Member at AmericanAncestors.org/membership/guest-users. Searchable records (indexed by name) are available only to subscribing members of American Ancestors—visit AmericanAncestors.org/Join.
Volunteers coordinated by the staff of American Ancestors undertake the greater portion of the work of scanning and indexing the Historic Catholic Records Online Project documents.
Much of this effort is carried out at the American Ancestors headquarters in Boston’s Back Bay. In 2017, American Ancestors launched a Historic Catholic Records Fund to enable philanthropy to support the project. Information about contributing to this fund can be found at AmericanAncestors.org/catholic-records-fund.
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About American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society
American Ancestors, also known as New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), with its national headquarters located in Boston’s Back Bay, is the oldest and largest genealogical organization in America. It serves more than 260,000 members and millions of online users engaged in family history nationally and around the world. It is home to a world-class research library and archive, and an expert staff.
American Ancestors offers an award-winning genealogical research website at AmericanAncestors.org with more than 1.4 billion records and maintains a publishing division which produces original genealogical research, scholarship, and educational materials, including Mayflower Descendant, a quarterly journal of Pilgrim genealogy and history.
Resources for Using Church Records for Genealogy
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It’s time for genealogists to start making plans for the RootsTech 2020 conference to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah.
I’ve been attending and speaking at RootsTech since 2011, the second year that the conference was held. It’s been so rewarding to be a part of the evolution of this event! This 10th anniversary in 2020 promises to top them all.
I’ll be delivering four presentations this year:
- Reconstruct Your Ancestors’ Stories with Google
- Genealogy in Your Ears: Podcasters Talk Podcast
- 3 Cool Cases Solved: How to Identify Your Photos (premiering at RootsTech!)
- The 2020 Genealogist’s Google Search Methodology
Each year holds new surprises and opportunities to connect with your fellow genealogists. Below is the recent RootsTech press release providing all the details on registration. And here’s a tip: If you’re travelling from out of town, book your accommodations right away. Some hotels have already sold out.
RootsTech crowds enjoy the many attractions of the popular annual event.SALT LAKE CITY (18 September 2019)—
FamilySearch International has announced that registration for RootsTech 2020 Salt Lake City is now open.
RootsTech is a popular 4-day annual family history and technology conference where individuals and families are inspired to discover, share, and preserve their family roots, heritage, and stories.
The 2020 conference will be held February 26–29, 2020, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. For more information, visit rootstech.org/salt-lake. Discounts are available for early registrations.
In 2019, RootsTech attracted over 20,000 attendees from 38 different countries and all 50 states.
RootsTech 2020 will celebrate its 10th anniversary and the distinguished honor that it is the largest genealogy conference of its kind in the world.
The conference will feature a full lineup of inspiring and well-known keynote speakers, over 300 informative sessions, including hands-on computer workshops taught by industry professionals; interactive activities and helpful exhibitors in the expo hall; and entertaining events—all designed to inspire and empower personal family discoveries.
The theme for RootsTech 2020 will be “The Story of YOU.” Many of the classes, keynote address, and venue décor will reflect this theme.
“At RootsTech, we believe that the stories we’re creating and preserving today are just as important as the stories of our ancestors,” said Jen Allen, event director. “Reflecting on and celebrating each of our personal journeys is an important part of family history that we are excited to explore at the 2020 conference.”
RootsTech 2020 will also introduce learning forums—new class sessions covering a variety of specialized topics including: records access and preservation, innovation and technology, and DNA. One of these forums will be offered on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
RootsTech 2020 will officially begin on Wednesday, February 26 with class sessions beginning at 8 AM MT. Wednesday’s general keynote session will begin on the main stage at 4:30 p.m. Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International, will be the featured keynote speaker.
General keynote sessions on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will begin on the main stage at 11 AM MT and will lead directly into the lunch hour.
Read more about what’s new at RootsTech 2020.
RootsTech Conference Pricing
Early bird discount pricing is available for a limited time on 4-day passes at just $169 (a $130 discount on regularly priced passes). Single day RootsTech passes are also available for $99. Both one-day and full conference passes include access to the popular expo hall and keynote sessions. Early bird pricing ends October 11, 2019.
Family Discovery Day at RootsTech 2020
Registration for Family Discovery Day is also now open.
The event takes place on Saturday, February 26, 2020, and is designed for families and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
This free 1-day event includes inspiring messages from Church leaders; engaging classes for families, youth, and young single adults; and evening entertainment to inspire and help families make family history connections.
My kids and their friend having fun at RootsTech
Family Discovery Day attendees will also have access to all the interactive activities and exhibitors found in the RootsTech expo hall. Event details, including speakers and class sessions, will be made available soon at RootsTech.org.
The event is free, but registration is required.
Considering Going for the First Time?
If you’ll be attending RootsTech for the first time, we’ve got loads of tips that will help make your experience awesome. Read my article RootsTech questions: Tips for attending world’s biggest genealogy event.
Looking for a Smaller Genealogy Event?
If you enjoy a more intimate genealogy event setting, consider joining me at Genealogy Roots. It’s two days of genealogy education with me and my special guest Geoff Rasmussen of Legacy Family Tree Webinars. It’s coming soon: October 10 & 11, 2019 in Sandy, Utah, just 25 minutes south of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Learn more and get the early-bird special on tickets here.
A professional genealogist can help you apply to lineage societies. Joining is a time-honored way to honor your heritage and document your family history research. But it’s not easy! Here’s why even experienced genealogists may want to hire a professional to help with the process.
Thanks to Legacy Tree Genealogists for supplying this guest blog post.
Applying to lineage societies
Do you have an ancestor who lived in Colonial America when the Revolutionary War was fought, or perhaps earlier in Jamestown, Virginia? Does your ancestry extend back to New England when the Mayflower arrived? If so, there are various lineage societies you could consider joining:
While each organization has different requirements for their lineage society application, most have the same principles: prove a connection from yourself to the person of interest by use of vital records (where available). Where not available, other documentation that proves family connections can be used. (DAR now also accepts DNA evidence.)
You may not know that most societies allow you to “piggy-back” on applications they have previously accepted. Let’s say your second cousin Steve already joined a society based on your common patriot (or pioneer) ancestor, Alexander Smith. You would just need to provide documentation proving your connection to your parents, your relevant parent’s connection to his/her parents, and your relevant grandparent’s connection to your common great-grandparents, who were already mentioned in Steve’s application. You may then be able to reference Steve’s application for the remainder of the lineage going back to Alexander Smith.
Overall, this may sound like a simple process. But it often takes quite a bit of work because the records needed to prove each generational link are not always readily available–and sometimes they just don’t exist at all.
Why get help when applying to lineage societies
Below are five ways that a professional genealogist can help you apply to lineage societies:
1. Help you determine how to apply. As we mentioned, each lineage society has different requirements, so you’ll want to be sure you know what they expect in order to be as efficient as possible in gathering documentation. A professional can help you determine exactly what documentation is required and locate contact information for those with whom you need to work to submit your application.
2. Identify where your research should stop and start. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, as the saying goes. If your lineage ties into one that has already been acceptably documented by another member of the society, you should use it! A professional genealogist can help you identify any previous lineage society applications that have already been approved for your lineage. This single step can save you a lot of time and money.
3. Organize your information. A professional genealogist can work with you to determine what documentation you already have and what you will need to order. They can help you order copies of missing vital records or find acceptable substitutes in archives, libraries, and online.
4. Conduct in-depth research as needed. Many times, at least one ‘problem’ generation requires in-depth research, circumstantial evidence, and a proof summary in order to make the connection. A well-written proof summary explains how all the circumstantial evidence fits together to support the generational link, and often aids the applicant in obtaining membership when not enough concrete documentation is available (or when it conflicts). This often involves delving into land records, tax lists, probate records, and other more obscure sources to find any and all clues and pieces of information that can be used to tie two generations together. It can be a time-consuming task. A professional genealogist can do this efficiently and thoroughly.
5. Compile and present all records to the lineage society for admittance. You’ll be the one to present or submit your documentation, but professionals can help you get it all ready so that you’ll be as prepared and organized as possible.
Save time and money when applying to lineage societies
A well-prepared lineage society application often shortens the waiting period to be accepted into a society because it is easier to verify and follows the rules of the society. If an application is poorly prepared, it can take several submissions before acceptance into the society is granted. And of course, the lineage society determines what they will and will not accept as proof, so there’s never a guarantee. They may request additional information, and then you have to go back and keep digging! But since professional genealogists have experience working with the various societies and know what types of documentation are usually accepted, working with a pro can make the application process to a lineage easier, more efficient, and in the end, more rewarding.
If you have an ancestor in your lineage who may qualify you to join a lineage society, experts at Legacy Tree Genealogists can help you gather your documentation and prepare your application. They are the world’s highest client-rated genealogy research firm. Founded in 2004, the company provides full-service genealogical research for clients worldwide, helping them discover their roots and personal history through records, narratives, and DNA. Based near the world’s largest family history library in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, Legacy Tree has developed a network of professional researchers and archives around the globe.
Contact them today to discuss your options–and your ancestors. EXCLUSIVE OFFER for Genealogy Gems readers! Receive $100 off a 20-hour+ research project from Legacy Tree Genealogists with code GEMS100. Offer good through December 31, 2017.
German place names have changed dramatically over time, so it can be challenging to identify your German ancestors’ place of origin. This free online tool helps family historians navigate changes in German place names, jurisdictions, and boundaries. Thank you to...
Historic U.S. newspapers are featured in this week’s new and updated records collections, including Hawaii, Colorado, Georgia, and North Carolina. Also new this week are updated New York passenger lists, vital records for England, Welsh newspapers, military and census records for Canada, and Austrian parish records.
Historic U.S. Newspapers & More
This week we were delighted to see lots of historic U.S. newspaper made available online. Newspapers are a fantastic way to find clues about your ancestors, especially when vital records are elusive, and also learn about their daily lives.
Hawaii. If you have family from Hawaii or are interested in Hawaiian history, then you’ll definitely want to check out these three new titles added to Newspapers.com:
In 2010, the Adviser and Star-Bulletin were merged to create the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. If you’re looking for ancestors or other family members in these papers, good places to start include personals columns, society pages, local interest columns, and the like.
Colorado. History Colorado (HC) recently digitized and added two historic Denver African-American newspapers: Statesman (1905-1912), and The Denver Star (1912-1918). While these papers covered news from African-American communities in “Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and the West,” they also covered local news from Denver’s Five Points district. These newspapers cover Denver’s African American culture and community, including its residents, businesses, and aspects of everyday life.
Georgia. Georgia Perimeter College Collection is now available online. The digital collection includes yearbooks, catalogs, and student newspapers from the 1960s to the 2010s. You can browse the collection by decade, date, format, or by the name of the institution at the time each item was published.
North Carolina. The newspaper of Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, NC has been digitized and made available online. There are 44 issues are available to browse spanning from 1971-1979 with issues published every other month. Among the news headlines are graduations, alumni news, fundraising campaigns, appointments of new abbots, and changes on campus reflective of this decade’s larger cultural movements.
New York. MyHeritage has updated their collection of Ellis Island and Other New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957. This collection contains millions of records of individuals arriving at the port of New York, including individuals who arrived at three well-known immigrant processing stations: Castle Garden (1855-1890), the Barge Office (1890-1892), and Ellis Island (1892-1957).
England – Portsmouth Collection
Findmypast has an exciting new collection for Portsmouth, Hampshire. This collection of scanned images of original handwritten documents contains more than 1.3 million historical records spanning 1538 – 1917. When complete, the collection will be the largest repository of Portsmouth family history records available online. Click the links below to explore the 5 collections:
Also new this week from The British Newspaper Archive is the Ross Gazette. This newspaper is published by Tindle Newspapers in Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, England, spanning 1867 – 1910. This collection currently has over 2,000 issues available now, with more continuing to be added.
Even more historic newspapers are new this week as we head over to Wales. The British Newspaper Archive recently added the Rhyl Journal (Clywd, 1877 – 1897) and Cambrian News (Dyfed, 1863 – 1882) to their database.
Though these collections are relatively small, they can provide wonderful clues and details about your ancestors living in Wales in the 19th century.
Canada – Military and Census Records
New for Canada this week are Certificates of Military Instruction at Fold3, which includes records from 1867 to 1932. There were initially two types of certificates: First Class (battalion-level officers) and Second Class (company-level officers). The information you can find in the certificates in this collection typically includes the man’s name, rank, and residence; the certificate type and date; and the name and location of the school.
The 1921 Canadian Census is now available for free at the Library and Archives Canada. The 1921 Census marked the sixth regularly scheduled collection of national statistics. It officially began on June 1, 1921. This research tool contains 8,800,617 records that are searchable by name.
Austria – Parish Records
Over at Ancestry.com, a new collection of Salzburg Catholic Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1600-1930 is now available. From the description: “This collection contains parish registers from numerous Catholic communities in the city Salzburg, Austria as well as numerous communities that today are part of the Austrian state of Salzburg.” Note that these records are in German, and you should search using German words and location spellings.
Native American Records
Do you have Native American ancestry? Or are you interested in Native American history? Then explore Fold3’s Native American Collection for free November 1-15, 2017. Their unique collection includes records, documents, and photos never before seen online. All you need is a free Fold3 account to start exploring!
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