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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Entries in NEHGS (16)


    Were Your Early Ancestors Part of the Great Migration? Find Out Free This Week

    NEHGS July 4th  Great Migration promo press release

    I have a few ancestors who should be named on these lists. . . do you? This week you can check out all online searchable databases related to The Great Migration — those early American colonists who came across the Atlantic from 1620 to 1640 — at the New England Historic and Genealogical Society website

    If you’re a frequent visitor to The Family Curator you may know that NEHGS and the website are among my very favorite places to research, not only because I have New England roots but because I love discovering names from history books listed right alongside my lesser known ancestors. It makes my people seem more real somehow, to know they too had a place in history.

    I didn’t learn about my New England family history until fairly recently; unfortunately, shortly after my younger son graduated from a Massachusetts college and came back to California to live at home. Oh the research trips I could have enjoyed! Fortunately, Mr. Curator likes New England too, and we’ve been able to visit those ancestral states many times since graduation day, with a few productive stopovers to research at NEHGS on Newbury Street. I won’t be traveling this weekend, though, except virtually at

    More details from NEHGS:

    Inspiration for a nation—born in the Great Migration.

    To salute the anniversary of our nation’s independence, NEHGS announces FREE access to all online searchable databases related to the Great Migration on  A unique foundation of governance and religion was brought by the 20,000 men, women, and children who crossed the Atlantic between 1620 and 1640, seeking opportunity and relief in New England, in the period known as the Great Migration. These are the Mayflower names, the Pilgrims, the Puritans, and the families that delight and provide rich insights for genealogists and family historians.  Since 1988 NEHGS has sponsored the Great Migration Study Project. The results are yours to research FREE all week, starting Wednesday, July 1, through Wednesday, July 8.


    A Few Thoughts: A New Leaf on the NEHGS Family Tree

    Nehgs logo

    American Ancestors magazine, website and The New England Historic Genealogical Society brand have a new oak leaf logo inspired by artwork in the Peabody family tree in the library collections. I’ve always loved the symbolism of simple nature-inspired designs, and the new oak leaf is a fitting icon to represent the deep and expansive roots of NEHGS. 

    When I first learned of “the genealogy library on Newbury Street” I couldn't imagine I would one day be researching my own ancestors in its collections. I was certain that my ancestors came directly from the Old World to the midwest, and then on to California. It wasn’t until after both sons spent four years each in Boston area colleges that I discovered my New England ancestors. And it was a good thing too, because the brick streets, autumn colors, and white steeples of New England felt so much like “home” I was reluctant to give up those annual parent weekends and visits.

    So I didn’t.

    The NEHGS Library seemed like the perfect place to begin my on-site genealogy research, untangling the twigs and branches of a hand-sketched family tree that showed our roots going back to the golden days of Camelot, or at least King Uther Pendragon.


    NEHGS Library, before the entry remodel.

    I was sure I would find the answers I sought at NEHGS and registered for the annual NEHGS Spring Getaway in 2009, four days of guided research in the library collections. NEHGS did not disappoint. I was stunned to discover that my grandmother’s hand-sketched family tree (few citations, of course) was basically sound, and “YES! We do have New England roots!” It was a turning point in understanding that family stories like ours could be factual, and that it was possible to discover the records to support those conclusions. I didn’t NEED royalty in the family tree, but I sure wanted to know that at least some of those names might be correct. 

    Levenick roberts nehgs

    Working with Gary Boyd Roberts in the library research
    room. He makes Register Style seem "easy."

    The morning lectures, followed by conversations with experienced genealogists like Chris Childs, David Allen Lambert, Rhonda McClure, and Gary Boyd Roberts gave me a nudge to move forward and trust what I was learning. I showed Chris Child a copy of our family tree featuring the Child family, joking that we might be “cousins.” I expected a laugh, not a brisk walk to the stacks to find a family history that connected our two families. And I really didn’t expect Chris to show me Gary Boyd Robert’s work outlining connections to notable kin that nearly reached back to King Uther.

    It was an A-ha moment. And I made a pretty excited phone call to my family that evening. I think I even impressed my skeptical sons! 

    At home, I continued my research from home in Southern California using the ever-expanding digital collections at the NEHGS website. I discovered further New England connections, and found branches on my family tree that reached out in all directions recording “generations as they branch from past to present,” as NEHGS President and CEO D. Brenton Simons noted in a recent member letter. 

    The new oak leaf logo for NEHGS is an apt symbol for NEHGS and it’s deep history in American genealogy. With the addition of new webinars and other educational opportunities, NEHGS expands far beyond New England to reach out to researchers everywhere. Today you’ll find digitized databases for England, Ireland, Canada, Italy, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, and Australia, as well as over 350 United States digital collections. 

    New England may include six “official” states, but research at the New England Historic Genealogical Society includes a much larger world. If you haven’t been to New England lately, try a “virtual visit” to NEHGS to learn more about your American ancestors.

    Read more about my Spring Getaway research trip:

    Family Curator Visits NEHGS Spring Research Getaway 2009

    My thanks to NEHGS for permission to use the logo and research photo in this post.


    New England Comes to California


    It looks like I won't be seeing fall in New England this year, but I'm excited to get a bit of New England genealogy this Friday at the California Genealogical Society Seminar in Oakland when the New England Historic and Genealogical Society Comes West.

    Genealogists David Allen Lambert and Rhonda McClure will be presenting an all-day seminar followed by dinner and presentations with NEHGS President Brenton Simons. The sessions sound great -- it's going to be hard to choose which ones to attend -- and I'll have a chance to catch up with GeneaBloggers who will be attending. 

    The event is Friday, October 26, 2012 8:30 am to 4:00 pm at His Lordships, Berkeley Marina, 199 Seawall Drive, Berkeley, CA.

    Sessions Include

    Option A: Beyond the Grave: Looking Past Your Ancestor’s Death Record (David)
    Option B: Unique Resources in NY State Research (Rhonda)

    Option A: New Resources on for New England Research (David)
    Option B: Researching NY City Ancestors (Rhonda)

    Option A: Getting the Most out of New England Vital Records Online, in Print and on Film (David)
    Option B: The Golden Door Has Locks: Tracing Immigrant Ancestors (Rhonda)

    Option A: Researching New England Military Records (David)
    Option B: I Can’t Find It: Understanding Online Search Limitations (Rhonda)

    Register at the CGS Website, and be sure to say "Hi" if you're there!


    Fall Foliage Opportunities at NEHGS

    SharonVT 7

    The weekly newsletter and periodic press releases from the New England Historic Genealogical Society are getting to be a kind of Yankee torture. I may read "Come Research in New England" but what I see are gem-tone autumn leaves, wool sweaters, and sharp blue skies. 

    If you have New England ancestors and have never visited your ancestral haunts in autumn, add it to your genealogy ToDo List. There's no better way to get started with New England research than by attending one of the outstanding programs offered at the New England Historic Genealogical Society headquartered on Newberry Street in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston.

    The early Fall program schedule at NEHGS reminds me once again why I wish I lived in Massachusetts --

    IMG 2312


    September 12, 2012 10:00AM - 11:00AM

    Free lecture on how to use the features, tools, resources, and content of the NEHGS website, With more than than 200 million searchable names covering New England, New York, and other areas of family research dating back to 1620, this is a top resource for New England research. 

    New Israel - New England: Jews and Puritans in Early America

    September 12, 2012 6:00PM - 7:00PM

    Author Michael Hoberman will discuss his book New Israel /New England: Jews and Puritans in Early America, which examines the history of colonial New England through the lens of its first settlers. The New England Puritans’ fascination with the legacy of the Jewish religion has been well documented, but their interactions with actual Jews have escaped sustained historical attention. New Israel/New England tells the story of the Sephardic merchants in Boston and Newport between the mid-seventeenth century and the American Revolution. It also explores the complex and often contradictory meanings that the Puritans attached to Judaism and the fraught attitudes that they bore toward the Jews as a people. This event is cosponsored with the American Jewish Historical Society, New England Archives.

    Writing and Publishing Seminar, Part I

    September 15, 2012 9:00AM - 4:30PM
    This is the first of a two-part seminar on writing and publishing your family history. Workshops in Part 1 include defining your project, writing in genealogical format, working with images, and adding narrative to your genealogy. Part 2, to be held on February, 23, 2013, delves into the editorial process and book production, and offers a chance to meet with publishers/printers and consult with experts.
    Cost: Tuition: $110. Includes light breakfast, lunch, and all program materials.

    For more information, contact or 617-226-1226.


    Would it be unethical to tell you about Grandma?

    I love presents that arrive at my Inbox. The New England Historic Genealogical Society Weekly Digest is one of the best, and it just keeps coming. I always learn something new from the team of researchers at NEHGS; they have a knack for discovering interesting tidbits in the world of family history and genealogy.

    This week, in Stories of Interest, I was especially excited to discover a new blog featuring a project with student records from the 1920s.

    Permanent Record: Untold Stories from a Stash of Depression-Era Report Cards After Paul Lukas found a collection of report cards from the Manhattan Trade School for Girls, he decided to try to find family members of the students — and then share the experience on his blog and on

    The project is obviously a large one, with a host of issues about privacy and ethics. Lukas addresses some of these in a blog post on voyeurism -- you know, the thrill of looking at things you aren't supposed to see -- after stumbling on an article about a design company that uses Photoshop-doctored vintage police mug shots for popular paper products. Lukas wonders about about the ethics of his own report card project and what he calls the "moral imperative" of sharing the stories gleaned from those report cards.

    All of which makes me think twice about the ethics of family history research and sharing. Most genealogy conferences feature at least one session on the topic of ethics in genealogy. We are familiar with the concepts of protecting the privacy of living relatives and using discretion with information that could prove hurtful or disturbing. But what about the ethics of reworking and sharing the stories of unrelated deceased people you might find interesting or amusing?

    I have tried to be circumspect in what I share about my own family, but even so, I know that I have raised the hackles of some relatives. What may like a harmless tale to one person can deeply offend another. And when it comes to unrelated folks, is it "anything goes" or do the same rules apply? What are your thoughts on the subject?

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