Massachusetts Genealogical Council
MGC 2022: CONNECTIONS
Searching for Sarah: Education, Activism, and Archival Research in Boston [I]
Roberts v. City of Boston was probably the first equal school rights case in the United States. It
involved a five-year-old African American girl named Sarah Roberts who was denied admission
to the public school closest to her home in Boston's West End. Her father sued on her behalf,
and the case wound its way through the courts, eventually reaching the Massachusetts
Supreme Judicial Court. The Court ruled that Sarah's rights had not been violated and that the
Boston school committee had established a perfectly competent school exclusively for Black
Much of the scholarship on this case completely loses sight of Sarah. Yet centering her reveals
so much about education and activism in nineteenth-century Boston as well as archival
research practices concerning African American children. This session details my own quest to
learn more about Sarah by first studying the politics of the archive and then hunting down new
sources, a journey that historians and genealogists alike regularly follow. What I've uncovered
provides an important lesson: check your assumptions at the door.
History of the Massachusett Tribe [All]
This presentation will cover the history of the Massachusett Tribal Nation just prior to English colonization through the present day.
Michael J. Leclerc, CG®
French Canadians and the American Revolution [All]
French-Canadians were involved in the American Revolution in a number of ways. First, we will learn the political and historical background that led to their participation. We will then discuss those who actively fought for the Americans during the war, as well as the large group of French-Canadians who provided active support to the Americans. Many of these individuals, or their descendants, would later migrate to Massachusetts and elsewhere. We will also discuss how some of these services could leave descendants eligible for membership in lineage societies.
Alice Nash, PhD
Indigenous Peoples in the Archives [N-I]
This presentation will discuss challenges and opportunities for research on Indigenous peoples in the archives. This can vary according to whether the seeker is an Indigenous person, researching their own family, or someone approaching the research with less background and training. The work differs depending on whether we focus on the seventeenth century or recent generations. The examples will come from my own research as a non-Indigenous scholar of Indigenous histories, framed within a broad introduction to archives and issues for Indigenous genealogy.
Adina Newman, EdD
Conducting Jewish Genealogical Research in Massachusetts [All]
Jews have called Massachusetts home for centuries. Beginning with an overview of Jewish history in the Commonwealth, this lecture will examine various records and repositories to conduct Jewish genealogical research in Massachusetts. Strategies to understand nuances found in Jewish genealogy will also be discussed.
John Warner, PhD
Riders in the Storm: Researching Your Civil War Ancestors [All]
Using the Introduction and Sources (bibliography) of my book on the Fifth Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry, we track the inception and service of the third African American regiment raised in Massachusetts during the Civil War. There will be a slideshow of photographs, maps, and drawings accompanying the text.
Old Records Made New: Using Newly Accessible Records at the Boston City Archives [All]
Boston City Archives holds millions of public records spanning over 300 years of city government and documenting the lives of countless Bostonians. Recent digitization, transcription, and description projects have made many of these valuable genealogical resources more easily searchable and usable. Join Archivist for Reference and Outreach Marta Crilly to learn about newly accessible collections including transcribed and searchable women’s voter registers; digitized Rabbis certificates, oral history transcripts and Hero Square records; and thousands of searchable, digitized photographs.
Janis P. Duffy
Passenger Lists for the Port of Boston, 1848-1891 [All]
This Lecture will explain the differences between the U.S. Custom List and the State of Massachusetts lists. I will show examples of these lists and tell the stories of our immigrants. This collection is of great importance as there are gaps in the Custom Lists.
Exploring your Ancestry at the American Antiquarian Society [All]
The American Antiquarian Society (AAS) is a national research library of American history and culture through 1876. This presentation will provide an overview of the depth and breadth of collections at the AAS - from early American newspapers, to manuscripts, periodicals, books, and pamphlets - and a longer discussion of genealogy-specific primary and secondary source materials at the library. The presentation will finish with an overview of digital and remotely available resources and everything you need to know about planning your next visit to AAS.
An Overview of Genealogy Resources at the Boston Public Library [All]
The Boston Public Library (BPL) has a distinctive collection of local and family history materials in print and on microform to help you research your family history. This includes published genealogies, vital records, town histories, immigration records, passenger lists, newspapers, and access to some of the most comprehensive genealogy databases available including Ancestry.com, My Heritage, and American Ancestors. The BPL’s collection includes materials covering all of Massachusetts and most of New England, making it unique among public libraries with local and family history collections.
In this presentation the BPL’s genealogy specialist Jessy Wheeler will give an overview of some of the most useful resources at the BPL including where they are located, how to access them, how to best use them, and how to make the most of your research trip to the BPL.
Thinking Outside the (Search) Box: Ancestry Search Strategies [I]
Learn tips & tricks to more efficiently search Ancestry’s indexes, by understanding how to leverage their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses. This talk will look at wildcard searches, and then explore some of the ways in which Ancestry’s search functionality can be a little confusing. This includes odd ways in which place names are cataloged, or ways in which fields may be mis-transcribed or not transcribed at all!
Susan M. O'Connor
Pinpointing Your Ancestors Using Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps [All]
Where did your ancestors live? How did they live? What was their dwelling like? As genealogists we can generally find the addresses of our ancestors on census, marriage licenses, death certificates and other forms. But the next question should be where exactly is this address? What was the dwelling like? How far were they from their place of work, other relatives, or their place of worship. This presentation explores how to use the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps to locate where your ancestors once lived and bring detail to their story.
Tools & Techniques for Connecting with DNA Matches
For genealogists seeking information about a DNA match or trying to build a family tree, a plethora of resources are available online. During this session we will delve into the unique challenges of working with living test-takers and learn practical tips for using people finder websites, databases, searches, and social media to identify and locate individuals. Additionally, attendees will explore ideas to optimize communication and facilitate successful collaboration.
Michael J. Leclerc, CG®
Massachusetts Town Records
When researching, we frequently get focused on vital records. But Massachusetts towns have a wide variety of records that you can use to fill in a great deal of detail about your ancestors’ lives. In this session we will explore records created at the town level and how you can utilize them in your work.
Beth Finch McCarthy
Who Lyeth There? Digging Up Colonial New England Ancestor Records [I]
Researching your early New England colonial family presents many challenges. Events may not have been recorded, or there is no standard for finding the records! Inspired by a seemingly empty colonial burial ground, this case study focuses on a specific group of Puritan families who settled the Massachusetts Bay Colony during the Great Pilgrim Migration. As the story unfolds, you will learn how to place your ancestor into historical context and effectively locate historical records and other essential evidence sources.
Rhonda R. McClure
Genealogy Research in New England [All]
Join Rhonda R. McClure, Senior Genealogist at American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society, for a deep dive into the new 6th edition of "Genealogist's Handbook for New England Research." Expertly edited by McClure, this new full-color edition is an extensive update of an indispensable resource for those researching in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Research basics, unique resources, repository locations, and county and town information (maps, dates established, parent counties, parent and daughter towns, other names, and more) are now uniformly presented for each state. This user-friendly redesign also restores useful information from the 4th edition such as earlier probate districts in Connecticut.
Piecing it Together - Uncovering a Family Secret in Massachusetts [All]
In this case study, I’ll show how I correlated and compared information from various sources of Massachusetts records and DNA analysis to resolve a question of deliberately confused identity. A family secret was uncovered after more than a hundred years. Attendees will learn about the record sets and methodologies used to solve this puzzle.
Margaret R. Fortier, CG®
Catholic Records in Massachusetts [I]
Catholic records in Massachusetts date from 1795. Today there are four dioceses in the Commonwealth: Boston, Fall River, Springfield, and Worcester.
Explore the most-used sacramental records (baptism, marriage, burial) and learn about newly available records for Catholic cemeteries. We will cover the records of Catholic institutions, fraternal organizations, and religious orders, and introduce diocesan newspapers, directories, and parish histories.
A chart of online Catholic records in Massachusetts is included in the syllabus.
Huzzah! Researching Your Revolutionary Roots [All]
What a Glorious Morning! The countdown to the 25th Anniversary of the Battle of Lexington has begun. Do you have Revolutionary Roots? Discover how to trace your family back to the Revolutionary War and document their service. Attendees will learn about the essential genealogical and historical records commonly used when documenting lineages back to the Revolutionary War. Research strategies will include traditional methodologies, an introduction to the repositories associated with the various records and learn pitfalls to avoid. Lineage Societies will also be discussed to honor your ancestor's contribution to the Revolutionary War.
Dr. Stephen Morse
Getting Ready for the 1950 Census: Searching with and without a Name Index [All]
When the 1950 census will be released in April 2022, it will not have a name index. So finding people in the census will involve searching by location instead. Even when a name index becomes available, there will still be many reasons for doing locational searches.
The census is organized by Enumeration Districts (EDs), so the location needs to be converted to an ED before the census can be accessed. The One-Step website contains numerous tools for obtaining EDs. This talk will present the various tools and show circumstances in which each can be used.
NOTE: This presentation will be LIVE on Monday, April 25th, at 7:00 PM EST. It will not be recorded.
Margaret R. Sullivan
Crowdsource Genealogy: Documenting the 1919 Boston Police Strikers [All]
This lecture will discuss the 1919 Boston Police Strike Project, conducted by the Boston Police Archives, University of Massachusetts Boston, and volunteer genealogists, including many from TIARA. While the 1919 Boston Police Strike set Calvin Coolidge on the road to the White House, the 1100 plus strikers were consigned to unemployment and anonymity. Armed only with an index card with name and dates of service of each police officer, volunteers used genealogy tools to flesh out the later lives and stories of the strikers. The usual genealogical records were supplemented by municipal records, newspapers, insurance policies, union records, a presidential library, and records and stories from their proud descendants. These methods, training, organization, and publicity can be applied to other projects.