I occasionally get questions from those researching their northern Rhode Island Aldrich ancestors. George Aldrich was an early settler of nearby Mendon, Massachusetts. My Aldrich ancestors moved down into Sheldonville, Massachusetts and northern Cumberland, Rhode Island.
The Rhode Island Historical Society Research Center
Recently I visited the library of the Rhode Island Historical Society. I wanted to look at some books and journals I had saved some notes about. Nothing much came of that.
But I overheard a conversation about photography and realized that they had eased up on their photography rules. So that was good news. I decided to photograph some pages of the Aldrich manuscripts that I had used in the past. I had to use a paper slip in each photo crediting the RIHS, and use the photos only for my own use. The book is still under copyright but that would have been the case no matter what. It’s a little hard to describe these books so I’m glad to have a chance to write down some details here.
The Aldrich Family Genealogy
The Aldrich Family Genealogy – Descendants of George Aldrich of Mendon, MA, compiled by Ralph Ernest Aldrich (1902-1984) and his wife Pearl Lillian (Marquis) Aldrich was written over a period of several decades. The manuscript has an unusual genealogical format which might be hard to grasp right off.
But these are the best books I’ve found on the Aldriches. They are the only books I can recommend. As always, I do my own research to prove relationships, but you can definitely get some clues and sources from these books. One thing that impresses me in particular is that they correctly report that my ancestor Nathan Aldrich’s first wife, Marcy, had only one child, Anna “Nancy” – not two as is often stated elsewhere.
Here is my line of descent from my 10th great grandfather George Aldrich to my grandmother Edna May Darling:
- George Aldrich (1605 – 1683)
- Jacob Aldrich (1652 – 1695)
- David Aldrich (1685 – 1771)
- Jonathan Aldrich (1721 – 1800)
- Asa Aldrich (1744 – 1825)
- Nathan Aldrich (1773 – 1862)
- Nancy Ann Aldrich (1800 – 1879)
- Ellis Aldrich Darling (1824 – 1883)
- Addison Parmenter Darling (1856 – 1933)
- Russell Earl Darling (1883 – 1959)
- Edna May Darling (1905 – 1999)
Here are some details from the RISH card catalog about the manuscript – in 18 bound volumes:
Title: The Aldrich family genealogy : descendants of George Aldrich of Mendon, MA /
Author/Creator: Aldrich, Ralph Ernest, 1902-1984.
Call number: Reading Room CS71 .A374 1998
Physical Description: 12 parts in 18 v. ; 28 cm.
Notes: “National Aldrich Association.”
Parts organized A – K. Alphabetical within each part by given name.
- Pt. A. George —
- Pt. B. Joseph(2) —
- Pt. C. John(2) —
- Pt. D. Peter(2) —
- Pt. E. Jacob(2) —
- Pts. F, G, H. Others —
- Pt. I. Families in England —
- Pt. J. Origin of the name —
- Pt. K. Arms, coats, shields.
Indexes: parts B, C, D and E.
The set is divided based on the children of George Aldrich – his daughters are quickly tracked for one generation in volume one, then each of his sons Joseph, John, Peter, Jacob are covered for several generations – sometimes 4 or 5. I found the right Nathan Aldrich easily in the index to the “Jacob” volumes. Descendants in each of the four sons’ books are in alpha order BY FIRST NAME. So I looked up each ancestor by first name.
Mr. Aldrich left his manuscripts to the National Aldrich Association (of which he was a founding member, see his picture and some early Association details here). The Association retyped or copied the pages in 1998. To the best of my knowledge these volumes exist in TWO places only (outside of any copies the National Aldrich Association might hold):
- The Rhode Island Historical Society Research Center, Providence. Bound volumes shelved in Reading Room.
- The New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston. Manuscript 458.
As far as I can tell, they have not been microfilmed by the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, nor does any digital copy exist online that I can find. Here is the Worldcat entry. It does not appear to be on Hathitrust or Internet Archive nor do I see any evidence that these pages were ever bound for sale. I suspect the Association had, at one time, bigger plans for the data – but I wish they would make the pages available online.
I have learned quite a bit about my Aldrich line through this manuscript but I will need to further explore, verify and question what I’m seeing.
I enjoyed exploring this set more closely at home from the few pages I photographed. I strongly recommend that New England researchers find a way to utilize this manuscript in one of the two repositories.
(1) The website of the National Aldrich Association has an interesting bibliography for Aldrich research. Most of the books on the list are either specifically about certain branches, or not reliable, or I am just unfamiliar with them. The articles section farther down on the list are a unique compiled bibliography of research articles and booklets, and might be helpful, if you can access the journals. Oddly, the web page states that these volumes are unindexed, which is not true.
(2) Mr. Aldrich in his preface to volume 1, pages XiI and XIIi, reviews a list of sources and on p. IX reviews some special sources:
Several years after the huge task of this project was initiated, it was learned that Marcus Morton (7) Aldrich (1834-1914) of the Jacob (2) branch had done a large amount of Aldrich research, but had passed away before he had completed a record for publication. Similarly, Charles Henry Pope of Cambridge, Mass. in 1916-1918 compiled considerable Aldrich data but died before having it published. The Marcus M. Collection was safely kept by his son Frank Morton (8) (1863-1960), but was not readily available for viewing or use until mid 1961 after his daughter Florence Joanna (9) (1890-1974) had presented it to the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Mass. The Pope Collection was given to that Society in 1929, but general knowledge of it was not widely known.
The Marcus M. Aldrich Collection consists mainly of hand written manuscripts and quite an assortment of small notebooks. The latter revealed a considerable number of problems in regard to lineage of quite a number of persons which remained unsolved.
Most of the genealogical correspondence of Marcus M.(7) Aldrich became the property of Earl D. (10) Aldrich (1903-1979) of the Jacob (2) branch in 1961. Earl, very generously, shared review and use of it with others interested.
Note that this Marcus Morton Aldrich collection (NOT the books I have been reviewing here) is available at NEHGS ONLY BY APPOINTMENT since it is stored off-site. Charles Henry Pope appears in the NEHGS card catalog numerous times but it’s hard to say which papers, if any, concern the Aldriches.
(3) Another unpublished manuscript that has information about the Cumberland, Rhode Island Aldriches is a folder in Abigail Sprague’s notes on the History of Cumberland (Rhode Island Historical Society library, Mss 1023).
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