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Published compiled genealogies, whether they be books or journal articles, can move our genealogy forward by leaps and bounds.  If the material is of poor quality, though, and if we accept it at face value and don’t pursue the research ourselves, it can jeopardize all our future work, sending us down the wrong roads and setting us up to build tree sections that are completely false.  If you think about it, there is only one correct family tree for any of us; only one true sequence of events that led to the unique people we are.  There is no “close” in genealogy.  There is “correct” and “incorrect.”  Which is not to say we should or could expect to ever know the full truth, going back a dozen or more generations; there are so many reasons why some “truth” just will not be found by us. But for the parts of the tree we are able to build, we as genealogists want them to be correct.

Published family genealogies – Books

I think one of the first things New England genealogists find are those family genealogies published in the late 1800’s.  Googling the name, such as “Ballou genealogy” or “Ballou genealogy book” will usually pull up a pdf of the item, if it exists.  My advice would be to download and save such books in folders on your computer, if they relate to your family, and always use the “Comments” feature in Acrobat Reader to mark each page that is significant to you.  See more about searching for books on How to Build your Digital Library.

The quality of the genealogy in these books may be excellent, or very poor, and everything in between.  My own judgment is that reported events and relationships that occurred within about 60 – 70 years of the publication date have a good chance of being true (or as true as the family wanted to put out there).  Events farther back are often:

  • limited to well-documented, wealthier branches who left behind lots of records, such as vital records, probate, and large and informative gravestones
  • clustered mostly in the branch and geographic location that the author had access to, or had contacts in
  • dependent on the genealogical expertise of the author, so look around for evidence of that.

A good genealogist like Adin Ballou (An Elaborate History and Genealogy of the Ballou Family in America, 1888) may not have used proper footnotes (it was not the custom at the time) but he sprinkled every page with clues as to the sources of his information – deed books with page numbers, dates of probate documents, and many statements like “birth date not found.”  If you use data from these books in your tree, always follow up by checking for the records used.

When using these books, always check around for supplements, addenda, and later corrections.

QUICK FACT – When approaching an indexed family genealogy for the first time, seeking information about a couple, a good shortcut is to search for the last name of the spouse instead of the person who holds the name featured in the book (there will be too many of those). 

Wait, there are more books

Sadly, the search described above is where many genealogists leave off.  Therefore, they miss the thousands of genealogy books, also of varied quality, published since 1923 and, in some cases, still under copyright.  A book under copyright will seldom be found as a pdf online.  It might be for sale somewhere, it might show up as a Google Book in which only a bit of searching is possible (no pdf available), or, more likely, it is sitting on a few library shelves here and there.

I’m not going to provide a master list of books on Rhode Island families, much as I would like to, and I may try that someday. But here is how I approach this problem.

To compile a list of books that have been published on your family names, try the googling mentioned above, then try these steps:

  • Check out the online card catalog of the Rhode Island Historical Society’s Robinson Research Center.  They have lots of compiled genealogies there.  Try, for instance, Advanced Search for the subject “Ballou Family.”  This catalog does not cover everything at the library.
  • Try the card catalog of the New England Historic Genealogical Society.  They have a Search Databases function, for members, but anyone can use the “Library Catalog” under “Search.”
  • Always use WorldCat.org to search as well; each entry will come up with the libraries that hold the book, sorted by distance from you.
  • FamilySearch.org also has a “Books” search.
  • I like the card catalog of the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
  • Try the Ocean State Libraries catalog to find out what is in Rhode Island’s public libraries.
Searching for "Ballou family" in the public library catalog.

Searching for “Ballou family” in the Ocean State public library catalog.  The entry will tell you which Rhode Island libraries that hold the book.

My best advice for finding ALL the genealogies published on a certain Rhode Island family is to consult this book:

  • Guide to Published Genealogies in the Library of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (Boston: NEHGS, 2012).  I use this book a lot.  No doubt the NEHGS online catalog, linked above, would provide similar information, but I find the book format very easy to follow.
Guide to Published Genealogies has a large alphabetical guide to family history books as well as a guide to town and local histories.

Guide to Published Genealogies has a large alphabetical guide to family history books as well as a guide to town and local histories. Photo by Diane Boumenot.

Compiled genealogy sets covering many families

There are books which serve as guides to the literature of your family’s genealogy, or overviews of the genealogies of large areas.

  • The most important: John O. Austin’s The Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island; Comprising three generations of Settlers who came before 1690.  I strongly recommend NOT using an older version of this; you need the 1978 or later version with corrections, published by Genealogical Publishing Company.  This is printed as a marked-up copy, providing references to all the The American Genealogist articles correcting and expanding Austin’s work.
The Bennett entry in Austin's Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island. I know. It's weird.

The Bennett entry in Austin’s Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island. This is the way the book was printed. I know. It’s weird.

  • For the earliest settlers
    • It’s easy to forget that standard New England works will, of course, cover early Rhode Island families.  First and foremost, try your early families, arriving 1620-1640, in The Great Migration Study Project (by Robert Charles Anderson and others) including The Great Migration Begins (3 volumes) and The Great Migration (7 volumes) (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995-2011.)
    • For a reasonably priced way to access brief bibliographies of the settlers detailed in the 10 volumes of the Great Migration series, try The Great Migration Directory: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1640, A Concise Compendium by Robert Charles Anderson (Boston, NEHGS, 2015).   Another choice would be to access some of the material online through NEHGS membership – use Database Search – Category: Great Migration Study Project.
The Great Migration series and Directory. It's important to have regular access to this; it should be in any library with New England genealogy resources. Photo by Diane Boumenot.

The Great Migration series and Directory. Photo by Diane Boumenot.

  • Austin, John Osborne. One Hundred and Sixty Allied Families. Baltimore: reprinted Genealogical Publishing Co., 2009. [note: This was never that useful to me; it covers the author’s, and the author’s wife’s, families only.] 
  • Savage, James.  A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, in four volumes.  Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, Inc., 1998 (orig. 1860-62).  The Great Migration is far superior to this source, and if you can use that, no need to consult Savage.
  • Cutter, William Richard.  Not much better than mug books, with lines of descent traced only to wealthy southern New Englanders, but still, I have a soft spot for Cutter.  The entries are always fun to read and very interesting, but unsubstantiated.
  • Torrey, Clarence Almon. New England Marriages Prior to 1700. Volumes 1 – 3. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011.   [Torrey is essentially a bibliography of any mention of the married couple in various older sources. Consult the sources noted for specifics. Use the most recent edition of Torrey available to benefit from modern additions, corrections and proper indexing.]

Journals and periodicals

Have you ever thought, I wish I could hire one of the country’s top experts to find that elusive ancestor for me?  Have you ever considered that you could possibly get such work for free?  Here’s how.  Do a thorough search of all the genealogy journals that cover the area in question.  You need to be sure that your important question has not already been researched by someone really competent, complete with reasoned arguments and footnotes. Even finding an article in a quality journal about the county or town you are researching can be a treasure-trove of sources and strategies.  I always read the footnotes first.

Most organizations do not give their journal away online.  You need to belong to that society, or subscribe to something that will offer access, or seek out a library with subscriptions.  Likewise, just finding an index to each journal is not a trivial problem.

Suggestion 1:  If you want to try ONE thing with the biggest chance for success, go to the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s website AmericanAncestors.org and use Search — Databases — Category: Journals & Periodicals.  You will need to establish a free guest user account; for some of these, you will need to be an NEHGS member, or find a library with a subscription.  This allows you to search the following journals, among others (in many cases, only issues more than five years old are included, and many do not go as far back as the earliest issues.)

  • The American Genealogist
  • Boston Evening Transcript Genealogy Pages, 1911-1940 [note: seems not to have a working index, but you can get to the page you want if you know the date]
  • Connecticut Nutmegger
  • Essex Antiquarian & The Essex Genealogist
  • The Maine Genealogist
  • The Mayflower Descendant
  • New England Historical and Genealogical Register
  • New York Genealogical and Biographical Record
  • Rhode Island Roots

Of those, of course, Rhode Island Roots is the most important for Rhode Island research, however, there are some outstanding genealogists producing articles for all the prestigious journals concerning Rhode Island topics.  For additional journal suggestions, see this article.

Quality journals.

Quality journals.

Suggestion 2: The second easy way to access some quality pre-1990 articles is to locate in a library the four volumes of articles published by the Genealogical Publishing Company, below.  Each set contains a thorough index.

  • Genealogies of Rhode Island Families From the New England Historic Genealogical Register, 2 vols. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1989. Specifically, see Gary Boyd Roberts’ brief bibliographies of 100 Rhode Island families, page xix – xxxiv.  Remember, that was current in 1989. This set, and the set below, are very thoroughly indexed at the back of volume 2.
  • Genealogies of Rhode Island Families From Rhode Island Periodicals, 2 vols. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1983.
The two sets of Genealogies of Rhode Island Familes.

The two sets of Genealogies of Rhode Island Familes.  Note there is a substantial index at the back of each.

Additional sources

  • A huge number of local history and genealogy journals are indexed through PERSI, a database available through your local library and/or FindMyPast.com  The indexing is not extensive; they are mostly indexed by general topic, but could be good if there was an article about your family or town. Once a citation is found, you will need to seek out the article itself.  I am not sure about the current status of PERSI; consult your local librarian for help.
  • Godfrey Memorial Library, comp. “American Genealogical-Biographical Index (AGBI).” Database on-line. Ancestry.com. http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=3599 Original data: Godfrey Memorial Library. American Genealogical-Biographical Index. Middletown, CT, USA: Godfrey Memorial Library. [A compiled index to many of the holdings of the Godfrey Memorial Library (a genealogy library in Connecticut); an index of names. Also available at larger genealogy libraries in hard copy (over 200 volumes). Once a citation is found, Godfrey has a photocopy service where they will, for a fee, copy the particular item that was cited. Content includes the Genealogy Column of the Boston Transcript, which is likely to contain a reader query about an ancestor and, possibly, in a subsequent entry, an informed response from a genealogist.]
  • Narragansett Historical Register, 1-9, 1882-1891, published by James Newell Arnold.  Facsimile reprint published by Heritage Books. [See all original copies online here: https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2012/05/28/the-narragansett-historical-register-free/ ]
  • Rhode Island Genealogical Register. Volumes 1 – 20, 1978-1996. Rhode Island Families Association (founded by Alden Beaman). [not available online. Contains vital record abstracts, articles, and brief genealogies. Volume 16 “Rhode Island Will Index” is a compiled index of will abstracts contained in volumes 1 – 15.]
  • Rhode Island History. Rhode Island Historical Society. [Search and access 1942-2010: Rhode Island History. http://www.rihs.org/publication_search.php ]
  • Check out family genealogical materials at the Newport Historical Society.
  • Index To Genealogical Periodicals, vol. I (1932) and vol. II (1948) , compiled by Donald Lines Jacobus.
  • Index to Early Records of the Town of Providence, by Richard leBaron Bowen (Oxford Press, 1949).  Mr. Bowen, a noted Rhode Island genealogist, realized the potential of the Early Records index to help descendants of early Providence families to trace their ancestors, even if they were otherwise poorly documented, so he added a list of families included in Austin’s Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island (listed above) on page 87-93, plus a brief bibliography of articles on Rhode Island families in the decades leading up to 1950, on pages 93-97.

My favorite 10 Rhode Island family genealogies

Of all the genealogies that actually have helped me, these are the ones I recommend most highly.  If I had different ancestors, the list would be different. These selections make it clear that helpful genealogies are not always online, and are not always found in book form.

  • ALDRICH The Aldrich Family Genealogy – Descendants of George Aldrich of Mendon, MA, a manuscript compiled by Ralph Ernest Aldrich (1902-1984) and his wife Pearl Lillian (Marquis) Aldrich. 18 volumes.
  • ANDREWS – Harriet Francis James had her untitled manuscript on the Kent/Washington County Andrews published as a newspaper column, later compiled in a three volume manuscript by Anthony Tarbox Briggs.
  • ARNOLD The Arnold Family of Smithfield, Rhode Island by Richard H. Benson.  Boston: Newbury Street Press, 2009.  For advice on finding this book and on the other Arnold lines in Rhode Island, see Meet the Arnolds.
  • BALLOU An Elaborate History and Genealogy of the Ballous in America by Adin Ballou. Providence: E.L. Freeman & Son, 1888.
  • BOWEN Richard Bowen (1594?-1675) of Rehoboth, Massachusetts and His Descendants by William B. Saxbe Jr. 3 volumes, Hope, Rhode Island: Rhode Island Genealogical Society, 2011-2015.  What I would say about this set is ALWAYS seek out the highest quality work in an area to see if it can help you. This one is exceptionally well done.  Another such example – Thomas Clemence of Providence, Rhode Island by Jane Fletcher Fiske and Roberta Stokes Smith.  Greenville, R.I.: Rhode Island Genealogical Society, 2007.
  • DARLINGDennis Darling of Braintree and Mendon, by William and Lou Martin, 2006. In addition to genealogical information on the Darlings, the book contains brief sections on the intermarried families of Cook, Southwick, Thayer, and Thompson.  There are about 5000 footnotes which will help you find specific records concerning your ancestors. This book can sometimes be accessed through FamilySearch.org – Search – Books.
  • LAMPHERE – a series of articles in New England Historical Genealogical Register:
    • Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants.”  New England Historic Genealogical Register 153 (April 1999): 131-140.
    • Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants, Part 2.”  New England Historic Genealogical Register 159 (October 2005): 333-340.
    • Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants, Part 3.”  New England Historic Genealogical Register 160 (January 2006): 47-59.
  • RICE – a series of articles in Rhode Island Roots:
    • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher.  “Major Henry Rice of Warwick and His Family.”  Rhode Island Roots 24 (March/June 1998): 1 – 60.
    • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher.  “John1 Rice of Warwick, Rhode Island.”  Rhode Island Roots 24 (September/December 1998): 153-168.
    • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher.  “John2 Rice, Jr.,  of Warwick, Rhode Island.”  Rhode Island Roots 25 (September 1999): 81-118.
    • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher.  “John2 Rice, Jr.,  of Warwick, Rhode Island.”  Rhode Island Roots 26 (September 2000): 57-84.
    • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher.  “John2 Rice, Jr.,  of Warwick, Rhode Island (concluded).”  Rhode Island Roots 27 (March 2001): 1 – 26.
  • SMITH – Farnham, Charles William. “John Smith, The Miller, of Providence, Rhode Island – Some of His Descendants” in Genealogies of Rhode Island Families From Rhode Island Periodicals, volume II, p. 1 – 150.  Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1983 [originally appeared in the 1960’s as a series of articles in Rhode Island History, v. 20 – 24].  It’s not that this work is so superb, although maybe it is, it’s just that it’s so hard to work with the name Smith.
  • WILLIAMSDescendants of Roger Williams, Book 1 – Book 5.  The website of the Roger Williams Family Association allows you to peruse the first four generations of descent online.  After that, it’s necessary to consult the books.

Should you find a book that you would like to purchase, I usually try Higginson Books, Genealogical Publishing, and Heritage Books for reprints.  I also look on eBay.com (this valuable book has been waiting a while for a forever home) and Amazon.com, although lately I find older books on Amazon to be overpriced, sometimes ridiculously so (often a more thorough search online for the tiny publisher’s website brings up a much more attractive price than anything you will find on Amazon.com.)  In a pinch, my best advice for a local Rhode Island used bookstore is Allison B. Goodsell, Rare Books, also called the Kingston Hill Store.

In closing

Be sure to check out the post about sources of local town records since some of those offer genealogical information about specific families.

The post you are reading is located at:

https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2016/07/11/8-weeks-week-6-family-genealogies/

A Providence Door-yard. From Sketches of Early American Architecture by O.R. Eggers, 1922.

A Providence Door-yard. From Sketches of Early American Architecture by O.R. Eggers, 1922.

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Welcome to Week Two of 8 Weeks to Better Rhode Island Genealogy Research: Census Records.  Census records are an important way to keep track of our ancestors, and they provide one of the few long-term views of our ancestors’ comings and goings.  Finding family in the 1940 federal census, and working back from there, can get almost anyone started in U.S. genealogy.

Federal Census records

The following federal census records should be available for our Rhode Island ancestors (links go to the record set on FamilySearch.org):

These census records are also available on many other genealogy websites and the list is growing all the time. I keep the census headers nearby at all times because they are often unreadable on digital census pages.  I like these from Familysearch wiki (although they don’t include 1940) and I managed to add them to my two desktop backgrounds (using Picasa) so I always know where to find them.  

Federal census headers as screen backgrounds. It actually took me a while to accomplish this.

Federal census headers as screen backgrounds. It actually took me a while to accomplish this.

Have you ever thought about which VERSION of the federal census page you are seeing?  I love this article by Rhode Island genealogist Jeffrey Howe: Shortcomings of the 1850 Census by Jeffrey Howe, Rhode Island Roots 24:3/4 (Sep/Dec) p. 259-264.  And this warning from Cherry Fletcher Bamberg:  Navigating the Shoals of the 1810 Census and Beyond, Rhode Island Roots 37:1 (Mar 2011) p. 13-16.  Census pages were copied over, reproduced, filmed, and distributed in many different ways.  It’s important to think about whether we could, perhaps, find a better version.

Quick tip:  If the federal census page you find online is problematic (blurry, too light, too dark, part seems cut off), try accessing another copy of the census through Internet Archive.  Go to http://www.archive.org.  Search in Books for “census”, county, state, year.  For instance, “census Kent Rhode Island 1880” brings up this screen:

A search on Internet Archive brings up a DIFFERENT copy of the census, from a microfilm which must be paged through. But spped it up by noting the page number in the census page you already have.

A search on Internet Archive brings up a DIFFERENT copy of the census, from a microfilm which must be paged through. But speed up your browsing by noting the page number on the census page you already have.

when you open the reel, you have to browse through it.  Get the page number from the original census you saw, to help you find the right page quickly.  Archive.org doesn’t have everything, though.

Quick tip:  What with bad handwriting, fuzzy images and faulty indexing (and believe me I have won the trifecta on that a few times), you may find on occasion that you need to pull up a location and go PAGE BY PAGE, looking at every name.  There’s a badge for that, I think.  It’s called genealogist.  So, good job!  The links above would work well for that because you can go to BROWSE and narrow it down to the town.

One last thought: because Rhode Island is a small state, I was able to acquire compiled volumes of the federal census years 1790, 1800, 1810, and 1820 for Rhode Island rather cheaply as used books.  These are very handy for seeing a whole town on just a few pages. Particularly for cases where spelling is unpredictable, like Lamphere, it can be better than searching.   1790 is a 1977 reprint by Genealogical Publishing, complete with a fold-out map, of what is a fairly complete transcription.  1800 is an index by Lowell M. Volkel.  My 1810 and 1820 index books are by Ronald Vern Jackson.

There's nothing like seeing every name for a town on just a few pages in these old compiled census volumes.

There’s nothing like seeing every name for a town on just a few pages in these old compiled census volumes for 1790, 1800, 1810, and 1820.

Rhode Island Census records

Rhode Island enumerated the state population in the “-5” years, between the federal census years.  Some of those survive.  In the colonial era, a few census-like records were made.  To get a more detailed listing of early census records, don’t miss the words of wisdom on the R.I. census records at the Rhode Island Genealogical Society website.

Colonial era census records

The most commonly used Rhode Island colonial census records are for 1774, 1777, and 1782.  A list of sworn freemen, compiled 1747-1755, also serves as a kind of census.

Here are four books often seen in libraries:

  • MacGunnigle, Bruce C. Rhode Island Freemen, 1747-1755. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1982.  Look for additional freemen lists in the Records of the Colony of Rhode Island.
  • Bartlett, John R., “arranged by.” Census of the Inhabitants of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations 1774. 1858. Reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1969. [Access on Ancestry.com at http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=3081 ]
  • Chamberlain, Mildred M. The Rhode Island 1777 Military Census. Baltimore: Clearfield, published under the direction of the R.I. Genealogical Society, 1985. [Access on Ancestry.com at http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=49316 ]
  • Holbrook, Jay Mack. Rhode Island 1782 Census. Oxford, Mass.: Holbrook Research Institute, 1979.

There are also newer transcriptions of the 1774 and 1782 census that are more faithful to the originals.  Try finding the better 1782 transcriptions here and the re-transcribed 1774 census records printed, town by town, over a period of several years in Rhode Island Roots, volumes 29-35.

State census records 1790-present

Although not a census, the remaining fragments of the 1798 Direct Tax records (a federal fundraising effort administered by the states) can be very valuable for finding homeowners if your town’s records survive.  This is available at the Rhode Island Historical Society – Robinson Research Center.  Portions of the Newport lists are here at Internet Archive.

Rhode Island state census records are available for 1865, 1875, 1885, 1905, 1915, 1925, and 1935. Each census is quite different.  1895 did not survive (so, that was unlucky).

  • 1865.  Probably my favorite census of all time.  It’s so complete, and the handwriting on the Providence pages is just perfect.  It shows all members of the family, plus a full address, occupation, which school attended, place of birth (state or country, except if Rhode Island, and then the town is given), deaf, dumb, idiot, pauper, or convict, and military service.  This is a unique opportunity to learn important details, so definitely try this one.
My 4x great grandparents, the Lawrences, beautifully enumerated in Providence in 1865.

My 4x great grandparents, the Lawrences, beautifully enumerated in Providence in 1865.

The 1865 census pages can be found on Ancestry.org.  This page will allow you to search most of these Rhode Island State Census yearsNote that 1905 is not in that collection.

  • 1875.  Similar in structure to the 1865 census, and will work from the same Ancestry.com link.  Other than the Ancestry.com copies, the only other place I know to see 1865 and 1875 is at the Rhode Island State Archives.  Possibly, microfilm copies may be held at other libraries.  
  • 1885.  This is a confusing census, recorded in books where Male pages were separate from Female pages and entered in order only by first letter of the last name.  You would expect to find, say, daughters with mothers, but children seem to be separated also, meaning that one family may be on 3 or 4 different pages, with the only connection being the city, ward, district and family numbers, not necessarily searchable.  Have I lost you yet?  This census can be found here on FamilySearch.org, and at the 1865 Ancestry link.
  • 1905.  Another favorite of mine.  This census was recorded on cards, back and front.  The cards for males and females differed slightly.  There is an incredible amount of information on these cards; they provide the ONLY birth date for many of my ancestors.  Here is my gg-grandmother Catherine Ross’ card:
This is the FamilySearch.org screen showing the front of Catherine Ross' card. The transcription provides place of birth of parents for the PREVIOUS card. Click through to the card, then click to the next page, to see the REAL info on the back of Catherine's card.

This is the FamilySearch.org screen showing the front of Catherine Ross’ card. But the transcription provides place of birth of parents for the PREVIOUS card. Click through to the card, then click to the next page, to see the REAL info on the back of Catherine’s card.

Warning:  FamilySearch.org is the only place I know to get the 1905 census online, but each record is indexed with some wrong information.  Place of birth of the two parents is taken from the PREVIOUS card.  To see the real data on the back of your card, click through to view the front more closely, then use the circled arrow in the top corner to click to the NEXT card; that will be the back of your card.  Search here on FamilySearch.org.

  • 1915.  The national origins of parents are recorded as well as some occupational details, on normally laid out pages, in order by street address (the layout is similar to federal census records).   The 1915 census can be found on Ancestry.com as well as this link at Familysearch.org.
My great grandparents, Russell and Eva Darling, living very near to her parents, Louis and Jessie Murdock in the 1915 census. They have a friend, Mabel, boarding with them too.

My great grandparents, Russell and Eva Darling, living very near to her parents, Louis and Jessie Murdock at 337 Friendship Street in Providence, as seen in the 1915 census. They have a friend, Mabel, boarding with them too.

  • 1925.  This census is more perfunctory, recording families in order by address, with only minimal information, including marital status, place of birth, and age.  Find this census on Ancestry.com as well as at this link on familysearch.org.
My grandfather Miles Baldwin, captured with his mysterious first wife Mary in the 1925 census at 93 Somerset Street, Providence.

My grandfather Miles Baldwin, captured with his mysterious first wife Mary in the 1925 census at 93 Somerset Street, Providence.

  • 1935.  For this census, the state entered some kind of punch-card era with small cards.  There is some good information on these, including birth date.  Note the cards below, for my grandmother’s uncle Charles Falkenburg.  He was enumerated twice, once in January 1936 and again in May 1936, and the data shows some important differences about his success at finding work in 1935 (many of my relatives were in the fine jewelry industry, which really never existed in Rhode Island again after 1929) and about his place of birth, which I believe really was Germany.  A good example of how the census can make us nuts.
The first example shows Uncle Charlie born in Germany.

The first example shows Uncle Charlie born in Germany.

First example of the 1935 census shows Uncle Charlie born in Germany.

Second example of the 1935 census shows Uncle Charlie born in New York.  I’m really not blaming the census taker, I’m sure he or she wrote what they were told.

Access the 1935 census on familysearch.org and on the link for Ancestry.com.

In closing

These local census records need close examination and study, but they can fill out your ancestor’s story beyond what is seen every ten years in the federal census.  I encourage everyone to explore them fully.

The post you are reading is located at:  https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2016/03/31/8-weeks-to-better-rhode-island-genealogy-research-week-2-census-records/

 

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Overview

Over the next few months, I’ll go over the best ideas for finding your ancestors in pre-1900 Rhode Island, and learning their stories.  This is a series of posts combining some things I’ve figured out, some resources I’ve mentioned, and maybe some advice along the way.  If you’re starting out on the hunt for your Rhode Island ancestors, this will help you.

If your genealogy journey hasn’t started at all yet, be sure to consult other sources for a more complete introduction to genealogy while you pursue these tips.  I’ve heard good things about How To Do Everything Genealogy, 3rd edition by George G. Morgan (2015).  Two other books that helped me when I was newer to genealogy are The Family Tree Problem Solver: Tried-and-True Tactics for Tracing Elusive Ancestors by Marsha Hoffman Rising (2011) and The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, 3rd Edition by Val D. Greenwood (2013).  I also have a beginner’s post here, 10 Steps for Starting Your Family History.

I also encourage you to be guided by the following two excellent articles:

WEEK 1:  Vital Records

I often think vital records are NOT the most valuable records out there.  And here’s why: they are too short.  They don’t tell you enough.  We need records of birth, marriage, and death, but it is too easy to find names that match what we know, see no other records that could be right, and instantly conclude that we have found the right record.  Eek.

A more experienced genealogist would reach the following conclusions:

  • that record is a great clue, to be compared eventually with all other information that can be found.  And so they keep looking.
  • the event they are seeking a record of may, instead, have occurred in another place.
  • SO MANY vital records were not created in Rhode Island (a birth never registered, for instance) or were created in a manner that we cannot find now (a church marriage record that was lost, for instance) that the ABSENCE of records proves nothing; it does not prove that the one record found belongs to our ancestor.  (see, for instance, James Arnold’s introduction to volume 1 of his Vital Record of Rhode Island for his estimates of recorded events).
  • in any town, there are OFTEN men and women with the same name and similar age, sometimes cousins, as brothers sometimes each named a baby after their own father or mother.  It would not be rare to find a record that applied to a different person altogether than the one we are seeking.

At the very least, you want to be sure you find all existing vital records. And that cannot entirely be done online.

Map of Barrington-Warren-Bristol area, 1717-1747. Rhode Island towns and boundaries changed many times. From History of Barrington by Bicknell, p. 281.

Map of Barrington-Warren-Bristol area, 1717-1747. Rhode Island towns and boundaries changed many times, meaning you have to think through what town the event was reported to at the time it happened. From History of Barrington by Bicknell, p. 281.

Pre-1850 vital records

QUICK FACT #1  If an event happened before 1636, it did not happen among the English settlers of Rhode Island.  Once settlements started, local law called for vital events to be recorded in the town in which they happened (see, for instance, Records of the Colony of Rhode Island, vol. 1, p. 187, the law on “Marriages”). That practice is still in place.

QUICK FACT #2  Current Rhode Island law restricts access to birth and marriage records that are less than 100 years old, and to death records less than 50 years old, to those who can prove a very limited set of relationships with the principal person on the record. This must be enforced in every government site that provides access to records. Even given the limits on the records you can see, occasionally, your ID as a genealogy society member may also be requested by a town hall before you can see even the older records.

Some commonly used sources:

  • James Newell Arnold published what I might call abstracts of the town vital records, and also various church, newspaper, and military-based vital records, as Vital Record of Rhode Island, volumes 1-21 plus a volume for Rehoboth, Mass.  For marriages, he printed more information (if available) under the groom’s entry; the bride’s entry should be used to find the groom’s entry.  Each volume has a single index up front for quick checking.  IF YOU FIND AN ENTRY of interest, make every effort to check the original book in the town clerk’s office, or on microfilm from the Family History Library.  Arnold’s records are also on Ancestry.com.
  • Alden G. Beaman published some further work on vital records, providing coverage in Newport, Washington, and Kent Counties only.  His Rhode Island Vital Records, New Series. Volumes 1 – 13 were often gleaned from other record types – for instance, gathering death records by looking in cemeteries, or gathering the births of children by reading later probate records for the parents.  Such work is ambitious and valuable, but it’s possible he made assumptions – always use such work as an index, and check out the real record for yourself.  The books are under copyright, so not available online, and no longer for sale as far as I know.  Look in libraries.
  • Clarence A. Torrey spent years in the early 1900’s compiling a bibliography of marriage records gleaned from the many resources at the New England Historic Genealogical Society Library at that time.  I like this edition of his work:  New England Marriages Prior to 1700, vol. 1 – 3 (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011).  It is found in many libraries.  Look up your entry and note the abbreviated sources.  Then consult his long list of reference books to see what books or articles he is pointing you to for that couple.  Consult those books.  Although this is not a task you can start at home, unless you own the Torrey books, you CAN sometimes find the books and articles he is pointing to online, in Google Books or Internet Archive, because they may be pre-1923 and no longer hold copyright.
  • You will find that Ancestry.com, Familysearch.org, NEHGS (at americanancestors.org, a members’ site) and other sites have some abstracted birth, marriage and death records.  In other words, they offer few pictures of the page the record was copied from.  These abstracted records may be missing important information or clues that might be gleaned from the original page.
  • MOST Rhode Island town hall vital record books have been microfilmed and are available through rental from a local Family History Library.  Check the CATALOG in FamilySearch.org.

 

Clarence A. Torrey, New England Marriages Prior to 1700.

Clarence A. Torrey, New England Marriages Prior to 1700.

Records from 1851 through the legal cutoff for access (1916 for birth & marriage; 1966 for deaths)

While these records were recorded in the towns, the intention was that the town clerk would provide a full copy to the state for their records.  This worked well, or, occasionally, didn’t work well.  But for records after 1851 up to the legal cutoff (or perhaps not quite up to the cutoff), you can ask for the state copy at the state archives.  There is an index, and most of the records are available, by town, on microfilm.

But recently I learned that some of the Rhode Island pages are turning up, unindexed, on FamilySearch.org.  So these don’t come up in a search; you must seek out the record set and page through it.  It’s a lot like using a roll of microfilm, which is essentially what the images are. Christopher C. Child of NEHGS recently wrote a helpful blog post about this, “Browse the Images Online.”  He discussed the difficulties in discerning whether images were available for certain FamilySearch record sets. I was familiar with that problem. But one example he used was from some Providence death records.  It was a wake up call to me, as I realized that although I had been anxiously awaiting more image files on FamilySearch.org, I hadn’t been checking all that much.

Some collections with images on FamilySearch.org

It is not trivial to look for these collections, so here is what I have found so far.  Remember, ONLY a listing with a TINY CAMERA next to it will have images available.  Most others are either library books or microfilm rolls.  You can always order the microfilm.  What a hodge podge these listings, below, are, but it’s exciting to have this much available.

CLICK ON the tiny camera to see the record set. If no tiny camera is there, the material is only available on microfilm or as a printed product.

CLICK ON the tiny camera to see the record set. If no tiny camera is there, the material is only available on microfilm or as a printed product.

 

Remember, vital records were only recorded in Rhode Island’s (now 39) towns and cities.  FamilySearch lists many villages, because perhaps there’s a book about them.  But those villages will never have vital records. The list below are the images I found in March, 2016 (some towns have none).  Leave a comment if you find more.

Burrillville 

  • Marriage index: book 1A (1846-1900) ; book 1 (1766-1881) ; birth index: book 1 (1766-1881)
  • Death index: book 1 (1766-1881) ; book 1A (1854-1900)
  • Birth index: book 1A, A – P (cont.), 1852-1897
  • Death certificates 1901- 1915 ; birth certificates 1901-1903
  • Births, marriages 1807-1882 (item 2 : includes family records from 1747) Births 1855-1900 (item 3) Marriages 1851-1900 (item 4) Deaths 1855-1900 (item 2)

Central Falls

  • Births, marriages and deaths Vol. 1-2 1725-1851
  • Index to marriages 1850-1889
  • Index to deaths 1850-1948, Deaths Vol. 3 1850-1886
  • Marriages Vol. 3 1850-1889
  • Intentions and returns of marriage, 1896-1897

Coventry

  • Births, marriages, deaths 1702-1870
  • Births, marriages, deaths 1830-1900

Cranston

cumb vr B-2

A vital record index page from Smithfield, via microfilm

Cumberland

  • Births, v. 4 1853-1901

East Greenwich   

  • Births, marriages, deaths vol. 1-3 1707-1865

East Providence

  • Exeter death records and index: 1903-1915
  • Glocester births, marriages, deaths (1726-1815) and deaths (1902-1915)
Hopkinton
Johnston
Lincoln
  • Volume 7, death records, 1901-1915
  • Births, marriages, deaths 1700-1870
Newport

North Kingstown

  • Records of births, marriages and deaths of North Providence and Pawtucket [Rhode Island], 1748-1885; indexes to births, marriages and deaths, 1728-1914
  • Birth records 1871-1900
  • Marriage records 1871-1900
  • Death records 1871-1915
  • Births 1886-1902 and marriages 1885-1902, returns of births and marriages 1900-1902
  • Death records (1872-1945),and returns of death (1900-1921)
  • See also North Providence

Providence

  • Death records — Feb 1911 to Dec 1915
Scituate
Smithfield
  • See Central Falls
Vital Statistics Office, Warwick City Hall.

Vital Statistics Office, Warwick City Hall.

  • Birth, marriage, and death records, 1906-1915
  • Death records 1906-1915

West Warwick

  • Death records 1913-1915.

Westerly

  • Volume 3, death register and index, 1908-1921

Woonsocket

In closing
There will be seven more weeks of helpful advice and links, so subscribe, if you would like, in the side column near the top.  I’ll keep a running list of these posts, on each week’s post.  It may take me more like 16 weeks to get through all eight posts.  Thanks for reading!
The post you are reading is the property of One Rhode Island Family.  It is located at: https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2016/03/25/8-weeks-better-rhode-island-genealogy-wk1
from The Art of Homemaking, 1898.

If you think this looks like my Rhode Island ancestors, helpfully reporting their vital events as they occurred, you’d be sadly mistaken.  From The Art of Homemaking, 1898.

 

Read Full Post »

If there’s one thing I’ve become sure of in genealogy, it’s that no matter what the location, local genealogists know a lot, and happily share what they know in the local genealogy journals.  Rhode Island is fortunate to have a high-quality journal devoted to genealogical research, Rhode Island Roots from the Rhode Island Genealogical Society.

I want everyone to realize what a treasure this is, not just because of the caliber of the writing and editing, but because Rhode Island genealogists have a lot of information to share with researchers – old bible records, civil war letters, loose papers found deep in a drawer in a town hall, cemetery transcriptions, and family genealogies, for instance.  You can find work by outstanding genealogists complete with the footnotes that will give you great ideas, and help you understand how certain conclusions were reached.

2016-02-25 21.23.58

I decided to review the whole run of the journal, looking for a few things I noticed over the years and wanted to find again. I also wanted to remember where to find sources for several types of research.  I decided to make a list of articles I wanted to remember and that idea quickly got out of hand, and here is the list.  This took a long time because I had to stop and read.  A lot.

Rhode Island Roots has been published since 1975.  To see back issues (over 5 years old; but currently more like 7 or 8 years old) of Rhode Island Roots, visit this page.  To obtain your own subscription and membership, visit this page.

ALWAYS use an index to look for your Rhode Island ancestors; annual index pages are included in the journal and the link to the online version allows for digital searching.  The only way to see volumes and index pages for the most recent years is to subscribe, or visit a library.

ships2 from Abroad

My Favorite Articles

  1. Early Seventh-Day Baptists in Rhode Island by Melinda and Shirley Greene.  Rhode Island Roots 4:3 (Fall 1978) p. 1, 4-7.  Continued in 4:4 (Winter 1978) : p. 14-16.
  2. Mayflower Families in Rhode Island by Ruth Wilder Sherman.  Rhode Island Roots 5:3 (Fall 1979) 5.  Continued in vol. 6, no. 1, p. 3-5.
  3. First Postmasters in Rhode Island and Where They Served transcriber not given; taken from “Rhode Island Postal History”.  Rhode Island Roots 6:4 (Winter 1980) p. 84-88.
  4. The Colonial Records of the Town of Westerly, Rhode Island by Robert Charles Anderson.  Rhode Island Roots 7:3 (Sep 1981) p. 25-27.  [contains an explanation of the contents and numbering of each re-bound early record book in the Town Hall]. 
  5. Hopkinton Historical Cemetery #6 at Rockville by Virginia (Southwick) Chappell, from the files of the late Henry Cassidy in South Kingstown, RI.  Rhode Island Roots 7:3 (Sep 1981) p. 30-35. Continued in 7:4 p. 54-56 and 8: 1 (March 1982) p. 10-13.
  6. The Rhode Island 1777 Military Census transcr. by Mildred Mosher Chamberlain.  Rhode Island Roots 7:4 (Dec 1981) p. 43-51. Continued in 8: 1 (Mar 1982): p. 2-8.  8: 2 (Jun 1982) p. 27-38.   8: 3 (Sep  1982) p. 54-66.  8: 4 (Dec 1982) p. 79-92.  9: 1 (Mar 1983) p. 11-24.  9: 2 (Jun 1983) p. 37-50.   9: 3 (Sep 1983) p. 61-75.   9: 4 (Dec 1983) p. 93-99.  10: 1 (Mar 1984) p. 10-21.  10: 2 (Jun 1984) p. 36-45.  10: 3 (Sep 1984) p. 60-70.
  7. Rhode Island Town Names – An Etymological Study – The Meanings and Origins of the Names of Rhode Island’s 39 Cities and Towns by Bruce Campbell MacGunnigle.  Rhode Island Roots 8:3 (Sept 1982) p. 45-50.  Continued in 8: 4 (Dec 1982) p. 73-78.
  8. Rhode Island Men Who Served from New York in the Old French War, 1755-1764 by Jane Fletcher Fiske.  Rhode Island Roots 9:4 (Dec 1983) : p. 83-88.
  9. James Newell Arnold by Robert S. Trim, from notes of Clinton W. Sellew.  Rhode Island Roots 10:1 (Mar 1984) p. 4-7.  [a biographical sketch of the important Rhode Island record compiler, James N. Arnold].  See also James Newell Arnold Obituary transcr. by Andrew Boisvert, 27:2 (Jun 2001) p. 82-84. 
  10. Rhode Island Men Made Freemen 1760 To 1762 by Jane Fletcher Fiske, FASG.  Rhode Island Roots 10:4 (Dec 1984) p. 81-82.  Continued in 11:1 (Mar 1985): p. 7.  11:2 (Jun 1985) p. 17-19.  11:3 (Sep 1985) p. 43-47.  11:4 (Dec 1985) p. 73-76.  12:1 (Mar 1986) p. 10-11.  12:2 (Jun 1986) p. 33-36.  12:3 (Sep 1986) p. 54-58.  12:4 (Dec 1986) p. 72-85.
  11. Corrections and Additions to Arnold’s Published Barrington, R.I. Vital Records compiled by H.L. Peter Rounds.  Rhode Island Roots 10:4 (Dec 1984) p. 83-86.
  12. A Valuation of the Rateable Property of the Town of Johnston.  Rhode Island Roots 11:2 (Jun 1985) p. 35-37.
  13. First Tax List for Foster RI After Division from Scituate RI  transc. by Margery I. Matthews.  Rhode Island Roots 12:2 (Jun 1986) p. 29-32.
  14. Revolutionary War Veterans with R.I. Service or Residence, Listed in Connecticut Revolutionary Pensioners, Comp. by Conn. DAR submitted by Dorothy Chapman Saunders.  Rhode Island Roots 13:1 (Mar 1987) p. 14-16.
  15. Tables of Contents to the Land and Notarial Records of Rhode Island, from notes of Mary T. Quinn. [characterized as “Collection in the Secretary of State’s Office, Archives Division, State House, Providence, R.I.” this would be today be a collection in the Rhode Island State Archives.  Volume 1 abstracts have been published elsewhere in book form; this series is for volume 2-6.]  For volume 2 (1671-1708): Rhode Island Roots 13:2 (Jun 1987) : p. 27-33.  Continued in 13:3 (Sep 1987) : p. 55-59.   13:4 (Dec 1987)  p. 81-87.  For volume 3 (1708-1721):  14:1 (Mar 1988) p. 18-19.  14:2 (Jun 1988) p. 51-55.  14:3 (Sep 1988) p. 85-89.  14:4 (Dec 1988) p. 109-110.  For volume 4 (1721-1741): 15:1 (Mar 1989) p. 11-15. 15:2 (Jun 1989) p. 47-49.  15:3 (Sep 1989) p. 60-67. 15:4 (Dec 1989) p. 95-99.  16:1 (Mar 1990) p. 10-15.  16:2 (Jun 1990) p. 57-58. For volume 5 (1741-1753): 16:3 (Sep 1990) p. 89-93.  16:4 (Dec 1990) p. 120-125.  17:1 (Mar 1991) p. 20-25.  17:2 (Jun 1991) p. 51-55. 17:3 (Sep 1991) p. 76-79.  17:4 (Dec 1991) p. 112-117.  18:1 (Mar 1992) p. 27-30. For volume 6 (1753-1758):  18: 18:2 (Jun 1992) p. 54-60. 18:3 (Sep 1992) p. 90-95.  18:4 (Dec 1992) p. 122-128. 19:1 (Mar 1993) p. 28-29.   [Buyers, sellers, date and location are listed for early land transactions filed with the state, not the towns, and later books are mostly Powers of Attorney, bonds, ship bills of sale, and Protest (a procedure followed by ship captains) records.]
  16. South Kingstown 1757 Tax List Rhode Island Roots 13:2 (Jun 1987) p. 37-40.  Continued in 13:3 (Sep 1987) 63-67.
  17. St. Patrick’s Cemetery, East Greenwich, R.I. – Places of Origin in Ireland from Tombstones by David W. Dumas.  Rhode Island Roots 14:1 (Mar 1988) p. 14-17.  See also Old Catholic Cemetery, Wakefield, R.I. for similar information 20:4 (Dec 1994) p. 100-105.
  18. Elder Matthew Stillman’s Marriages transcribed from a Westerly Sun transcription by Dorothy Stewart and Vera Robinson.  Rhode Island Roots 14:1 (Mar 1988) p. 20-26.  Continued in 14:2 (Jun 1988) p. 56-60. 14:3 (Sep 1988) p. 77-84.  14:4 (Dec 1988) p. 104-108.   [these are from Hopkinton, Rhode Island]
  19. Kent County Divorces from Court Records by Katherine Bruce and Violet E. Kettelle.   Rhode Island Roots 14:2 (Jun 1988) p. 41-50.
  20. Smithfield’s Town Poor, 1850 by Elizabeth J. Johnson and Roger D. Joslyn.  Rhode Island Roots 15:1 (Mar 1989) : p. 22-23.  [by combining information from an 1850 printed book, identifying inmates in R.I. poor farms by initials only, with the 1850 federal census that provides names of inmates, the authors compiled of list of “cause of poverty” and “birthplace” for each inmate, and suggested the procedure could work for all Rhode Island poor farms in 1850.  A great idea.]
  21. Coffin Plates Made by Silversmith Thomas Perry of Westerly transcribed by Vera M. Robinson from the Westerly Sun.  Rhode Island Roots 15:2 (Jun 1989) p. 44-46.  Continued in 15:3 (Sep 1989) p. 75-77.  15:4 (Dec 1989) p. 100-102.  16:1 (Mar 1990) p. 24-26. 
  22. Colony Mortgages, Newport Historical Society abstr. by Bertram Lippincott III.  Rhode Island Roots 16:2 (Jun 1990) : p. 46-53.  Also, Wills at the Newport Historical Society by the same author.  17:2 (Jun 1991) p. 59-62.
  23. John Tefft and His Children: A Colonial Generation Gap by Linda L. Mathew.  Rhode Island Roots 18:3 (Sep 1992) : p. 76-80. [see also errata in 19:1 (Mar 1993) p. 32. ]
  24. The Glocester 1778 Tax List transcr. by Jane Fletcher Fiske.  Rhode Island Roots 19:2 (Jun 1993) p. 47-57.   Continued in 19:3 (Sep 1993) p. 87-95.  20:1 (Mar 1994) p. 21-30.  20:2 (Jun 1994) p. 55-62.  20:3 (Sep 1994) p. 72-80.  20:4 (Dec 1994) p. 112-120.
  25. Petitions to the Rhode Island General Assembly from the Rhode Island State Archives. Volume 1 (1725-1729): Rhode Island Roots 20:1 (Mar 1994) p. 5-7.  Volume 2 (1728-1733): 20:2 (Jun 1994) p. 41-45.  Volume 3 (1734-1738): 20:3 (Sep 1994) p. 87-93.  Volume 4 (1739-1742): 20:4 (Dec 1994) p. 121-126.  Volume 5 (1739-1743):  21:1 (Mar 1995) p. 25-29.  Volume 6 (1743-1748): 21:2 (Jun 1995) p. 44-48.  Volume 7 (1748-1750):  21:4 (Dec 1995) p. 118-122.  Volume 8 (1751-1754)  23:1 (Mar 1997) p. 13-20.  
  26. Smithfield Tax List (A List of the Polls and Estates Real and Personal of the Proprietors and Inhabitants of the Town of Smithfield in the State of Rhode Island … 1778).  Rhode Island Roots 21:1: (Mar 1995) p. 17-23.  21:2 (Jun 1995) p. 57-62.  21:3 (Sep 1995) p. 90-94.  22:1 (Mar 1996) p. 25-28.  22:2 (Jun 1996) p. 54-57.  22:4 (Dec 1996) p. 120-131.  23:1 (Mar 1997) p. 21-29.
  27. Indentures at the Dexter Asylum, 1828-1844 by Maureen Taylor.  Rhode Island Roots 22:3 (Sep 1996) p. 68-70.
  28. Blacks in the 1774 Census of Rhode Island by David Lambert.  Rhode Island Roots 22:3 (Sep 1996) p. 90-94.
  29. State Farm Records: Abstracts, 1871-1872 by Jean Therrien.  Rhode Island Roots 23:2 (Jun 1997) : p. 51-56.  23:3 (Sep 1997) p. 76-79.  23:4 (Dec 1997) p. 112-115.  25:1 (Mar 1999) p. 17-20.
  30. Major Henry Rice of Warwick and His Family by Cherry Fletcher Bamberg.  Rhode Island Roots 24:1/2 (Mar/Jun 1998) p. 1-60.  See also John Rice of Warwick, Rhode Island 24:3/4 (Sep/Dec 1998) p. 153-168 and John2 Rice, Jr. of Warwick, Rhode Island 25:3 (Sep 1999) p. 81-118 also 26:3 (Sep 2000) p. 57-84 and 27:1 (Mar 2001) p. 1-26.  See also addenda 28:3 (Sep 2002) p. 153 also 29:1 (Mar 2003) p. 50-53 and 29:2 (Jun 2003) p. 108
  31. Burial Records from the State Institutions at Howard by Florence Patenaude.  Rhode Island Roots 24:1/2 (Mar/Jun 1998) p. 71-110. Continued in 24: 3/4 (Sep/Dec 1998) p. 191-258.  24:1 (Mar 1999) p. 24-35.  25:2 (Jun 1999) p. 51-71.  26:3 (Sep 2000) p. 19-41. See additional note 27:1 (Mar 2001) p. 46.
  32. Rhode Island Families in Print: Some Notes on Recent Work by David W. Dumas.  Rhode Island Roots 24:1/2 (Mar/Jun 1998) p. 119-122.
  33. Shortcomings of the 1850 Census by Jeffrey Howe.  Rhode Island Roots 24:3/4 (Sep/Dec) p. 259-264.  [I saw this article years ago and was anxious to find it again; it opened my eyes to the numerous versions of each census page. Sure, the census can be wrong, but that is also compounded by the duplication processes that happened while the copies that we access today were being made.  This article is a gem.]
  34. Rhode Island Loyalists by Paul J. Bunnell.  Rhode Island Roots 25:1 (Mar 1999) p. 21-23.
  35. Irons Family Genealogy – First Draft [by a group of RIGS members, working briefly to put a draft together, to be followed by member input and corrections.  Not to be cited as a source.]  Rhode Island Roots 26:1 (Mar 2000) p. 1-152.
  36. The Parents of Hezekiah Herendeen: A Mystery Three-Quarters Solved by William B. Saxbe.  Rhode Island Roots 26:4 (Dec 2000) p. 109-112. See also errata 28:2 (Jun 2002) p. 101. [A Smithfield family].
  37. Members of the Coventry Church of Christ 1824-1897 transcr. by Margery I. Matthews.  Rhode Island Roots 27:3 (Sep 2001 – note page displays 2000 in error) p. 93-130.
  38. Walter5 Spencer (Benjamin4, Walter3, Benjamin2, John1 of East Greenwich and his Descendants by Violet Kettelle and Cherry Fletcher Bamberg.  Rhode Island Roots 28:1 (Mar 2002) p. 1-26.
  39. Dr. Jeremiah Greene and His Family: A Cautionary Tale for Genealogists by Cherry Fletcher Bamberg.  Rhode Island Roots 28:3 (Sep 2002) p. 105-120.  [this article makes you wonder if divorce/murder/insanity stories might be hiding in plain sight in your family tree … ]
  40. The Family of Bartholomew2 Johnson (Elkanah1): Coventry to New York by Linda L. Mathew.  Rhode Island Roots 28:4 (Dec 2002) p. 157-172.  See addenda 29:3 (Sep 2003) p. 161.
  41. The Unknown Parents of Daniel5 Walling, Grandson of Daniel3 Hix and James Walling by William B. Saxbe.  Rhode Island Roots 29:1 (Mar 2003) p. 1-8.
  42. Warnings out from Coventry Town Council Minutes transcr. by Linda L. Mathew.  Rhode Island Roots 29:1 (Mar 2003) p. 9-30.
  43. Some Rhode Islanders in Surinam: Notes from the Records of John Waterman by Cherry Fletcher Bamberg.  Rhode Island Roots 29:2 (Jun 2003) p. p. 77-86.
  44. Deaths from the Bills of the Overseers of the Poor, Richmond, Rhode Island, 1820-1850 by Vera M. Robinson.  Rhode Island Roots 29:2 (Jun 2003) p. 87-88.  See addenda 29:3 (Sep 2003) p. 161.
  45. A Line of Descent from Elkanah1 Johnson of Coventry Through his Son John2 and Grandson Obadiah3 Part 1 by Linda L. Mathew.  Rhode Island Roots 29:3 (Sep 2003) : p. p. 113-137. Part 2  29:4 (Dec 2003) p.169-181. Part 3 30:2 (Jun 2004) p. 117-141. see also addenda 30:4 (Dec 2004) p. 205 and errata 32:2 (Jun 2006) p. 96-100.  Other work on this family appears in 31:3, 33:3, 33:4, 34:1, 34:2. Addenda 34:2 (Jun 2008) p. 96. Another line is followed in 38:3, 38:4 and 39:1. See also a note in 39:2 (Jun 2013) p. 105.  
  46. Rhode Island Casualties in the Spanish-American War: Information from the Rhode Island State Archives by Kenneth S. Carlson.  Rhode Island Roots 29:3 (Sep 2003) p. 156-181.
  47. The 1774 Census of Rhode Island A New Look at an Old Friend by the Editors.  Rhode Island Roots 29:3 (Sep 2003) p. 165-166.  Charlestown and Westerly 29:4 (Dec 2003) p. 182-199.  Exeter, Hopkinton and Richmond 30:1 (Mar 2004) p. 15-40.  North Kingstown and South Kingstown 30:2 (Jun 2004) p. 87-109.  East Greenwich and West Greenwich 30:3 (Sep 2004) p. 142-159.  Warwick 30:4 (Dec 2004) p. 194-205.  Coventry 31:1 (Mar 2005) p. 23-31.  Providence  31:2 (Jun 2005) p. 66-87.  Smithfield 31:3 (Sep 2005) p. 128-141. Glocester 31:4 (Dec 2005) p. 181-195.  Cranston  32:1 (Mar 2006) p. 23-32.  Cumberland and North Providence 32:2 (Jun 2006) p. 73-85.  Scituate 32:3 (Sep 2006) p. 135-150.  Johnston  32:4 (Dec 2006) p. 109-134. Warren 33:1 (Mar 2007) p. 23-27.  Barrington  33:2 (Jun 2007) p. 90-92. Bristol 33:3 (Sep 2007) p. 113-137. Tiverton 33:4 (Dec 2007) p. 169-193.  Little Compton 34:1 (Mar 2008) p. 26-31.  Middletown 34:2 (Jun 2008) p. 72-75.  Portsmouth 34:3 (Sep 2008) p. 133-137.  Jamestown 34:4 (Dec 2008) p. 189-191.  Newport 35:1 (Mar 2009) p. 9-20, also 33:2 (Jun 2009) p. 81-92 and 35:3 (Sep 2009) p. 130-139.
  48. Warning Out in Rhode Island: The Example of Barshaba (Berry?) (Peirce) Herrington by Iain H. Bruce.  Rhode Island Roots 30:1 (Mar 2004) : p. 1-14.
  49. Visiting Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries by John E. Sterling.  Rhode Island Roots 30:1 (Mar 2004) p. 41-44.
  50. The Three Captains Joseph Tillinghast of Proividence by Wayne G. Tillinghast.  Rhode Island Roots 30:2 (Jun 2004) p. 57-86.
  51. One Line of Descent from Robert Vickery: Making Sense of the Record by George Braningan.  Part 1 Rhode Island Roots 30:4 (Dec 2004) p. 171-193.  Part 2  31:1 (Mar 2005) p. 1-22.  31:2 (Jun 2005) p. 49-65.  See addenda 31:3 (Sep 2005) p. 158.
  52. Guardianships from the Town of Scituate, R.I. 1762-1799 by Linda L. Mathew.  Rhode Island Roots 30:4 (Dec 2004) p. 206-228.
  53. Residency Certificates from the Warwick Archives by Cherry Fletcher Bamberg.  Rhode Island Roots 31:1 (Mar 2005) p. 32-39.
  54. Black and Indian Sailors Born in Rhode Island: Bristol Customs House Protection Papers by Jeffrey Howe.  Rhode Island Roots 31:1 (Mar 2005) p. 91-98 and 31:3 (Sep 2005) p. 143-155. New London  31:4 (Dec 2005) p. 196-200.  New Bedford  32:1 (Mar 2006) p. 43-44.  New Bedford 32:2 (Jun 2006) p. 91-93.  Providence  32:3 (Sep 2006) p. 156-163 also 32:4 (Dec 2006) p. 197-207, 33:1 (Mar 2007) p. 34-49.
  55. One Line of Descent from Benjamin Horton of Scituate, Rhode Island by Margaret R. Jenks.  Rhode Island Roots 31:4 (Dec 2005) p. 161-180.
  56. Archibald Campbell, Esq.: Ancestors and Descendants by Bruce C. MacGunnugle.  Part 1 Rhode Island Roots 32:1 (Mar 2006) p. 1-22. Part 2 32:2 (Jun 2006) p. 53-72. Part 3  32:3 (Sep 2006) p. 109-134.
  57. Manumissions in Providence, 1784-1800 by Linda L. Mathew.  Rhode Island Roots 32:4 (Dec 2006) p. 193-196.
  58. The Probably Origins and Ancestry of John Crandall, of Westerly, Rhode Island (1618-1676) by Paul M. Gifford.  Rhode Island Roots 32:4 (Dec 2006) p. 165-185.
  59. Caesar, Murray and William Lippitt of Warwick, Rhode Island by Cherry Fletcher Bamberg.  Rhode Island Roots 33:2 (Jun 2007) p. 57-89.  Addenda 33:4 (Dec 2007) p. 206-208.
  60. Some Northern Rhode Island Men Unable to Equip Themselves as Required by Law, 1776 by Linda L. Mathew.  Rhode Island Roots 33:2 (Jun 2007) p. 106-110.  See also Exeter and Richmond 35:1 (Mar 2009) p. 34-37. North Kingstown 37:3 (Sep 2011) p. 142.
  61. Checklist of R.I. Photographers from City Directories by Stephen P. Gross. This project was introduced in 33:2 (Jun 2007) p. 101-105.  [This series was continued for several years and covered many R.I. cities and towns, as an aid to those trying to identify a photograph.]
  62. 1783 Rateable Estates and Polls of Newport by Charles A. Watson.  Rhode Island Roots 34:2 (Jun 2008) : p. 91-95.
  63. Smithfield, R.I. Manumissions: Glasco, Jenne, and Their Children by Charlotte Scozzafava.  Rhode Island Roots 34:2 (Jun 2008) : p. 98-101.
  64. Ichabod Northrup, “Soldier of the Revolution” and His Descendants by Bruce C. MacGunnigle.  Rhode Island Roots 34:3 (Sep 2008) p. 113-132. also 34:4 (Dec 2008) p. 169-188.
  65. John Millard (John1) and His Descendants by Judith Crandall Harbold.  Part 1 Rhode Island Roots 35:3 (Sep 2009) : p. 113-129. Continued in 35:4 and 36:1.
  66. Notes on Mary Carder of Warwick by Cherry Fletcher Bamberg.  Rhode Island Roots 35:1 (Mar 2009) p. 3-33.
  67. Pawcatuck Seventh-Day Baptist Church, Westerly: Records of Jonathan Maxson by Jane Hoxie Maxson.  Rhode Island Roots 35:2 (Jun 2009) p. 100-109.
  68. Free People of Color in the 1825 Census of Providence, R.I. by Jeffrey Howe.  Rhode Island Roots 36:1 (Mar 2010) p. 26-32.
  69. Joshua Rathbun and His Family by Cherry Fletcher Bamberg.  Rhode Island Roots 36:1 (Mar 2010) p. 33-44. Continued in 36:2,
  70. 21 Jabez Bowens by William B. Saxbe, Jr.  Rhode Island Roots 36:2 (Jun 2010) p. 57-78. Additional note 38:3 (Sep 2012) p. 147.
  71. The Family of Vincenzo Lautieri in Italy and Rhode Island by Shellee A. Morehead.  Rhode Island Roots 36:3 (Sep 2010) p. 113-124.
  72. Unexpected News from the 1810 U.S. Census of East Greenwich, R.I. by Bruce Campbell MacGunnigle.  Rhode Island Roots 36:3 (Sep 2010) p. 125-133.
  73. Eliza Blackington, Wife of Philip4 Sweet by Jane Belcher.  Rhode Island Roots 37:1 (Mar 2011) p. 1-12.
  74. Navigating the Shoals of the 1810 Census and Beyond by Cherry Fletcher Bamberg.  Rhode Island Roots 37:1 (Mar 2011) p. 13-16.  [This had me looking back at all my 1810 census records. There is definitely a problem. ]
  75. An Ulster Transplant: Thomas Cammett of Salisbury, Massachusetts and Warwick, R.I. by Michael F. Dwyer.  Rhode Island Roots 40:1 (Mar 2014) p. 3-22. Cont. in 40:2.
  76. “Ensign Beriah Hopkins His Book” by Rachel Peirce.  Rhode Island Roots 40:1 (Mar 2014) p. 23-35.  [My ancestor Philip Andrews was mentioned at Fort Stanwix, Rome, N.Y.]
  77. Henry Straight of Portsmouth and East Greenwich, R.I. and His Family. by Patricia R. Reed.  Rhode Island Roots 40:3 (Sep 2014) p. 115-134. Cont. in 40:4.  See errata 40:4 (Dec 2014) p. 225.
  78. “Martyrs to the Cause of Liberty”: Hopkinton Boys in the Fighting Fourth by Robert Grandchamp.  Rhode Island Roots 40:3 (Sep 2014) p. 135-143.
  79. Hannah Gray, Wife of Kendal Burdick by David Kendall Martin.  Rhode Island Roots 40:4 (Dec 2014) p. 171-184.
  80. Amy (Smith) Russell and her Family by Cherry Fletcher Bamberg.  Rhode Island Roots 37:2 (Jun 2011) p. 57-78.
  81. Who Was Ruth, the First Wife of Nathan Eldred of Rhode Island and Vermont?  by Nancy Smith.  Rhode Island Roots 41:3 (Sep 2015) p. 159-167.
  82. Some Tips on Using Quaker Records by Elizabeth Cazden.  Rhode Island Roots 37:2 (Jun 2011) p. 103-106
  83. The Missing Wife in a Line of Joseph Churches by Jeffrey Howe.  Rhode Island Roots 37:3 (Jun 2011) p. 113-118.
  84. Notes on Thomas Ward of Newport by Cherry Fletcher Bamberg.  Rhode Island Roots 38:3 (Sep 2012) p.148-164.
  85. Joseph Crandall (1798-1888) of Franklin County, N.Y. by Judith C. Harbold.  Rhode Island Roots 38:2 (Jun 2012) p. 59-72.
  86. West Greenwich, R.I. Earmarks in 1741 by John F. Capron III.  Rhode Island Roots 41:1 (Mar 2015) p. 26-29.
  87. Smallpox in Providence, 1777-1779 by Linda L. Mathew. Part 1 Rhode Island Roots 38:1 (Mar 2012) p. 1-22. Part 2 Part 2 38:2 (Jun 2012) p. 85-97.
  88. Genealogical Clues from Newport, R.I. Customs District Records by John F. Capron III.  Rhode Island Roots 38:1 (Mar 2012) p. 33-54.
  89. Margaret (Ward) (Bradley) Wrightington by Cherry Fletcher Bamberg and Michael F. Dwyer. Part One: Piracy and Piety in Newport Rhode Island Roots 38:4 (Dec 2012)  p. 169-183. Part Two: George3 Bradley (George1) 39:1 (Mar 2013) p. 1-14. Part Three: Margaret Wrightington’s Descendants. 39:2 (Jun 2013) p. 57-84.
  90. Men of Color in the R.I. Regimental Book for 1781 by Bruce C. MacGunnigle. Part One: Piracy and Piety in Newport Rhode Island Roots 38:4 (Dec 2012) : p. 206.
  91. A Line of Descent from Ambrose Taylor, Chairmaker of Warwick, Rhode Island by Cherry Fletcher Bamberg.  Rhode Island Roots 39:3 (Sep 2013) p. 113-134.
  92. “Aunt Hat” and the Bigamy King by Rachel Peirce.  Rhode Island Roots 39:3 (Sep 2013) p. 135-150.  [One of my favorite articles.] 
  93. Gardner Thurston’s Baptisms by Bert Lippincott III.  Rhode Island Roots 39:2 (Jun 2013) p. 97-103.
  94. Sarah Charles, Josias Budgel, her Husband, and Their Children by Nelson Tamakloe.  Rhode Island Roots 39:4 (Dec 2013) p. 171-202.
  95. Warwick Records in 1776 by Cherry Fletcher Bamberg.  Rhode Island Roots 39:4 (Dec 2013) p. 203-206.
  96. The Ledoux/Sweet Family of Quebec, Vermont, and Pawtucket, R.I. by Michael F. Dwyer.  Part One.  Rhode Island Roots 41:4 (Dec 2015) p. 171-190.
  97. The 1762 Tax List of East Greenwich by Bruce C. MacGunnigle.  Rhode Island Roots 41:4 (Dec 2015) p. 224-230
  98. Winsor Fry of East Greenwich, Rhode Island and His Descendants by Bruce C. MacGunnigle. Part One Rhode Island Roots 41:1 (Mar 2015) p. 30-40.  Part Two 41:2 (Jun 2015) p. 75-89.
  99. Notes on Deaths at the Smithfield Town Farm and Asylum, 1865-1870 by Mickey Finn-Jordan.  Rhode Island Roots 41:4 (Dec 2015) : p. 191-200.
  100. Arnold Tifft of Smithfield and His Family by Cherry Fletcher Bamberg.  Rhode Island Roots 41:4 (Dec 2015) : p. 201-223.

I’ve mentioned before the important annual “Gleanings” issues of Rhode Island Roots that contain transcribed early town records.  Look them over here.

"Gleanings" - special issues of Rhode Island Roots.

“Gleanings” – special issues of Rhode Island Roots.

The post you are reading is located at:  https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2016/02/26/my-favorite-100-rhode-island-roots-articles

 

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Wouldn’t it be nice to see some of the original records of the General Court of Trials, held in various Rhode Island locations around the state during the 1600’s and early 1700’s.

So it turns out you can see some of them, for free.  If you go to the bottom of this web page on Helin Digital Commons,  the last 5 entries (scroll all the way down …) from 1724 contain over 400 pages of original Rhode Island court records.  Pulling up any one of the five books shows you a download button in the top corner, for that book only, and an index spreadsheet towards the bottom of the page.  There are five book parts and one index.

Helin Digital Commons page for Part 1. Note the download button, to store it permanently on your computer, and the index link at the bottom - that downloads as a spreadsheet.

Helin Digital Commons page for Part 1. Note the download button, to store it permanently on your computer, and the index link at the bottom – the index downloads as a spreadsheet.

If you are interested in this sort of thing, I would suggest you download the 5 parts and the index, and store them on your own computer.  This is publicly available but you never know when something will go away.

The Index

I downloaded the index, which is a spreadsheet, opened it in Excel, selected the whole sheet, used Sort & Filter –> Custom Sort –> and set it to sort by the following columns in this order:  B, A, D, C.  This made the index really useful.  To sort by the other side, I sorted the columns in this order:  D, C, B, A.

I quickly spotted several of my ancestors who were either litigious or got into some trouble. There are some “Indictments” in the list as well as civil suits, so this seems to cover civil and criminal matters, but by no means is it complete.

The web page gives the range of page numbers found in each book.  The page numbers from the index refer to the handwritten page number at the top corner of every page (not the electronic image number).  Once you know the page you want, you find which book has that page.

Looking at the records

George Lanpheare of Westerly sued Jonathan Babcock for 48 pounds. R.I. General Court of Trials, page 441.

George Lanpheare of Westerly sued Jonathan Babcock for 48 pounds. R.I. General Court of Trials, page 441.  You can see the page number is right in the corner.

I looked for this entry:  George Lampheare v. Jonathan Babcocke – 1724 – 441.  Only the page number is needed to find the record.  It was in Part 5.

Lanpher to Babcocke [in margin].  George Lanpheare of Westerly in the Colony oforesd, Labourer Petn on Accon of Debt by Bond Damage £48 : Currt money of New England Jonathan Babcocke of Westerly Labourer Debt the Deft made Default Therefore It is Considered by the Court that he the sd George Lanphere have & recover of & agst the sd Jonathan Babcocke fifteen Pounds Nineteen Shillings & fix fence Debt & Damages & Costs of Suit £3 : 5 : 4 Execution Granted.

I found page 441 to look over this Lanpheare case (probably belongs to my 8th great-grandfather George Lamphere).  Noting something unexplained about fence debt, I looked around a bit at the surrounding pages and found another entry for him, unindexed, where he is ordered to pay some fence debt.  I think if items are close together, they seem to have one index entry only.

Although I did not see my 11th great-grandparents Mary or Richard Pray in the index, they were mentioned in a charge of copulation against Shadrack Manton in 1672 (page 8 of Part 1).  Shardack pled not guilty and the jury found him not guilty.

Upon an Indictment by the Genl Salisoter against Shadrack Manton of providence, for having Carnall Copulation with mary pray the wife of Richard pray. [06 May 1672].

Upon an Indictment by the Genl Salisoter against Shadrack Manton of providence, for having Carnall Copulation with mary pray the wife of Richard pray. [06 May 1672].

It’s not clear to me which records are in here and which are not; the coverage seems to be statewide because I see actions from all areas – jurors reporting, jurors being fined for not reporting, criminals and petitioners appearing.

Other published early court records

For access to additional records,  two volumes have been compiled with more thorough indices:

  • Fiske, Jane Fletcher. Gleanings from Newport Court Files 1659-1783. Boxford, Massachusetts: 1998.
  • Fiske, Jane Fletcher, transcriber. Rhode Island General Court of Trials 1671-1704. Boxford, Massachusetts, 1998.  (still for sale at R.I. Genealogical Society:  http://www.rigensoc.org/forsale.php  )

I had fun looking at these old pages.  I only wish more of the Rhode Island judicial records were online.

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https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2016/02/20/general-court-of-trials/

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Last November I visited the Providence Public Library.  The building, a jewel of Providence, has undergone some renovations and the collections are growing.  Help is available for you to navigate the materials held in the collections.

The Providence Journal Rhode Island Room at the Providence Public Library. Photo by Diane Boumenot.

The beautiful Providence Journal Rhode Island Room at the Providence Public Library. Photo by Diane Boumenot.

Special Collections

I had a chance recently to meet Rhode Island Collection Librarian Kate Wells of the Providence Public Library. Kate showed me around the various Rhode Island collections.  The library is a great place to visit for some genealogical research.  I noticed the following:

  • The Providence Journal Rhode Island Room was recently restored with plenty of room for researchers to sit at the large oak tables, lighted by brass lamps.  It’s a beautiful room and contains a decent Rhode Island genealogy collection in the bookcases that line the walls.
  • The Rhode Island Index and the Providence Journal Card Index are card files, arranged by subject, that help you find important Rhode Island stories from the 1900’s.  My ordinary ancestors are not in there, but my more illustrious ones (ok, there are one or two) are.  Newspapers are available on microfilm.  Kate pointed out that although obituaries are usually not in the Rhode Island Index, they may be in the Providence Journal Card Index for the first half of the 20th century.
Catalog of the Rhode Island Collection

Catalog of the Rhode Island Collection.  Photo by Diane Boumenot.

  • Manuscripts, Sanborn Maps, scrapbooks about Providence architecture, and some business materials, including some jewelry and textile periodicals are among the special collections.  Perhaps the most interesting to genealogists working remotely would be the new and growing digital image site as well as the older FLICKR set of Photograph and Image Collections.  I was also intrigued by the Fred A. Arnold Collection, donated at his death in 1924, since he was a major genealogist in the Pawtuxet Arnold line.
Kate recommended this book to me for my questions about Providence neighborhoods - Civic and Architectural Development of Providence by John Hutchins Cady. Although the book is too pricey in the used book market, I was able to order a reprint from Higginson Books, during their Christmas sale.

Kate recommended this book to me for my questions about Providence neighborhoods – Civic and Architectural Development of Providence by John Hutchins Cady. Although the book is too pricey in the used book market, I was able to order a reprint from Higginson Books, during their Christmas sale.

  • Ancestry.com and AmericanAncestors.org (NEHGS) are available in the building.  This would be a free opportunity to do a journal article search for your ancestors on the NEHGS website.  You can pull up the full articles through the search screen.

Kate and the other staff are happy to help researchers with their questions, and it’s advisable to consult them since not all the collections are on display.

A card from the Rhode Island Index.

A card from the Rhode Island Index.

Important recent developments

Kate told me that there is interest in finally getting the older issues of the Providence Journal online, something that is badly needed.  The Journal Company has chosen a vendor for the project and from what I understand, fundraising is the concern right now.  I’m glad that this is being seriously discussed.

The big news in Providence Public Library Special Collections is that the nearby Knight Library has generously donated the James N. Arnold Collection to the PPL.

Kate is the only person I’ve ever met who shares my curiosity about James Newell Arnold (1844-1927).  She repeated stories she had heard – through a lecture Providence archivist Paul Campbell has given from time to time, I think – about James Arnold’s poverty. Mr. Arnold’s zeal for collecting and organizing vital records and materials of historical and genealogical interest led him to publish and edit a magazine (“Narragansett Historical Register“) for nine years, publish the books of vital record abstracts still in use today, transcribe cemeteries, and amass a huge collection of ephemera, notes, records, and books. But none of this itinerant historical work was particularly lucrative.  It is said (this is the part I got from Kate) that he was so poor and ill-kempt that the librarians at the Rhode Island Historical Society looked down their noses at him; he resented their ill treatment and developed a passionate dislike for the society.  Thus, at death he willed his materials to the Knight Library in Providence.  He was such a hoarder that it was difficult to box and remove the mountains of paper from his home.  I have yet to find any picture of Mr. Arnold but from what I’ve read, I think he may have been disabled in some way, perhaps walked with a cane.

The James N. Arnold Collection was hard to access and use at the Knight Library, and expensive to catalog and maintain.  Recently an agreement was made with the Providence Public Library to take over the care and accessibility of the manuscript materials.  Kate said her first priority for cataloging was not any notes from the vital records, which have essentially been published, but the more obscure unpublished materials.  She hopes to make the first part of the materials available for use by researchers by, perhaps, this summer.

When I visited the PPL in November, the boxes had recently arrived and were sitting in storage.  Here are some pictures.

Boxes of materials in storage from the James N. Arnold Collection.

Boxes of materials in storage from the James N. Arnold Collection.

Yes, some materials were actually in their original 1920’s bakery boxes.

A pie box, used for storage of Arnold's papers.

A cake box, used for storage of Arnold’s papers.

When the materials start to become available to researchers, I will be most curious about any notes Arnold kept on the Pawtuxet Arnold family.  I am a little resentful that he never produced a book on them; I would like to see how far he got with the family.

I had a helpful and interesting visit with Kate Wells.  I encourage those with questions about their Rhode Island heritage to consider consulting the collections at the Providence Public Library.

The post you are reading is located at:  https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2016/01/28/some-rhode-island-collections/

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The Death of Lizzie Clapp

My mother’s family doesn’t have all that many stories.  But we all know that mom is afraid of thunderstorms, and when we were growing up, no one was allowed around a window during a storm.  When I became old enough to realize that such fears often have deep roots, I asked mom about it.

Mom said that when she and her twin sister were young, her father’s uncle, Eugene Clapp, lived in the house.  Every time a thunderstorm rolled in, he regaled the little girls with the story of how his sister had been killed by lightning while standing in a window.  Every single time.  It instilled a lifelong fear. When I became a genealogist, I decided to find out more.

While I quickly found the name Lizzie Clapp, I wanted to know her story.

Uncle Gene in suit and hat, when he still lived in Cochituate, Mass., with other relatives including mom and her twin sister, two adorable toddlers.

Uncle Gene in suit and hat, when he still lived at his own house in Cochituate, Mass. (1934), with other relatives including mom and her twin sister being held in place by their mom, Edna.

The family of Lizzie Clapp

Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Clapp was born December 6, 1857, in Dorchester, Massachusetts, the second child of Albert Charles and Louisa Ann (Rollins) Clapp.

Her father, Albert Charles Clapp, sometimes called A.C., was a descendant of early Dorchester settler Roger Clapp (see more about his family in generation seven on this Cow Hampshire blog post).   Around 1844, at the age of 15, the slight, red-haired boy went to sea on a Pacific whaler.  From Honolulu, he shipped out on the Tuscany, back to Boston and then on to New Orleans, living there for two years and eventually enlisting in Company D, Louisiana Mounted Volunteers, for service in the Mexican War.

He became ill with malaria and dysentery while the unit was making its way to Mexico City, and after six months’ service he was discharged at Vera Cruz, Mexico.  He then worked on coastal vessels out of Key West, where he applied for a Bounty Land Warrant for 160 acres, in 1849, based on his service, and although it seems to have been granted, it’s unclear what happened with that – many veterans sold their warrants.   A.C. returned to Dorchester in 1851 to work as a painter and paper hanger, moving to Gardiner, Maine, at some point and marrying Louisa in 1854.

Alna and the Sheepscot River, The New England Magazine NS v.24 p 523 March 1901

Alna and the Sheepscot River, The New England Magazine NS v.24 p 523 March 1901

Lizzie’s mother, Louisa Rollins, was the oldest daughter of Hiram and Susannah (Grant) Rollins of Alna, Maine.  A.C. and Louisa were married in Gardiner, Maine on December 16, 1854 and their first child was born there in 1856.  In 1858, Louisa’s father Hiram Rollins was killed in a circular saw accident while working at a steam-powered mill in Gardiner, leaving behind his wife and several younger children.  A.C. and Louisa moved to Massachusetts shortly before or after that event, where they lived out their lives.

During the Civil War, A.C. worked as a civilian nurse at the Mansion House Hospital, Alexandria, Virginia and also for a Quartermaster in Nashville, Tennessee.  Louisa lost her next closest brother, Amos Pillsbury Rollins, a substitute private in the New Hampshire 5th Infantry, who was severely wounded at Petersburg, Virginia late in the war, dying four days later.  By 1869, the family had moved from Dorchester to nearby Readville in Hyde Park, Massachusetts, where A.C. pursued a career as a painter and paper-hanger.

Mansion House Hospital, a Union Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, where A.C. Clapp served as a Civil War citizen nurse. Library of Congress digital file LC-DIG-ppmsca-33628.

Mansion House Hospital, a Union Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, where A.C. Clapp served as a Civil War citizen nurse. Library of Congress digital file LC-DIG-ppmsca-33628.

By the time they moved to Readville, all eight children had been born, and two daughters had died as toddlers:

  • Charles Frederick (b.1856)
  • Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” (b.1857)
  • Henrietta L. (b.1859)
  • Eugene Rollins (b.1860) (birth record says Rollins Eugene)
  • George Hiram (b.1862)
  • Fanny Eva, died very young (b.1863)
  • Annie Adelia, died very young (b.1864)
  • Conrad Nathaniel (b.1866)

Lizzie gets a job

After the war, there were new industries and opportunities in Boston. The 1870 census in Hyde Park shows that all the children were attending school, except for Conrad who was only four.  Since she was listed as a 13 year old student in the 1870 census, and started working about 2 years later, I would guess that Lizzie graduated from grammar school (grade 8) or possibly attended high school briefly.

2016-01-06 22_16_19-A first book in American history, with special ...

From A First Book in American History

Starting at about age 15, around 1872, Lizzie landed a job at the Western Union telegraph office in Readville.  Readville had a busy Boston & Providence Railroad station and the telegraph office was part of that.  According to newspaper reports, her cousin Lotta Garberson (? – not traceable) may also have been employed there, and by 1876, Lizzie’s younger sister Henrietta (“Etta”) Clapp also worked at the telegraph office.  The supervisor was Mr. E. P. Davis.

I find it surprising and impressive that Lizzie was employed in such a responsible job as early as 1872.  My other female relatives that worked in the 1870’s and 1880’s were usually packaging goods, tending customers, or working in factories.  But Lizzie’s job required her to memorize a code that few people knew, be literate with a wide vocabulary, and demonstrate very accurate spelling and grammar.  I don’t think it was unusual for a girl to do this job, but it was nonetheless commendable.

From A First Book in American History

From A First Book in American History

The day of her death

July, 1876 was a hot month in Boston.  On the sultry morning of July 11, according to later reports, Lizzie may have spoken of presentiments of an early death.  Just after noon time, a cooler breeze arrived and the staff at the telegraph office received word that heavy thunderstorms were approaching.  Following normal protocol, Mr. Davis ordered the staff to stop all telegraph activity as black clouds approached.  To be extra cautious, he disconnected the wires from the telegraph machine, and left them laying on the counter.  There was no ground wire.

Lizzie remained at her post through the growing storm, gazing out the nearby window, as torrential rain and dramatic thunder and lightning rolled in around 2 o’clock.

Neighbors a short distance away said later that you could see the bolt of lightning form a sort of fireball which ran down the telegraph wire heading towards the station.  After entering the building, almost instantly, the current jumped from the open wires to a gold necklace that Lizzie was wearing, a few melted pieces of which were later found scattered on the floor. A flash and a deafening boom – like a cannon – sent all the staff to the floor.

Reports vary on whether Lizzie’s collapse to the floor was preceded by a scream, but when the others gingerly lifted themselves up, they noticed that she was still and silent.  As they lifted her head, the only mark found on her lifeless body was a black spot on her neck, and later a similar spot was found lower on her chest.  The nearby windowsill showed a gash of splintered wood.  Lizzie had died instantly.

At the neighboring Caryville railroad station, a little girl died from a lightning strike and numerous other strikes and fires were reported in the area.  Clearly, it was an unusually bad storm.

Lizzie’s funeral

It’s impossible to say how the rest of her family heard about the death; one hopes Lizzie’s sister Etta was not sent home to carry the news. My grandfather’s Uncle Gene would have been 16 at the time, and clearly the horrific death always stayed with him, as I’m sure it did with Etta and the others.

By the next day many papers ran the story.  Lizzie was reportedly “an amiable lady and a competent operator” and “a beautiful and very interesting young lady of 18.”

First Congregational Church, Hyde Park, from Hyde Park Historical Record, vol. 4 (1903), p. 73.

First Congregational Church, Hyde Park, where the funeral was held, from Hyde Park Historical Record, vol. 4 (1903), p. 73.

Her funeral was held at the Congregational Church in Hyde Park the following Sunday afternoon, July 16.  It was widely attended by family, friends, and delegations of telegraph operators from the cities and towns along the line, and by members of local Good Templar lodges (a temperance organization, of which Lizzie was a member).  The cortege began at her parents’ home in Readville, headed by eight men from the local telegraph industry. Delegations of the Oakdale, Montana, and Damon lodges of the Good Templar, in full regalia, followed, then the hearse, and a long line of carriages containing relatives, former schoolmates, and friends.

The flower arrangements sent by these groups were valued at $600, said to be the most beautiful floral display ever witnessed in Hyde Park; a beautiful cross of roses, an anchor of roses, two floral pillows inscribed with her initials and “Rest”, a floral lyre, and many wreaths and bouquets.  They “evinced the universal love and respect in which she was held by all who knew her. … As [the minister] referred in eloquent terms to the good qualities and amiable character of the deceased, the audience were strongly affected … ” (Telegrapher, July 22, 1876, p. 180)

Lizzie was buried at the ancient Dorchester North Burial Ground, the resting place for many Dorchester Clapps going back to the 1600’s.  Possibly, A.C. Clapp’s father George Clapp was buried there in the 1860’s.  I don’t know yet whether she is near him.

An 1898 photo showing the ancient Dorchester North Burial Ground. From Boston Public Library File 07_10_000036.

An 1898 photo showing the ancient Dorchester North Burial Ground. From Boston Public Library File 07_10_000036.

Effect on the telegraph industry

Lizzie’s death was discussed in articles and letters printed in The Telegrapher and the Journal of the Telegraph over the next several months.  Theories abounded about the circumstances, though the absence of a ground wire seemed to have been the strongest theory, and writers urged their colleagues to adopt that measure in every telegraph office. One letter to the editor even suggested that immediate efforts should have been made to revive her – a sad afterthought, for sure.  It was mentioned that her proximity to windows and a draft may have been the problem, and that halting operations during storms was primarily meant to protect the equipment, and was not thought of as a means of protecting the telegraphers.

The warnings about the windows and the drafts sound a little crazy now.  But they go a long way to explain the family story about the danger of being near a window – perhaps the family was left with that belief.

Towards the end of 1876, a letter in The Telegrapher suggested a collection be taken for a burial monument for Lizzie.  I’m not sure if that was successful or not.

Lizzie’s family

Lizzie’s sister Etta married Horace Bussey in 1887.  Possibly, she had no children.  Although she predeceased her husband in 1896, a probate record for her inexplicably showed that she left her property to her mother.   At the very least, Etta’s life ended much too early.  She was buried with four of her siblings:  the two babies who died young, Lizzie, and Conrad, who had died of diphtheria at the age of 12, in 1878.

I found a listing of the grave marker for the five siblings.  I have not seen a picture, and so don’t know if this was the monument proposed by the telegraphers, or a more simple arrangement that would have been affordable to the family.

A transcription of Lizzie's grave which shows four of her siblings as well, at Dorchester North Burying Ground. from Annual Report of the Cemetery Department of the City of Boston for the Fiscal Year 1904-1905: Historical Sketch of the First Burying Ground in Dorchester, 1905, p. 95.

A transcription of Lizzie’s grave which shows four of her siblings as well, at Dorchester North Burying Ground. From Annual Report of the Cemetery Department of the City of Boston for the Fiscal Year 1904-1905: Historical Sketch of the First Burying Ground in Dorchester, 1905, p. 95.

Lizzie’s parents lived to old age at 5 Chesterfield Street, in Readville.  A.C. grew too lame to pursue painting, and ran a tiny shop on his property selling cigars, candy, milk and baked goods.  The family had a hen house on their property, which burned in 1880.  A.C. received a small pension for his Mexican War service beginning in 1887, and survived on limited means, but one senses from his obituary that he was popular in Readville and lived an interesting life, involved in many pursuits over the years, including service in the early Hyde Park Fire Department.  A.C. and Louisa celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1904 and when they died in 1907 and 1908, only three of their eight children – Charles, Eugene, and George – survived them.

Mom and Uncle Gene

Mom told me that her father, Miles Baldwin, was sent up to Cochituate, Mass. in the late 1930’s by Aunt Jennie to see about some trouble Uncle Gene, a childless widower, was having with a niece who was claiming ownership of his property.  The upshot was that the elderly Uncle Gene was installed in the Baldwin household as a permanent guest.  For my grandma, the best and most hardworking housewife ever, this was not welcome news, and Uncle Gene proved to be crotchety, a little rude, and something of a ladies’ man with the neighborhood widows and the cleaning woman, a specter that my grandparents found a bit horrifying.  The arrangement didn’t last forever and eventually Uncle Gene moved on.

When I started making genealogical discoveries, one of the first things mom wanted to know was how she was related to Uncle Gene.  She was relieved to hear that he was only married to her father’s aunt; he was not a blood relative.  Personally, I think I feel otherwise; the Clapps are a fascinating bunch.

In closing

Thunder rolls up, and lightning still strikes.  One hundred and forty years later, I could consciously decide to end the fear that can no longer help poor Lizzie, but I would fail. In families, our happy stories and sad losses mingle together so closely that we have no choice but to hold on to them all.

Sources

In addition to many vital and probate records of Massachusetts, the following sources were helpful for this article.

  • The Clapps
    • “A.C. Clapp, Veteran of Two Wars, Dead.”  Boston Herald, 14 Nov 1907 : 3.  GenealogyBank.com.  Web : http://genealogybank.com  : 2016
    • Albert C. Clapp (Private, Capt. Connolly’s Louisiana Mounted Volunteers, Mexican War), bounty land warrant file 63-753 (Act of 1847, 160 acres); Military Land Warrants and Related Papers; Record Group 49; Records of the Bureau of Land Management; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    • Albert C. Clapp (Private, Co. D, Louisiana Mounted Volunteers, Mexican War), pension no. Survivor 5539, (Act of 29 Jan 1887);  Index to Mexican War Pension Applications, 1887-1926, NARA microfilm T317; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
    • Annual Report of the Cemetery Department of the City of Boston for the Fiscal Year 1904-1905 and a Historical Sketch of the First Burying Ground in Dorchester (Dorchester North Burying Ground).  Boston: Municipal Printing Office: 1905 (in particular p. 95).  Internet Archive.  Web : https://archive.org/details/annualreportofce190405bost  :  2016
    • Brown, Janice A.  “North Conway New Hampshire Actor and Producer: Gordon A. Clapp (1948-still living).” Cow Hampshire: New Hampshire’s History Blog, 13 March 2013. http://www.cowhampshireblog.com/2013/03/13/north-conway-new-hampshire-actor-and-producer-gordon-a-clapp-1948-still-living/  :  2016.
    • Clapp, Ebenezer.  Record of the Clapp Family in America.  Boston: David Clapp & Son, Publishers, 1876.  Internet Archive.  Web: https://archive.org/details/clappmemorialrec00clap  :  2016.
    • Clapp, Henry Lincoln.  Fifty Ancestors of Henry Lincoln Clapp Who Came to New England from 1620 to 1650.  Part 1.  Boston: Press of David Clapp & Son, 1902.  Internet Archive.  Web:  https://archive.org/details/fiftyancestorsof01inclap  : 2016
    • “Fire Record.”  Boston Journal, 25 Mar 1880: 2.  Image copy.  GenealogyBankhttp://www.genealogybank.com  :  2016.
  • Lizzie’s death and burial
    • “About the Courts.” Boston Daily Advertiser, 19 Mar. 1896: 10.  19th Century U.S. Newspapers. Web.   :  2016
    • “Are Telegraph Offices Dangerous in Thunderstorms?”  The Telegrapher, 15 Jul 1876: 184. Image copy. Internet Archivehttps://archive.org/details/telegrapher12nati  :  2016.
    • “Crimes and Criminals.” Boston Daily Advertiser, [July 18, 1876]:  n.p.  19th Century U.S. Newspapers. Web.  :  2016
    • “The Death By Lightning of Miss Lizzie Clapp”  The Telegrapher, 29 Jul 1876: 185. Image copy. Internet Archivehttps://archive.org/details/telegrapher12nati  :  2016.
    • “The Death By Lightning at the Readville Office”  The Telegrapher, 19 Aug 1876: 201. Image copy. Internet Archivehttps://archive.org/details/telegrapher12nati  :  2016.
    • “The Funeral of Miss Clapp.”  Journal of the Telegraph, 22 Jul 1876: 180. Image copy.  Hathitrusthttp://hdl.handle.net/2027/nyp.33433069069502 :  2016.
    • “How Telegraph Offices Should Be Protected from Lightning.”  The Telegrapher, 29 Jul 1876: 184. Image copy. Internet Archivehttps://archive.org/details/telegrapher12nati  :  2016.
    • Jepsen, Thomas C. My Sisters Telegraphic: Women in the Telegraph Office, 1846-1950.  Athens: Ohio University Press, 2000.  (in particular, p. 35)
    • “A Lady Telegraph Operator Killed by Lightning.” Boston Investigator, 19 July 1876: 19th Century U.S. Newspapers. Web.  :  2016
    • “The Lightning – Miss Clapp.”  Journal of the Telegraph, 24 Aug 1876: 245. Image copy. Hathitrusthttp://hdl.handle.net/2027/nyp.33433069069502 :  2016.
    • “Proposition for a Monument fto Miss Lizzie Clapp”  The Telegrapher, 4 Nov 1876: 267. Image copy. Internet Archivehttps://archive.org/details/telegrapher12nati  :  2016.
    • “The Storm.” Boston Daily Advertiser, 12 July 1876: n.p. 19th Century U.S. Newspapers. Web.  :  2016
    • “A Telegraph Operator Killed by Lightning.” Milwaukee Daily Sentinel [Milwaukee, Wisconsin], 18 July 1876: 2.  19th Century U.S. Newspapers. Web.   :  2016
    • “Telegraphic and Electrical Brevities.”  The Telegrapher, 15 Jul 1876: 173. Image copy. Internet Archivehttps://archive.org/details/telegrapher12nati  :  2016.
    • “The Weather”  National Aegis [Worcester, Massachusetts], 15 Jul 1876: 2. Image copy. GenealogyBankhttps://genealogybank.com:  2016.

 

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After my recent post about buying a printed copy of a Google Book, several people had questions about digital books and how to use them.  So I thought I would review what I do with digital books.  I am an avid book collector and digital books are no exception.  I would recommend to anyone that if they find books online related to their family history, they try to save them to their own computer.

The books I am talking about no longer have a copyright, which often means they were published before 1923.  What you can do with the books varies from site to site, so let’s go through my favorite sources of digital books one by one.

Internet Archive

Internet Archive is my favorite site for finding books, because the pdf’s from there are usually OCR-searchable, meaning, once I open the pdf, I can use a search command to find a name or word in the text of the book (not a perfect search; it depends on the quality of the image and the type).

Recently, Internet archive has changed their screens.  I find the new interface a little confusing.

Click on the book to start your search.

I went to http://archive.org and chose “Advanced Search.”  I usually use the “Description” field and enter a few words or an exact term (in quotations).  In this case I entered simply Westerly Rhode Island.  Three results came up, however, if a lot of results came up, I could have limited the results further by clicking “texts” over on the side column, thereby getting rid of recordings, films, etc.   One of the results was a manuscript from a Newport Library of a “Diary of Samuel Ward.” I’ve never seen this before, but how nice to be able to look it over at home.  Yes, please.

Results of my Westerly Rhode Island search show an intriguing manuscript, "Diary of Samuel Ward."

Results of my Westerly Rhode Island search show an intriguing manuscript, “Diary of Samuel Ward.”

I clicked on the image, and on the screen that came up, I could page through the document just by clicking on it. For a printed book, the gray edge beside the pages allows you to easy click forward or backward in the book.  Of course I could also download it in several formats.  Downloading as a pdf is what most people would want to do.

The Diary of Samuel Ward on Internet Archive. The image can be clicked to page through it, or the download options at the bottom can be used to file it on your own computer.

The Diary of Samuel Ward on Internet Archive. The image can be clicked to page through it, or the download options at the bottom can be used to file it on your own computer.

Clicking PDF brings up an option to save it to my computer.  I file it properly – my folders are divided into places and family names – I choose the folder that best fits the material.

Clicking pdf brings up this screen which allows me to save the pdf to my computer.

Clicking pdf brings up this screen which allows me to save the pdf to my computer.

Google Books

I tend to arrive at Google books through a general google search, but it can be accessed directly at books.google.com.

The Google Books screen also reminds you that you can build a virtual library of books right in your Google account.

The Google Books screen also reminds you that you can build a virtual My Library of books right in your Google account.

I searched for Spaulding genealogy and clicked on the book The History of Hillsborough New Hampshire Vol 2: Biography and Genealogy.  Since Spaulding genealogy was my search term, instances of those words are bookmarked with tiny blue bands over on the side – clicking those, or clicking “previous” or “next” will let me jump from appearance to appearance.

The Google book History of Hillsborough shows an EBOOK - FREE button.

The Google book History of Hillsborough shows an EBOOK – FREE button.

Pulling up the History of Hillsborough, I notice there is an EBOOK-FREE button in red.  That means a free version is available for download.  Hovering over the EBOOK-FREE shows me the download pdf:

Mousing over the EBOOK-FREE button shows the Download PDF option - click "PDF" to download.

Mousing over the EBOOK-FREE button shows the Download PDF option – click “PDF.”

… clicking on the PDF will start a download.  Then I would save the pdf to the folder where I want to keep it.

HathiTrust Digital Library

HathiTrust.org has the most user-friendly search function.  However, in the end, full books can only be downloaded by those with a login for one of Hathitrust’s partner universities.

I searched the phrase “Marcy Ballou” in full text search.

HathiTrust search

The results were very interesting.

Search Results _ HathiTrust Digital Library

(1) Pulling up the “History of Woonsocket” I used the Search in this text box, and saw that Marcy appears on page 223:

Full View _ HathiTrust D

 

Notably, Marcy does not appear in the index to this book.  Looking at page 223, I can tell that the mention is for Marcy’s cousin, the other Marcy Ballou.  But still, I’d never seen it before.

(2) Next, I looked at a Limited (search-only) entry.

Rhode Island genealogical register. v.3-4 1980-1982

I own those copies of the Rhode Island Genealogical Register, but hadn’t noticed Marcy Ballou’s name in there before.  Turned out they both referred to other Marcy Ballous.  But in this case, HathiTrust served as a useful index.

(3) Looking at The Ballous in America, I tried to search within the book.  I searched for a variant – “Mercy Ballou”.  Unfortunately, on the copy that came up, searching was not possible.  I pulled up an alternate copy on HathiTrust and searching was possible (oddly, both versions were apparently from Google Books).

Once a page is found with information, the PAGE itself can be downloaded even without an account.  But the whole book cannot be downloaded, even though this book, from 1888, is not under copyright.  Note that the bottom corner also offers options for creating a link to a specific page or to the whole book.

Ballous_in_America

FamilySearch Books

One of the nicest features of FamilySearch.org is the BOOKS section, somewhat buried under the “Search” menu.

Books section of FamilySearch.org - I would use the search box on this page.

Books section of FamilySearch.org – I would use the search box on this page.

Searching on this page will show results from any of the libraries listed on the screen.  I searched for Lanphere genealogy.

The Lanphere genealogy search on FamilySearch BOOKS brought up 131 results. Some look new to me so I'll check them out.

The Lanphere genealogy search on FamilySearch BOOKS brought up 131 results. Some look new to me so I’ll check them out.

Clicking on one of the results will either bring up a message saying you can’t access it outside of the Family History Center OR if the book is available as a pdf it will start to download right away.  However, it’s not really showing you the exact spot where the match is.  You will have to find that on your own.  But FamilySearch books is my go-to when all else fails.  Even if it brings up a book I can’t view, at least I have a clue and I can try to see the book elsewhere, perhaps in person.  If I were trying to find a specific book I would check out worldcat.org to locate a paper copy in a library.

How to use and maintain your PDF book collection

I used to keep all books in their own set of folders on my computer.  Now, each family name or place folder has a “books” folder within it.

The most important thing to me when I use a pdf book is to save my own notes.  At the very least, I leave comments to mark each page where topics of interest appear in the book.

Opening up a book in Adobe Reader looks like this:

My pdf copy of Genealogical Records of the Descendants of John and Anthony Emery. John Emery is highlighted and has a sticky note.

My pdf copy of Genealogical Records of the Descendants of John and Anthony Emery. John Emery is highlighted and has a sticky note.

To “highlight” text in yellow, or to leave a note, I click “Comment” in the top corner to access the Sticky Note and Highlight Text functions.  The open screen looks like this, with all my highlighted text and sticky notes showing in a clickable column down the side. This way, the next time I open the book, I can go right to the places I want. You can see I have done this about a dozen times in the Emery book.

A list of highlighted text, and notes, along the side serve as bookmarks for locations within the book.

A list of highlighted text, and notes, along the side serve as bookmarks for locations within the book.

When you are ready to close the pdf, you must save it to keep your notes.  Sometimes, my computer insists that I rename it to save it.  I do that, then delete the older version to avoid confusion.

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