Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mining the Massachusetts Vital Records, 1916-1920 on FamilySearch

I have been using the Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1915 and 1916-1920 on the New England Historic Genealogical Society website (www. for years, but the 1916-1920 collection there is incomplete.  I had not investigated the Massachusetts, State Vital Records, 1840-1920 collection on  The FamilySearch collection is incomplete - it only has birth, marriage and death records from 1916 to 1920.  But that is exactly what I want!

I've spent the afternoon happily extracting and sourcing the vital records from this collection.  I've only done some of the deaths and marriages so far, since there are 241 records for the exact surname "Seaver."  I especially like the Massachusetts death records after 1900 - they list so much information!  Let me show you:

Here is the results list for the "Seaver" search in the collection:

Down the list a bit, there is an entry for Ella R. (Waterhouse) Seaver.  I didn't have Ella in my database, so I was curious to see who she married and who her parents were.

Here is the record summary for this death record for Ella R. (Waterhouse) Seaver:

The record summary lists her death date and place, her age, her parents names and her spouse's name.

The record summary above has a "View Image" link on the right side.  After clicking that, I can see Ella R. (Waterhouse) Seaver's death record in the Massachusetts Vital Records:

She died in Newton, but the record was made in the town of Wellesley where she resided.  It gives her death date, residence, sex, race, marital status, spouse's name, date of birth, age at death, occupation, parents names and birthplace, informant, and medical information.

Ella's spouse was George F. Seaver.  I did a little investigation and identified him as the son of George F. and Hannah R. (Ham) Seaver, born in Strafford, New Hampshire.  But I didn't have a spouse for him.  A 1900 U.S. Census record for the family lists two children.

I was able to add three persons to my database today (Ella and the two Seaver children), plus source citations for Ella's birth and death.  A researcher seeking Ella's parents would find the information in this death record very useful, and could probably take the Waterhouse line back to the immigrant ancestors using the available online resources.

The neat thing about the FamilySearch records is that they are free for everybody to search and use.  A user doesn't have to have a subscription to Ancestry or NEHGS.  The FamilySearch results  are indexed for all names, so I should be able to find Seaver females who married as long as the father's surname was listed and indexed in the record.

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Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

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