Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Boston Daily Transcript queries

One of the priceless resources for colonial New England researchers is the Boston Daily Transcript genealogy columns titled "Notes and Queries" that appeared in the newspaper from 1894 to 1941. One collection of these columns were clipped and are located at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Several (many?) repositories have microfiche copies of these clippings - including at least two in the San Diego area - at the Georgina Cole Public Library in Carlsbad and at the downtown branch of the San Diego Public Library in the California Room.

The names in the clippings are indexed in the "American Genealogical-Biographical Index" (AGBI) which is in book form at many libraries (including the downtown branch of the San Diego Public Library in the genealogy room) and is available online in digital form at Godfrey Memorial Library, and perhaps other commercial web sites.

As an example, here is a query placed for one of my families:

"(3534) 1. SMITH, SARTELL, BISHOP. Hannah Smith, born Jan. 1 1768, at Amherst, Mass., married Feb. 5, 1789, at Amherst, Josiah Sartell of Hollis, Mass. I wonder if her parents were Noah Smith and Mary, daughter of Edward Elmer, who were married in Amherst in 1766 at Amherst (probably). If this is true, who were Noah Smith's ancestors?

"The children of Hannah Smith and Josiah Sartell were:
(1) Josiah, Jr. born Brookline, N.H. Nov. 26, 1791 (I believe married Rebecca Manning).

(2) Hannah, born Brookline N.H. Nov. 6, 1789, married Zachariah Hildreth, who was born Townsend Mass.and died at Townsend Jan. 22, 1857; Hannah died at Townsend Jan. 13, 1851, children: Aaron, Clarissa, James, Clarissa 2d, Elizabeth, Milo, Moses, Edward, Harriet and Moses.
(3) Mary (Lee), born Townsend April 11, 1793, and died at Pelham, May 26, 1831, children Enos, Edwin, Samantha.
(4) Chester, born Townsend Aug. 6, 1795, died April 19, 1875; children Sophia and Mrs. Bizel.
(5) Esther, born Townsend May 13, 1797, died Amherst Mass. March 5, 1859.
(6) Horace, born Ashburnham, Mass. July 9, 1799, died Mason, N.H. May 21, 1825, married Sally Saunders, had daughter Elizabeth.
(7) Neuma, born Townsend June 6, 1802, and died Mason, N.H. Aug. 11, 1826.
(8) Walter, born Townsend, March 21, 1806, and died Townsend, Aug. 26, 1857, married Louisa Adams; had a son Perry.
(9) Price, born Townsend, Feb. 2, 1810, married Eliza Bishop at Watertown, N.Y., Feb. 21, 1831, who was born Dec. 12, 1806 at Westmoreland, Vt., and died Feb. 14, 1875 at Milwaukee; Price died Milwaukee, June 5, 1891. (Who were the parents of Eliza Bishop?)."

Other than the death records for Josiah and Hannah (Smith) Sartell, this is the only information I have about this family. I have looked for the census records for the families of the children also. This is as good as, or maybe even better, a obituary, isn't it? The submitter must have had access to a family Bible or other family record.

There are thousands of similar queries - some have fairly complete genealogies, and there are many comments to the queries published. The only way to find any of them is through the AGBI.

Unfortunately, a researcher has to search the AGBI, then go to a repository that has the microfilm (or go to the AAS in Worcester) in order to view the contents of these queries.

There is at least two probable errors in the query for Josiah Sartell's family above. Josiah's wife, Hannah Smith, was not the daughter of Noah and Sarah (Elmer) Smith. I traced that Hannah and found that she married a man near Amherst, Massachusetts. I think this submitter got confused between Hollis and Amherst MA and Hollis and Amherst NH, which is near Raby NH where Josiah Sartell lived in the 1780's. Of course, I haven't found Hannah Smith's parents yet, although I have tried real hard in the Raby (now Brookline since about 1800) NH area. I think her parents are Joshua and Hannah (Baldwin) Smith of Raby, but I have found no records of her birth or relationship to parents or siblings.

When will a genealogy provider (free or commercial) digitize this collection? Soon, I hope! What prevents this from being done - perhaps copyright issues?

I know that there are many other collections of similar queries that were published over many years in newspapers. Are any of them digitized yet?

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