Friday, January 25, 2008

Walter Goodwin Davis Ancestry Compendium on Ancestry

Over the past 20 years, as I searched for previously written material for my New England ancestral families, I quickly found the 16 volume set of multi-family genealogies compiled by Walter Goodwin Davis from 1916 to 1963. These books provided the ancestry of each of his 16 great-great-grandparents. Unfortunately, the libraries I have visited did not have "every one" of them, and some were hard to find, and I may have missed some of them in the search and research process. The family sketches that I made copies of are now in my large binders in my bookcase and I haven't opened them for years, it seems. just added the three volume set titled "Massachusetts and Maine Families in the Ancestry of Walter Goodwin Davis (1885-1966: A Reprinting, in Alphabetical Order by Surname, of the Sixteen Multi-Family Compendia (plus Thomas Haley of Winter Harbor and his Descendants), compiled by Maine's Foremost Genealogist, 1916-1963, with an Introduction by Gary Boyd Roberts...," published by the Genealogy Publishing Company, Baltimore, 1996. There are over 2,000 pages in these volumes, and they are fully indexed. These families are all from eastern Massachusetts, coastal New Hampshire and Maine. I have at least 20 ancestral families discussed in these volumes.

I've been looking for these volumes on the shelf at the Carlsbad, San Diego and Chula Vista libraries for several years, with no luck. Now I can browse them at my leisure in my pajamas.

Davis produced excellent quality biographies of his direct line ancestors, but his direct line is not my direct line, so the biographical sketches of most value to me are the immigrant ancestors and perhaps another generation or two. I will have to go through my binders and check what I have against these the sketches in these three volumes.

When I find works like this, I usually copy the pages and use the information and citations as finding aids and then try to find the documents that support the relationships, dates and places myself. Then I try to write up my own biographical sketches from the collected documents. This is laborious but vital, I think.

Ancestry and WorldVitalRecords continue to add reference works, family histories and town histories to their online collections on a regular basis. I try now to visit both sites on a weekly basis just to see if they have added material that is useful to my research.

UPDATE 1/26, 7:45 PM: Ron C emailed me to say that HeritageQuestOnline has 11 of the Walter Goodwin Davis books online. As always, you can access it through a library card from a participating library. Check Dick Eastman's list at for libraries that have access.

If you don't have a library card, but there is a library near you that has access, you can go get a card! In San Diego County, Carlsbad Library is the only one with access, and about 20 of our CVGS members (40 miles away) have cards.

Thanks, Ron, for the information.

1 comment:

Lori Thornton said...

It's great to know this volume is at now. I'll be browsing it in my pajamas too! I keep saying that I'm going to buy a copy, but I haven't done it yet. The "snippet" view at Google books just doesn't cut it!