Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"The Great Migration Begins" is on Ancestry.com

How did I miss it? I just found out that the book The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633 by Robert Charles Anderson, published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society in 1995, is indexed and online in transcription format on http://www.ancestry.com/.

This set of three books are the "Bible for early New England immigrants" for researchers. The sketches are excellent and comprehensive - and reveal the original and derivative source material used by the author and his team. The information on Ancestry.com says that this database - not the index - was last updated on 10 December 2002.

The Ancestry.com database description says:

"The Great Migration Begins includes more than one thousand, one hundred sketches, each dedicated to a single immigrant or an immigrant family, arriving in New England between 1620 and 1633. Each sketch contains information on the immigrant's migration dates and patterns, on various biographical matters (including occupation, church membership, education, offices, and land holding), and on genealogical details (birth, death, marriages, children, and other associations by blood or marriage), along with detailed comments and discussion, and bibliographic information on the family."


"The Great Migration Study Project (of which The Great Migration Begins is the first phase) aims to investigate all immigrants to New England from 1620 through 1640, with the goal of summarizing all research carried out by previous workers, and providing a solid platform which will allow future researchers quickly to assess the status of research on a given family, without having to repeat work already done, or waste large amounts of time searching the genealogical literature. To this end, the sketches on individual immigrants or immigrant families first review the existing secondary literature, looking especially for conflicting or missing data. Then the primary sources are examined in order to confirm what has already been written about the family, or to fill in the gaps, or to resolve conflicting interpretations and correct errors. In many instances, of course, gaps and discrepancies will remain, and the sketch will then describe the problem, and perhaps suggest a future course of research. In the end, the Great Migration sketches should permit future researchers to use their time more efficiently, and should also serve as a springboard for new discoveries.

"The text of the sketches provides abbreviated citations to the primary and secondary sources that were employed in creating the sketches; pop-up links provide the full citations. In many cases, the sketches also include suggestions for further research on unresolved problems."

There are 1,142 "records" in the database - meaning sketches.
This database can be found on Ancestry.com here. The Search box for the database is shown below:

I entered "seaver" in the "Last name" box and clicked on Search button, and got this list:

The sketch for Robert Seaver (1608-1683), who actually migrated in 1634 (but who married an Elizabeth Ballard who was in Massachusetts Bay Colony before 1634), looks like this:

As you can see, the record is a transcription of the sketch, rather than an image of the book page. As such, it is very useful. If I recall correctly, I have about 30 immigrant ancestors in this set!

The source abbreviations in parentheses are links that show the source citation used. For instance, the source abbreviation (RchR) for the church membership of Robert Seaver can be clicked on and the user sees a small popup box that says:

"Roxbury Land and Church Records, Sixth Report of the Boston Record Commissioners (Boston 1884), pp. 74-191"

It was just good luck that I ran across this database while browsing for books on Ancestry.com with "Seaver" mentions. I go browsing occasionally in an effort to add family history context to my Seaver family database. My initial reaction was "Huh? When was that added?" Apparently, I've missed seeing it for seven years! Or was it just added recently when Ancestry.com and NEHGS teamed up in 2009?

The database is also available on the New England Ancestors website and was first put online in 2002. If you don't have an Ancestry subscription, but do have an NEHGS subscription, you can view transcriptions of the sketches there.


Barbara Poole said...

Randy, I agree, the series is like a Bible for those with early N.E. ancestors. And the next series 1634-35 is just as good.

Elizabeth said...

Randy, I don't know if any of my ancestors are in the book, but I've been wanting to read it. Thanks for letting us know where to find it.