Thursday, April 21, 2011

Early Plymouth Colony Sketches in FREE Articles on

Do you have ancestral families that resided in Plymouth Colony before 1635?  If so, you will want to consult the family sketches provided on the website of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, which is the largest genealogical society in the United States.  This site has a significant collection of online databases for New England states behind their subscription wall.

However, the American Ancestors website has a FREE Learning Center, with sections for Getting Started, Online Seminars, and Articles:

I wondered what was in the Articles section ( and clicked on the list of topics and saw (at the top):

The Topics include:

*  African-American Family History
*  Bible Records
*  Canadian Family History
*  Computer Genealogist
*  Ethnic Research
*  Family Health Histories
*  Genealogy and Technology
*  Genetics/DNA Research
*  Getting Started in Genealogy
*  Hot Topics
*  Mayflower Research
*  Military Research
*  Passenger Lists
*  Royal Descents, Notable Kin and Printed Sources
*  NEXUS Archive

I was interested in the section for Mayflower Records.  These articles discuss early Plymouth Colony, and include sketches for all of the known Plymouth residents before 1635:

There are over 200 sketches for these early residents of Plymouth.  I think that all of the sketches are summaries from the books The Great Migration Begins, 1620-1633, and The Great Migration, 1634-1635, both written and edited by Robert Charles Anderson and his NEHGS colleagues.

Here is the sketch for my ancestor, Francis Cooke (two screens, with some overlap):

These sketches summarize the life of the subject, with information about origins, residences, life in New England and family information.  While no sources are provided on these pages, they are considered authoritative by most researchers.

The articles do not provide a reference to the published books, which do have extensive source citations, but they should!  Frankly, a complete source citation to the sketch in the published book would be useful for researchers interested in pursuing the original source material. 

At a minimum, these articles can be used to help researchers find authoritative published books that reference original source records.  Researchers should not just copy and paste these sketches into their genealogy databases (since that would violate copyright protections) - they should do the research required in the original sources, or published authoritative derivative sources,  that prove the vital records and family history events for their ancestors. 

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