Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) Announces Publication of The Great Migration Directory

I received this press release yesterday:


The Latest Work in a Series of Early American Genealogical Resources by Anderson Is One of the Most Important to Be Published on New England

Study Estimates 95% of All People in New England Enumerated in First U.S. Census Trace Their Ancestry to Great Migration Immigrants

September 22, 2015—Boston, Massachusetts—New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) has announced the publication and release of the latest work by Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Directory, Immigrants to New England, 1620–1640: A Concise Compendium. A nationally celebrated scholar of early American immigration, history, and genealogy, Anderson has served as Director of NEHGS’s Great Migration Study Project since its beginning in 1985.

This new publication from NEHGS, in a series of works documenting the Great Migration, is a complete survey of all individuals known to have come to New England during the Great Migration period, 1620–1640. Because previous works focused on the migration through 1635, this new work covers individuals not included in previous Great Migration compendia. Each entry provides critical data, including identification of the head of each household, English or European origin (if known), date of migration, principal residences in New England, and the best available sources of information for the subject. The product of decades of painstaking research,The Great Migration Directory is one of the most important genealogical sources ever published for New England.

Under the leadership of Robert Charles Anderson, the Great Migration Study Project has aimed to compile authoritative genealogical and biographical accounts of every person who settled in New England between 1620 and 1640. The project has produced important findings on migration patterns, early records, life in seventeenth-century New England, and more. A number of volumes of research have been published by NEHGS throughout the life of the project—segmenting immigrants and their profiles by arrival date or other category. This new publication—for the first time—brings the names of all immigrants together into a single volume. 

The Great Migration is the term used for the movement of Europeans, mostly English men, women, and children, to New England between the sailing of the Mayflower in 1620 and the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1640. During that period, according to Anderson’s research, about 20,000 immigrants crossed the Atlantic—approximately 4,500 families—most of them between 1634 and 1640. Anderson noted, “It has been estimated that of all the people who were in the 1790 Census in New England, 160 years later, 95% traced their ancestry to the people who came in that 20-year period.” In twelve volumes published over the last two decades, the Great Migration Study Project has presented detailed genealogical and biographical sketches for nearly half of these immigrants, covering the years from 1620 to 1635.

Anderson explained, “This new volume, The Great Migration Directory, takes a different approach from previous work, providing concise entries for all immigrant families for the entirety of the Great Migration, from 1620 to 1640. Each entry contains the best treatment of that immigrant in the secondary literature, providing citations which provide evidence for the statements made in the entry.”

NEHGS Publishing Director Penny Stratton stated, “Perhaps what makes this new publication so valuable to researchers is the methodology to tighten the accuracy of the list of those included in the directory, employing a three-step process, which he thoroughly details in this text.” Over the years, other authors of genealogies have erroneously deduced that certain individuals immigrated during the Great Migration. Referring to those inaccuracies, Stratton continued, “Anderson’s work in The Great Migration Directory includes only those for whom clear evidence exists of their arrival by 1640.”

The Great Migration Directory, Immigrants to New England, 1620–1640: A Concise Compendium is available through The Bookstore at NEHGS, with easy access through the website of New England Historic Genealogical Society at (490 pp., $64.95)

About Robert Charles Anderson

Robert Charles Anderson, Director of the Great Migration Study Project at NEHGS, was educated as a biochemist and served in the United States Army in electronics intelligence. In 1972 he discovered his early New England ancestry and thereafter devoted his time and energies to genealogical research. He published his first genealogical article in 1976, and about the same time began to plan for what eventually became the Great Migration Study Project. In 1983 he received a master’s degree in colonial American history from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Anderson was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists in 1978 and has served as Secretary and President of that organization. He became a Contributing Editor of The American Genealogist in 1979, Associate Editor in 1985, and Coeditor in 1993. He has been an editorial consultant to the New England Historical and Genealogical Register since 1989 and is also on the editorial board of the Mayflower Descendant. As Director of the Great Migration Study Project, Anderson edits the Great Migration Newsletter and is the principal author of all publications arising from the project. In 2015, Anderson was given the Award for Excellence: Genealogical Methods and Sources by the National Genealogical Society (NGS) for his 2014 book Elements of Genealogical Analysis also published by NEHGS.


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