Presentation Notes: 2006-2007

Between the Censuses: Using Local Records to Fill in Your Ancestors' Stories

Presented by Sandra Goodwin - April 18, 2007

Presentation Notes -

From working with the town clerk in Spencer, Massachusetts to organize records in the vault, Sandra Goodwin learned about many town records available and useful for family historians. She suggested looking through the following town records for possible information about your ancestors. Here are some examples of the records she found helpful:

Selectmen Reports

Vital Records: births, marriages, and deaths

Voting Lists: name, age, signature, address, place of birth, occupation, place of occupation, naturalized and place, residence at time of registration (shows migration pattern). 1920 - includes women's information. 1886 - includes when persons ceased to vote and reasons - death, moved, non-payment of taxes. List of persons over age 20.

(Town of Spencer had a voter's list for 1910-20 one of her best resources)

Ledger book of taxes
Poll taxes
Real Estate taxes:

Appraisers' Records: real estate valuation, map and parcel, land, barn, garage, shed etc.

Military Records: (Civil War) Gives serviceman's name, birth and place of birth, date enlisted, date mustered in, company, occupation, marital status, parents' names and occupations, whether wounded, killed, or when discharged.

Personal War Sketches: Grand Army of the Republic had pre-printed pages which local chapters filled in with records of servicemen of the posts. These personal sketches could be found in a local repository or in local historical society or state archives. All non-G.A.R. Civil War vets are in town burial records.

Record of Deceased Vets of all Wars (WPA): lists cemeteries, maps and grave sites, persons buried and grave locations (Town of Spencer).

Town or City Annual Reports: Many gems in these reports are available from either the town clerk, library or historical society.

Lists of jurors: found in archives.

Lists of births: preliminary list helps before checking town birth records.

Town warrant: lists persons involved in the town.

Engineers' Reports: fires, alarms (early ones quite specific).

School Reports: lists names of students with perfect attendance in each school district, truancy, names of children attending out of town.

Lists of aid furnished to poor of town and persons supported at aim-houses, and place of burials. (Mention of institutions: lunatic, workhouses, insane asylums, hospitals, coffins, burials, etc. Late 1800's - good material, but later in 20th century there are privacy issues.)

Report of the committee appointed to locate and mark the graves of Revolutionary War soldiers - killed , where, and what diseases.

High School graduation exercises - lists members of class and graduation speakers.

Records of Universalist Church (1876-1911) - ledger books from church marriages, baptisms.

See the Presentation Notes Index for summaries of other presentations given at the Society's monthly meetings.