Fw: A New Window on Bay State's Vital Records
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Another bit of information gleaned from Sally with our thanks,
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----- Original Message -----
From: "Sally Pavia"
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 10:54 AM
Subject: A New Window on Bay State's Vital Records
A New Window on Bay State's Vital Records
by Emily SweeneyGlobe Staff
March 20, 2012
Locked away in town vaults and basements for years, the historical records
date to 1620 and include the scribblings of town clerks from days of yore
and the names of Clara Barton, Paul Revere, John Hancock, John Adams and
The old public records are slated to go online Tuesday, and for the first
time ever, people will be able to browse through millions of them and search
for their ancestors by name and location - for a price. The records,
totaling approximately 17 million, represent decades of work by a former
Massachusetts couple who spent 30 years traveling from community to
community, collecting old documents from city and town halls across the
"We knew exactly where to look'' said Jay Holbrook, 75, a retired researcher
who began the project in 1982. "The clerks always have a basement. That's
where the good records are.''
Holbrook and his wife DeLene recently sold their microfiche collection of
vital records to Ancestry.coma for-profit genealogical website based in
Provo,, Utah for an undisclosed price. Ancestry.com representatives say the
Holbrooks' trove is the most complete collection of Massachusetts vital
records known to exist.
Most of the records are, of course, already public and free, a point that
Secretary of State William F. Galvin emphasized when told of the
Ancestry.com sale. His spokesman said that vital records and other documents
can be made available to anyone who asks for them at their local city hall
or town hall. Vital records from 1841 through 1920 are also available at the
"What they're doing is fine, but he [Galvin] wants people to know those
records are available at city and town halls at no cost'' said Brian McNiff.
Unlike the cities and towns Ancestry.com has taken public records management
a step further by digitizing documents and creating a searchable database
that it charges people to use.
The records acquired by Ancestry.com document births, deaths, and marriages
of residents of 315 cities and towns over 330 years.
They include many notable names: One record states that Paul Revere died of
old age at 83 on May 10, 1818. Another record shows that John Adams filed
his intention to marry on Feb. 25, 1764 and tied the knot with Abigail Smith
eight months later.
The birth record for Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Crosss, she
was born on Christmas Day 1821 and that her full name is Clarissa Harlow
"We've been searching for a long time for a collection like this'' said Todd
Godfrey, senior director of US content acquisition for Ancestry.com, which
has 1.7 million subscribers who pay to browse and search online databases of
military records, census and voter lists and other public records.
(As we all knowAncestry tends to be expensive BUT most public libraries
offer it FREE as one of their services to the public. So,if you don't have
Ancestry at home, you can always do your researching at your local library.)
Sally Rolls Pavia
"We will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds."