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New England Research
6/11/2014
Give thanks that our Pilgrim forefathers and those who came after them left a cornucopia of records. Here's how to get started researching your New England roots.

 

Once you've got a grasp on New England's history and geography, you're ready to explore the region's genealogical riches. These include colonial census records, court documents, vital records and religious papers, extending back to the 1600s. All you need to know is where to look and what's available in order to discover your family's unique place in New England's past.

Some things are easier in New England. Starting with the earliest settlements, town and city clerks maintained records of births, marriages and deaths to create order in their communities in the wilderness.

Unfortunately, the Boston clerk neglected to record vital records for the late 18th century, leaving a large gap for genealogists. Unlike other areas of the country, all New England states enacted civil registration by 1866. According to Ralph Crandall in Genealogical Research in New England (NEHGS), "Englishmen were deeply rooted in the habit of record keeping at the parish, county and national level." The early settlers brought with them their need for civil as well as religious records.

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