Opinion

Dig for ‘jewels’ in journals

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Genealogical journals and newsletters can be extremely valuable and often contain information that can’t be found elsewhere. Many authors don’t care to publish a book or the length of the material they have to offer fits more comfortably into an article, which means journals can contain real nuggets of gold for genealogists.

Journals are often published by state genealogical societies. In Maine, the Maine Genealogical Society publishes the Maine Genealogist and a newsletter with information about Maine families. Most other states also have state societies with similar publications. For example, the Connecticut Society of Genealogists publishes their journal, the Nutmegger, and a newsletter. A Google search will help you find similar publications in other states where your ancestors lived.

You can also find county genealogical societies that publish articles in newsletters. For example, the Essex County Genealogical Society in Massachusetts offers articles with information on county families. Ethnic societies also often offer information newsletters and journals and online websites.

Then there are the general publications such as the New England Historic and Genealogical Society’s journal Register, and their less formal American Ancestors. The American Genealogist is another well-researched publication. These prestigious journals contain family articles that can open doors for you in your research.

I once spent several days over a period of weeks researching back issues of The American Genealogist at the Bangor Public Library where I found multiple articles on many of my family lines. I felt as if I’d uncovered buried pirate treasure and hated to leave the library at the end of the day and couldn’t wait to return. The lovely thing about these kind of publication is that everything is thoroughly researched, reviewed, and cited before it is published. If you think the article has errors, you can follow the trail to the source used. It can also confirm your own research and offer new places to look for further material. Most of the journals I’ve seen also produce an end-of-the-year index so you don’t have to flip through every issue when you’re researching a specific family line. Most newsletters, however, don’t offer indexes.

If you can’t make it to a large research library or you can’t find issues of a journal from another state, you can request it through Inter-Library Loan for a small fee. Through J-STOR a research facility such as the University of Maine can go online and print the article you want. You can also search for general articles through PERSI, the Periodical Search Index. I’ll have more on PERSI in my next column. Journals are valuable resources so don’t neglect utilizing them. You’re bound to find something to help you in your pursuit of your family tree.

Nancy Battick is a Dover-Foxcroft native who has researched genealogy for over 30 years. She is past president of the Maine Genealogical Society, author of several genealogical articles and co-transcribed the Vital Records of Dover-Foxcroft. Nancy holds a MA in History from UM and lives in DF with her husband, Jack, another avid genealogist. You can contact Nancy at nbattick@roadrunner.com.

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