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Have you seen what we did? The announcement went out this morning about a new collection of vital records now available online. The Massachusetts, Town Vital Collections contains over 8.2 million records covering over 360 years. Wow!
After searching town records for their own relatives, Jay and DeLene Holbrook, realized that the majority of towns in Massachusetts had little to no knowledge of the condition or even the location of their vital records collections. To catalog and preserve the state’s rich history, the Holbrooks traveled town by town through Massachusetts in a 30 year effort to meticulously compile a complete collection. They often found themselves in town vaults organizing and inventorying untidy stacks of records, sometimes making copies of them on-site when the town clerk would not allow the records to be removed from the building. In some instances, it took years of return trips to get permission to access the records, and in the case of the state’s largest cities, weeks and months to duplicate the records. To date, this amazing couple has visited 315 of the state’s 351 towns and cities to film their holdings of vital and town records.
Now, in partnership with Ancestry.com, they are making this entire collection available online for the first time ever! This database includes original images of Massachusetts town records with details such as names, birth dates, birth places, baptism records, parents’ names, marriage records, courthouse records, and death records.
In just 30 minutes with this database this morning, I managed to find five children of my 9th great-grandparents, previously unknown to me. These children were all born in the late 1600s. I also found a 1974 marriage record for a 4th cousin. Now I know her married name and can track her down to see if she knows anything else about your shared family history. Six records in thirty minutes. Too bad that was all the time I had. I guess I know what I’ll be doing tonight.
Tell me. What relatives are you looking for in Massachusetts?
Until next time…