My blog has been changed to make it more appealing for those who have New England ancestors and want to see the area through photos. Things I’ll include are typical white New England churches, libraries showing their genealogical collection, historical societies, cemeteries, war memorials, in general, anything to do with history.

For four years I’ve blogged mostly about my personal genealogy in New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire), New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. I still will, can’t forget my own roots.

Please check out the labels on the right side for articles. The header tabs at the top are a work in progress.

Friday, May 14, 2010

New England Marriages Prior to 1700, my favorite reference book

Many people researching their early New England ancestors usually end up using the book, New England Marriages Prior to 1700 by Clarence Almon Torrey.  It was published in 1985 and reprinted many times. I have sourced it for over 1,000 names, and because of this fact, I thought it would be a wonderful reference book to discuss.  There are 1,009 pages listing  "37,000 couples who resided in colonial New England during its first eight decades" and Mr. Torrey usesd "more than 2,500 works thus indexed."  Pretty impressive.

From the green book, I scanned several KELSEY names to use as an example, one showing the marriage information for DANIEL KELSEY and MARY STEVENS. Unfortunately, the book doesn't show where the information came from.

I am not sure if anybody ever wondered where this information came from or how it was put together.  Well, I don't know exactly, because I've never asked, but will ask the next time I go to Boston.  But I do know this. There a 12 volume set of books all with entries by Mr. Torrey. They are not the originals, but copies of his originals. Below is a photo of these well-worn books on the top level in the library at the New England Historic and Genealogical Library.
An example from one of the original (copied) books is the DANIEL KELSEY name and one line shows he married MARY STEVENS. If there were ten Daniel Kelsey's married to different women, they would each have a separate entry.  The middle column shows the marriage date, and the third column shows the town, and below that are the books used to obtain that marriage record. Great if you are in the library, but what if you aren't?  By the way, they are very heavy and hard to Xerox. I used my camera.
Another example is below.

Next to the copied original books is another series of seven books (see above, the green books). This series contains much of the information found in the New England Marriages Prior to 1700, with updates and all the sources, like those found in the large original books. This is wonderful for researchers. I am not sure if you can purchase these, but at the same time the books were published, a CD was also made available to researchers. I bought one immediately (although it doesn't work with my Vista now, thanks to technology). From home, I could put in a name and the index would show up, from there it was easy to find the KELSEY name and all the resources. An example of that page is below, and is exactly like that shown in the green book.

Based on the information above, I now know that Mr. Torrey used a Kelsey genealogy, The American Genealogist, and a Keeler-Wood genealogy. These books are exactly what was shown in the original entry by him.  From this information I simply go to the books and look up the page. And hopefully, there will be much more information with authentic sources. This is genealogy research at its easiest!