Genealogists are the largest single group of researchers using the Friends records, but they often meet with frustration. One common misconception is that these records are neatly organized and indexed. While William W. Hinshaw’s Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy provided thorough indexes for the records of many yearly meetings, including New York, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, the New England records have never been completely indexed. The only access to information on New England Friends is usually through a search of the records, either on microfilm or in the original. Here are some important points to remember for typical genealogical problems.
- It is important to know both place and time. If an individual moved around New England, it will be very helpful to sketch out a chronology of their travels.
- All vital records are recorded by the Monthly Meeting. You will need to determine which monthly meetings your ancestor belonged to. If there is no monthly meeting named after their town, look it up in the index in the back of this book. The town may have held smaller meetings that were part of a larger nearby monthly meeting.
- If their town is not indexed, examine the maps on pages 12 to 14 of this guide. Were there any meetings nearby? Until the age of automobile travel, it is unlikely that many practicing Friends lived more than a few miles away from at least a worship group. Even if they did maintain the “Discipline” of Friends in a distant town, their vital records would prob- ably not be recorded by a Monthly Meeting.
- If a probable Monthly Meeting can be determined, look at that meeting’s entry in the monthly meeting section. Check for vital records in the listing at the bottom of this entry. Are there any birth, death, marriage or membership records? Removals and denials are also useful (see glossary). Minutes are less useful for genealogy, but sometimes include marriage information, and occasionally memorials to the deceased.
- If the records that you want have been microfilmed, this will be indicated in the last column: “Film#”. This is the microfilm number at the Rhode Island Historical Society Library. An asterisk indicates that it can also be found at the Maine Historical Society Library, and a plus sign indicates that it can be ordered from the Family History Centers operated by the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). An @ symbol indicates that the film is available through the Nantucket Historical Association.
- If the records have not been microfilmed, you will need to consult the original. The location of originals is given in the “Loc.” column. Most of them are on deposit at the Rhode Island Historical Society Library, which houses the official Archives of New England Yearly Meeting.
- If you are researching early Friends (pre-Revolutionary), it is likely that you will not discover anything new in the vi- tal records. Friends records have always been a major resource for colonial genealogy, and have been consulted for most of the major reference works that you have already looked at. It is, however, possible to find new information in meeting minutes, to verify membership or residence in a location.
For further information, Our Quaker Ancestors: Finding Them in Quaker Records by Ellen Thomas Berry and David Allen Berry (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1987) is a book-length treatment of general approaches to Quaker genealogy.
Grace Gershuny Papers, 1975-1997.
2 boxes (3 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 793
An organizer, consultant, and educator in the alternative agriculture movement, Grace Gershuny has been active in the field since the 1970s when she worked for the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), developing its first organic certification program. As a leader in the movement, Gershuny helped to establish both the Organic Trade Association and the Organic Farmer: The Digest of Sustainable Agriculture. Today she continues to write and teach on the subject, serving as a faculty member at a number of colleges, most recently Green Mountain College.
The collection consists chiefly of printed material from a run of the Organic Farmer to Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) publications and organizational newsletters, such as the Rural Education Center. Amongst these publications are a few small but significant groups of materials including notes from Gershuny’s role as the NOFA VT coordinator in 1979 and her drafts and notes for the second editions of The Soul of Soil.
- Farming--United States
- Northeast Organic Farming Association
- Organic farmers
- Organic farming
Charles A. Goessmann Papers, 1850-1917.
(5.5 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 063
German-born agricultural chemist, professor of Chemistry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst when it was known as Massachusetts Agricultural College, and President of the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists and the American Chemical Society who made several important contributions in nineteenth century chemistry and held at least four patents.
The Goessman collection includes correspondence (mostly professional), some with presidents of Massachusetts Agricultural College, William Smith Clark (1826-1886) and Henry Hill Goodell (1839-1905). Also contains handwritten drafts of addresses and articles, his dissertation, printed versions of published writings, handwritten lecture notes, class records, proposed college curricula, notes taken by students, handwritten research notes, newsclippings and offprints utilized in research, and biographical materials.
- Massachusetts Agricultural College--Faculty
- Massachusetts Agricultural College. Department of Chemistry
- Goessmann, Charles A. (Charles Anthony), 1827-1910
Asa Gray, A pilgrimage to Torreya, 1875.
1 vol. (0.1 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 419 bd
The great botanist and early supporter of evolutionary theory, Asa Gray, toured the Florida Panhandle during the spring of 1875, making “a pious pilgrimage to the secluded native haunts of that rarest of trees, the Torreya taxifolia.” His journey took him along the Apalachicola River in search of Torreya, an native yew prized by horticulturists.
This slender manuscript account was prepared by Gray for publication in the American Agriculturist (vol. 43). In a light and graceful way, his “pilgrimage” describes the difficulties of travel in the deep south during the post-Civil War years and his exploits while botanizing. The text is edited in Gray’s hand and varies slightly from the published version.
- Florida--Description and travel--19th century
Charles Taylor Collection, 1731-1904.
(5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 104
Collection of historical documents compiled by Charles Taylor, author of the 1882 town history of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Includes Court of Common Pleas cases, deeds, estate papers, indentures, land surveys, sheriff’s writs, town history reference documents, Samuel Rossiter’s financial papers, and genealogical research papers for over 40 families.
- Debt--Massachusetts--Great Barrington
- Farm tenancy--Massachusetts--Great Barrington
- Great Barrington (Mass.)--Economic conditions--18th century
- Great Barrington (Mass.)--Genealogy
- Great Barrington (Mass.)--History
- Great Barrington (Mass.)--Politics and government
- Great Barrington (Mass.)--Social conditions
- Land use--Massachusetts--Great Barrington
- Ives, Thomas
- Kellogg, Ezra
- Pynchon, George
- Pynchon, Walter
- Root, Hewitt
- Rossiter, Samuel
- Taylor, Charles J. (Charles James), 1824-1904
Types of material
- Land surveys
Lucy Gwin Papers, 1982-2005.
8 boxes (12 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 822
Born in Indiana, the writer Lucy Gwin (1943-2014) lived “a lot of lives,” in her own words, working in advertising, as a dairy farmer, civil rights activist, and deckhand on ships servicing oil rigs, all before the age of 40. While living in Rochester, N.Y., in 1989, however, her life took a sudden turn. After a head-on collision with a drunk driver left her with traumatic brain injury, Gwin was remanded for care to the New Medico Brain Rehabilitation Center, where she witnessed a world of isolation, patient abuse, and powerlessness. Never one to shrink from a challenge, she escaped from the Center and used her skills as an organizer and writer to expose conditions at New Medico and shut the facility down. Through her experiences, Gwin emerged as a powerful, often acerbic voice in all-disability rights advocacy, becoming the founder, designer, and editor of the influential Mouth Magazine in 1990.
Lucy Gwin’s papers document the advocacy of an important figure in the disability rights movement. The rich documentation for Mouth Magazine includes comprehensive editorial files arranged issue by issue, some correspondence with authors and supporters, and copies of the published issue. The balance of the collection contains Gwin’s other work as a writer, personal correspondence, and materials relating to her experiences with and campaign against New Medico.
- Disabled--Civil rights
- Mouth Magazine
Digital (+)Finding aid
Hampshire Council of Governments Records, 1677-1974.
90 volumes, 17 boxes (80 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 704
The Hampshire Council of Governments is a voluntary association of cities and towns and the successor to the former government of Hampshire County, Massachusetts, that was abolished in 1999. A body politic and corporate, its charter ratified by Massachusetts General Law 34B, S20(b), the Council oversees roadways, the electricity supply, building inspection, tobacco control, cooperative purchasing, and other services for member communities.
The Hampshire Council collection contains a dense record of county-level governance in western Massachusetts from the colonial period through the mid-twentieth century with extensive documentation of the actions of the County Commissioners, and before them the Court of Common Pleas and Court of General Sessions. Rich in documenting the development of the transportation infrastructure of western Massachusetts, the collection offers detailed information associated with the planning and construction of highways, canals, ferries, and railroads, but the early records offer a broad perspective on the evolution of the legal and cultural environment, touching on issues from disorderly conduct (e.g., fornication, Sabbath breaking) to the settlement of estates, local governance, public works, and politics.
- Bridges--Massachusetts--Hampshire Count
- Dams--Massachusetts--Hampshire Count
- Hampshire County (Mass.)--History
- Hampshire County (Mass.)--Politics and government
- Indians of North America--Massachusetts
- Northampton (Mass.)--History
- Northampton (Mass.)--Social life and customs
- Roads--Massachusetts--Hampshire County
- Taverns (Inns)--Massachusetts--Hampshire County
- Hampshire County (Mass.). County Commissioners
- Massachusetts. Court of General Sessions of the Peace (Hampshire County)
- Massachusetts. Inferior Court of Common Pleas (Hampshire County)
Types of material
Beth Hapgood Papers, 1789-2005.
67 boxes (35 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 434
Daughter of a writer and diplomat, and graduate of Wellesley College, Beth Hapgood has been a spiritual seeker for much of her life. Her interests have led her to become an expert in graphology, a student in the Arcane School, an instructor at Greenfield Community College, and a lecturer on a variety of topics in spiritual growth. Beginning in the mid-1960s, Hapgood befriended Michael Metelica, the central figure in the Brotherhood of the Spirit (the largest commune in the eastern states during the early 1970s) as well as Elwood Babbitt, a trance medium, and remained close to both until their deaths.
The Hapgood Papers contain a wealth of material relating to the Brotherhood of the Spirit and the Renaissance Community, Metelica, Babbitt, and other of Hapgood’s varied interests, as well as 4.25 linear feet of material relating to the Hapgood family.
- Brotherhood of the Spirit
- Channeling (Spiritualism)
- Communal living--Massachusetts
- Hapgood family--Correspondence
- Massachusetts--Social life and customs--20th century
- Nineteen sixties--Social aspects
- Occultism--Social aspects
- Popular culture--History--20th century
- Renaissance Community
- Rock music--1971-1980
- Warwick (Mass.)--History
- Babbitt, Elwood, 1922-
- Boyce, Neith, 1872-1951
- Hapgood, Beth--Correspondence
- Hapgood, Charles H
- Hapgood, Elizabeth Reynolds
- Hapgood, Hutchins, 1869-1944
- Hapgood, Norman, 1868-1937
- Metelica, Michael
Carl and Edith Entratter Henry Papers, ca.1935-2001.
ca.20 boxes (30 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 749
Born into an affluent Reform Jewish family in Cincinnati in 1913, Carl Henry Levy studied philosophy under Alfred North Whitehead at Harvard during the height of the Great Depression. A brilliant student during his time at Harvard, a member of Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude in the class of 1934, Henry emerged as a radical voice against social inequality and the rise of fascism, and for a brief time, he was a member of the Communist Party. Two days before the attack in Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Henry met Edith Entratter, the daughter of Polish immigrants from the Lower East Side of New York, and barely three weeks later, married her. Shortly thereafter, however, he dropped his last name and enlisted in the military, earning a coveted spot in officer’s candidate school. Although he excelled in school, Henry was singled out for his radical politics and not allowed to graduate, assigned instead to the 89th Infantry Division, where he saw action during the Battle of the Bulge and liberation of the Ohrdruf concentration camp, and was awarded a Bronze Star. After the war, the Henrys started Lucky Strike Shoes in Maysville, Ky., an enormously successful manufacturer of women’s footwear, and both he and Edith worked as executives until their retirement in 1960. Thereafter, the Henrys enjoyed European travel and Carl took part in international monetary policy conferences and wrote under the name “Cass Sander.” He served as a Board member of AIPAC, the American Institute for Economic Research, the Foundation for the Study of Cycles, among other organizations. His last 17 years of life were enlivened by a deepening engagement with and study of traditional Judaism and he continued to express a passion for and to inform others about world affairs and politics through a weekly column he started to write at age 85 for the Algemeiner Journal. Edith Henry died in Sept. 1984, with Carl following in August 2001.
The centerpiece of the Henry collection is an extraordinary series of letters written during the Second World War while Carl was serving in Europe with the 89th Infantry. Long, observant, and exceptionally well written, the letters offer a unique perspective on the life of a soldier rejected for a commission due to his political beliefs, with a surprisingly detailed record of his experiences overseas.
Types of material
- Letters (Correspondence)
Adeline Hicks Papers, 1917-1987.
3 boxes (1.25 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 070
Professor of Physical Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst when it was known as Massachusetts Agricultural College who established the physical education program for women and helped to create the women’s gymnasium and athletic field. In her retirement she composed music that was performed by the University of Arizona orchestra.
Includes musical scores, lesson-plan photographs illustrating instruction in modern dance, correspondence, printed programs for performance of the musical compositions, text of an address, a history of physical education for women at Massachusetts State College by Mrs. Hicks, personnel records, and brief biographical items.
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Physical Education