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06 February 2019

CGS Library Collections: Massachusetts

Aaron C. Joseph (1843-1916) -
Twenty Families of Color in Massachusetts
An occasional series highlighting some of our holdings at the Library in Oakland. For a fuller listing of our books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog. Our catalog is also included in WorldCat.

I had heard that our collection for Massachusetts was extensive and was reminded of that when I read our society history in the Fall 2018 issue of the Nugget. Well, it’s true. There are 36 shelves of books about Massachusetts in our library – certainly something for everyone with an ancestor from that state.

The first book I chose was the very last one on the shelf. It is Twenty Families of Color in Massachusetts, 1742-1998 by Franklin A. Dorman. It was a gift of Vernon A. Deubler, one of my favorite CGS members. The book has twenty chapters, each devoted to the descendants of a different individual. The foreword explains, “They gathered in mid-December of 1828 in Boston, the first semi-annual meeting of the Massachusetts General Colored Association. Their goal was to unify African-American people to work against slavery and to protest the denial of civil rights to those already free.”

Next I perused Joseph William Carlevale's Leading Americans of Italian Descent in Massachusetts (published 1946). Carlevale, an immigrant from Italy, compiled mid-century "Who's Who" directories of Italian Americans in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Philadelphia. One of the goals of the 2018 Strategic Plan is to increase our offerings to different cultural and ethnic groups. Fortunately, we have much to offer in our library.
Image from History of Worcester County

Dick Rees was in the library when I was there to write this article and asked me to include a mention of our extensive collection of town books for Massachusetts. Each book follows a similar format, with compilations of births, marriages, and death records. Vital Records of Marlborough, Massachusetts To The End of The Year 1849 (published 1908) lists 7,598 births, 3,852 marriages, and 2,256 deaths, so lots of useful information.
CGS has 24 volumes in this set

We hold 24 of 31 volumes of Mayflower Families Through Five Generations by Francis Eaton, Samuel Fuller and William White. Known as the "Silver Books" because of their distinctive covers, the series from the General Society of Mayflower Descendants meticulously documents the first five generations of descendants of Mayflower passengers and has long been considered an essential resource for Mayflower and early American genealogy. This set of books came to CGS from the California Historical Society – one of the organizations we shared space with in the past.
History of Worcester County

My final selection was chosen because of its gilded and embossed brown leather cover and satisfying heft. The History of Worcester County, Massachusetts runs more than 600 pages and purports to be a comprehensive history of Massachusetts' largest county from its earliest colonial settlement to the date of publication (1879). We own Volume I of the two-volume set. This is a dense tome with several nice images of historic buildings, both civic and residential properties.


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