Everyone who loves genealogy knows it's fun to find family members and learn family history. But who would think it would be fun to transcribe old town or vital records that don't involve your family? Well, it actually is fun. I just finished transcribing The Vital Records of Durham, Maine for the Maine Genealogical Society (MGC) and I had a great time and learned a lot. The project took about two years and it was worth every minute!
As president of the Maine Genealogical Society, I wanted to be a part of their mission to transcribe and publish as many early vital records of Maine as possible. The Durham vital records is the 81st special publication of MGS. People can buy them at various MGS events and at www.maineroots.org. We offer these publications at a significant discount to our members and at a reasonable price to everyone. MGS volunteers have worked tirelessly to transcribe early vital records from the original town records and from images now available on www.familysearch.org. These records include births, marriages, deaths, some family records, church records, warnings out of town, cattle marks, and some town records. By looking at indexed records, users can find all names in seconds versus hours of scrolling throw rolls of microfilm. The Durham records also include a name and subject index which lets readers discover how many other places are mentioned in the records besides the actual town.
By Carol P. McCoy, Ph.D. (Find-Your-Roots.com) © C.P. McCoy (2003)
Tracing one’s family history is a national obsession. People have a deep-seated need to know where they come from, what makes them who they are, and whom they take after. As a psychologist I enjoy learning about people’s lives and how to help them understand themselves. Studying family history helps one to go beyond the present to learn about other people and forces that have helped to shape us.
Understanding your social, cultural, familial, and genetic heritage can shed light on your character, appearance, health, family relationships, and your name. Which side of the family do you resemble? Who do you look like at different ages? Knowing how long your ancestors lived and how they died holds clues for what to watch for in terms of medical problems for you and your descendants. Most likely your journey will help you to discover unknown relatives and to build new friendships.
Knowing family naming patterns gives you a deeper sense of your identity. People of the Jewish faith often name children after a cherished relative who had recently died, whereas Christians often name children after a cherished living relative. Who were you named for—a loved family member, a dear friend, a family associate, or a name that appealed to your parents for some reason? My middle name Prescott is for my maternal grandfather, Prescott Barker Wiske.