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Puritan Great Migration Project Reliable Sources

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 1621 to 1640
Location: [unknown]
Surnames/tags: pgm pre-1700
This page has been accessed 6,246 times.


This page provides an overview to sources used by the Puritan Great Migration Project. Project volunteers are encouraged to use these, where possible. While some good sources can be found free through FamilySearch.org or even through Google searches, many sources require paid membership or subscription. If you don't have access, ask for a lookup on G2G.

NOTE: Please do not do full copy/pastes from any of the following documents. (I.e., don't put in a verbatim profile text from Anderson's Great Migration series.) Also please do not upload images of full pages of these documents. That places you and WikiTree at risk of copyright violation. Instead, extract key vitals and be sure to use the <ref>...</ref> citation format to cite your sources. Thanks!

Contents

Reliable Sources

Great Migration Series (NEHGS)

Robert Charles Anderson's Great Migration series, published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society between 1995 and 2011 (so far), covers New England immigrants between 1620 and 1635 (so far) with the intent to extend to 1640.

The series is available in print and digital format. Digital access requires membership to either:

  • NEHGS, a nonprofit organization begun in 1845 to preserve and publish quality information about early American ancestry.
  • Ancestry.com, a commercial subscription service with a range of digital genealogical information from which you may find sourced documents. Note: However, Unsourced family trees are not acceptable sources from this or other webtree sites.

Some libraries may have access to one or the other.

See also: Sources used in the Great Migration series

Early New England Families Study Project (NEHGS)

Another NEHGS project, this will cover the period 1641-1700 (based on marriage year), initially following (and presumably correcting/updating) Clarence Almon Torrey’s bibliographic index of early New England marriages. The project's goal is to compile authoritative and documented sketches of more than 35,000 marriages from this time period.

The Great Migration Study Project will eventually treat all immigrants who came to New England through 1640. The Early New England Families Study Project will focus on individuals who emigrated in 1641 or later, but our sketches will be grouped by year of marriage rather than immigration. (You can read more about this effort here.)

The emerging / evolving online database is available to NEHGS members.

Other Quality Journals

The following peer-reviewed journals are also good sources for quality research that include (but are not limited to) early New England colonists. While pretty much all of these require paid membership to access, some early editions can be found through Google Books or OpenLibrary.

  • The American Genealogist - searchable, digital version made available with NEHGS membership. Some older volumes may be found through a Google search.
  • Connecticut Nutmegger - searchable, digital version made available with NEHGS membership
  • Mayflower Descendant - searchable, digital version made available with NEHGS membership.
  • New England Historic Genealogical Register - published by NEHGS since 1849; searchable, digital version available (free for issues over 100 years old, list maintained at familysearch.org New England Historical Genealogical Register Online) and all issues available by subscription to to NEHGS members; see also old issues of NEHGR at the LDS
  • NGS Quarterly - published by the National Genealogical Society; non-searchable PDF versions of most issues are available online to NGS members.

Published Colony Records

A number of vital, court, probate and even land records have been published over the years. Some of these can be found through Google Books, FamilySearch or OpenLibrary; others are available only through membership in NEHGS or Ancestry.com. Those that have been particularly helpful to PGM project volunteers include:


Commonly Used Sources

Vital Records to 1850

Links to the various published town vital records. These are the primary sources for early births, marriages and deaths.

Great Migration Series

  • Anderson, Robert Charles, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, vol. 1: A - F, (Boston: NEHGS, 1995).
  • Anderson, Robert Charles, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, vol. 2: G - O, (Boston:NEHGS, 1995).
  • Anderson, Robert Charles, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, vol. 3: P - W, (Boston: NEHGS, 1995).
  • Anderson, Robert Charles. Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume I, A–B. (Boston: NEHGS, 1999).
  • Anderson, Robert Charles. Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume II, C–F. (Boston; NEHGS, 2001).
  • Anderson, Robert Charles. Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume III, G–H. (Boston: NEHGS, 2003).
  • Anderson, Robert Charles. Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume IV, I–L. (Boston: NEHGS, 2005).
  • Anderson, Robert Charles. Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume V, M–P. (Boston: NEHGS, 2007).
  • Anderson, Robert Charles. Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume VI, R–S. (Boston: NEHGS, 2009).
  • Anderson, Robert Charles. Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume VII, T–Y. (Boston; NEHGS, 2011).
  • Anderson, Robert C. The Great Migration Directory: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1640: A Concise Compendium (New England Historic Genealogical Society, Great Migration Study Project, Boston, 2015)

Royal Ancestry Series

  • Richardson, Douglas. Royal Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families, in 5 vols. (Salt Lake City, Utah, 2013).
  • Richardson, Douglas, Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families, exp. 2nd edn. in 3 vols. (Salt Lake City, Utah, 2011).
  • Richardson, Douglas. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families, exp. 2nd ed. in 4 vols, (Salt Lake City, Utah, 2011).

Essex County Courts

  • Essex County Courts. Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex ... vol. 1: 1636-1656. (Salem: The Essex Institute, 1911). HathiTrust.org LINK
  • Essex County Courts. Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex ... vol. 2: 1656-1662. (Salem: The Essex Institute, 1912). HathiTrust.org LINK
  • Essex County Courts. Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex ... vol. 3: 1662-1667. (Salem: The Essex Institute, 1913). HathiTrust.org LINK
  • Essex County Courts. Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex ... vol. 4: 1667-1671. (Salem: The Essex Institute, 1914). HathiTrust.org LINK
  • Essex County Courts. Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex ... vol. 5: 1672-1674. (Salem: The Essex Institute, 1916). HathiTrust.org LINK
  • Essex County Courts. Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex ... vol. 6: 1675-1678. (Salem: The Essex Institute, 1917). HathiTrust.org LINK
  • Essex County Courts. Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex ... vol. 7: 1678-1680. (Salem: The Essex Institute, 1919). HathiTrust.org LINK
  • Essex County Courts. Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex ... vol. 8: 1680-1683. (Salem: The Essex Institute, 1921). HathiTrust.org LINK
  • Essex County Courts. Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex ... vol. 9: 1680-1683. (Salem: The Essex Institute, 1975). Online copy

Plymouth Colony Records

  • Shurtleff, Nathaniel ed. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England, vol. 1: Court Orders 1633-1640. (Boston, 1855). Archive.org LINK
  • Shurtleff, Nathaniel ed. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England, vol. 2: Court Orders 1641-1651. (Boston, 1855). familysearch.org LINK
  • Shurtleff, Nathaniel ed. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England, vol. 3: Court Orders 1651-1661. (Boston, 1855). Archive.org LINK
  • Shurtleff, Nathaniel ed. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England, vol. 4: Court Orders 1661-1668. (Boston, 1855). Archive.org LINK
  • Shurtleff, Nathaniel ed. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England, vol. 5: Court Orders 1668-1678. (Boston, 1856). Archive.org LINK
  • Shurtleff, Nathaniel ed. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England, vol. 6: Court Orders 1678-1691. (Boston, 1856). Archive.org LINK
  • Shurtleff, Nathaniel ed. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England, vol. 7: Judicial Acts 1636-1692. (Boston, 1857). Archive.org LINK
  • Shurtleff, Nathaniel ed. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England, vol. 8: Miscellaneous Records 1633-1680. (Boston, 1857). Archive.org LINK
  • Pulsifer, David ed. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England, vol. 9: Acts 1643-1651. (Boston, 1859). Archive.org LINK
  • Pulsifer, David ed. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England, vol. 10: Acts 1653-1679. (Boston, 1859). Archive.org LINK
  • Pulsifer, David ed. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England, vol. 11: Laws 1623-1880. (Boston, 1861). Archive.org LINK
  • Pulsifer, David ed. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England, vol. 12: Deeds 1620-1651. (Boston, 1861). Archive.org LINK

New England Marriages Prior to 1700

Both of the items listed below are indexes of sources related to marriages; they provide citations that show where the marriage and related sources can be found. Neither is a source, per se.
  • Torrey, Clarence Almon, New England Marriages Prior to 1700, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011
  • Sanborn, Melinda, Third Supplement to Torrey's New England Marriages Prior to 1700", Genealogical Publishing Company, 2003

Links to Related Wikitree Source Compilations

Unreliable Sources

The following should not be used and are subject to removal from PGM-managed profiles if found:

  • User-contributed family trees, including (but not limited to):
    • Pedigree Resource Files and FamilyTree data on familysearch.org (if there is an actual reliable primary source on the pedigree record, that source may be cited but the overall familysearch.org pedigree or tree record is NOT a source and may not be cited).
    • Public or any other family trees from Ancestry.com including OneWorldTree and RootsWeb (OneWorldTree was replaced by public ancestry trees and RootsWeb in 2013 but OneWorldTree as a source still appears widely on the internet)
    • Geni.com
  • Yates' US and International Marriages Index. See this discussion for why.
  • Millennium File: "created by the Institute of Family Research to track the records of its clients and the results of its professional research. It contains more than 880,000 linked family records, with lineages from throughout the world, including colonial America, the British Isles, Switzerland, and Germany. Many of these lineages extend back to nobility and renowned historical figures. In fact, one of the things the Millennium File focuses on is linking to European nobility and royalty."
  • Edmund West Family Data collections.
  • International Genealogical Index from familysearch.org "can" contain legitimate sourced records but about half of the records are "...names submitted to the Church of Jesus Christ for which no historical record collection source is known..." so the true original source must be found, IGI by itself is not acceptable.

Additionally, it was very popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s to publish family genealogies. These are much like the online trees of today-- their quality varies depending on the extent to which they cite their sources. Some contain accurate information-- especially about the people living within the last 50 years prior to the publication date; but many have been subsequently proven to be incomplete, inaccurate, or in a few rare cases, downright fraudulent. Absent better sources, these old published genealogies can be cited or included under "See also:". A goal of the PGM project, however, is to find more original documentation, closer to the time of the event being cited.

Related: In about 2019-2020, Ancestry.com added "North America, Family Histories 1500-2000," which is described as: "This collection contains genealogical research privately published in nearly one thousand family history books." Researchers should use this as a finding aid, not as a source on PGM or pre-1700 profiles. However, a clue may be found in most Ancestry.com references that cite it; namely, there should be included the family history that is being referenced; e.g., "Descendants of Joe Schmoe..." Unfortunately, no page numbers are provided, so it is up to the researcher to find the reference and locate within it, what the genealogy has to say about the profiled person, determine if it adds value, and if so, cite that. Please do not list "North America, Family Histories 1500-2000" as either a cited source or even under "See also."

A Note about Find-a-Grave

Find-a-Grave is a user-contributed site, and as such is generally excluded from the list of reliable sources. Please do not make changes to a profile's vitals, including identification of relations, based solely on information transcribed on a Find-a-Grave profile. The exception is that if the Find-a-Grave profile contains a photo of a contemporaneous gravestone (i.e., a gravestone created and placed at the time of the person's death) and includes information about the person's death, you can cite the Find-a-Grave profile for the death information, and for other information that appears on the gravestone. Please understand, though, that even gravestones may contain erroneous information.

Lewis Publishing and similar books

Books by Lewis Publishing Co.; Lewis Historical Publishing Co.; Cutter, William Richard (editor) eg. Example Titles: Historic homes and places and genealogical and personal memoirs relating to the families of Middlesex County, Massachusetts. Genealogical and Family History of... (lots of places) Partial lists at at Archive.org and Online Books Page.

These and similar books all over the country are "pay to see your name in print" books. The genealogical sections of these books were written and placed in the books by subscription. Prominent citizens were approached and submitted biographies and money to print their biographies. At least one person paid $375 for a biography with a photo of himself. The autobiographies of the paying person, are no doubt accurate enough, although sometimes exaggerated. They also submitted pedigree information. Information on parents and grandparents that the person knew are also probably accurate, if slightly exaggerated. But... some of the pedigrees state as facts what is pure speculation. Some of the pedigrees within one volume will contradict each other. They are frequently inaccurate. The books are readily available online, so they are an easy starting place, but it is absolutely necessary to double check every fact and every pedigree with better (closer to primary) sourcing.

The historical sections were written by legitimate historians.


  • If you have a reliable source which you would like to see added to this list please leave a citation in the comments section, and project leadership will add it after doing a review.




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Comments: 37

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We include the comment, "International Genealogical Index from familysearch.org "can" contain legitimate sourced records but about half of the records are "...names submitted to the Church of Jesus Christ for which no historical record collection source is known..." so the true original source must be found, IGI by itself is not acceptable."

While it is true that user contributed data was included in what FamilySearch refers to as the "original IGI," the records have since been separated into different datasets. The user data became referred to as "Contributed International Genealogical Index."

See "International Genealogical Index (IGI)"; FamilySearch.

posted by GeneJ X
So, just to be pedantically clear (which my brain seems to need), actual records found at Family Search are acceptable? It's just the tree and unsupported "transcriptions" that are not allowed?
posted by Dianne Hood
Dianne, yes that is correct..........
posted by Jen (Stevens) Hutton
In order to be more inclusive as to FamilySearch "Unreliable Sources," might we update the first bulleted item to read,
  • Pedigree Resource Files and FamilyTree data on familysearch.org

Thank you for considering this update.--Gene

posted by GeneJ X
You're right, we already have similar language under the last bullet point but given the severe downhill turn that familysearch has just taken in their search results, we should probably make it the top source. I will edit appropriately.
posted by Brad Stauf
Brad, could you please specify the "severe downhill turn" by FamilySearch? (I've been plenty unhappy with the irritating changes to their website that just make searching more cumbersome -- as do some of the changes by NEHGS -- but I haven't been aware of a substantive change in the quality of the FS search results.)
posted by Christopher Childs
I may have to issue a retraction here, because I think it was my fault. If you search "Genealogies" instead of "Records" at familysearch, you get back a bunch of third party websites, the usually unsourced stuff that we go to great lengths to avoid.

So when I saw that a week ago in my search results list, I bet that I accidentally searched "Genealogies". Oops.

posted by Brad Stauf
Hi my ftdna bigy result G-BY197092 links me to david farnham(descendant of ralph farnham 1635 on the james) i am from norfolk england and now trying to find link ,npe,adoption between reed and farnham. There was farnhams in cambridgeshire england but not found any dna tested.
posted by Darren Reed
Darren - I would suggest posting this question on the G2G forum. Perhaps someone will have further information they can provide there.
posted by S (Hill) Willson
I've been working on my (family's) ancestors for several months. In the process I've added a large number of profiles well past the 1700s. Today I encountered the first with a birth/death prior to 1700. That person has a profile on Family Search with a large number of sources that are transcriptions of Connecticut vital records. My question. Do transcriptions of state records qualify as quality sources? I know that despite honorable intentions and best efforts, sometimes the transcriptions are in error. On top of incorrect information placed in the records, themselves, by the recording clerks. (my mother's name is regularly wrong because she gave her preferred AKA, clerks didn't always hear well, often didn't spell well, either). But still my question. Do Connecticut vital records meet standards for sources?

Thanks for your time and any assistance.

posted by Jerry Regan
Jerry,

Yes. Published colony records and/or Vital Records are generally considered reliable sources. See list above. Thanks for your interest,

Jen

posted by Jen (Stevens) Hutton
Jerry, this G2G discussion may also be helpful in defining a "primary source" (which is not always the same as a "reliable source", but helpful anyway). https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/890309/where-can-i-find-a-specific-definition-of-primary-sources

You're exactly right that a primary parish record or vital record might, for example spell a name differently than a land record or something else, and in some cases we've even seen the wrong name written down entirely on a baptismal record (for example the mother's name was written down by mistake instead of the child's name). But we would still say a primary vital record is a "reliable" source, because it was truly "primary" so it has the best shot at being correct (despite human error) compare to something like a privately published genealogy book written 200 years later with no specific sources listed at all.

posted by Brad Stauf
Hi Dawn, thanks for your interest. We've started compiling known frauds here: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Category:Frauds_and_Fabrications

As for the others, we judge their accuracy by the extent to which they cite their sources. If they don't, we seek independent confirmation of their claims through original records.

posted by Jillaine Smith
Hello. I am very interested in this and reading up as much as I can. How can we determine if these histories of places or family genealogies are accurate? For example I have looked at The Winslow Memorial Vol 1 & 2 by Holton, The Stiles in America, The Olds family in England and America, History and Genealogy of The Descendants of Joseph Taynter. Is there a list of the fraudulent ones that we can avoid?
posted by Dawn Hartzell
Yes. Unless there is more recent information since those articles were originally written.
posted by Anne B
Hi all, would you consider "Genealogies of Rhode Island families : from the New England historical and genealogical register / selected and introduced by Gary Boyd Roberts" to be a credible source? I am assuming since it is from the NEHGR that it is, but just wanted to check.
posted by Alan Pendleton
Jaki, I took a look. It as edited by Jacobus (often called the father of modern genealogy), who left a great forward in it, admiring the extent to which the original compiler cited original documents, and an initial scan of the first pages shows references to original documents. Between those two facts, I'd say that it's likely to be reliable.
posted by Jillaine Smith
Would this be considered a reliable source:

The Hazen family in America, a genealogy by Tracy Elliot Hazen, ... Hazen, Tracy Elliot, 1874-1943. Research is extensive, and it's available on Hathitrust. Thanks.

posted by Jaki Erdoes
This site has easy to find source records

http://dunhamwilcox.net

Southold Town Records Vol. 1,p.463-466 has some 1654 on bearthes (sic), marriages, and deaths. I.e., Mrs. Underhill died in 1658, John concklyne and Sarah Solmom wid marrd the 2nd of Dec 1657. Solmom, Solomon , salmon seen in the Records.

posted by Anne X
I have the PGM sticker and have looked at the exaples and feel although I am getting the hang of getting my profiles cited and looking better I am not real good at it yet - have stumbled in with one branch seeming to be on this projects map - Swan and Mansur(Manser.etc) Palfrey were from this era/location so I will be poking about - will seek help from project managers if I see any changes that need to be made - I have projects already so just browsing
posted by Navarro Mariott
I would like to add my husbands ancestors from this period Matthew Whipple, Jr. and Robert Cross (Crose) along with my own ancestor, Richard Kimball all of whom I believe came to Ipswitch during this period. I have some of the sources documented but have yet to add them to my Wikitree information and I want, of course, to recheck all my sources.
posted by M (Kimball) Cross