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Thurber collection -- a one name study

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Thurber collection -- a one name study a.k.a. Thurber clearing house

  • Thurber collection -- a one name study
  • by Martin, Joanne E.
  • never published -- manuscript on six microfilm reels at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Citation Example:
<span id='Martin'></span>Martin, Joanne E.. ''[[Space:Thurber collection -- a one name study|Thurber collection]]'' (Joanne E. Martin, 2006)
  • Footnote Example:
<ref>[[#Martin|Martin]]: person name, chart no. 123:04</ref>

An index to the collection:

  • Thurber family genealogical index: a work in progress
  • by Martin, Joanne E.
  • never published -- copies available at several libraries
  • Citation Example:
<span id='Martin'></span>Martin, Joanne E.. ''[[Space:Thurber collection -- a one name study|Thurber family genealogical index]]'' (Joanne E. Martin, 1995)
  • Footnote Example:
<ref>[[#Martin|Martin]]: ''index name'', person name; indexing chart no. 123:04</ref>

WikiTree Profiles that use this source

The Thurber Collection (2006)

The Thurber collection is the most comprehensive source for the descendants of John and Priscilla Thurber, immigrants from England who came to the Massachusetts Bay in latter half of the seventeenth century. The collection consists primarily of a collection of almost 3000 family group sheets. There is also a "Given Name Index" useful for locating specific people among the vast collection -- see the link below.

Joanne E. Martin collected this information over the course of decades through correspondence with dozens of people and from numerous other sources. She passed away with enough warning to gather her work and provide instructions on what was to be done with it. Tragically, these instructions were not completely followed. The collection was dated 2005 and first sent in 2006 to the Family History Center in Salt Lake City for filming. Joanne had stipulated that the collection was to go next to the New England Historic Genealogical Society, but it was mistakenly sent back to her house and either never arrived or disappeared thereafter. Subsequent Thurber researchers have tried to find the collection, and it is considered lost.

Joanne created several indexes to the collection, but only one was included in the final filming -- the Given Name Index. This is an index of people in the collection born with the surname Thurber, sorted alphabetically by first name. The names are followed by a double-column chart number field with the group sheet number(s) for the individual. The first column gives the group sheet number on which the person appears as a child, and the second column contains the group sheet number of the individual. Genealogical information includes birth dates/places and either death or marriage dates/places, when known. See the "Using the given name index" section below for an explanation of the chart number system and how to use it.

Availability: Very few copies of the 2006 filmed microfilms exist. One is kept at the Family History Library at Salt Lake City and a separate copy was for some time at a local family history center.

The Given Name Index by itself is quite valuable and is available through Family Search:


Suggestions for navigating and using the index are at the bottom of this page.

Thurber family genealogical index -- a work in progress (1995)

Thurber family genealogical index -- a work in progress is essentially a set of indexes for locating information in the larger collection. The bulk of this file consists of three indexes corresponding to a 1995 version of the collection:

  • a numerical list of family group sheets in the Thurber collection in order of chart number
  • The "Given Name Index" described above.
  • The "Spouse Index". This index contains entries for each known spouse of a Thurber, sorted alphabetically by last name. Along with the person and his/her Thurber spouse, it shows chart numbers for the Thurber spouse, marriage date, and place of residence. It also gives, for the Thurber spouse, the number of generations down from John and Priscilla as well as the child of John and Priscilla that the line passes through.

The Thurber family genealogical index also includes copies of the family group sheets for the first two generations from John and Priscilla Thurber as well as for Benjamin Thurber and Isaac Thurber, who may descend from John and Priscilla but the exact relationship is not known. After each child is a list of descendants of that child, sorted by generation, with chart numbers but no additional genealogical information.

There are different versions of these indexes in existence, so some may not correspond in places to the chart numbers in The Thurber collection in Salt Lake City. When the collection itself was filmed, the chart number list and the spouse index were not filmed, so all known versions of those indexes were created before the final version of The Thurber collection. Because these are indexes, no sources are given. But they are still an extremely valuable reference for names, relationships, and dates, which can then aid in tracking down other sources.

Availability: The Thurber family genealogical index is available at several libraries, such as the Family History Library at Salt Lake City and in the manuscripts collection of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston.

There is also online a record with limited search capability through HathiTrust, using the copy from the University of Wisconsin, Madison:


Using the Given Name Index

The Thurber Given Name Index is a guide to all the Thurbers whose names appear on the group sheets compiled by the author, the late Joanne E. Martin. The information is arranged in columns under the five headings: Thurber Name, Chart #, Birth, Status, and Spouse Name.

The Thurber Name column has the complete given name when known. Initials are used only when a name is unknown. Titles, nicknames, and other identifiers are included when known.

The names are grouped by “like” first names and in order by birth date. Individuals with no known birth date are listed last within the group. An example of “like” first names is Abby, Abbie, and Abigail. When searching for a name look through the entire section having names with the same first letter.

The Birth column contains the year of birth and the state of birth when known.

The Status column holds one of three types of data when known. The letter “r” indicates the date and place that follow are residence data, the letter “m” indicates marriage data, and no letter indicates death data.

The Spouse Names column contains the spouse name(s) with multiple spouses listed in order.

The Chart# column is actually a double column. Part one is the number of the group sheet where the person is shown as a child, and part two is the group sheet number of the individual.

The key to using the Thurber Given name Index is understanding the chart number system. These numbers reflect the group sheet numbers that were assigned to individuals as the research was conducted. In the index, they can take one of three forms. These are easily illustrated with the three following examples:

Thurber Name Chart # Abner 524 Abby Ann 63:04 530 Ada Helena 795:02

Abner has a no entry in part one of the Chart # column, indicating he does not appear as a child on any group sheet. His father is unknown. However Abner has an individual group sheet #524.

Abby Ann has entries in both parts. The first part, #63:04, indicates she is the fourth child listed on group sheet #63. The second part shows she has an individual group sheet #530.

Ada Helena is the second child listed on group sheet #795, but has no entry in the second part of the Chart # column indicating there is no individual group sheet for her.

Searching the index for a number can provide additional information on some individuals. Since the on-line document is displayed a single page at a time, it is necessary to first download a PDF copy of the full document. Using the downloaded version and searching for chart numbers, one can easily find the following for the three names in our example.

A search for 524 reveals the names of Abner’s 8 children.

A search for 63 identifies Abby Ann’s father as Ethan Allen Thurber and yields the names of his 9 children. Since Abby Ann’s children would have her husband’s surname, any children’s names on group sheet #530 are not listed in the Thurber Given Name Index.

A search for 795 reveals the name Isaac Brock as Ada Helena’s father and yields the names of his 6 children.


Thank you to Florence Gargaro for providing the detailed information about the history and elements of the collection and for writing the instructions for using the Given Name Index.

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