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The National Institute for Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

Original Records for Mayflower Research: Vital Records

Mayflower Research: Vital Records

Many 17th and 18th century New England vital records come in two forms—original and printed. An original record is the first recording of an event. Once it has been transcribed into printed form, that record becomes a derivative. Early birth, marriage, and death records are usually a little sparse and to the point. Birth records will generally not give the mother’s maiden name and occasionally not even her first name. Death records give the date, place, and often the age, while marriage records provide the date, and neither name parents. Vital records in the 19th and 20th centuries usually contain more information. In long form records, full parentage may be given in all three records and death records may also contain full birth information. In most cases, vital records may be obtained from the town clerk where the event occurred. Of the New England states, three have exceptionally good, early vital records: Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.



Town clerks began recording vital records around 1644 and in 1897 copies were being sent to the state office in Hartford. The websites American Ancestors, Ancestry, and FamilySearch include the Barbour Collection.


One thing to remember about Maine is that until 1820 it was a part of Massachusetts and up to 1760 was considered “York County, Massachusetts.” Vital records recorded before 1892 can be found at the town clerk’s office. Records between 1892-1923 are at the State Archives while records after 1923 are at the Office of Vital Records. The websites American Ancestors, FamilySearch, and include databases for Maine vital records.


New England Historic Genealogical Society’s website American Ancestors includes the database Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1620-1850 as well as others. Other Massachusetts vital records databases are available on FamilySearch and Ancestry.

New Hampshire

Town clerks began keeping vital records in New Hampshire in 1640, while state registration began in 1866. All original records can be found at both the town where the event occurred and the Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics in Concord.

Rhode Island

Towns began recording vital records in Rhode Island in 1636, although civil registration did not officially begin until 1853. James N. Arnold (1844-1927) spent seventeen years collecting records for his Vital Records of Rhode Island which were published between 1891-1912. He not only extracted entries from the town vital records, but from church records and newspapers up to 1850.


Vital records were recorded in Vermont as early as 1760, however the record keeping was not kept up on a regular basis until 1857. Some published works regarding Vermont vital records include Vital Records of Putney, Vermont to the Year 1900 With Selected Additional Records, by Ken Stevens.

You can find Vermont vital records online at Ancestry, and earlier records starting in the 1700s can be found on FamilySearch and American Ancestors.

Learn more about these records and how they can help you research your Mayflower Ancestors while taking our “Research: Mayflower Ancestors” course.  

The Mayflower

Passenger List

We have William Bradford to thank for taking pen in hand and keeping records of the early years. He wrote down the names of the passengers and did a separate accounting of the increasings and decreasings of these passengers thirty years later. Unfortunately, one piece of information he did not record in his history was the name of the ship Mayflower. It is known only from a 1623 land division in which settlers were listed under the name of the ship in which they came, viz: “The Falles of their grounds which came first over in the May-floure”. This land division can be found in Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England (PCR, 12:306). 

via Wikipedia – A conjectural image of Bradford, produced as a postcard in 1904 by A.S. Burbank of Plymouth.

The following is Bradford’s list of passengers. I have included a (*) for those who are known to have been part of the Leyden congregation and a (+) for those who died the first winter. Although I have included the Carvers in this death count, he died in the spring and she in the summer.

The names of those which came over first, in the year 1620, and were by the blessing of God the first beginners and in a sort the foundation of all the Plantations and Colonies in New England; and their families.

Mr. John Carver. *+ Katherine his wife*+. Desire Minter*; & 2 man-servants, John Howland, Roger Wilder. + William Latham, a boy. & a maid servant. & a child yt was put to him called, Jasper More. +_


Mr. William Brewster*. Mary, his wife*, with 2 sons, whose names were Love* and Wrasling. * and a boy was put to him called Richard More; and another of his brothers.+ the rest of his children were left behind & came over afterwards.


Mr. Edward Winslow* Elizabeth his wife, *+ & 2 men servants, called Georg Sowle, and Elias Story+; also a little girle was put to him called Ellen, + the sister of Richard More.


William Bradford*, and Dorathy his wife*+, having but one child, a sone left behind, who came afterward.


Mr. Isaack Allerton*, and Mary. His wife*+; with 3 children Bartholomew Remember, & Mary and a servant boy, John Hooke. +


Mr. Samuell fuller*; and a servant, called Wiliam Butten. + His wife was behind & a child, which came afterwards.


John Crakston*+ and his sone John Crakston*


Captin Myles Standish* and Rose, his wife*+

Mr. Christpher Martin+, and his wife+; and 2 servants, Salamon prower,+ and John Langemore.+


Mr. William Mullines,+ and his wife+; and 2 children Joseph,+ & priscila; and a servant Robart Carter.+


Mr. William White, *+ and Susana* his wife; and one sone called resolved, and one borne a ship-bord called perigriene; & 2 servants, named William Holbeck, + & Edward Thomson.+


Mr. Steven Hopkins, & Elizabeth his wife; and 2 children, called Giles, and Constanta a doughter, both by a former wife. And 2 more by this wife, called Damaris, & Oceanus, the last was borne at sea. And 2 servants, called Edward Doty, and Edward Litster.


Mr. Richard Warren, but his wife and children were lefte behind and came afterwards.


John Billinton, and Elen his wife: and 2 sones John, & Francis.


Edward Tillie, *+ and Ann his wife*+: and 2 childeren that were their cossens; Henery Samson, * and Humillity Coper.*


John Tillie, + and his wife+; and Elizabeth their doughter.


Francis Cooke, * and his sone John*; But his wife & other children came afterwards.


Thomas Rogers, *+ and Joseph his sone,* his other children came afterwards.


Thomas Tinker, *+ and his wife, *+ and a Sone.*+


John Rigdale+; and Alice his wife. +


Check out Bradford’s original list on the State Library of Massachusetts website.

Learn more about the Mayflower and tracing your Mayflower ancestors in our course “Research: Mayflower Ancestors”.

October Virtual Meetings

Have questions about your courses or your research? Virtual Meetings are a way for you to communicate with an instructor. These meetings are NOT mandatory, but a fun & interactive way to ask questions about courses/research. 

NOTE: No user name or password required. Please type in your first and last name; then click “Enter as a Guest”.  

Image courtesy of arztsamui at

Below are the September scheduled sessions. Join us!

Wednesday, October 16th – Analysis and Skills Mentoring Program – GENERAL with Gena Philibert-Ortega
Time zones:
Wednesday, October 16th – 10:00 AM Eastern; 9:00 AM Central; 7:00 AM Pacific; 3:00 PM in London, England;
Thursday, October 17th – 1:00 AM in Sydney, Australia

Wednesday, October 16th – Internet Tools with Gena Philibert-Ortega
Time zones:
Wednesday, October 16th – 11:30 AM Eastern; 10:30 AM Central; 8:30 AM Pacific; 4:30 PM in London, England;
Thursday, October 17th – 2:30 AM in Sydney, Australia

Wednesday, October 16th – American courses with Gena Philibert-Ortega
Time zones:
Wednesday, October 16th – 1:30 PM Eastern; 12:30 PM Central; 10:30 AM Pacific; 6:30 PM in London, England;
Thursday, October 17th – 4:30 AM in Sydney, Australia

Thursday, October 17th – Analysis and Skills Mentoring Program-Part 3 – ARTICLE REVIEW with Gena Philibert-Ortega
Time zones:
Thursday, October 17th – 1:30 PM Eastern; 12:30 PM Central; 10:30 AM Pacific; 6:30 PM in London, England;
Friday, October 18th – 4:30 AM in Sydney, Australia

Thursday, October 17th – Methodology courses with Gena Philibert-Ortega
Time zones:
Thursday, October 17th – 3:00 PM Eastern; 2:00 PM Central; Noon Pacific; 8:00 PM in London, England;
Friday, October 18th – 6:00 AM in Sydney, Australia

Thursday, October 17th – STUDENT LOUNGE
Time zones:
Thursday, October 17th – 5:00 PM Eastern; 4:00 PM Central; 2:00 PM Pacific; 10:00 PM in London, England;
Friday, October 18th – 8:00 AM in Sydney, Australia

Saturday, October 19th – Professional Development courses with Gena Philibert-Ortega
Time zones:
Saturday, October 19th – 11:00 AM Eastern; 10:00 AM Central; 8:00 AM Pacific; 4:00 PM in London, England;
Sunday, October 20th – 1:00 AM in Sydney, Australia

Friday, October 25th – English courses with Brenda Wheeler
Time zones:
Friday, October 25th – 6:00 PM Eastern; 5:00 PM Central; 3:00 PM Pacific; 11:00 PM in London, England;
Saturday, October 26th – 9:00 AM in Sydney, Australia

Friday, October 25th – Methodology courses with Brenda Wheeler
Note: This Virtual Meeting is for the convenience of our Australasia students; however, everyone is welcome.
Time zones:
Friday, October 25th – 7:30 PM Eastern; 6:30 PM Central; 4:30 PM Pacific;
Saturday, October 26th – 12:30 AM in London, England; 10:30 AM in Sydney, Australia

Saturday, October 26th – Canadian courses with Cheryl Levy
Time zones:
Saturday, October 26th – 10:00 AM Eastern; 9:00 AM Central; 7:00 AM Pacific; 3:00 PM in London, England;
Sunday, October 27th – 1:00 AM in Sydney, Australia


Calendar of Virtual Meetings is at; top menu > INFORMATION > VIRTUAL LEARNING ROOM.             

If you have not attended a Virtual Meeting before, read the Instructions at           

Clues in Photographs: Men’s Clothing

Men’s Clothing, 1900-1950 

What trends existed in men’s clothing during the 20th century? Knowing what clothing was popular in which decade can help you pinpoint when that family photograph was taken and who possibly is pictured. Some trends by the decade include:  

Photography: Clues Pictures Hold, Editing, Digitizing and Various Projects

1900s – The frock coat from the previous decades was being pretty much replaced by the sack coat, especially when it came to daywear.  A man might wear plaid trousers, a solid color jacket, and a vest of a different but complementary color. The turn-cuff in trousers was introduced, as was the front crease in pants. Shirts collars were very tall and stiff, often turned down into pointed wings.  

1910s – The vest was collarless and fastened lower on the chest. The flat cap and newsboy cap were becoming popular. Spats or gaiters made their appearance.  

1920s – Casual dress was emphasized, and Hollywood and the military uniforms of World War I were the greatest fashion influences. Lapels were narrower at first, becoming wider later in the decade. Pants were straight and narrow, cuffed and shorter, revealing the socks.  

1930s – The Great Depression that ushered in this decade resulted in the loss of the bright colors in clothing that had been popular for two decades. Sportswear abandoned knickers early in the decade in favor of casual pants. Neckties were the only colorful relief for this decade and included stripes and other geometric designs.  

1940s – Hollywood ruled fashion in the 1940s, as the suits of the 1930s became more exaggerated, resulting in heavy chest padding, double-breasting, wider shoulders, and billowing trousers. The most exaggerated form, the ‘zoot suit’ had a longer coat, high waist, and pegged pants.  

1950s – Teens and young men were favoring white tee shirts under leather jackets. Jeans were becoming popular as well. The businessman was wearing business suits that were single-breasted, narrower in form, with less shoulder padding. The vest was falling out of favor.  

Men’s clothing during the 1900s can hold some helpful clues in your genealogy research. Our “Photography: Clues Pictures Hold, Editing, Digitizing and Various Projects” course will offer you insight to help you answer questions you have about your historical family photographs.  

Women’s Clothing 1900’s

Women’s Clothing in Photographs: The 1900s 

What were women wearing in the decades of the 1900s? That answer is important as we look at family photographs. Here’s a few trends seen in the 20th century.  


Photography: Clues Pictures Hold, Editing, Digitizing and Various Projects

1900s – The styles of the late 1890s continued into this decade. The skirt developed a train, was full below the knee, and became more ornate with pleats and smocking at the hipline. Evening dresses revealed more body, sometimes with sleeveless or off-shoulder cap sleeves.   

1910s – Many daywear dresses took the form of very feminine suits. The main change in dresses was that the hem came up to the ankle during this time, and it never went down again. Hats were often veiled.  

1920s – Women’s clothing became unfitted, with simple bodices at first, gradually being accented with seaming and paneling. Necklines were scoop or V-shape and usually collarless. Sleeves varied from long and straight to bell-shaped. Dresses were very ornamented with pin tucking, braids, embroidery, and beading – which was very popular – particularly for evening wear.  

1930s – It was in this decade that Hollywood glamour began to have its lasting impact on fashion. By the end of this decade, shoulder pads were becoming fashionable, a trend that would continue into the 1940s.  

1940s – Hollywood ruled fashion in America beginning in the 1940s and after the end of World War II, its influence spread again outside of America.  In 1947, Dior’s “new look” arrived featuring full skirts at a longer length (mid-calf), and round shoulders, a full bust, with narrow waist and full hips. 

1950s – The full skirt was in high swing but required crinolines to maintain their circle shape. Skinny “pencil” skirts were also popular. Evening wear featured ball gowns in short lengths called “cocktail dresses.” Hats were a necessity during the day, as were gloves.  

Have you ever wondered what time period a photograph of your great-grandmother or grandmother was taken? With our “Photography: Clues Pictures Hold, Editing, Digitizing and Various Projects” course you will learn about hidden clues found in your family photos.  

It’s Our 20th Anniversary

20th Anniversary Special

We’re celebrating our 20th Anniversary!  What better way to do that, then to bring back those 1999 registration fees of only $50.00 per course.

You can register for as many courses as you wish.  That’s right, there is NO limit.  Heck, you could even register for a 40 course package and save $850. 

This is a limited time offer starting TODAY and ending at 6AM EST this Sunday, 6 October 2019.

***We have extended this offer! It will end at 6AM EST this Wednesday, 9 October 2019.***

Simply enter the following coupon code to take advantage of this limited offer:  1999Oct4

So, join us in our 20th Anniversary Celebration and party like it’s 1999!

As always, if you have any questions call us at 1-800-580-0165 ext. 3 or email us at




How Far Back Can I Go?

Everyone’s Research is Different

One of the most frequently asked genealogy questions is “How far back can I go?” This is a very difficult question to answer. Everyone’s research is different. Accessibility and the availability of documents as well as the possible destruction of records means that the answer to the above question might be different even for the same person tracing two different families on their tree.

There are so many factors involved. Some will deal with your own family’s history and other factors may include the impact of local events. For example, if your ancestors were from the southern United States, the Civil War may have led to the destruction of some records. Fires have affected many records throughout history including the 1890 US Federal Census.

You will find that, as you get involved in your new hobby, your parameters may change. You should initially be concerned with documenting the generations closest to you such as your parents and grandparents which will eventually lead you to “jump the pond” and research an immigrant ancestor.

It won’t take long for you to notice that both the study of genealogy and the study of history are very closely related. Some find it to be a lifelong pursuit and the challenge is, no matter how far back you go, you can always attempt to go further.

Through our Methodology-Part 1: Getting Started” course you will discover more about this common question and how you can achieve your objective.


Keeping In Touch With The National Institute For Genealogical Studies

In the genealogy world we need to communicate with each other to keep abreast of the constantly evolving research methods and resources. The same is true within The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. As a student of the National Institute, there are various ways you can communicate with us and your fellow students.


Here is how:

#1 By email to the National Institute

NOTE: When contacting us please include your FIRST & LAST NAME and the COURSE TITLE, including the COUNTRY the course applies to. It is also helpful if you include the module number and section title you are referring to.

i) – for general questions;

ii) – to advise us of broken links in your course materials and assignments–please be specific as to where problem is;

iii) – questions pertaining to your course exam.

#2 By email to a fellow student

When you view a fellow student’s public assignment SUBMISSION/ANSWER and you would like to contact them about something in their posting, simply click on the envelope icon to the right of the student’s name. A new window will open where you can type your message. For privacy reasons, you will not see the recipient’s email address and they have the option to reply or not.

#3 Attend a Virtual Meeting

VIRTUAL MEETINGS ARE THE BEST PLACE TO COMMUNICATE with an instructor and fellow students. Anyone can participate! You do not have to be registered in the course to attend. When attending virtual meetings, please bring questions applicable to the topic being discussed.

Watch for our emails outlining upcoming virtual meetings dates and times. Or visit our website at, click on Information in the top menu bar, and then Virtual Learning Room for the full schedule.

#4 Follow the National Institute’s Blog

Go to and scroll down. On the right hand side of the page you will see Subscribe to Blog via Email. In the text box, enter your email address and click on the Subscribe button. Once subscribed, you will receive an email each time we post an article. Each blog article includes a link to write a comment or share via social media. Look for these options at the end of each blog post.

#5 Follow us on Twitter

Once signed into your Twitter account, search for us on Twitter by our Twitter name @GeneaStudies. On our Twitter page, click on the Follow button to subscribe to our tweets. Not a member of Twitter? No problem, just go to Twitter and join. Membership is free.

#6 Follow the National Institute on Facebook

To follow us on Facebook you must be a member. To join Facebook go to and sign up. Find us on Facebook at and click on the Like button on the top right of our page.

#7 Join a GenealogyWise group to communicate with your fellow students

Go to and Sign Up. There are groups set up for each of the National Institute’s country streams; i.e. American, Australian, Canadian, English, German, Irish, and Scottish, as well as Methodology, Librarianship, Alumni, and First Timer FAQs.

#8 Follow GenealogyWise on Facebook

To follow us on Facebook you must be a member. To join Facebook go to and sign up. Find us on Facebook at and click on the Like button on the top right of our page.

#9 Consultation with an instructor ($)

If you want to have a one-on-one consultation with an instructor this can be arranged. Please email to request an appointment. When emailing please provide some information as to what course and some background details you would like to discuss so we can recommend a consultation with an appropriate instructor. The consultation with an instructor is available for a modest fee.


Good luck with your studies and research!


How are Credits Assigned? 

Many students taking courses from The National Institute for Genealogical Studies will do so for personal enjoyment or to enhance their genealogical knowledge. For these students, earning course credits may not be important.  

For students earning a Certificate in Genealogical Studies, course credits are required.  


Each course is worth a specific number of credits, typically one credit per course. To receive a credit for a course you must meet the following requirements:  

  • Be enrolled in the course. 
  • Submit assignments and exams posted in the course materials. 
  • Submit the final exam and assignments by the due date.  
  • Receive a grade of no less than a D on the final exam and assignments.  
  • Within six weeks of the class end date, your grade and credits will appear in your student Briefcase. Click My Briefcase to access your grades and credits for all the course you have taken.  
  • If you would like a paper confirmation of your grades and credits, please request this after the course end date. A $5.00 fee is charged for all hard copy transcripts. Payment may be made by cheque, PayPal or credit card. 

Newspapers and Your Local News

Local News 

Over the years, local news found in hometown newspapers has run the gambit, from the very serious to news that isn’t necessarily hard-core journalism.


Some of the articles you might find relevant to your genealogy includes: 

  • Family News – Newspapers of the 1800s feature more family news in them than what we find today, with the exception of smaller city newspapers. These articles provide insight into the character and sometimes even interactions between family members.
  • Voter Lists and Tax Lists – Voting and taxation happened more frequently than census enumerations and they can help you determine when your ancestors arrived or moved out of an area. In the case of tax lists, they may help you determine if your ancestor owned land.
  • Jury Lists – Jury lists are not always posted for every trial or group of trials in a given community. In some counties, the jury for the given term was published in the newspaper. The town from which the jurors came from might also be listed.
  • Social News and Events – One thing that appears to be common in most newspapers is the comings and goings of the residents of the town. Learning who is gone to visit family or who is returning from vacation adds to your ancestral timeline.
  • Fraternal Organization News and Events – Our ancestors often joined fraternal organizations. They may have joined one because of their religious beliefs or as a result of their occupation. If you know that your ancestor was involved with the temperance movement in Pennsylvania, then it is possible that he was a member of either the International Order of Good Templars or the Sons of  Temperance, which were both temperance societies.

With our “US: Newspaper Records” course, you will learn more about including newspapers in your research.

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