An interview with David C. Dearborn

A milestone event in the life of NEHGS recently occurred when David Dearborn, one of our Senior Genealogists, retired on March 22 after a thirty-eight-year career here.  His many accomplishments and dedicated service to NEHGS were honored by his colleagues at a festive celebration the week before.  Although we know David will remain in close contact with us, and will visit often in order to carry out his own genealogical research, his daily presence in the library will be greatly missed. 

David assisted countless thousands of visitors over the years, whether they came to the reference desk on the seventh floor, called on the phone, or sent their questions by email.  He authored numerous articles and presented outstanding, highly informative lectures.  David also assisted people by way of scheduled in-depth consultations, and in the past year alone, working only part time, provided 116 hours of consultations.  In truth, there are very few areas of genealogy in which David cannot advise people, but his knowledge and experience are exceptional in the areas of New England, New York, the American Midwest, and English and Scottish research.  He has great command of the available published sources and primary records, and he has a special ability to teach others so they are able to go forth and experience the rewards of research for themselves.

David now goes on to the work (though I doubt he would call it that) of completing and publishing the Dearborn genealogy that he has been researching for decades.  Before he retired, I had the privilege of sitting down with him to interview him about his years in genealogy and at NEHGS.  He has witnessed tremendous change in the field and he has some wonderful stories to share.  This interview will be kept in the Society’s archives so David’s thoughts and recollections can be made available for future NEHGS staff and members.  Included here is an excerpt from this interview, in which David describes how he came to be interested in genealogy.  We hope you enjoy it, and if you are one of the many researchers who received help from David over the years or if you have other stories of him to share, we would love to hear your comments.

About Jean Maguire

Jean Maguire was the Library Director at NEHGS until 2020, responsible for overseeing the Society’s library and special collections, including patron services; collection development, access, and preservation; and the Society’s volunteer program. Jean joined the NEHGS staff in 1999 after receiving her Master’s in Library and Information Science from Simmons College.

9 thoughts on “An interview with David C. Dearborn

  1. I first learned of Mr. Dearborn when I attended a meeting of the King County Gen. Soc. in Washington state, where he was the speaker. The one thing I remember is that he sort of announced to the audience that Interstate 90 now began in his hometown in New England and there was only one stop sign on that highway all the way to Seattle, Washington — Wallace, Idaho! I took that to mean he had driven out there to be the speaker, however, don’t know that for sure. I have found some Dearborns for him in Minnesota where I live.
    By the way, I am a dedicated fan to this new NEGHS blog; I’m glad I lived long enough to see it. I began seriously researching family in 1965, when resources were not very accessible.

  2. Congratulations to Mr. Dearborn! To a long and happy retirement, with many thanks for his many “random acts of genealogical kindness” he has given out along the way. All the best wishes!


    J. Record

  3. It was my first awe-filled visit to NEGHS that I encountered Mr. Dearborn; I am quite certain I possessed the “deer in the headlights” look and he was so very kind to direct and assist me, I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you again during your “retirement”, your kindness was so appreciated.

  4. Best Wishes to Mr. Dearborn! I am one who has benefitted from his extensive knowledge of northern New England sources and will miss his presence in the research room.

  5. Best wishes to Mr. Dearborn on his retirement! I, too, benefited from his advice and expertise. I had the privilege of a consultation with him during the summer of 2012; his guidance and a later NEHGS record search materially helped me to prove descent from Mayflower passenger George Soule, and I have since also proven descent from Francis Cooke. Thank you, Mr. Dearborn!

    1. Congratulations, David, on achieving a well-deserved retirement. We first met in the early 70s when you were new to NEHGS and I was new to genealogy. Our paths have crosssed many times since — at the NEHGS library, at conferences and on the phone. I have always appreciated your willing help and insightful ideas about my genealogy problems. Thank you and best wishes for the future and your Dearborn project. Oh, to have a Dearborn line!

  6. Congratulations to David Dearborn on his retirement. I think Jeff Record said it best, as I, too, was a recipient of Mr. Dearborn’s “random acts of genealogical kindness.” Best wishes on the successful completion of the Dearborn Genealogy. Big shoes to fill – NEHGS!

  7. Congrats on your retirement, David. The Hampton public library is looking forward to finally getting a copy of the published Dearborn Genealogy. Get to work! 🙂

  8. I had the honor and pleasure to travel with NEHGS to London last spring. One of the primary reasons I chose that trip was because I knew David Dearborn would be one of the genealogist experts on the trip. David had helped me previously when I had visited NEHGS and I wanted to experience London with him. David and his lovely wife were wonderful! Enjoy your retirement.and life together and may you have many more wonderful explorations of the English countryside.

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