Mothers-in-law and “new print” searches

Alicia Crane WilliamsComplementing my last post about researching other spouses of spouses, this week we add mothers-in-law.  No sooner had the new Early New England Families Study Project sketch on William Hilton been posted when a sharp observer (“Westtrack”) wrote in with a correction. The maiden name of Sarah (Greenleaf) Hilton’s mother should be Sara/Sarah “More,” rather than “Dole.” First, I am very grateful for all the “eyes” out there helping to constantly improve these sketches (a revised version has been submitted for posting). Next, we need to examine where I missed this red flag.

In this case, rather than skimming over another spouse of a spouse, I missed information about a mother-in-law by relying on the older sources for Sarah Greenleaf’s family (as cited in footnote 7 of the sketch) and not doing a search for updated information in print, or a “new print” search as it is scribbled on my cheat sheet.

A “new print” search of major genealogical periodicals is easy thanks to the databases on Enter the name you are researching and then set “Category” to “Journals and Periodicals” (you can further narrow this search by choosing a particular periodical in the “Database” criteria). When your search results come up, on the top of the right side of the column is a pull down list that is set to default to “By Database Name.” Click on the arrow and you’ll see the other choices for arranging the search. Choose “By Year – Most Recent to Oldest.”

If you have been using Clarence Almon Torrey’s New England Marriages Prior to 1700, you will note that although he has references to periodicals such as The New England Historical and Genealogical Register and The American Genealogist, his work ends in the 1960s. So in your sorted “most recent to oldest” search list, you can see which articles were published after 1960 (the year is in the left column under the “view” button).

For newer published books, two index guides are essential: Martin E. Hollick, New Englanders in the 1600s, published by NEHGS in 2012, and Melinde Lutz Sanborn, Third Supplement to Torrey’s New England Marriages Prior to 1700. The latter is available as a database on (“search,” “card catalog,” Keyword: “Melinde Lutz Sanborn”). These books include the new periodical citations and dozens of books, including the Great Migration series.

If I had consulted any of these resources, I would have been led to a 1968 NEHGR article on “Sara First Wife of Edmund Greenleaf.”

About Alicia Crane Williams

Alicia Crane Williams, FASG, Lead Genealogist of Early Families of New England Study Project, has compiled and edited numerous important genealogical publications including The Mayflower Descendant and the Alden Family “Silver Book” Five Generations project of the Mayflower Society. Most recently, she is the author of the 2017 edition of The Babson Genealogy, 1606-2017, Descendants of Thomas and Isabel Babson who first arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1637. Alicia has served as Historian of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, Assistant Historian General at the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, and as Genealogist of the Alden Kindred of America. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in History from Northeastern University.

10 thoughts on “Mothers-in-law and “new print” searches

  1. Alicia, you are too humble for words! ~ What you have written about today is a great lesson for all of us, and a reminder that in many ways (and sometimes unfortunately so) genealogy can be quite fluid, and is always up for “a re-newal” as corrective discoveries are being made. It’s nice to have the help of all of those extra eyes, but please don’t beat yourself up too badly here – there are no discoveries without a few wrong turns – especially since there are those “wrong turns” that have been footed in concrete for many years.

    Consider the previously believed royal ancestry of Richard Lyman and one can see how these “old houses” can be quite haunted!!

    I am reminded of this saying as it pertains to our many genealogical voyages, and that is:

    “It is not enough to dig deep enough to prove that you were right. You have to be willing to dig deep enough to find out if you were wrong.”

    ~ Uknown ~

    In this Alicia, you always do!!

    Kindest regards as always,

    J. Record

  2. I heartily agree with everything Jeff Record has said about your posts, Alicia. They have a wonderful combination of your personal experiences as a genealogist, very helpful suggestions and reminders for us amateurs, and your sense of humor!

  3. Alicia, again you have given me new information! I knew that the Hilton and Greenleaf surnames were in my database, but the last time I had worked on them was about 1978,

    Todays post has given me new information as well as where to find additional information.

    Thank you SO much for your dedication to this project, there are not enough words to describe how exciting this find was! (I am sure that some shrink will hear about people being excited about people who died 350 years ago, with his iniitally reaction being that there MUST be some sort of mental illiness…)

    Patricia Hansen

  4. Jeff, Judy and Pat, thank you for your very kind words. I think it is important that new genealogists know even old ones make mistakes — isn’t that how one becomes an expert by making the most mistakes! Pat, the old joke is “genealogists prefer dead people,” and yes, it is a mental illness, but such a fun one.

  5. From this article and the responses, I’ve learned not only something new about my Hilton line, but also that I’d better check my Lyman research! Thank you!

  6. In addition to the Torrey, Hollick, and Sanborn works you mention, I also like to use the Complete Great Migration Newsletter Volumes 1-10 (I need to get the new 1-20 edition). As you’ve mentioned, each issue has a page or so of Recent Literature — sometimes as recent as within the past year. Each item has a short summary naming names. And the index at the back of the book includes these names from the summarys (that might not be in the titles).
    Also, if I’m lucky, the person I’m researching might be in one of the feature articles about the early history of a town. And shown in a list of eary land owners. Furthermore, Mr. Anderson really researches these lists and finds the correct date at which they were created.

    If I think (or hope) someone might be included, I check Roger Thompson’s Mobility and Migration: East Anglian Founders of New England, 1629 – 1640. The sources are listed in the back as “Notes” to the various tables of immigrants (as well as to the chapters). The neat thing is that he employs sources that may not be familiar to some in the US such as Campling’s East Anglian Pedigrees and various volumes of the Norfolk Record Society.

    Lastly, I have several families who settled in Essex Co., MA. For them, many times Torrey shows a source of EIHC — Essex Institute Historical Collections. Recently I found to my delight that Internet Archive now has a large number of these online.

  7. Howard, all great recommendations (you’ll find the 1-20 version of the GM Newsletter very useful). I just got a copy of “Mobility and Migration,” myself, and of Thompson’s “Cambridge Cameos.” Now for “Sex in Middlesex”!

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