Twenty-five years ago the New England Historic Genealogical Society embarked on a massive endeavor. The Great Migration Study Project was to be a major, scholarly study of the earliest immigrants to New England. More than two decades later, the project has produced some of the best work ever published on the topic.
While people focus tremendously on the published sketches of immigrants, they often miss another valuable contribution: The Great Migration Newsletter. The newsletter has been published quarterly since 1990. While the sketches focus on individuals, the newsletter is focused more on general and social history for the immigrants, the places they settled, and the records they left behind. It was also to be used to provide updates on the status of the books of sketches being published.
The newsletter has maintained the same format since the very beginning. Each issue was eight pages, and includes:
- One or two feature articles
- Editor’s Effusions column from project director Robert Charles Anderson
- Review of recent published literature on the subject
- Focus section that discusses one of the towns settled by the immigrants, a specific records, or a group of records
Here are a couple of examples of past issues of the newsletter. In the October–December 1998 (Vol. 7, No. 4), the feature article was the last in a four-part section on the passenger ships that arrived in 1635, the Editor’s Effusions column discussed how new technology meant that hand-copied transcriptions of records was no longer required. The Focus section was devoted to the town of Hingham, Massachusetts. And the recent literature included articles from ten individuals, many of them Fellows of the American Society of Genealogists.
In the April–June 2003 issue (Vol. 12, No. 2), the feature article discussed the office of town constable (part of a series on town offices). The Editor’s Effusions discussed the upcoming book about to be published. The Focus section discussed correspondence, including the Winthrop Papers, the Pynchon Papers, and the correspondence of Roger Williams and John Cotton amongst others. The recent literature section includes seven journal articles and a compiled genealogy by Elaine Forman Crane.
You can read subscribe to either an online version of the newsletter ($10/yr) or print version ($20/yr). NEHGS has also published the first twenty years in a single volume with a comprehensive index. The Great Migration Newsletter, Volumes 1–20 is available for $27.95 from their online store. If you have early-seventeenth century ancestors in New England, this is a collection you cannot do without. You can find out more about The entire project, or subscribe to the newsletter, at www.GreatMigration.org.