You may recall over the past several years I had this itch to document all of the visitors to the Wesselhoeft Water Cure whose names, dates, and residence were published in most months of their house organ, The Green Mountain Spring, which ran from January 1846 through December 1848. I created a simple Excel database and just entered the names. There are nearly 1,000 entries. Crazy, uh?
(Please see earlier post about the granddaughter of the cure’s founder, Dr. Robert Wesselhoeft, who came to own the American Communist newspaper, The Daily Worker.)
There was also a three year cumulative index, which was published in 1849, but I soon found there were names omitted from that index, which were documented in the monthly issues. I entered the names from that index and then went through the monthly issues and added those that were omitted from the cumulative edition. The project took me awhile, but I chipped away at it and before you know it, I was done. A nice sidelight of the project is that the all issues of the GMS are now scanned and accessible via this database.
My reason for doing this was to create a database to be useful for genealogical and historical research, as the names, dates, and residence are extremely useful in tracking and tracing ancestors. Since the dates fall between the 1840 and 1850 U.S. population census, many of these people might not be found by genealogists looking for the whereabouts of their ancestors. Once armed with a date and location, then there are other resources that one may use to get more information on a person or family.
I pitched the project at Don Leclair, the database guru, or better labeled, the Associate Director, Database Search & Systems at Boston’s New England Historic Genealogical Society, and he thought it would be a good project. (NEHGS is America’s founding genealogical society, established in 1845, and is the nation’s leading comprehensive resource for family history research and the largest Society of its kind in the world.)
The online portal for NEHGS is called American
Ancestors, americanancestors.org., and they have nearly 500 discrete databases, most of which are only accessible through membership. BML has a membership, so they may be accessed from their computers or Wi-Fi connection, but not for the general public from home. I asked that this database be available to any guest user and Don graciously accepted.
Thanks to Jeanne and Starr at the Library for entertaining my obsession for this past year, allowing me to scan from the special collections’ room, and to the Brattleboro Words Project for putting the idea in my mind by making this unique Brattleboro institution
The database description has a nice paragraph with links back to the library and the Brattleboro Words project, so we might see some traffic for that. In order to search the database, you will need to register as a guest user of American Ancestors.