by John D. Beatty
The “Great Migration” series under the editorship of Robert Charles Anderson represents one of the most ambitious genealogical projects of its type ever attempted. The goal of the book series, first published in 1999 and still ongoing, is summed up succinctly in its preface: “to provide a concise, reliable summary of past research on the early immigrants to New England, which will reduce the amount of time which must be spent in discovering this past work, and will therefore serve as the foundation for further research.”
Through the sponsorship of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Anderson has set out to catalog and document as fully as possible every immigrant to New England from 1620 to 1640 – a time period when the largest wave of immigration occurred – while making a thorough survey of published literature and also conducting original research in primary sources. He succeeds admirably in his quest, creating a work with a high degree of accuracy and academic scholarship.
The first series, “The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633,” covers its subject in three volumes. The second series, “The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England 1634-1635,” is still unfolding and includes four volumes to date through the letter L. Each volume contains biographical sketches of immigrants, arranged alphabetically. If the place of origin and parentage of a subject is known, it will be given, but ancestry is not included beyond a citation of what has been published. The children of each immigrant will be listed to the extent they are known, but they are not traced to their deaths, and their descendants are not given. Major dates and facts of the immigrant’s life are cited, but if the immigrant was a land speculator, not every deed will be listed. Extensive bibliographic citations make these volumes particularly valuable for doing further research.
A companion to the series is “The Great Migration Newsletter,” first published in 1990, in which Anderson and fellow compilers George F. and Melinde Lutz Sanborn discuss the process of researching these immigrants, evaluating evidence, and solving research problems. They are instructive for anyone doing New England research.
Article taken from the Genealogy Gems: News from the Fort Wayne Library