The first generation of New England settlers were faced with many challenges, among the most important of which was creating new institutions of government, without many of the restraints of their English heritage. One of the most important of these was the New England town. These settlers kept extensive records as they built their towns, records which captured an astonishing range of information. As the towns and higher levels of government matured, these records evolved as well, moving from their beginnings as a hodge-podge of daily activities to the careful segregation of different town functions into different sets of records. We will examine the ways in which the Connecticut and New Haven towns handled matters of land distribution, probate proceedings, depredations of livestock, community disputes and a wide range of other activities, and finally how modern researchers can access and utilize this wide range of information.
Robert Charles Anderson MA, FASG, graduated from Harvard University, the California Institute of Technology, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, from the last of which he received an MA in history. He is a fellow and former president of the American Society of Genealogists and is co-editor of The American Genealogist. He is Director of the Great Migration Study Project of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, a research program which has the goal of creating comprehensive genealogical and biographical sketches for all immigrants to New England between 1620 and about 1643. He resides in Jaffrey, New Hampshire.
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