return to lesson 3
Case Study: William Stoddard Williams (1762-1821)
1. Become accustomed to writing the person's birth and death dates after you use his/her name for the first time in a section. If you know only one date (b.1762) or (d.1821) treat it the same way. Because so many generations carried the same name the life dates will help you and further researchers to know with which generation they are dealing.
[George Sheldon has two indexes in his 2-volume work; one index is for genealogy and one is an historical index. The genealogy information is contained in the back section of Volume II and the names are alphabetically arranged.] The number in parenthesis following each listing refers to the father of the subject. If you look back a page or more, you will find that number and will then be able to retrieve the name of your subject's father, mother, and siblings, plus information about that generation. You may want to research the mother under her maiden name - name of her father - or a brother or sister.
[If you have access
to Vol. I and II of A History of Deerfield by George Sheldon: Sheldon
is generous with his information in the genealogy section, but you may
want to look up your subject in the index under "historical"
also. Copy down all the pages listed after the name and take notes on
This information may
be the same as Sheldon - it gives a short biography of William Stoddard
Williams. If there are differences from Sheldon, what are they?
After reading the information from Family and Landscape, which is summarized on this page, think about the following questions:
5. Document IV
Note the two lines at the top: one tells us this is a legal document with the letterhead, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts; the second "To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting," is legal language - not the spoken language we are used to. You can observe that some of the document is printed and some of it is written. Read through the page and answer the questions:
Because sometimes 18th century handwriting is difficult to read, we have included in your packet a transcription of the two pages written in 1785 and titled Throat Distemper. At the bottom of the transcription page is an explanation of the entry. Read through the transcription, but try, also, to read a little of the original. Note the differences in the use of letters (s, in the middle of words; some letters at the end of words "in the air") and in spelling, compared to today. [This was written before Noah Webster standardized spelling with the publication of his dictionary.]
What is a fortnight?
This entry should
help you to understand the routine of a doctor in the 18th century.
Read through the document.
Note the date and the place.
Look at the transcription of the next item, since the handwriting may be difficult to read. What is the date? How old is William Stoddard Williams?
What kind of permission
does it bestow on Dr. Williams? Why do you suppose such permission is
What kind of a document
is this? Note when it was written. How old was Dr. Williams when he wrote
this? What was the place of the church in the lives of the people in New
England in the 18th and 19th centuries?