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Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Point of No Returns

If you can't find record of your ancestor's 1841 birth in Boston, don't blame it on the NEHGS. An article from the Barre Gazette of Mar. 24, 1843, shows that the newly installed system of recording births, marriages, and deaths and returning those records to the state was failing miserably.

A report from the Secretary of State revealed that thirty-five towns had failed to return any vital records at all. Other towns provided records that were obviously incomplete.

"In Ipswich, with a population of over 3000, there have been but 22 births recorded for nearly forty years." But the climax is, that "the return from Salem, amongst a population of more than 15,000, gives not a single birth;" certainly a very modest people. The Secretary waggishly remarks that "the fact that there were 145 couples married last year in that city, is perhaps more indication that the next return will be less barren." In Boston, it appears that 19 persons have been born in the course of the past year.
This last number seems somewhat low, considering that Boston in 1840 had a population of 93,383, and—with the exception of Oct. 25, 1986—has never lacked the urge to procreate.

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