The Maine Genealogical Society is pleased to sponsor Michael Brophy as our society speaker at the New England Regional Genealogical Conference on April 3-6. He will be speaking 8:30 to 9:30 on Saturday morning. Mike’s talk, “Maine Records at the Mass Archives,” reminds us that Maine has been a state for just under 200 years and the records for those who lived in the District of Maine before 1820 are housed in the Massachusetts Archives.
As a nationally known researcher from the Boston area, Mike is well positioned to help us delve into those records. His professional work with private clients and as an heir search specialist requires that he look beyond the basic facts. Sometimes that leads down paths that are unexpected. In his own family, he discovered a long hidden divorce in Ireland almost 100 years ago, and a great grandmother who was killed by a drunken driver. Digging in courthouse papers and newspapers he was able to discover, as they say “The rest of the story.”
His introduction to genealogy came as is does for many of us with someone else’s work. Mike reports that after an aunt died his cousin compiled an historical tribute. That was the spark to begin his own research—what better way to study history than with his own family. He recruited his father to help search through the attic for memorabilia then began the task of making sense of it. In those days, that meant scrolling through reels of microfilm and visiting repositories eventually finding school records and passenger ship logs documenting his family’s journey from Ireland to New Brunswick in the early 1800’s. He eventually took a trip to New Brunswick to walk the streets and the countryside where his ancestors had lived. Studying his family’s history also gives him perspective on the present. Our problems pale when compared to the hardships our ancestors endured.
These days, Mike can still be found researching in repositories—even though some think otherwise, we all know that not all records are on the internet. He may using resources in the library of the NEHGS, the Boston Public Library or the Massachusetts Archives. He subscribes to the FAN approach to research. Look around your subject for interactions. That requires those visits to repositories. Finding the elusive document that answers a long sought family connection can be the “eureka” moment that drives research forward.
Mike’s talk can help us early Maine researchers find what that elusive document leading to our own eureka moment.
For more information see the conference brochure at nergc.org.