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Important New Mayflower Family Archive
The Complete Mayflower Descendant and Other Sources 1600s-1800s
(CD 203)
Reviewed by Marthe Arends

Once again Mayflower descendants, and descendants of those early residents of Plymouth, have cause to celebrate: 46 volumes of the illustrious Mayflower Descendant (publication of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants) are now available on Family Archive. Those of you familiar with Mayflower research will recognize the name of editor of the first 34 volumes — George Ernest Bowman, noted Mayflower researcher. Bowman, secretary for the Society 1896-1941, transcribed thousands of records that would later be published in the Mayflower Descendant. You'll find information on approximately 200,000 individuals; the bulk of the information found falls in the period of 1600 to 1800, although I did see some references outside that time period. Volumes 1-46 were published from to 1899 to 1996.

The CD contains more than just the Mayflower Descendant; also included are a list of the Mayflower passengers (not just those who signed the Mayflower Compact), Middleborough, MA Vital Records (Volumes 1 and 2), and Pilgrim Notes and Queries, Volumes 1-5 (edited by George Bowman). As with other CDs, all names are indexed, and can be searched using the Search Expert feature, or by browsing through the master name Index. You'll find images of each page from the 46 volumes of the Mayflower Descendant; browsing through, I did not see any pages that did not reproduce well, and was impressed with the quality of the images.

While my first instinct to search for my known Mayflower ancestors was rewarded with many hits, I found myself browsing through the volumes rather than searching for individuals. The Mayflower Descendant is a fascinating look at the Pilgrims and Colony members, with articles on a large variety of subjects; everything from the division of cattle amongst Plymouth members, to cemetery records, diaries, church records, vital records, deeds, wills, depositions, biographical features, inventories, notes, headstone pictures, autographs, miscellaneous records, in-depth features on the Mayflower passengers and their life in Plymouth, probate records, letters, and regular columns can be found in the Descendant's pages. Volume 17, for example, has the following contents (in addition to the tables of contents, indexes, and title pages):

July 1, 1998

Related Data on CD-ROM
Family Histories
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Marriage Records
New England
Vital Records

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  • Autograph of Resolved White, the Mayflower Passenger
  • Plymouth, MA Vital Records*
  • Unrecorded Barnstable County Deeds*
  • Middleborough, MA, Vital Records
  • Plymouth Colony Wills and Inventories*
  • Eastham and Orleans, MA, Vital Records*
  • Plymouth Colony Deeds*
  • Morton Notes
  • Cooke Notes
  • Earle Notes
  • Mayflower Genealogies
  • Autograph of Maj. William Bradford, Son of Gov. William Bradford
  • Gorham Notes
  • Plymouth County Vital Records
  • Hathaway Notes
  • Little Notes
  • Chatham, MA, Vital Records
  • John Sunderland's Will
  • Vital Records of Brewster, MA
  • Unrecorded Plymouth County Deeds
  • Autograph of William Pabodie
  • Cushman Notes
  • Ring Notes
  • Tinkham Notes
  • Burrowes-Tinkham Notes
  • Howland Notes
  • Vital Records of Halifax, MA
  • Collection of Old Barrows Papers
  • Wills of Lieutenant James Brown and His Widow Margaret
  • Widow Elizabeth (Vaughan) Howland's Will
  • Hawkes Notes
  • Truro, MA, Church Records
  • Will of Richard Bowin, Sr.
  • Capt. John Gorham's Family Record
  • Bradford Notes
  • Freeman Genealogy

    * These items are continuing articles spanning several volumes.

Each volume retains its own title page, as well as the title page, table of contents, and index of persons and places for each issue (four issues per volume). I found the the Index to Subjects in this Section (Volume), located at the beginning of each volume, the most useful item; the subject index told me at a glance what church and cemetery records (items I am particularly interested in, were included in that issue). Other subjects listed included deeds (grantors, grantees, and abstracts), information about various ships, illustrations, marriage records, wills and inventories, and vital records by town.

I had so much fun browsing through and reading various articles, I found myself wishing there were a way to search for items other than individuals; although the individuals are searchable, you don't have any way to search for other text. If you are researching a particular subject, or are just interested in a specific aspect of Plymouth Colony life, you can view each issue's subject and location indexes for items of interest.

When I conducted a search on one of my Mayflower Ancestors, I found over 400 references to him (and his son, who had the same name). I also found over 100 references to a Plymouth Colony member who married a Mayflower passenger, which indicates the material is not strictly limited to Mayflower passengers. If you have Mayflower Ancestors you will want to check out this CD — the ability to have 46 volumes of the informative, fascinating, Mayflower Descendant at your fingertips, is of interest to all Mayflower and Plymouth Colony researchers.


About the Author

Marthe Arends has been involved in genealogy for 18 years. She has lectured on computers and genealogy to many groups, has been the SysOp of a Fidonet genealogy BBS, has written articles for a variety of genealogy publications, and currently writes fiction. Marthe has also written Genealogy Software Guide and Genealogy on CD-ROM, both published by the Genealogical Publishing Company.
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