Ever wonder what life was like in New England during the 1700’s? If history or researching your family genealogy is your thing, the town of Salem, Massachusetts has a great resource for you.
The Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds in Salem, Massachusetts houses some of the oldest and most complete records in the country. These deeds show the record of land transfers going back to the earliest days of European settlement in the New World. Under the direction of Register John L. O’Brien, the Registry has undertaken a project to restore the old deeds and make them available to the public.
The first part of the project was the Native American Deeds, which gave new insights into the relationship between the Native Americans living there and the new arrivals from across the sea. The old records documented the transfer of the land from the original inhabitants to the English settlers. Restoring the records tells the story of one how one culture moved in and displaced another.
The next project Register O’Brien took on was a website detailing the Veteran Memorials of Essex County. Essex County is regarded as the birthplace of the National Guard, the Navy and the Coast Guard. To make the site more user-friendly, the creators employed interactive maps and pictures showing names and locations of all the veterans’ memorials in Essex County and the surrounding areas.
The Registry has some new projects in the works too. They plan to feature the work of Sydney Perley and James Duncan Philips. Perley was an early 20th century historian who used the Registry records to develop a history of the land around Salem, including detailed period maps of each neighborhood. Phillips later used Perley’s history to create maps of Salem in 1700 and 1780. Their efforts will be the basis of an upcoming website entitled Salem in the 1700’s.
The history of Salem is a long one. By digging into the past, Register O’Brien and the team at the Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds hope to uncover insights into the present.