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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The William Austin Collection at the New England Historic Gealogical Society.

Bill Austin has done the Bunnell/Bonnell family a great service. 

After his definitive book, The Bunnell/Bonnell Family in America, was published, he donated all his papers to the New England Historic Gealogical Society. The William Austin Collection, as NEHGS named it, is safe in its archives.

I live on the other side of the country from Boston, so all my requests were made through e-mail. Timothy Sails in Special Collections assigned Archivist Judy Lucey to help me. I wanted Bill’s copy of the Hatfield Bible, the source for all the birth & marriage dates for my branch. All I have is a transcription and hoped Bill had a copy of the original page.

Ms Lacey not only found what I’d requested, she asked if I wanted copies of Bill’s files on my Bonnell branch. Of course I did. She also read through those files and located other documents mentioned in them. One item was a letter from my great-great-Uncle William Wayland Bonnell.

For a modest copying fee (40 cents a page, with 50 pages free to NEHGS members), I received a treasure trove via e-mail.

When I opened the first file I gasped. There was my great-aunt Margaret’s handwriting on the stationary she always used. She was my paternal grandfather’s sister and one of my favorite relatives. For ten years she and Bill corresponded about Aaron Bonnell’s branch. Margaret’s mother was the granddaughter of Aaron's son Moses.

Among the treasures was Margaret’s first version of her compiled genealogy, the letter from her uncle mentioned above and an 1855 letter that resolved the parentage of Aaron’s father.

I’ve spent two weeks now taking it all in. 

Thank you, Bill Austin, for the meticulous research you did and for donating your papers to NEHGS. 

Thank you, Judy Lucey, for being a true research assistant, not just a copyist.


  1. I totally agree with Margaret Rutledge's opinion ..
    "Bill Austin has done the Bunnell/Bonnell family a great service"
    .. AGAIN!
    And Bill's work, along with Claude Bunnell's Database, are very UNIQUE and useful Tools of Information for our Families.