ne27Another in a line of great reprints from the New England Historic Genealogical Society comes a Dictionary of American-Indian Place and Proper Names in New England, written by R. A. Douglas-Lithgow, in 1909, with an added foreword by David Allen Lambert, 2012.

For those who reside or come form New England, Native American names for towns, streets, rivers, parks, and other locations are a daily part life. I was born and raised in Southern California. Spanish names and words were what I knew and grew up with. I remember my first trip back east. I had a terrible time enunciating some of the location names based on Native American words. I am sure my twisted tongue was a source of amusement to some of my associates. Of course, I had my laughs when it was their turn to visit me. Either way, whether you currently live in New England or have your ancestral roots there, this dictionary of American-Indian names can go a long way in helping with your research.

In this dictionary you will find a(n):

  • “Introduction to New England tribes
  • State-by-state listing of place names, including some now extinct
  • List of prominent 17th-century New England Native Americans
  • Enumeration of New England tribes
  • List of words from the Abenaki and Massachusetts (or Natick) languages”

In other words, this book can help you identify specific locations within New England. It can also help to interpret records like early deeds. Consider the book mandatory to the amateur and professional historian interested in pre-colonial New England and native cultures.

As the author comments upon in his introduction, and is reiterated in the foreword, “these words represent almost all that remains of the aboriginal inhabitants of this country,—a brave, noble, and patriotic race who, opposed by the overwhelming and heedless forces of civilization, did everything the bravest and noblest could do to obey the first law of Nature[:] self-preservation.” Continuing, he marvels that so many names have survived considering the local Indian tribes had no written language. This dictionary is unique, and undoubtedly considered a blessing by many genealogists searching through places names of New England.

Dictionary of American-Indian Place and Proper Names in New England is available from Family Roots Publishing; Price: $24.45.