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What are the Bowman Files?

Carrying Mayflower genealogies well into the seventh generation and beyond, are the transcriptions of the research of George Ernest Bowman, known as the Bowman Files, in the form of three volumes of multi-family works by Susan E. Roser, Mayflower Marriages and Mayflower Births & Deaths (2 vols.). Since these books contain many lines of all Mayflower passengers who left known descendants (with the exception of Moses Fletcher), it is possible to find out which Mayflower family your ancestor belongs to without checking all of the various single family books.

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What are the Bowman Files? George Ernest Bowman (1860-1941) spent a lifetime researching what became known as The Mayflower Genealogies. His discoveries were published in his quarterly genealogical journal, The Mayflower Descendant, of which he was the editor from 1899-1937. During his lifetime, Bowman amassed approximately 20,600 handwritten pages of research—including lineages and family group sheets and documentation abstracts such as wills, probates, deeds, bible records, church records and cemetery inscriptions. In 1983 the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants (which Bowman himself founded in 1896), filmed the entire collection of handwritten pages onto microfiche, consisting of two hundred and twenty-nine microfiche cards, each containing approximately ninety-six handwritten pages and grouped by Mayflower family surname. Bowman’s research was the foundation for the continuation of serious Mayflower research which included the methodology that you pay careful attention to where you acquire your data and that you cite your sources.

Genealogies of Mayflower Families, by Gary B. Roberts is a multi-family book of a different sort. In it, he included all the Mayflower family related articles that appeared in the journal The New England Historical & Genealogical Register. Note however that some of the early articles in NEHGR were not well documented and contain errors.

Learn more about the Bowman Files and tracing your Mayflower ancestors with our “Research: Mayflower Ancestors” course.

 

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