Sunday, February 28, 2010

CCGS member works to preserve Dennis records

Visit the second floor of the West Dennis Public Library and you are likely to find CCGS member Burt Derick loading files into a computer or scanning Dennis town records, ships' logs and captains' letters.

Burt is the librarian for the Dennis Historical Society's Pauline Wixon Derick Library, a collection of books, manuscripts, photographs, scrapbooks and other ephemera related to the Town of Dennis and the mid-Cape area. "The Library is named in memory of my mother," explains Burt. "She was a genealogist for 35 years and did Dennis families. Of course you do Dennis families and you also have to do Harwich, Brewster, Yarmouth - all the other towns on the Cape.  So our collection includes material from some of those other towns as well."

In addition to original manuscripts and books, much of the Library's material is available in binders and in digital format, which are indexed on a computer file. "Say you're looking for 'saltworks.' You can search on our computer and it will tell you which volume and page has what you are looking for," says Burt.

Genealogists will be especially interested in the complete collection of the Dennis Town Reports from 1886 to the present. "We have some that go back even further," says Burt, "but there are no vital records in them."

The Historical Society's collection includes genealogies of Cape Cod and Dennis families, most of which are in limited editions and not widely available. Burt's hope is that in a couple of years, many of these volumes will be listed in the Cape Library System's CLAMS network, so that researchers can find them online.

The most recent results of the Historical Society's scanning efforts has been the Dennis Assessor's Records. "Suppose you wanted to know if one of your Dennis ancestors owned property. We have produced digital records of the original Assessor's Records for the Town of Dennis from 1800 to 1860."

Burt has been an active member of the Cape Cod Genealogical Society since 1993.  He has contributed several articles to the CCGS Bulletin and has delivered talks at CCGS monthly meetings on the early history of Dennis. Burt has several published materials and books on Dennis, including cemetery transcriptions and transcriptions of Dennis church records.

You'll also find him ready to help you find vital records, histories, genealogies, photographs, books and other memorabilia related to your Dennis ancestors. Burt encourages all researchers to contact him regarding the specifics of the Pauline Wixon Derick Library collection. He is also available to assist with those working on Wixon, Chase, Howes, Sears, Crowell, and Nickerson lines.

Email Burt at or send a letter to:

Burton N. Derick
Dennis Historical Society
PO Box 607
South Dennis, MA 02260