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Diane Rapaport
, the principal consultant for Quill Pen Historical Consulting, is an attorney, historian, genealogist, award-winning author and popular speaker. She offers an unusual combination of expertise and experience—in law, history and genealogy—and she enjoys discovering and telling the stories of our past. Put her skills and enthusiasm to work for you.

Diane Rapaport on the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?

Recently Diane appeared on the BBC series, Who Do You Think You Are?, with British television celebrity Richard Madeley. As a research consultant for the show, Diane was filmed with Madeley at the Massachusetts Archives in Boston, where she told him the surprising news that he had colonial American roots, back to the earliest settlers of 17th-century New England. Diane showed Madeley a petition signed in 1650 by his ancestor Anne Beamsley Woodward with nearly 200 other Massachusetts women—the first organized women’s political protest in American history—which obtained the release from prison of a midwife they believed had been wrongly convicted. Madeley also learned that Anne’s husband, Ezekiel Woodward, was a sergeant in the colonial militia during King Philip’s War at the Great Swamp Fight of 1675, a bloody and controversial attack on a Narragansett fort in Rhode Island that killed hundreds of Native Americans. This television episode, which aired in the UK on September 28, 2011, is not scheduled for release in the U.S., but a DVD of the series should be available for purchase from the BBC in a few months.

  New England court records
As a former trial lawyer, Diane brings a unique insider’s perspective to court records research. She knows how to find and use legal resources from the 17th to the 21st centuries, and she authored the only comprehensive regional guide to the subject: New England Court Records: A Research Guide for Genealogists and Historians (Quill Pen Press, 2006), which won Benjamin Franklin Awards (Independent Book Publishers Association) for Best History Book, Best Reference Book, and finalist for Best New Voice in Nonfiction.


  Colonial New England history
Although Diane undertakes projects involving a variety of regions and time periods, her special interest is colonial New England,
and she writes frequently about her research. She is particularly interested in African Americans, Native Americans, and other non-English people (Scots, Irish, etc.) of early New England. She recently served as a research consultant about colonial New England for the BBC-London TV series “Who Do You Think You Are?”

Her latest book, The Naked Quaker: True Crimes and Controversies from the Courts of Colonial New England (Commonwealth Editions, 2007), was a finalist for ForeWord magazine’s Book of the Year Award for History.
For many years, Diane wrote the “Tales from the Courthouse” column in American Ancestors magazine, bringing colonial history to life with true stories from court records. Read more about Diane’s publications.

Lineage Society documentation
Diane enjoys helping families to trace their ancestry, and one of her specialties is assisting with lineage society applications, to organizations such as the Mayflower Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, and Sons of the American Revolution. Membership in lineage societies depends upon proving your ancestor’s qualification (early settler, soldier, etc.) and your direct relationship (verifying the births, marriages and deaths in each generation), which often requires research to find historical documents and other primary sources.

Early American handwriting
Old handwriting—penned with quill and homemade ink—can be difficult to decipher, especially archaic writing styles, abbreviations and legal terminology. Diane is a specialist at reading and transcribing early American documents.

Lectures and workshops
Diane is an experienced public speaker and has presented more than 150 lectures and workshops at a wide range of venues: colleges and universities, libraries, historical and genealogical organizations, museums, TV and radio.

Diane’s professional credentials and affiliations

  • J.D., magna cum laude (University of Minnesota Law School, 1978); B.A., History (Ohio State University, 1975).
  • Licensed as Attorney in good standing with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (since 1985, and previously in Minnesota).

  • Highest Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rating for Legal Ability and General Ethical Standards (since 1985).*

  • Member of national and regional professional associations, including:

National Council on Public History
American Historical Association

Association of Professional Genealogists, Publications Advisory Committee (and APG's New England Chapter)
National Genealogical Society
New England Historic Genealogical Society

Massachusetts Society of Genealogists
Connecticut Society of Genealogists
Maine Genealogical Society

New Hampshire Society of Genealogists
Rhode Island Genealogical Society

Genealogical Society of Vermont
Genealogical Speakers Guild

American-Canadian Genealogical Society
New York Genealogical & Biographical Society

More information
For more about Diane’s background and experience, visit her author/speaker website.

* CV, BV and AV are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties, Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. 

      Masthead (images 2, 3, 4, 7, 11 and 13, from left): The Granger Collection, New York

     ©2010-2011 Quill Pen Historical Consulting,
P. O. Box 204, Lexington, MA 02420. All rights reserved.                                                                                                                               

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