Online family histories, old and new

SearsTitlePage_EditedThe NEHGS Digital Library and Archive has a growing collection of family histories, covering a wide range of subjects and surnames. Roughly three quarters of the 137 titles currently in the collection are older books from the stacks of the NEHGS Library – usually published before 1923, and now free from copyright restrictions – which have been digitized and put online.  Examples of materials that have been digitized from our collection so far include:

  • Re-union of the Wheeler family, a pamphlet produced in 1879 to commemorate a meeting of the Wheeler family in Acton, Massachusetts.  The pamphlet includes a short family history and a description of the Acton homestead occupied by four previous generations of Wheelers.
  • Report to the Wilson Association, U.S.A., commissioned by the Wilson Heirs Association in 1866 in order to determine whether a contested property in England, “said to be worth millions of dollars … could or could not be recovered by the Wilsons in America, and if it could not, then have the long agitated question set at rest forever.”
  • The Descendants of Richard Sares (Sears) of Yarmouth, Mass., 1638-1888, a 665-page genealogy written by Samuel P. May in 1890.  The e-book was scanned from May’s personal copy, and includes extensive handwritten notes and corrections by the author.
  • History and pedigree of the family of Lewen, which gives an account of the descendants of John Lewyn of Durham, England, from 1378 to 1902, including more than eighty pages of detailed pedigree charts.

Leving imageExcerpt from History and pedigree of the family of Lewen

Our online family history collection also includes a growing number of more recently published genealogies acquired through digital donations.  Donations have always been a major source of new acquisitions for NEHGS’s print collection, and in recent years we have started to receive donations of e-books from authors of genealogies as well.  Some notable recent donations include materials on the Calkins, Johnson, McCully, and Sears families.

Whether the book was published in 2014 or 1814, being able to put an electronic copy in the Digital Library gives us a great opportunity to increase access to a work of family history – particularly in the case of self-published items, which may not be as widely available as books distributed by a publishing company.  You can browse a list of all of our online family histories – both old and new – in the NEHGS Digital Library and Archive.

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About Emily Baldoni

Emily Baldoni is the Technical Services/Metadata Librarian. She is responsible for creating, maintaining, and enriching metadata for NEHGS print and digital collections. Emily is originally from Normal, Illinois, and joined the NEHGS staff in 2013. She has an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University and an M.S. in Library and Information Science from Simmons College. Prior to joining the staff at NEHGS, Emily worked for Harvard College Library and EBSCO Information Services.

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