At first glance, the titles that comprise our Experts’ Choice series of books might seem a little randomly selected. We’ve got everything from collections of information on the earliest settlers of New England – Pioneers of Massachusetts, Pioneers of Maine and New Hampshire, and The First Puritan Settlers of Connecticut – to a guide book on the location and condition of Massachusetts public records in the nineteenth century, to an accounting of soldiers and officers who fought in King Philip’s War. All are tied by a common thread, however: these books are ones that NEHGS staff turn to over and over again when helping our members with their research.
All these books are in the public domain, which for the vast majority of them means they were published before 1923. Many books in the public domain are available in electronic format for free, and many publishers have reproduced books in the public domain, including some of the ones we have published ourselves. But we believe there is value in taking the time to reissue our own version when our experienced genealogists tell us a book remains relevant and the research within has been shown to hold up over time.
Each book has a new foreword written by someone associated with NEHGS who can give the book context for twenty-first-century researchers. Some of the lecturers you may be familiar with, including David Dearborn, David Lambert, and Chris Child, have both written forewords and recommended books to add to the series. And we think it’s helpful to our members and friends when, for example, they hear Alice Kane recommend a book during a talk and we are able to offer them a way to immediately get a copy for themselves. The books are also fun for the publications department to produce – we get the chance to research historical artwork for the cover and pick a nice color for the background.
But as much as we like how the various designs complement each other when displayed together on a shelf, we especially like how this series enables NEHGS to share some of the staff’s expert knowledge in a tangible, useful way. NEHGS recently published the nineteenth title in the series, and our experts are far from running out of suggestions for more books to publish!
4 thoughts on “The Experts’ Choice series”
Perhaps I’m the only one that’s a bit concerned that the NEHGS, the oldest and most distingished genealogical organization in the country, which broke new ground with the Great Migration series, is “taking the time” to republish 19th century work, with new forewords. I would expect to see at least a revised, updated or corrected version, if not a completely new, groundbreaking approach. We’ve come to expect more from NEHGS!
Thanks for sharing your perspective, Bruce–good to know. We think that the classic reprint series, only a small part of what we do here at the Society, nicely complements the ongoing, new scholarship being produced by staff for our four study projects, research guides and how-to books, Newbury Street Press, and the Portable Genealogist series.
I agree with Bruce’s comment. Besides the errors remaining in a reprint of an old book, an issue I have is not being able to know what is contained in the books the NEHGS sells. Having access to an index might persuade me to buy a book from time to time. I don’t live near a good genealogical library.
I fully understand the need to reprint selected works. Benchmark sources are just that. In tandem with Carole’s comment, I also am far from a genealogical library. I do buy the occasional book, and am always frustrated that the everyday 20% member discount cannot be used with the sales discount that the bookstore frequently offers. The entire sale seems worthless as most people who use the bookstore and the site are surely members? Why bother with a sale if you aren’t going to offer the most likely buyers the opportunity to take advantage of it? Every time I see a sale advertised, I check to see if there is any advantage for me to buy a book…..I think you are missing a marketing opportunity here?