"Mr. Loring's play"

Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Ayer's house in Prides Crossing, 1906.

My cousin Neil recently shared some family albums with me: the oldest one belonged to his grandfather, Frederick Ayer (Jr.) (1888–1969), who kept it in 1905 and 1906. Over time, the images and the..

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The Jamestowne Chancel Burials

Seal of the King of England, Scotland, Ireland, and France, as President of the Virginia Council. U.S. National Parks Service

The announcement Tuesday of the (probable) identification of the remains of four men buried under the chancel of the first parish church at..

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A sojourn in California

Adrian Sidney Todd (1918-1959)

When I contemplated the subject of my first post, I decided that I should write about the person who sparked my genealogical interest in the first place: my paternal grandfather, Adrian Sidney Todd. Adrian died young, and I never had..

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Composition: Part One

The map

Many people enjoy fishing, but not as many enjoy cleaning the catch. That is why we all have piles of research sitting waiting to be compiled into finished accounts. In some cases we may have entered our data into a genealogical database, but as nice as they..

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400 posts at Vita Brevis

This photo of the Society's Newbury Street exterior at night illustrated the first Vita Brevis post in January 2014.

Friday’s post, by Steven Solomon of the Society’s Development team, marked the four hundredth blog post at Vita Brevis. Since its launch in January..

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"A garden of roses"

Nathan Rosenau (1835-1920)

My genealogical journey started sometime between elementary school and junior high school with a crude, hand drawn chart of “the family” going back three or four generations. While my mother, Ellen Harris Solomon, had some interest in the..

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A slice of life

George Bruce Upton (1804-1874). NEHGS Collection

For as long as I’ve had my present office on the Society’s third floor, I’ve looked through my open door at a portrait of George Bruce Upton (1804–1874), the Society’s vice president between 1866 and 1874. I will..

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A very small world

The Burkes of Oranmore

It’s a very, very small world.

Recently, I received some photos of my mother’s Irish ancestors from a cousin. Most of these photos featured the Burke family of Oranmore, Galway, and I was excited to learn that many of the photos had been..

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Not quite right

Two stars in ship's clothing.

I recently bid on a photograph associated with a 1938 Cecil B. DeMille film called The Buccaneer, and noticed that the seller identified the man in the picture – the actor Fredric March (1897–1975) – but not the woman: a search at The..

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Collecting published accounts: Part Five

See the previous chapters in the series here, here, here, and here.

Published versions of vital records (in print or digital) for early New England families are plentiful. Between americanancestors.org, familysearch.org, and ancestry.com, you can search the published..

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State of the art

R. Stanton Avery Special Collections, NEHGS

[Editor’s Note: As part of the Society’s commitment to serving as a repository of original documents, preserving (and, when necessary, conserving) them for future generations in all their forms, NEHGS has a state of the..

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The Experts' Choice series

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..

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The scope of the Gray diary

Hedwiga Regina Shober Gray diary, entries for 5-7 February 1864. R. Stanton Avery Special Collections

For the last six months or so, I have been engrossed in the daily diary of Hedwiga Regina (Shober) Gray (1818–1885), a Philadelphia-born Boston lady who wrote about..

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The Stratton Files

[Editor’s Note: Penny Stratton is one of the most prolific and popular bloggers at Vita Brevis. The following are some excerpts from her posts between January 2014 and February 2015.]

From Capturing the Recent Past: As I revise the new NEHGS Guide to Genealogical..

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Heraldry and coats of arms

Images courtesy of Wikipedia.org

When researching a family name, one of the elements that most researchers seek is the family’s “coat of arms.” While the term coat of arms is often used to describe the inherited emblem of a family awarded to ancestors and carried on..

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In search of family photos: Part Two

Four generations in the late 1920s. From left: in his father's arms, Gilbert Wayne Helman III (1926-2010); Gilbert Wayne Helman, Jr. (1906-1985); Gilbert Wayne Helman, Sr. (1882-1945); and Herbert Heath Helman (1854-1931).

As a personal challenge, after seeing a few..

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New voices at Vita Brevis

Giuseppe Sarni with some of his apprentices.

A number of new bloggers made their début on Vita Brevis during the first half of 2015. Tricia Labbe, of the Society’s Membership Services team, wrote in February about breaking through a brick wall on her father’s..

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In search of family photos: Part One

Click on the image to expand it.

As a personal challenge, after seeing a few genealogist friends on Facebook post ancestor charts with photographs of their ancestors back to (in many cases) their great-great-grandparents, I decided to see how “complete” my..

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International research posts at Vita Brevis

From Eileen Pironti's post on "Reconnecting with family" in January.

Every so often it seems worthwhile to look back over the wide range of Vita Brevis posts and bring some related ones together in one spot. Now that we are half way through the calendar year, some..

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Early New England Families Study Project update

Five new sketches have been posted in the Early New England Families Study Project database:

Nathaniel Bacon (c. 1621–c. 1673) married Hannah Mayo, dau. of Rev. John Mayo; settled in Barnstable, tanner, 8 children.

Joshua Holgrave (c. 1615–c. 1643), son of John and..

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Marking the 4th of July

A year's worth of holidays by Eugene Robert Richee. Click on the images to expand them.

In my last post on photographs, I wrote about three unknown subjects who sat for some of the leading Hollywood photographers of the day, and readers weighed in with suggestions..

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Researching famous people

The first page of George Herman Ruth's 1920 passport application.

Census records, passport applications, draft cards: many people are familiar with these resources because of their ability to tell us more about our own family history. However, they are often..

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Introducing The Great Migration Directory

The Great Migration Directory attempts to include all those who immigrated to New England during the Great Migration, and only those immigrants. After much examination of the historical record, and particularly of the activities of the passenger vessels each spring, I..

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