Sometimes we need to follow, quite literally, the paper trail when we want to learn more about a particular family group. Even in this digital age, not everything can be accessed from a computer. Perhaps the key to the story can be found in manuscripts kept safe in historical societies, archives, and libraries. This new series of blog posts—Following the Paper Trail—will provide guides for visiting each state historical society (or equivalent), region by region, across the eastern United States. Continue reading Following the Paper Trail: Southern New England
When it comes to technology, change comes quickly. In one decade, devices can transform almost beyond prediction. Back in April 2008, I could not have foreseen how technological advances would transform NEHGS.
Many advances came before my time. As Brenton summarizes: “We’d had a website since ’96, but it was a billboard. And in 2000, we launched the first searchable website, which had the Register on it.” Continue reading A decade of growth: technology
In addition to laying foundations for progress, over the past ten years NEHGS has greatly increased an already-impressive collection. Better still, we now find it much easier to access vast quantities of content.
When I first volunteered at NEHGS in 2006, its new leader, D. Brenton Simons, reached out to NEHGS members. “In my new role as president, I ask for your help in expanding our collections and increasing donor support in order to preserve our invaluable holdings. Together we can move our remarkable institution forward while still valuing our great traditions.” Within the year, NEHGS launched Preserving New England’s Records: An Initiative for Family and Local History, and its goal has been to gather additional and varied materials for the R. Stanton Avery Special Collections. We still have a vibrant collecting program, and you can learn more about donating here. Continue reading A decade of growth: content
As genealogists spending time researching our ancestors’ lives, we often overlook our personal histories. Having this tendency myself, I now make a point of celebrating significant anniversaries by reflecting on the relevant years. This month marks my tenth anniversary as a full-time employee at NEHGS. Over the past decade, I have experienced first-hand the great march of progress here at NEHGS, but until I spoke with D. Brenton Simons, President and CEO, I had not realized just how closely our institution’s evolutionary waves coincided with my personal growth here. Continue reading A decade of growth: foundations
November is National Podcast Month, so this is the perfect month to share some favorite podcasts. Typically, a podcast is an episodic audio (sometimes video) program that can be downloaded online. Think of these as a form of talk radio in which you can choose when to tune in. The topics of the programming varies widely, so there are many that are useful and interesting to us as family historians.
Each year, on the first Sunday in August, we celebrate National Sisters Day. Growing up together, we often take our sisters for granted. The older we become, the more we tend to cherish our shared experiences and the more we realize that our sisters (and the sisters in each generation) may hold the keys to learning more about our direct ancestors.
My sister and I share responsibilities as memory keepers for our family – but in unique ways. Continue reading Sisters as sources
Enjoyable, rewarding, and complex – three words that come to mind when I describe my work at NEHGS. As researchers and writers, we have the pleasure of making discoveries and documenting them for current and future generations. However, that comes with many responsibilities requiring juggling multiple projects. How can we keep track of so many research and writing projects while still giving our best efforts to each?
In answer, I offer three more words – conceptualize, organize, and prioritize. These are the actions that guide my work flow in order to maintain momentum on various projects – and they should be applicable to genealogical projects on any scale! Continue reading Three words
On October 27, NEHGS hosted a Family History Benefit Dinner featuring Bill Griffeth and Cokie Roberts, both accomplished news commentators and authors. Whereas Bill has written of his experiences with unexpected DNA results concerning his paternal side, Cokie has made a career of highlighting the lives of women in American history.
In honor of her accomplishments, the Society presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award for History and Biography and a beautifully hand-bound book of her ancestors. As I compiled her robust genealogy, I worked to include the kinds of stories that would interest an author of female biographies. Continue reading The Other Half
For the past two weeks, many NEHGS staff members celebrated birthdays, bringing to mind my birthday celebration last year. At the restaurant, our waiter announced my birthday to the entire restaurant and led them in singing to me. While that was embarrassing, it was fine until he asked my age. I answered with the old adage, “You know, it’s not polite to ask a lady her age.” As a genealogist, however, that answer left me feeling disappointed in myself. Where would we be today if our ancestors always responded to that question in such a way? Continue reading “Ask a lady her age!”
After a week of researching in Washington, D.C., with the NEHGS tour, one of the many things I have learned is that genealogy is more of a sport than a hobby. It takes physical and mental strength and endurance to pursue the ultimate prize of accurately identifying an ancestor. Continue reading The Sport of Genealogy