As the conservator at American Ancestors and NEHGS, I spend much of my time conserving our book and paper-based collections while also devoting a little bit of time to thinking about the future preservation of these items. This leaves relatively little time to reflect on past efforts by the organization to preserve these collections, but there is evidence that those efforts were considerable.
Preservation was a major part of the reason for founding the New England Historic Genealogical Society, as outlined in the original Charter. Collecting and preservation have always been tied together; if you are going to collect books and manuscript materials, efforts will need to be taken to make sure they will be available for future generations – particularly important for a genealogical society, where generations really matter. Continue reading Preserving collections→
The database team here at NEHGS posts information on updates to our databases on our blog, dbnews.americanancestors.org. In each post, we try to give you a little information about the database, the new records, and provide some sort of visual.
In November of 1844, five men “organized themselves into a society for historical and genealogical research” in Boston, Massachusetts. The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) was incorporated the following March. Prior to the society’s incorporation, several additional members were elected, the first being the Reverend Lucius Robinson Paige on 21 January 1845. At the time of his death on 2 September 1896, he was the oldest member of NEHGS. While the distinction of being the first member of NEHGS is noteworthy, his accomplishments during his lifetime are also worth a closer look. Continue reading The Society’s first member: Lucius Robinson Paige→
In the books I have written (or co-authored) in the last twenty years or so – on the Thorndike, Le Roy, Lowell, Saltonstall, and Winthrop families – I have usually noted the academic histories of family members as well as the more usual genealogical data. I’m occasionally asked why, and until recently I didn’t really have an answer.
While I generally answered that college and university records could help flesh out a sparse biographical narrative for someone treated in one of these books, I would now add that, often, they help keep the genealogist honest. After all, someone born in 1940 wouldn’t be likely to graduate from college in 1954, while a late graduation date begs further study. At the very least, a focus on filling in this area helps distinguish Charles Smith from Chad Smith – not to mention Charles Chad Smith! Continue reading College records→
Internet trolls are people who lurk on social media and generally cause trouble for everybody else. I recently found a list of the ten types of internet trolls, and suspect I probably qualify under No. 5, “The Show-Off, Know-it-All Or Blabbermouth Troll.” Or at least that is how I feel whenever I chime in on one of the Mayflower/Alden-related Facebook pages or the like. It becomes my job to deflate the balloons of some of these wonderful newly-found Mayflower descendants, who have, most unfortunately, inadvertently gathered and believed all the dross of Internet information about their ancestors. Continue reading Mayflower trolls→
Large, dusty, and certain to leave an indelible brown smudge if allowed to touch your clothing, handling the fourteen volumes ofAlbany County, New York Deeds, 1630-1894 was my first assignment after I became an NEHGS volunteer in 2005. With ancestors who settled near Fort Orange (present-day Albany) in 1650, I had a personal interest in helping to bring this collection to a broader audience. These early land records represented some of the few city and county records that had not been destroyed or damaged during the disastrous 1880 fire at Albany City Hall. Continue reading The power of one volunteer→
When the five founders of the New England Historic Genealogical Society met in January 1845 for the first meeting of the board of their new society, life in the city outside their windows was on the precipice of colossal change.
As Charles Ewer and his cohort were establishing NEHGS 175 years ago, Boston was a city on the rise. Already a celebrated international trade port, Boston saw an economic boom in the 1840s as it welcomed a busy new network of railroads and thoroughfares which further accelerated industry and commerce in the area. By 1845 Boston was one of the largest and wealthiest manufacturing cities in the country, and still growing at a swift rate.Continue reading The start of something big→
While working on the various connections of the Livingston family in Scotland, I had a vague recollection that I had encountered multiple Livingstons in the ancestry of the late Diana, Princess of Wales; several years ago I edited a book on her forebears, and I pictured several lines from which to choose. The same, in a sense, must be true for the Prince of Wales, whose ancestry was covered so fully in Gerald Paget’s 1977 work.
Well, yes and no. I suspect the name I sought was the Saltonstall family in the Princess’s ancestry – a family about whom I have written a book! The Saltonstalls appear with some frequency in The Ancestry of Diana, Princess of Wales, as we were careful to note the families in her ancestry with American connections. Continue reading Royal Livingstons→
As a relatively new staff member at American Ancestors, I am on uncertain ground writing about the art of family history research. I was schooled in and have worked many years in the literary and performing arts, at various times in book publishing, financial services, and journalism. For past employers, I’ve tracked and reacted to current trends and preferences, and culled business leaders’ insights on the financial markets and documented their current projects and projections. Most recently, I’ve pursued and presented today’s most sought-after authors and their books. Continue reading American inspiration→
In an earlier Vita Brevispost, I introduced a free webinar that I conducted in August on the Top 10 Published Resources for Early New England Research. The Vita Brevis post was the first in a series of upcoming posts that will break down the top 10 list into individual discussions. The first post addressed what makes a published resource a “top 10” and analyzed the first published resource on the list, the Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research. Today I will continue the conversation and talk about the second and third, in the “no particular order” list, of top 10 resources: Mayflower Families through Five Generations and New England Marriages Prior to 1700.