In the classes I teach and conversations I hold with those interested in genealogy who have a tie to New England, I often ask if they have looked at the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS). The answer most often is that they have not given it the attention it “probably” deserves.
The reasons often given are cost ($75 annually), and the fact they are now addressing other lines of descent and other demands on their time.
This monograph will describe my own experience with the hope it suggests to those who should be researching at NEHGS that they do so sooner rather than later.
Some background is of use. I am a West Virginia and Kentucky researcher. All of my family I knew personally were born and raised in those two states. Then I discovered a GG Grandmother born in Tennessee. But I was still fairly local. Then it turned out the next mother had been born in Massachusetts, moved to Vermont, then to Tennessee and finally to Illinois. The later grandmother married a Bourland preacher from Kentucky and left Tennessee to go to a state which did not permit slavery – Illinois.
So now I had a connection to New England. This suggested I join the NEHGS to continue my search and so I did.
I “played” around for a time with the Society’s on-line databases finding considerable help. Then I bought their 2002 Circulating Library Catalog, Volumes 1 and 2. What a goldmine.
By now I had a dozen surnames or more in which I was interested. Over the next 12 months I used their “lending library” facility which would allow three books out at a time for two weeks. I found 62 books involving ancestors and I copied those pages offering either Primary or Secondary sources of my data.
This eventually led me to produce a family history book of 971 pages covering 25 surnames.
This also led to a revived interest in history, migration paths and many other related subjects associated with greater New England. And obviously I learned a great deal about my ancestors.
Unfortunately NEHGS had to stop the lending library operation, I assume for cost reasons and perhaps many were not as careful with books as I was. But those books are still in Boston at NEHGS and I urge you to make your next trip there. Their library is a true jewel!