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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Entries in NEHGS (14)


    New England Comes to California


    It looks like I won't be seeing fall in New England this year, but I'm excited to get a bit of New England genealogy this Friday at the California Genealogical Society Seminar in Oakland when the New England Historic and Genealogical Society Comes West.

    Genealogists David Allen Lambert and Rhonda McClure will be presenting an all-day seminar followed by dinner and presentations with NEHGS President Brenton Simons. The sessions sound great -- it's going to be hard to choose which ones to attend -- and I'll have a chance to catch up with GeneaBloggers who will be attending. 

    The event is Friday, October 26, 2012 8:30 am to 4:00 pm at His Lordships, Berkeley Marina, 199 Seawall Drive, Berkeley, CA.

    Sessions Include

    Option A: Beyond the Grave: Looking Past Your Ancestor’s Death Record (David)
    Option B: Unique Resources in NY State Research (Rhonda)

    Option A: New Resources on for New England Research (David)
    Option B: Researching NY City Ancestors (Rhonda)

    Option A: Getting the Most out of New England Vital Records Online, in Print and on Film (David)
    Option B: The Golden Door Has Locks: Tracing Immigrant Ancestors (Rhonda)

    Option A: Researching New England Military Records (David)
    Option B: I Can’t Find It: Understanding Online Search Limitations (Rhonda)

    Register at the CGS Website, and be sure to say "Hi" if you're there!


    Fall Foliage Opportunities at NEHGS

    SharonVT 7

    The weekly newsletter and periodic press releases from the New England Historic Genealogical Society are getting to be a kind of Yankee torture. I may read "Come Research in New England" but what I see are gem-tone autumn leaves, wool sweaters, and sharp blue skies. 

    If you have New England ancestors and have never visited your ancestral haunts in autumn, add it to your genealogy ToDo List. There's no better way to get started with New England research than by attending one of the outstanding programs offered at the New England Historic Genealogical Society headquartered on Newberry Street in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston.

    The early Fall program schedule at NEHGS reminds me once again why I wish I lived in Massachusetts --

    IMG 2312


    September 12, 2012 10:00AM - 11:00AM

    Free lecture on how to use the features, tools, resources, and content of the NEHGS website, With more than than 200 million searchable names covering New England, New York, and other areas of family research dating back to 1620, this is a top resource for New England research. 

    New Israel - New England: Jews and Puritans in Early America

    September 12, 2012 6:00PM - 7:00PM

    Author Michael Hoberman will discuss his book New Israel /New England: Jews and Puritans in Early America, which examines the history of colonial New England through the lens of its first settlers. The New England Puritans’ fascination with the legacy of the Jewish religion has been well documented, but their interactions with actual Jews have escaped sustained historical attention. New Israel/New England tells the story of the Sephardic merchants in Boston and Newport between the mid-seventeenth century and the American Revolution. It also explores the complex and often contradictory meanings that the Puritans attached to Judaism and the fraught attitudes that they bore toward the Jews as a people. This event is cosponsored with the American Jewish Historical Society, New England Archives.

    Writing and Publishing Seminar, Part I

    September 15, 2012 9:00AM - 4:30PM
    This is the first of a two-part seminar on writing and publishing your family history. Workshops in Part 1 include defining your project, writing in genealogical format, working with images, and adding narrative to your genealogy. Part 2, to be held on February, 23, 2013, delves into the editorial process and book production, and offers a chance to meet with publishers/printers and consult with experts.
    Cost: Tuition: $110. Includes light breakfast, lunch, and all program materials.

    For more information, contact or 617-226-1226.


    Would it be unethical to tell you about Grandma?

    I love presents that arrive at my Inbox. The New England Historic Genealogical Society Weekly Digest is one of the best, and it just keeps coming. I always learn something new from the team of researchers at NEHGS; they have a knack for discovering interesting tidbits in the world of family history and genealogy.

    This week, in Stories of Interest, I was especially excited to discover a new blog featuring a project with student records from the 1920s.

    Permanent Record: Untold Stories from a Stash of Depression-Era Report Cards After Paul Lukas found a collection of report cards from the Manhattan Trade School for Girls, he decided to try to find family members of the students — and then share the experience on his blog and on

    The project is obviously a large one, with a host of issues about privacy and ethics. Lukas addresses some of these in a blog post on voyeurism -- you know, the thrill of looking at things you aren't supposed to see -- after stumbling on an article about a design company that uses Photoshop-doctored vintage police mug shots for popular paper products. Lukas wonders about about the ethics of his own report card project and what he calls the "moral imperative" of sharing the stories gleaned from those report cards.

    All of which makes me think twice about the ethics of family history research and sharing. Most genealogy conferences feature at least one session on the topic of ethics in genealogy. We are familiar with the concepts of protecting the privacy of living relatives and using discretion with information that could prove hurtful or disturbing. But what about the ethics of reworking and sharing the stories of unrelated deceased people you might find interesting or amusing?

    I have tried to be circumspect in what I share about my own family, but even so, I know that I have raised the hackles of some relatives. What may like a harmless tale to one person can deeply offend another. And when it comes to unrelated folks, is it "anything goes" or do the same rules apply? What are your thoughts on the subject?


    NEHGS Film Wins Telly Award


    Southern California loves a film premiere, and audiences in Los Angeles were not disappointed at the recent West Coast Premiere of a new documentary short film from the New England Historic Genealogical Society. "Brought to tears" was a common reaction of viewers after seeing Connecting Families, Advancing History, shown during a conference session at SCGS Jamboree in Burbank.

    The film featured interviews with attendees at NEHGS Family History Day giving a glimpse at the face of genealogy today. Additional scenes from inside the library and around Boston help to place NEHGS in context as an historic and enduring repository for valued family records. NEHGS worked with independent film makers Nancy Beach and Bryan Vawter to produce the 14-minute documentary focusing on the Society's legacy and future plans.

    Shortly after the conference, NEHGS President Brenton Simons announced on the NEHGS website that the film had been honored with a Telly award. "This award is voted on by its prior recipients and recognizes 'the very best local, regional, and cable television commercials and programs, as well as the finest video and film productions.'"

    While snippets from The Ellen DeGeneres Show and NBC Nightly News served as evidence of the mainstream popularity of genealogy today, personal anecdotes from everyday people discovering their ancestors were clearly the most moving. The theme of genealogy for everyone, not only an elite few, was underscored by the spotlight on various types of records available at the NEHGS Library and online through the databases. In recent months, NEHGS has successfully launched a new website emphasizing American ancestry and continued to expand its New England content.

    Connecting Families, Advancing History, is presently being shown at conferences and NEHGS events. Watch for notice that the film is available for online viewing.





    Get-Aways, Conferences, and Other Genealogy Learning Opportunities

    As much as I enjoy a good genealogy conference, it's not always possible to schedule travel and funds for a three or four-day event. That's when I find that online learning or an individual class or retreat are a bit more my style. Geneabloggers topic this week, Genealogy Conferences - The Magic Recipe, and yesterday's email newsletter from the New England Historic Genealogical Society featuring the upcoming Come Home to New England Get-Away remind me that there is a time and place for all types of events.

    I attended the NEHGS Spring Getaway in April 2009, and it is highlight of my research and learning experiences. At the time, I was recently "retired" from teaching and found myself with time to travel and work on my genealogy skills; unfortunately, my friends were either unavailable or uninterested in genealogy. The NEHGS Getaway was perfect. Each day provided a full program, the staff was friendly and helpful, and other attendees were enjoyable people to spend the day with. Of course, it helped that Boston is a great city, and NEHGS is located in a comfortable neighborhood within easy walking distance of hotels, restaurants, shops, and parks.

    Since that spring, I have attended a national conference, several regional conferences, local society seminars, online classes, and webinars. I've always learn something new, and each type of event has been a good fit at different times in my life.

    There are many reasons I like distance learning such as online classes, webinars, and tutorials. It's less expensive, doesn't involve travel time or expense, and is self-paced. Probably the biggest advantage to home education is that you can customize your learning to study what you need when you need it, so that your personal research is advanced as you learn. It can be a bit lonely when you're home alone at your computer, although at times that's okay.

    Conferences and seminars deliver even more opportunities to hear top-notch speakers on a great variety of topics. The first time I attended a conference alone, I didn't know anyone at all. I sat in sessions all day, made small-talk at the lunch tables, and went home exhausted but excited about my research.

    The next year, I attended the same conference, but so much had changed. As a blogger, I "knew" all kinds of people and looked forward to meeting them in real life. The conference organizers recognized this new group of attendees and scheduled meet-up events where Facebook Friends, Twitter peeps, and bloggers could meet in real time, and maybe make plans for lunch or dinner. It was easy to find people, easy to connect. It made a difference; the conference became an enjoyable social event as well as an educational opportunity. 

    In my experience, the small group retreat at NEHGS was the best of both individual and group learning. The expert staff members were able to direct my research toward positive outcomes, and the other attendees provided new ideas and motivation. I was learning new skills and making concrete progress with my own research at the same time. I went home not only enthusiastic about my work, but several steps further along than when I arrived.

    I've found that different kinds of learning experiences suit me at different times in my life, and I'm glad to have so many options available. Of course, organizers of these events know they are competing for the time and money of attendees. National and regional conferences are exciting, online classes are enriching, and retreats and tours can help break-through brick walls with focused research assistance exactly where its needed. It's nice to have so many choices.


    Whether To Scan or Photograph Old Documents

    Sometimes family historians have little choice when copying documents or photographs. Whether visiting relatives to share photographs or courthouses to research deeds, we are more likely to carry a digital camera than a scanner.

    In this week’s eNews from the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Michael Leclerc discusses the relative merits of both scanning and photocopying as a means for duplicating original photos and documents.  He particularly cautions against using a scanner, with its bright light, for fragile originals,

    Documents that are in fragile condition, with faded writing, should not be scanned. The bright light can cause even more fading. If they must be scanned, you must be certain to scan them as few times as possible. Every time the image is exposed to the bright light, you are causing damage. Sometimes the damage is not visible to the naked eye, but it will eventually show up in the document.

    Michael goes on to describe a safer practice by using a tripod-mounted camera to photograph documents and images, and notes, “Scanners and cameras take the same types of digital images (TIFFs, JPEGs, etc.). A scanner is, in reality, just a fancy camera.”

    After seeing’s scanning setup for conferences, I can see where each method has its merits. Scanning can be automated with a sheet-feeding machine, or set up to perform photo-corrections during the scanning. This saves considerable time on the processing and editing end, making a scanner a good choice for newer, less-fragile objects.

    A photo copy stand, however, like the one used to copy my old newspapers and described in an earlier post, was even quicker in copying than a scanner. The real delay was in moving and setting up each shot.

    I primarily scan old photos and documents to create archive TIFF copies. This format is unsupported by my digital camera, but better for archiving than JPG. An alternative would be to shoot photos in JPG and convert to TIFF for archiving.

    Michael makes an excellent case for using a camera to copy fragile or old photos and documents and reinforces the usability of a digital camera.  

    Further Reading:

    Research Recommendations: Scanning vs. Photographing
    by Michael J. Leclerc  (NEHGS eNews August 11, 2010) Scans Old Newspapers, Freedom from the Flatbed



    Get Away for Research at NEHGS

    My favorite New England library, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, has just announced dates for the Summer 2010 Come Home to New England research sessions, June 14-19 and August 9-15. I attended the Spring Research Getaway in 2009 and consider it a "must-do" for New England researchers.

    My three-part review of the week is included in the NEHGS announcement (along with a nice photo of me with staff expert Gary Boyd Roberts).

    If you have been thinking about making a date for some serious research, sign up for this program soon. The small number of available spots mean that it will fill up quickly.

    Read more on NEHGS research programs, the Family Curator Visits NEHGS Spring Research Getaway 2009:

    Part 1: Preparing to Research

    Part 2: Consulting the Experts

    Part 3: Researching at NEHGS



    Ellen DeGeneres Related to Halle Berry who is related to. . . -- NEHGS


    Now THAT's a family of celebrities. Genealogy super-star sleuths Christopher Child and Rhonda McClure at the New England Historic and Genealogy Society have discovered that Ellen DeGeneres is related through an "ancestral circle"(*)  to a remarkable number of celebrities.

    “We’ve done lots of research that connects various celebrities and public figures," commented Childs. "This is the first time I’ve discovered a large circle of relationships like this. Genealogically speaking, this is pretty rare and amazing.”

    Childs and McClure were first asked to research Ellen's genealogy in 2008, when the relationship to Halle Berry was discovered. It has taken many months to find Ellen's extended "family."


    According to NEHGS, Ellen is related to

    • Halle Berry who is related to
    • Mark Wahlberg who is related to
    • Madonna who is related to
    • Camilla Parker-Bowles who is related to
    • Diana, Princes of Wales who is related to
    • Tim Robbins who is related to
    • Richared Gere who is related to
    • Ellen

    All those cousins and once removeds put some relationships a bit far back in the timeline, but does royalty ANYwhere do anything to increase the chance of being called Lady Ellen?

    Read the full story and see Ellen's celebrity wheel with all the connections at

    See a clip from The Ellen DeGeneres show with Ellen showing off her celebrity relationships.

    * - don't look for a definition of "ancestral circle". I just coined it to identify relationships through an ancestor to a wider circle of people. Sort of a "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" thing.


    Brown and Obama are Cousins, NEHGS Research Reveals

    It's always interesting to see how fast the New England Historic Genealogical Society can research and write up the newsmakers of the moment. This morning I recieved word from Tom Champaux that researchers at NEHGS had uncovered the common ancestor of President Barack Obama and Republican Massachusetts Senator-Elect Scott Brown,

    Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, and Brown’s mother, Judith Ann Rugg, both descend from Richard Singletary of Haverhill, Mass, who died in 1687 at the age of 102. Singletary, like his two descendants Obama and Brown, held public office, serving as town selectman in both Salisbury and Haverhill, Massachusetts in the 1650s.

    President Obama descends from Richard’s eldest son, Jonathan Singletary, who later changed his surname to Dunham. Scott Brown descends from Jonathan’s brother, Nathaniel Singletary. This kinship makes Obama and Brown 10th cousins.

    Research by Christopher Child and David Allen Lambert goes on to find that politics seem to be a strong current in the family line. President Obama and Senator-elect Brown are also related to George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Richard Nixon, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Rutherford Hayes.

    Read the Press Release and view the Brown-Obama Family Tree at the NEHGS web site.


    Yankee Savings at the New England Historic Genealogical Society

    The New England Historic Genealogical Society once again sent a team of experts and staff members to the recent Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank and made themselves available for research assistance as well as presenting special sessions on New England topics. Their tables were always lively and crowded; I learned that it is wise to purchase books on the first day as they sold out as the weekend progressed.

    An email from Tom Champoux, Director of Marketing, confirmed NEHGS' popularity. Tom noted that at Jamboree 2009 the team enrolled 53 new members, almost double the typical conference record, but this year's registration for new members topped even that number at 80 new memberships. It looks like a lot of Southern Californians are anxious to research their New England roots.

    If you missed the NEHGS booth or didn't attend Jamboree, you may want to consider a terrific discount offered during the month of July for new memberships. The regular research membership costs $75, but new members can enroll through the end of July for $60 -- a savings of $15. What thrifty Yankee wouldn't like that?

    More information about membership benefits is available at the NEHGS website. If you have New England ancestors or if you just love American history, this society is well worth the price of admission. With more online collections added all the time, membership at NEHGS is on the top of my renewal list.


    Family Curator Visits NEHGS Spring Research Getaway 2009, Part 3: Researching at NEHGS

    Note: This is Part 3 of a three-part review "Family Curator Visits NEHGS Spring Research Getaway 2009" focusing on the three-day program and the one-on-one consultation sessions.
    Part 1: Preparing to Research
    Part 2:Consulting with the Experts

    Three full days of research at the New England Historical Genealogical Society Library may sound like quite a bit of research time, but it is not surprising that it is still not quite enough. Day One I spent mostly in consultations with the NEHGS experts. The Library was open in the evening, but I left about 5pm to join my husband for dinner, and did not take advantage of the extra research time.

    I vowed to be Focused on Day Two, and went to work immediately after Josh Taylor's excellent presentation on source citation. I have always been a "browser" and took full advantage of the library's open stack policy to examine the volumes on hand for my localities of interest. A handy photocopy machine made quick work of copies for my records, and then I was off to the microtext room where I was pleased to discover the full-text films of the Vermont probate records. Julie Otto helped me conquer my fear of film machines and before long I was making digital copies of the films to examine more closely when I returned home.

    Day Three promised considerable progress, but I had to leave the program at noon and could only attend the morning lecture by Judy Lacey on manuscripts in the HisGen archive collection. Her excellent presentation gave me so many ideas for further research: I would like to return and examine some of the letters, diaries, and journals in the collection with an eye toward finding friends or relatives of my ancestors. I was awed by the extent of the Society's collection; there will be wonderful discoveries in the years to come from this archive.

    So, what will I research on my NEXT visit?

    Local Histories
    Maps and Gazetteers
    Manuscript Collection
    more Family Histories
    Probate Records
    Military Records

    I was determined to use NEHGS resources that are unique to the Library, yet I found myself reading microfilms (can't I get these elsewhere?) and examining various printed volumes. When I returned home and did an internet search at World Cat for the same volumes I found that I would have to request the films from the local LDS Family History Center or visit NEHGS! This reaffirmed my appreciation for the HisGen collection, and made me more than a bit jealous for those researchers who live within easy driving distance of the library. I was also pleased that I had been able to use the digital copy machine to make copies of the microfilms I examined; this will give me many more hours of research time from home as I transcribe documents with the aid to computer enhanced images.


    Of course, the online databases also provide unique access to the NEHGS collections. I have found my ancestors in the Rhode Island Vital Records Index, in the Newspaper Archive collection, and in various other digitized resources. The recent addition the indexed TAG articles with The NEHGS Register make this resource indispensable for any researcher working with New England records.

    My experience at HisGen not only extended my pedigree, it also helped me feel confident to tackle research elsewhere. I think this was one of the greatest benefits of the program, I practiced "learning to learn." Thank you NEHGS.


    TAG Now Available Online Through NEHGS

    One more good reason to be a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society -- The American Genealogist (TAG) is going online thanks to a new collaboration in which NEHGS will digitize back issues of the journal and make them available at the Society website,

    Founded in 1922 by Donald Lines Jacobus, TAG is edited by a trio of NEHGS members: Dr. David L. Greene, FASG, past recipient of the Society’s Coddington Award of Merit; Robert Charles Anderson, FASG, director of the NEHGS Great Migration Study Project; and Joseph C. Anderson II, FASG, who is also editor of The Maine Genealogist. These distinguished genealogists, along with dozens of highly-regarded contributors, uphold and advance the standards for genealogical scholarship so carefully articulated by Jacobus and the Jacobus “School.”
    Volumes 1-8 of TAG covering 1923-1832 are already available online at the NEHGS website under the title “Families of Ancient New Haven.” The new searchable database adds Volumes 9–13, published between 1933 and 1937. Additional volumes are slated to be published through Volume 82, at which time new volumes will be added to keep the database current. The most recent five years will not be available online.

    This is great news for genealogists worldwide who can now access the wealth of information in TAG through the internet. Randy Seaver included the full press release at Genea-Musings today; I second his enthusiasm about this new collaboration, and hope that we see even more journals "go digital" in the future.


    Family Curator Visits NEHGS Spring Research Getaway 2009, Part 2: Consulting with the Experts


    Note: This is Part 2 of a three-part review "Family Curator Visits NEHGS Spring Research Getaway 2009" focusing on the three-day program and the one-on-one consultation sessions. In "Part 1: Preparation" I address some of my own questions before attending the program and review registration and pre-event preparation. In Part 3, I will discuss research opportunities at NEGHS.


    Mention "bricks" to a genealogist, and the image of a brick wall appears, followed by proposed strategies for climbing or demolishing the obstacle. But there is another use for bricks as well, one used with great care and skill by the staff at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. My experience at the 2009 Spring Getaway demonstrated the value of building a firm research foundation that can withstand any amount of weight as the evidence grows, brick upon brick.

    Day One of the program, attendees met in the second floor education center the library. Conversation was already lively when I arrived and the room full of participants and friendly staff members. The program began with introductions from each member of the entire staff. I had stopped by briefly the day before and met a few people; it was helpful to see them again and put a name with a face. Staff members introduced themselves and explained their responsibilities at the Society or outlined their areas of expertise. From Event Coordinator, to Archivist, to Genealogist, to CEO, the entire staff were present to offer their assistance.

    Then it was the participants' turn to briefly introduce themselves and their goals for the session. Attendees came from New England, Tennessee, West Virginia, New York, Colorado, and California. Some participants had also attended the NEHGS research trip to Washington D.C. and were now ready to conduct more research at the Society Library.

    Marie Daly, Library Director, opened the lecture series with a virtual tour of the library collections. The Library itself is spread out over six floors in an former bank building on Newbury Street in Boston's Back Bay. The old teller's windows are still visible in the wood-panelled Reading Room on the first floor, but a modern elevator eases access between floors. The second floor holds the Education Center, a spacious room well-equipped for audio-visual presentations, receptions, and meetings; and the third floor holds Staff and Administrative offices. The Society's collections are housed on the first floor (International Books), fourth floor (microtext documents), fifth floor (local history), fifthA Floor (special collections), and sixth floor (open stacks and reading room). Marie's armchair tour was an efficient way to become familiar with the general layout of the library and the collections.

    Following the lecture, participants were invited to sign up for individual consultations with the HisGen resident experts, what Ryan Woods likened to the legendary "Running of the Bulls." Good manners ruled the day, and I found open appointment times even as one of the last to sign the sheets. I was especially impressed with the staff's good-natured willingness to assist attendees at unscheduled times, and found them to be helpful and patient with my questions.

    My consultation schedule for the first day was rather full, but it left me with lots of ideas for research on the second day, and a few remaining consultations. I was able to meet individually with several NEHGS staff members during the program, and look forward to working with the experts I missed in the future, among them Marie Daly, David Dearborn, David Lambert, Michael Leclerc, Gary Boyd Roberts, and Tim Sallis.

    First, I spoke with Joshua Taylor from the Research Services Department, who offered his experience with technology and website creation. We discussed copyright protection through PDF watermarks and he gave me some ideas for design and marketing with The Family Curator blog.

    Later in the day I met with Judy Lucey, Assistant Archivist, to discuss preserving my own collection of family papers and photographs. It seems that as much as I have read about preservation, I still had questions, and it was helpful to talk pointedly with an expert in the field. Judy told me about HisGen's own archival protocol for working with historic photographs, and suggested some ways that I could economically and easily organize my collections.

    I was organizing my papers (and my thoughts) in the sixth floor reading room, when D. Brenton Simons, President and CEO of the Society stopped to chat. I was so glad to have the opportunity to talk with him about publishing opportunities for my research, and hope to pursue some of these ideas in the future.

    I also met with Julie Otto, Genealogist, and solicited her help over and over in my attempts to master the microfilm reader and scanner. Eureka! We did it. Julie is a phenomenol resource with unlimited enthusiasm. She seems to know just where to find any probate record or local history, and was always ready to help, even during a late-night, last-night marathon session. It was fun to discover that we were nearly born in the same hospital (Queen of Angels, Los Angeles) during the same week of the same year (I'm not telling!). Maybe genealogy was in the stars that year!

    My final "official" consultation was with Rhonda McClure, one of my favorite authors. I showed Rhonda the first few pages of a 1852 court case that had me stumped: Heirs of James Winsor vs. Calvin French et. al. With some deciphering, we determined that my ancestor James Winsor, appeared to be "intemperate" (i.e. a man who liked his liquor) and that after his death his estate had been presented with many bills, among them bills to his father-in-law who seems to have paid for his "board and other things" for nearly two years. Funds were deposited in a Rhode Island bank from the sale of Vermont property, and any number of claims and settlements seem to have been litigated. I had been focusing on researching the problem in Vermont, but Rhonda encouraged me to pursue Rhode Island connections, opening the door to a wealth of available documentation and research. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and I left our discussion charged for action.

    I had only one more "Have to meet" on my list, and I was able to find Chris Childs in a free moment to explain a "Childs" research problem. My mother and I met Chris briefly at last year's Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank, and Mom was sure that "of course he's our cousin" Chris Childs would know just how "our Fanny Childs" fit in the big picture. We knew our ancestor Henry Winsor had married Fanny Childs, but we couldn't find her parents. With information from Aunt Mercy about Fanny's supposed father David Childs, Chris found her in the Childs, Childe family genealogy book; the problem was that she was young enough to be his grand-daughter. Aunt Mercy's note about a second wife gave us a clue, and by searching her name we found a likely family in the next census where the widowed mother was living with a child Fanny's age. A wonderful push in the right direction, thanks to Chris' knowledge and work with the Child/Childe family line. As icing on the cake, Chris then showed me the connection in Ancestors of American Presidents by Gary Boyd Roberts with charts prepared in part by Christopher Challender Child from originals by Julie Helen Otto. It would seem that Fanny is leading us on to other family connections. Maybe Aunt Mercy knew a thing or two after all.

    In his introductory remarks, Ryan Woods noted that availability and expertise of the NEHGS staff is one of the hallmarks of HisGen programs, and I must add my applause to his remarks. The knowledge, enthusiasm, and patience of each genealogist and staff member I met excelled my expectations. My philosophy for attending workshops, classes, seminars is simple, "If I learn one new thing, it's worth the price of admission." Sometimes, I learn two new things, and feel elated. I attended the Spring Research Getaway hoping to learn one or two new things about researching my New England ancestors; my experience showed that the program was a bargain. I learned foundation-building skills that are invaluable, met scores of helpful, knowledgeable people, and feel confident to tackle the next research goal with enthusiasm and focus.

    Read More about NEHGS Spring Getaway

    Part 1: Preparing to Research

    Part 3: Researching at NEHGS





    Family Curator Visits NEHGS Spring Research Getaway 2009, Part 1: Preparing to Research

    Note: This is Part 1 of a three-part review of my recent research trip to NEHGS. I have tried to address some of my own questions before attending the program for those who are considering research at the Library, and hope my comments are helpful. In Part 2, I will review the one-on-one consultation sessions, and in Part 3, I will discuss research opportunities at NEGHS.


    It has been one of my long-time goals to research my family history at the New England Historical Genealogical Society, and this month I was able to take advantage of the Spring Research Getaway offered each year by NEHGS. I classify myself as an Advanced Beginner in genealogical research, and I knew that I would benefit from an orientation and assistance in using the extensive collections at HisGen.

    The three-day Spring Research Getaway promising guided research with one-on-one consultations and special access to the collections appeared to be well-suited for my needs, and I was not disappointed. My experience with NEHGS was very positive from my first correspondence in January. Questions were answered promptly, and information about the program was directed to help me be successful in my research goals.

    I admit that I was quite nervous about attending the program; concerned that my research goals would be either too "big" or too "small." Although I have a graduate degree and know my way around a university library, I've always felt intimidated by microfilm readers and was sure that I would have an awful time with those monsters. I was also traveling alone for part of the trip, which is its own issue. Happily, by the time I left home for Boston I felt ready to research and confident that I would be able to accomplish at least some of my goals.

    Shortly after registering for the program I recieved an email letter and several attachments from Ryan Woods, Director of Education. In addition to travel information, schedule, and liability waiver, the packet included a Participant Interest Sheet. The accompanying "Tips for Completing Your Partipant Interest Sheet" was a mini-couse in how to write research goals: what to include, what NOT to include, and samples of well-written research questions.

    The schedule showed that we would have time for scheduled consultations with NEHGS experts, and time for personal research.

    A few weeks before the program, I received a packet in the mail with a copy of each participant's research sheet, a list of the consulting staff with notes on their areas of expertise with accompanying Facebook-style photo, a guide to the library, and information about Boston and the library vicinity.

    After laboring over my Interest Sheet I asked for a quick review from Midge Frazel, who has researched at HisGen. She gave me the go-ahead and a huge lead on our potentially-common ancestors.

    I also spent some time online at the NEHGS website. As a member, I was able to access the database resources and do some catalog look-ups for books I might want to investigate. I also viewed the Library orientation material so that I would have some idea of what was available where.

    I am glad that I took time to work on my research goals and review the program materials, so that I was able to move foward even after losing my laptop enroute to the program. Ryan Woods was helpful in working out alternate strategies for using computers at the library and took time to give me a brief tour when I stopped in the day before the program began. When I arrived on Day 1, I was ready to hit the ground running.

    Read More about NEHGS

    Part 2 - Consulting With the Experts

    Part 3 - Researching at NEHGS



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