Saturday, June 30, 2018

Genealogy On the Road #2 - Researching in the Library at NEHGS

Outside of NEHGS

Welcome back to my blog series "Genealogy On The Road"!

My next trip was to the New England Historic Genealogical Society, which has an on-site library. I spent a full Saturday there from opening last weekend (literally getting there before they open) and leaving just a little bit before closing to make my train.

This wasn't my first trip to NEHGS but it was my first full day there. I have ventured off to NEHGS after a few work trips when I was travelling downtown for a client project (back when I was living in Syracuse). Those trips were tough as I came with my big bag (even dragged in the snow) and I only had maybe an hour before having to take my cab to Logan airport to catch my flight back home.
Look Familiar? This is the room where "Finding Your Roots" is filmed. I actually left as they were working on setting up for the next series filming. Sadly no Dr. Henry Louis Gates sightings. 

Here's My Tips for Working at NEHGS:

1. Make friends with the Visitor Services Representatives (staff members at the Front Desk). They graciously hold my luggage when I am travelling behind the desk and have even called me a cab before. They're very friendly people so be nice to them. You also don't need your membership # - they can look you up by name.

So many books! 
2. If you don't have a membership, you can buy a day pass for $20. I highly recommend having a membership if you plan on going to the archives or if you want to use their databases remotely. It's affordable and if you are a member of a society like Ontario Genealogical Society, you can get a discount. NEHGS computers also have access to databases like, Boston Globe archives, FindMyPast, and Fold3 to name a few.

3. Take advantage of the microfilm on 4th floor. I spent hours scanning microfilm reels of Prince Edward Island church records that came from the Charlottetown diocese. These are permanent records and may not be available online through FamilySearch's ongoing digitization program.

4. Use the NEHGS online catalog (which can be accessed from home) to make a list of books and microfilm and other files you want to review.
                     Note - Some items may be housed off-site so make sure to request anything that is stored off-site in advance of your visit.

5. Bring a flash drive. It will save you money on copies and you can transport your research with you. NEHGS sells them if you need one. These work well if you're using a microfilm scanner.

6. Bring your computer or smart phone (with charger) so you can access your family tree or research log (I swear I'm going to update it soon!). It's helped me to focus me on records I want to look at next.

7. NEHGS has more than just New England records. I found a reunion booklet for my Connolly family  in Prince Edward Island in the vertical file (another treasure trove) that was donated to their collection. They also have the Jewish Heritage Center on-site.

8. Ask questions of the staff. They're willing to help you with your research as well as the microfilm readers when you're swearing (in your head) at the microfilm reel to feed correctly (yes, this has happened).

9. Attend NEHGS sponsored events. I attended the talk by author and chef Michael Twitty, which was really entertaining, informative and thoughtful. There was also a book signing and opportunity to network with other genealogists.
Me with Author and Chef Michael Twitter

10. Immerse yourself - it's a beautiful building and there are different collections and exhibits throughout. I took a couple of brief videos and put on my Instagram page. Thank you to the staff for NEHGS to grant me permission to take video for my blog!

This isn't an exhaustive list. I'll be adding more in future posts as I'll be going back to NEHGS when I can. I have a profile on genlighten if you would like to hire me to retrieve any documents for you.

In fact, I'll be there again on July 6th when I will be giving a lecture on Prince Edward Island repositories and records. I hope to see you there if you're in the Boston area!

Have you been to NEHGS? What tips can you offer? Share them on social media with #genealogyontheroad.

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