The last few months have brought several memorable moments in the life of our ever-growing organization, one which today serves more than 45,000 members and registered users.
Chief among these special occasions was our annual dinner in April when Ken Burns, the Emmy award-winning film maker and our longtime member, brought more than 200 friends of NEHGS to the edge of their seats with his powerfully moving and eloquent remarks on the importance of family and family history. We were delighted when councilor David Hackett Fischer presented Ken with our Lifetime Achievement Award for his “outstanding lifetime achievement in filmmaking and its contributions to the history of America and her peoples,” an honor richly deserved. As has been the case with many of our honorees, we prepared a genealogy of Ken’s family and presented it to him. In this special volume we gave America’s great storyteller a richly woven story of his own ancestral past. Providing a foreword to this book was Ken’s frequent collaborator, Dayton Duncan, who summed it up best: “this volume traces a collection of such fascinating characters, whose cumulative lives produced, among many other things, a fascinating American whose business may be history, but whose mission is a better future.”
Over the past ten months we have been pleased to collaborate with independent film makers Nancy Beach and Bryan Vawter on a short documentary, “A Farseeing Vision: Connecting Families, Advancing History,” a film about NEHGS and genealogy in America ― ranging from the Society’s founding role in the field of genealogy in 1845 to its present and future. I am grateful to several distinguished colleagues for participating in our film, including Ancestry.com CEO Tim Sullivan, CNBC anchor and author Bill Griffeth, historian Cornelia Dayton, and Great Migration series author Robert Charles Anderson. The film, which debuted in Boston at the annual dinner, has now been viewed by large gatherings of NEHGS members in Charleston, South Carolina, and twice in the Los Angeles area. We intend to show it to more audiences at programs around the country and in due course make it available to everyone through the Internet. I am happy to report that “A Farseeing Vision” has 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.”
Bringing NEHGS to our members around the country is one of our most important activities and we have been logging the air miles to prove it. We were pleased recently to attend genealogical conferences in Charleston, South Carolina, and Burbank, California, with members of the NEHGS staff, board, council, and our extended family. These visits bring NEHGS staff genealogists and our patrons more closely together for valuable exchanges and interactions. We hope to see you at one of our upcoming programs before too long and there share with you our mutual enthusiasm about family and local history in America.