Website Video TutorialGeneral Website HelpSearch Tips
Welcome! Thank you for your interest AmericanAncestors.org, the newest benefit of NEHGS membership and primary research site of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. This page contains answers to the most commonly asked questions about the new online home of NEHGS.
Watch Using AmericanAncestors.org, an online website tutorial.
Login QuestionsSearch QuestionsImage Viewer Questions
How do I update my email?Why don’t I stay logged in all the time anymore?If I am logged in will forms prefill with my contact information?Why does the website keep telling me to login again when performing a database search?
Why don’t I stay logged in all the time anymore?For your online security, you are logged out of AmericanAncestors.org each time you close your browser. You can enable your browser to remember your email and password. Firefox, Chrome, and Safari will either prompt you upon login to save your email and password or you can configure them to do so. To enable this feature in Internet Explorer:
If I am logged in will forms prefill with my contact information?Yes. If you are a member or have a guest user account, when you login to AmericanAncestors.org any event registration forms and hire-the-expert forms will auto-populate all of your contact information for you. For your convenience, please login before submitting any event registration forms or any research services request forms.
Why does the website keep telling me to login again when performing a database search?If you are encountering this error, please try the alternate website address: http://web1.americanancestors.org
What is the fastest way to get to the databases I use most?How can I keep my search terms filled-in after I return to the search page?What is the best way to search the AmericanAncestors.org?Can I use wildcards for search?Why do I get different results on AmericanAncestors.org than I did on the old NEHGS website?In the Massachusetts Vital Records 1850, 1841-1910, and 1911-1915 databases, can I still search by county?What is the fastest way to get to the databases I use most?Click on "Popular Databases" on the homepage. The top 10 most used databases are listed; click on a database and you will be linked to the search page with the database filled-in for you.A new feature of AmericanAncestors.org is "Favorite Databases." On your profile page, you can select your favorite databases so that when you use the search page, checking the "Favorite(s) Only" box, will make your favorite databases appear in a quick use list. The Favorite Databases list can be used to create a subset of databases across categories for strategic searching. How can I keep my search terms filled-in after I return to the search page?After viewing results, to return to the search screen with all of your prior criteria persisting, click the "Refine Search" button at the top of the page.
What is the best way to search the AmericanAncestors.org?When you enter a first name and last name - John Smith - in the keyword field, you are executing the most comprehensive search of all databases. Any accompanying information, such as a year and or a place name will narrow your search to more precise results. For example: Mary Jones 1726 Boston.Additional search tips.
When using the advanced search page to select a specific database to search, be sure to read any applicable search tips that appear just above the search button. Search tips will inform you when you should enter a first name in the keyword field instead of the first name field or when a database should only be searched by entering criteria in the keyword box. Can I use wildcards for search?Yes. AmericanAncestors.org only requires one character before using a wildcard. The supported wildcards are:
The keyword field and all other free text search boxes support the following wildcards:
The keyword field also supports these additional wildcards:
Why do I get different results on AmericanAncestors.org that I did on the old NEHGS website?One of the advantages of AmericanAncestors.org is the single advanced search page which allows you to conduct searches across all databases concurrently. The old NEHGS website had 400 individual search pages, each configured to the nuances of that collection; it did not contain a true master search option or allow you to see results from more than one database at a time.To help guide search technique, nearly all databases on AmericanAncestors.org are accompanied by search tips. Search tips are important because not all databases contain the same type of data. Many databases, prepared from hard copy indexes, contain no first name index for example. By entering first names in the keyword box you can still search that criteria. On the old NEHGS site, in many cases, first names were not allowed as search terms or databases that did not contain a first name index were excluded from returning results.While using AmericanAncestors.org is different from the old site, it provides the most comprehensive search of the NEHGS online collections.
In the Massachusetts Vital Records 1850, 1841-1910, and 1911-1915 databases, can I search by county?Yes. Enter the name of the county you wish to search in the City/Town field.
What image viewers are available to use on AmericanAncestors.org?What is Silverlight and is it compatible with my computer?Silverlight does not install because it says it’s already on my computer, what do I do?How do I move the image to see the whole record?How do I print a record?
What image viewers are available to use on AmericanAncestors.org ?AmericanAncestors.org offers three image viewing options. Click on a link below to choose your viewer preference.
Microsoft Silverlight: Enhanced browser viewer, compatible with Windows and Mac OS X Intel based operating systems (download required.)Viewer tools: Zoom, Pan, Rotate, Print, Save.
Basic Viewer: basic tool for downloading and printing images, compatible with all operating systems (no download required.) Viewer tools: Print, SaveWhat is Silverlight and is it compatible with my computer?Microsoft Silverlight is a web application for viewing multimedia. Features of Silverlight are similar to those in Adobe Flash.
It is compatible with multiple web browsers used on Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X Intel based operating systems.Minimal System Requirements: Windows X86 or x64 1.6-gigahertz (GHz) or higher processor with 512-MB of RAM Macintosh (Intel-based) Intel Core Duo 1.83-gigahertz (GHz) or higher processor with 512-MB of RAM
Supported Operating Systems:Windows Vista Windows 7 Windows Server 2008 Windows Server 2008 R2Windows Server 2003, Windows XP SP2, SP3 Windows 2000 SP4 + KB 891861*Macintosh OS 10.4.11+ (Intel-based)
Supported Browsers:Internet Explorer 8 Internet Explorer 7 Firefox 3 Safari 3 Safari 4 Safari 5 Chrome
Silverlight does not install because it says it is already on my computer, what do I do?If when you are logged-in to the site, conduct a search, click on a result, and see the download Silverlight icon, but know you already downloaded Silverlight and or have followed the instructions only to be told Silverlight is already installed, before going through any of the "run" process again:Internet Explorer1. Click Tools in the menu bar 2. Click Manage Add-ons3. Look for Silverlight in the list of Toolbars and Extensions. Make sure the status is “Enabled.” Firefox1. Click Tools in the menu bar 2. Click Add-ons3. Click the Plugin icon4. Look for Silverlight in the list of Toolbars and Extensions. Make sure the status is “Enabled.” After you have switched Silverlight to enabled, close the Manage Add-ons window, then refresh the NEHGS webpage. You can do that by clicking the refresh button in the browser or hitting the F5 key on your keyboard.