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  • Library Catalog

  • Hours

    Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
    9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
    Wednesday
    9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
    Sunday and Monday
    Closed
  • Visit Us

    Interested in visiting the library?

  • Holiday Closures

    2014
    Wednesday January 1, 2014  - New Year's Day
    Saturday February 15, 2014 - Presidents Day
    Saturday May 24, 2014 - Memorial Day
    Friday July 4, 2014 - Independence Day
    Saturday August 30, 2014 - Labor Day
    Wednesday November 26, 2014 - Closes at 1 pm
    Thursday November 27, 2014 - Thanksgiving Day
    Wednesday December 24, 2014 - Closes at 1 pm
    Thursday December 25, 2014 - Christmas Day
    Wednesday December 31, 2014 - Closes at 1 pm

  • Contact Us

    library@nehgs.org
    617-536-5740

  • Library Guide

  • 6th Floor Reading Room 1007th Floor – Ruth C. Bishop Reading Room

    This is the place to start if you descend from an early immigrant to New England. We encourage visitors to search our online library catalog, either at the library or at home, to see if someone has already written a genealogy that includes your family. Published genealogies can be found on the 7th floor. You can also look for your ancestor in one of the reference books located behind the desk. Our staff genealogists here are knowledgeable about early New England ancestry and will be glad to help you with your search.

    Our stacks are open to all visitors, and you can retrieve books yourself. The library uses the Library of Congress classification system. You do not need to reshelve the books, but instead can place them on the book cart on each floor, and our staff will return them to the shelves. You can bring books from one floor to another. On this floor are published genealogies, reference books, and current periodicals. Located in the reading room are commonly used sources, such as The Great Migration Begins, New England Marriages to 1700, and printed Massachusetts vital records to 1850. Also located in the Reading Room are the genealogical quarterlies the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, The American Genealogist, and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Record.

    We have a large reading room with tables that have electrical outlets for laptops. There is wi-fi access throughout the library. To make photocopies, go to this floor and purchase a photocopy card from the machine next to the desk. You put $1 into the machine to get a card encoded with 4 copies (25¢ each). You can add value to the card by putting the card back into the machine, and inserting $1, $5, $10, or $20 bills into the machine. The photocopier on this floor is located just inside the stacks. You can also use the copier to scan pages and save them to a flash drive. There is no cost for this except the $1 for a card. If you do not have a flash drive with you, the library offers them for $8 each.

    Access to rare books is a benefit of membership. To access rare books, please go to this floor, fill out a call slip (blank ones are located at the reference desk), and give it to the genealogist on duty. He/she will retrieve the book for you. When you are finished with the book, please bring it back to the reference desk.

    Journals Manuscripts 1006th Floor – R. Stanton Avery Special Collections Department

    One of the most important and unique aspects of the NEHGS Library is its extensive special collections of manuscripts. The 5,000 linear feet of collections include unpublished genealogies, diaries, letters, account books, journals, business and institutional records, cemetery transcriptions, deeds, maps, photographs and artwork. Patrons request manuscripts at the 5th-floor reference desk (not on the 6th floor) and will be asked to fill out a call slip requesting the material they wish to see, and the archivist will retrieve the material from the stacks, which are closed to patrons. Patrons may consult finding guides to find specific items within some of the larger collections. Copying will be at the discretion of the archivist, due to the fragility of some materials, and all copying will be carried out by the archivist. Access to manuscripts is a benefit of membership. 

    5th Floor – Local History

    Although many people start their research on the seventh floor, many will later visit the local history collections on the fifth floor. NEHGS has an entire floor devoted to local histories, vital records, cemetery records, newspaper abstracts, college alumni directories, atlases, and probate court and deed indexes. Although our collection policy focuses on the New England states, New York and Eastern Canada, NEHGS has books relating to every state and province in the United States and Canada, and some Caribbean islands. These records can help place our ancestors in the context of the times and communities in which they lived, and in some cases may be the only records noting the existence of an individual.

    The stacks on the 5th floor are open to all visitors and they may retrieve the books themselves. The books may be returned to the book cart for reshelving. A photocopy machine and restroom are also located on this floor. There are two computers here for access to the library catalog and databases. The reading room on this floor has tables with electrical outlets for laptops.

    Microfilm Reader 1004th Floor – Dean C. and Roberta J. Smith Technology Room

    If you are just starting out researching your ancestors; or your family immigrated in the 19th or 20th centuries; or you are seeking to connect yourself to a published genealogy, this floor is the place to start. Our genealogists on this floor are experts in 19th and 20th century research, and can help you get started with your family tree. Here you can access federal and state census records on the web or on microfilm. NEHGS also has most vital records for the New England states, and they are especially comprehensive for Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Our Massachusetts vital records collections include birth indexes 1841 to 1950, marriage indexes 1841 to 1970, and death indexes to 1980, in addition to the actual records from 1841 to 1910. The Society has probate and deed records on microfilm through the 19th century for most of the counties in New England. The city directories include most of the towns in Massachusetts, and the Boston directories range from 1789 to 1981 for almost every year. We also have some newspapers on microfilm, including the Columbian Centinel, the Boston Transcript, the Boston Pilot and the New York Times. On this floor are located microfilm readers, microfiche readers, microfilm/fiche reader printers, a microfilm/fiche CD burner, and patron computers. You do not need a copy card to use the reader printers since copying is on the honor system, and costs 25¢ for 8 ½ x 11 copies and 75¢ for 11 x 17 copies. We have blank CD-ROMs and jewel cases that can be purchased for $1.00 each. There are also patron restroom facilities and a water fountain on this floor.

    NEHGS has an extensive collection of books and microfilms relating to Eastern Canada. On the fourth floor, patrons can access the Canadian census records for all provinces up to 1901. For Quebec, NEHGS has the Drouin and Loiselle marriage indexes, the PRDH CD-ROM, the Drouin collection of parish registers, and notary records. The Prince Edward Island records include the Master Name Index, an index to all baptisms on the island, many of the parish registers, and detailed 19th century atlases. For Nova Scotia, NEHGS has marriage licenses 1849 - , township records, probate records and deeds, as well as detailed early maps. For New Brunswick, the collection included vital records from 1887 to 1951, and biographical notices in New Brunswick newspapers.

    The fourth floor is also the place to begin researching Irish ancestors, since the collection includes census substitutes such as Griffiths Valuation of Ireland and the Tithe Applotment Books, the 6-inch-to-1-mile Ordnance Survey maps, the Spinning Wheel lists, biographical notices in 18th century newspapers, and the Emigrant Savings Bank Records of New York. The Scottish Old Parish Register Index is also located here. We also have indexes to New England naturalization petitions, and an index to Boston passenger lists, 1848 to 1891.

    The Society has subscriptions to Ancestry.com and HeritageQuestOnline.com, which can be accessed from the patron computers located on this floor. These computers also provide access to several hundred CD-ROMs that cover a wide variety of topics, and include NEHGS publications of the Corbin Collection (central and western Massachusetts records), and Boston Church Records. We also have other publications such as Worden’s Index to the NYG&B Record, Grenham’s Irish Surnames, and the National Burial Index for England & Wales.

    A restroom, a water fountain, and lockers are located on the fourth floor. When you arrive on this floor, please stop at the librarian’s desk, and sign up for a microfilm or microfiche reader, or a computer. For microfilm, you will be given a wooden block with your microfilm reader number on it. When you pull the microfilms, place the wooden block in the space where you got the film. This will help you refile the box when you are finished. Patrons can access all microfilms and microfiche records on the fourth floor, but we ask that microfiche records be returned to a file box on top of the microfiche cabinet.

    First Floor 1001st Floor – Treat Rotunda and Constance Wadley Fuller Reading Room 

    If you know where in Europe your ancestor originated, go to the first floor to find detailed historical and genealogical records for European countries, particularly England, Scotland and Ireland. Our collections include published vital records, census records, parish registers, local and county histories, probate and deed indexes, heraldry books, historical and genealogical periodicals and general guides. This floor does not have a photocopy machine, so patrons should bring any materials they wish to photocopy to the fifth or seventh floors. Also located on the first floor are restroom facilities and a water fountain, a snack room with a soda machine, snack machine and coffee machine, and a bookstore.

    The bulk of the international books are located on compact shelving in the old bank vault to your right. The books are arranged by Library of Congress call number, so be sure to use the catalog to look up the call numbers of the books you want.

    Library Catalog

    There are computers on all the library floors that allow you to search our library catalog. You can search by keyword (anywhere in record), title, author, subject, call number, or advanced. A good place to start is with the keyword search. You can also access our library catalog from your home computer by going to our website and clicking on the library link on the home page. You can save records of the books you wish to see by clicking on the button "Save Record," and then proceeding to "View Saved Records." You can then print out the list and take that with you.

New England Historic Genealogical Society
99 - 101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA
888-296-3447

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