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  • 2003 Archive

  •   Edited by Lynn Betlock and Rod D. Moody 

    A Guide to, Part Two
    By Rod D. Moody

    Welcome to the second installment of this special guide to! In this issue, we will focus on the following areas:

    •Frequently asked questions about
    •Research Library, Circulating Library, and Library Catalog
    •Research Services
    •Education and Tours
    •NEHGS Books/Newbury Street Press
    •NEHGS Book Store
    •Discussion Forums
    •NEHGS eNews Archives
    •In Memoriam: Theodore Chase

    Frequently Asked Questions about

    NEHGS strives to ensure that users of receive the best web experience possible each and every time they log in to the site. Our webmaster, Darrin McGlinn, monitors and answers all customer email regarding the website on a daily basis and constantly works with our website developers to make easy to use and trouble-free. As with every website, there will always be questions and concerns about using the website as well as technical issues that arise. Some of these can be addressed with a simple fix, while others require a significant amount of thought and time. Please be assured that we are doing everything possible to make your visit a pleasant one!

    Please do not hesitate to e-mail Darrin at if you have technical questions, suggestions, or comments regarding

    A link to our recently-added Frequently Asked Questions page is located directly under the login area on the left menu (click on the "Need Help?" link). Many of the questions that we receive can be answered by viewing this section, and we have selected some of the most common, shown below, for this newsletter.

    The complete Frequently Asked Questions page can be viewed at

    Computer System Requirements
    Before we move on to the questions, please review the following checklist to ensure that your system settings are compatible with

    • The cookies associated with your browser must be active. A "cookie" is data created by a web server that is stored on a user's computer that provides a way for the website to keep track of a user. See number 2 below for more information.

    •JavaScript must be enabled. See number 2c below for more information.

    •Netscape users must upgrade to the current version of Netscape or use Internet Explorer when using See number 2b for more information

    Check Your Settings with Our Configuration Tool
    A quick and easy way to check some of these settings is by using our new configuration tool, found at On the top portion of that page you will find information regarding your Internet browser and version number, client (user) and server Internet address, and the name of the website that you are visiting.

    The next part of the page will indicate if Javascript is enabled, with instructions to enable it, if needed.

    The last part of the page will allow you to set a cookie on your machine from our server. If you click this button and a message appears indicating a cookie was not set or that cookies settings are disabled, then you may have your computer set to block cookies from NEHGS.

    Below are the top five questions asked by users of - and the answers!

    1. I have forgotten my user name/password. How can I log in to the website?

    You can access the site at any time by entering your last name as user name and your member number as your password.
    If you have forgotten a personalized password, this action will clear out your previous information, and allow you to create another personalized user name and password if you choose. To do this, click on the link under the "Welcome (your name)" text in the Member Login area that reads “Change User Info.” This will send you to a new screen where you can create your own personalized user name and password. If you have forgotten your membership number, locate the six-digit number over your name on the mailing label of the Register or New England Ancestors magazine, or contact our Member Services department Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern time) at our toll-free number, 1-888-296-3447 or by email at

    2. Although I am logged in as a member, I cannot view the results of my database search nor can I access the research articles.

    There are a few different reasons why this may be happening. Begin troubleshooting from the top of the list below and work down.

    a. Are the cookies for your browser enabled?
    is designed to use cookies, and each member that wishes to access members-only sections of the site must have their cookies enabled.

    To see if your cookies are enabled, go to our configuration tool, found at There you can set a cookie on your machine from our server. If you click this button and a message appears indicating a cookie was not set or that cookies are disabled, then you may have your computer set to block cookies from NEHGS. If this is the case, please follow the directions given in the answer to Question #2 on our FAQ page at

    b. Are you using Netscape? If so, you need to make sure you are using the most current version of Netscape, since our website is incompatible with earlier versions. You may download the latest version of Netscape from their website at An alternative solution would be to switch to Internet Explorer when searching our databases.

    c. Is Javascript enabled on your system? Check to see if it is enabled at our configuration tool page at If it is not, please visit the following page for instructions:

    3. I get zero results from the Master Search, but can produce results in the individual database search pages.

    First check to see if Javascript is enabled, as shown in 2c above. If it is and you are still having difficulty, please read the paragraph below.

    Firewalls help to keep your personal data and privacy safe from Internet hackers and data thieves. Firewall security settings can also include the option to refuse the use of Javascript and the disabling of cookies, both of which would keep you from using our website effectively. In some cases members using either Norton Internet Security Firewall or Zone Alarm software packages have encountered this problem. Our website is not yet compatible with these additional pieces of software, but we are working to accomplish this. Meanwhile, if you receive zero results in your Master Search, but are able to produce results in the individual database search pages, you may need to disable or temporarily uninstall the software until we find a solution to the problem. Please email if you think that a firewall application software package might be the cause of your unexplained results on our website.

    4. When I perform a first name/last name search on your databases, the results include a large number of individuals with different names. Why can’t I type in “John Brown” and just see all of the individuals named John Brown?

    In most database searches we provide two ways to search on the name of an individual. You may enter the name in the First Name/Last Name boxes or enter it as a keyword. The first method may produce results that do not exactly match the name you have entered and it may also produce a great number of “hits.” Many of these results may not be relevant to your search. However, performing this search is the only sure way to find every mention of the names you are seeking. Performing a keyword search on the name will produce only the results that are exact matches of the name as you have entered it, but if the name is entered in any other way in the original records (i.e. last name first), it will not be found in the keyword search. Therefore, the first name/last name search is the recommended method of searching.

    Please follow the following link for examples and detailed information:

    5. When I use my browser to print, why does the text get cut off on the right side of the page?

    The site was designed to print from a “Print Page” icon located in the narrow orange strip directly below the tabs that represent the various areas of the website (i.e., Libraries, Research, Education, etc.). If you use the File/Print option from your browser, it is likely text will be missing from the right side of the page when you print. The “Print Page” icon should always be used to print from the site.

    I used the “Print Page” icon as indicated above, but nothing happened.

    Some MacIntosh systems are incompatible with this print function. Our developers are still trying to resolve the problem. In the meantime, you may want to use the Copy/Paste commands from your browser to transfer the text to your word processor and print it that way.

    Libraries on

    The Libraries area provides information about the NEHGS Research Library, the Circulating Library, the R. Stanton Avery Special Collections Department, and the online library catalog.

    Research Library

     Planning a visit to the NEHGS Research Library in Boston? Consult these pages as well as the library catalog to outline your research strategy in advance!

    Begin at the main Research Library page at, where you will find information on the library's hours of operation, holiday closings, and admission fees. On the left side of the page you will see a list of links to various pages that describe the holdings and the layout of the Research Library, as well as much more information, described below.

    General Guide to NEHGS Resources

    The General Guide to NEHGS Resources displays a linked list of resources, which, when selected, will provide you with a sample of the wide range of materials available at the library and some highlights of our collection.

    Guides to NEHGS Collections

    These guides offer extensive, detailed lists of library resources for eighteen research topics. These guides indicate the location of these items, year published, publisher, and notes, when applicable. The topics are grouped under the following main topic areas (subcategories are in parentheses). Ethnic Finding Aids (African-American, German, Jewish, Atlantic Canada); Cartographic Materials (gazetteers of the world, countries, and states; ward maps for each New England state and the city of Boston); General Finding Aids (genealogy classifications, guide to general resources, New England cemetery resources); Finding Guides to Microfilm Collections (guide to the Browne Collection [Berkshire Co., MA]; guide to the Cooke Collection [Berkshire Co., MA]; and guide to the collection of the Stamford Genealogical Society.

    Virtual Tour of the NEHGS Library

    This "virtual tour" features a detailed floor-by-floor description of the holdings of the library, complete with maps.

    Research Library User Guide

    This guide was designed to answer basic but essential questions about our facility, and provide library regulations and usage policies, information about the card and computer catalogs, a "where do I find..." list describing the location of various resources found in the library, and information about copy machines, restroom locations, and lockers.

    Circulating Library

    The Circulating Library area provides members with information on how to borrow books online, via the telephone, or by mail, how to use the online circulating library catalog, and reviews of policies and procedures. It also includes a frequently asked questions page. NEHGS members may borrow up to six items at any time from the 30,000 volume circulating library collection.


    With over two million items, the R. Stanton Avery Special Collections are an invaluable resource for New England research. Items in the collections include thousands of unpublished family genealogies, vital records, bible records, diaries, account books, ledgers, correspondence, maps, photographs, business records, typescripts, cemetery records, church records, town records, institutional records, military records, artwork, charts and much more. Access to the R. Stanton Avery Special Collections is a benefit of NEHGS membership, and all items must be viewed in the NEHGS Research Library. The three sections of the Manuscripts area of the website that we will explore here are:

    R. Stanton Avery Special Collections Department

    Here you will find a list of pertinent facts about the collections. You may view information about the department's acquisition policies, a tutorial on how the materials are prepared for patrons' use, manuscript policies and restrictions, a frequently asked questions section, and more.

    Diary Collection

    This link will take you to an alphabetized list of 800+ volumes in our diary collection.

    Important Manuscript Collections at NEHGS

    This area offers a list of the highlights of our collections.

    A fourth area of interest, Tales from the Manuscript Collections, was featured in part one of this guide, which can be found in the eNews archives at

    Library Catalog

    Searching the online library catalog will help you discover the specific resources you wish to view at NEHGS or borrow through the Circulating Library. The library catalog lists materials in our research library, circulating library, and manuscript collections. We have recently added detailed updated information on how to perform effective searches in the catalog.


    There are four main areas listed on the left menu bar in the Research area of

    Search our Databases

    This area contains a linked list of all of the searchable databases on our site. Clicking on any one of these links will take you to the search page of the selected database, which also offers a brief description of the contents and origins of each one.

    Research Guides

    This section provides two guides that will prove extremely useful in your research. New England Town Guides lists every town in the six New England states, the dates they were founded, parent towns, and the county the town is located in. This is a great reference tool for all genealogists! Our Gazetteer Guide outlines the gazetteers available at NEHGS that will aid you in locating towns, counties, villages, and their locations all over the globe.

    Research Services

    Have you thought of having our Research Services department help you with your research? They are waiting to be challenged by your queries and are ready to analyze, research, and report their findings back to you. This department provides three levels of service. In-Depth Research is just that - our expert staff will aid you in solving your "brick wall" problems or provide complete reports for those who do not have time to do their own research. QuickSearch is a service designed to perform simple searches for researchers that already have a good idea what information they are seeking. Our Photocopy Service provides you with copies from sources in the NEHGS Research Library.

    You may request any of these services by visiting the Research Services page on our website. From there you may fill out an online request form and submit it electronically or download a printable form and mail it to NEHGS Research Services, 101 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02116. Include the specific question(s) you want answered, what you already know, where you have already looked, how many hours should be spent on the research, and they will take it from there! Having access to one of the country's largest genealogical collections allows our Research Department to research many unique sources quickly and efficiently. Let NEHGS Research Services help you conquer those “brick walls" today!

    Ask a Librarian
    Please see part one of this guide, found in the eNews archives at, for more information on this feature.

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

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