Frequently Asked Questions

Are consultations just for NEHGS members?

Anyone, regardless of membership, may make a request to schedule a consultation with a staff genealogist.

Are consultations free?

Consultations are paid one-on-one sessions with a staff genealogist to receive research guidance about sources and methodology related to a specific topic, an individual, or a family. The rates are noted as follows, with Contributing Membership levels receiving complimentary consultation time and a further discounted rate.

Membership Level

Rate per Hour

Annual Complimentary Time

Guest User$105None
Research Individual$85None
Friend$7515 min
Associate$7545 min
Supporter$7560 min
Benefactor$7590 min
Patron$65120 min
Life / Life Benefactor$753.5 hours (210 min)
One Time Only

Learn more about NEHGS membership levels here or call our Member Services team at 888-296-3447 (choose option 1).

Does the complimentary consultation time expire at the end of my membership year?

Complimentary consultation time is usable during the current membership year and, if unused that year, can be carried forward through the next 2 years of membership before expiring. Once used, time spent in consultation is charged at the established hourly rate for the consultee's membership level.

What happens to my complimentary time if I change membership levels or am no longer a member?

Your complimentary time will be available for you to use until it expires ( see above).

Can I book a consultation for the same day I call or visit?

For the best experience, consultation sessions are booked at least 4 weeks in advance to allow the consulting genealogist to receive and review your question and related data. Events and other activities scheduled at our library may also blackout particular days for scheduling individual consultations.

I still want to book a session to coincide with my visit to Boston in shorter than 4 weeks. Can I?

We will make every effort to accommodate your schedule. For bookings of 5 library days or less from the day of initial contact, the hourly rates are doubled. Same-day bookings incur not only the doubled hourly rate but also a flat rush fee of $50.

I don't live in Boston. Does that mean I can't book a consultation?

Consultation sessions are offered in a variety of ways: on-site at our library in Boston, by telephone, or via online video conference using ZOOM software. If you choose the phone or online option, our staff genealogist will call you at your preferred telephone number on the scheduled day and time, or you will be emailed a meeting ID number to connect to your online session. (Be sure to check your junk mail or spam folder for these online meeting invitations!)

Please note that prior experience with online video conferencing is recommended before selecting this meeting option for a consultation. More information about ZOOM compatibility and system/device requirements is available for computers here or for mobile devices here.

How long is a consultation session?

The minimum length of a scheduled consultation session is 30 minutes, while the maximum time is 2 hours. Contributing members may book sessions beginning at 15 minutes in length.

NEHGS offers a Personal Genealogist for the Day service, which encompasses 5 hours with a genealogist in a single day. Please contact us at 617-226-1253 to discuss whether this is the best option for you and your project.

Do I pre-pay for my consultation session?

Pre-payment is not required. The consulting individual may shorten or extend the scheduled session time based on the evolving conversation. For example, a scheduled hour-long session may be shortened to a half hour's time if the consulting individual believes they have received enough information to continue research, or may extend up to the 2-hour maximum (based on the staff genealogist’s availability) if they have more questions about their topic. At the end of the session, payment is expected for the amount of time used, and may be made by credit card or, for in-person consultations at the NEHGS library, credit card, check, or cash.

What are some of the topics that consulting genealogists have handled before?

Frequent topics include advice for finding the names of parents of or a death place for a particular individual, how to research in a particular geographic area, reviewing & guiding lineage application research, using genealogical software, DNA tutorial, and using NEHGS resources.

Can I choose which genealogist I meet with?

Based on your topic, we select the genealogist with the best matching experience. The offered date and time is based on that genealogist's availability.

I'd like someone to find vital and other records for one of my ancestors. Will the consulting genealogist do that for me?

The consulting genealogist will review your question and data, and may spot-check resources to review with you later during the session. While the genealogist may encounter some relevant records and references to bring to your attention, consultation sessions are primarily opportunities to learn about research techniques and record resources to enhance your skills as a family history researcher.

If you would like NEHGS staff to look for records about a family member, our Research Services team is ready to help you. For more information, visit this page or call 617-266-1233.

How can I make a consultation request?

Completing the order form will capture the relevant details about your project that we will use to pair you with a genealogist of suitable expertise and experience to your subject.

The session date suggested in the order form is NOT set until NEHGS staff contacts you. A date and time will be offered, and a reply accepting the offer is expected by a stated deadline.

I have additional data or an image of a record for the consulting genealogist to review that I couldn't include in the order form. How do I send that?

Consulting genealogists would like to review any and all available information about your project you can share before your scheduled session. The information can be sent to the genealogist by email or via U S. mail, to be received no later than 1 week before the scheduled session. Contact information will be given after an offered session date and time is accepted. NEHGS reserves the right to reschedule a session if preparatory data is not received in a timely manner.

Can I give a consultation session as a gift?

Yes! Please contact us at or 617-226-1253 to provide us with your contact information, the session length, and to whom you wish to give a gift of consultation time. We will contact you for payment information, and a gift certificate will be forwarded to you or directly to the recipient. The cost is based on the established hourly rate of the donor's or recipient's membership level, whichever is lower.

Must the gift consultation time be used in one session?

The recipient of gift consultation time will be given a unique identification number to cite when scheduling a session. They may choose to use the time in any increment. For example, one hour of gift time could be used in two 30-minute sessions scheduled on 2 different dates. If more consultation time is used than the available gift time, payment for the difference at the established hourly rate is expected.

If you have further questions about consultations, please email or call 617-226-1253.