Events and Programs

NEHGS events in and around Boston

Learn with NEHGS experts and partner organizations at dozens of lectures, seminars, workshops, and other events, offered each year at the NEHGS research library and in the greater Boston area. Recent seminar topics have included Irish research, digital preservation, identifying family photographs, organizing your family history, writing and publishing your family history, and many more.

| April | May | Special Exhibits | Online Events |

April

April 27 - Book Event: With Their Bare Hands: The AEF, the 79th Division, and American Jews
Presented by author Gene Fax
NEHGS, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston
6:00 PM–7:30 PM Cost: FREE

With Their Bare Hands traces the fate of the US 79th Division—men drafted off the streets of Baltimore, Washington, and Philadelphia—from boot camp in Maryland through the final years of World War I, focusing on their most famous engagement: the attack on Montfaucon, the most heavily fortified part of the German Line, during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in 1918. Drawing upon original documents, including orders, field messages, and the letters and memoirs of the soldiers themselves, some of which have never been used before, author Gene Fax will share the engrossing story of the 79th Division's bloody involvement in the final months of World War I and explore the role of American Jews in the Division. Book sales and signing to follow. Register today.

April 29 - The NEHGS Book Club
NEHGS, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston
1:45 PM–3:30 PM Cost: FREE

Learn from leading authors in our field about the essential resources produced by our award-winning Publications program that will advance your research. From writing your family stories, to crafting a historical biography, to the latest from our genealogical study project for Early New England research, to essential how-to guides for approaching your Irish family history, our team of expert genealogists and publishing professionals will give practical advice to apply to your genealogy pursuits, provide insights into the research and writing processes, and entertain your questions in an engaging round of discussions. Hear from co-author of Guide to Genealogical Writing Penny Stratton; lead genealogist of the NEHGS study project, Early New England Families, 1641-1700, Alicia Crane Williams, FASG; and co-author of Genealogist’s Handbook for Irish Research Judy Lucey. Register for free today!

April 30 - Breaking Down Genealogical Brick Walls: Strategies for Success
NEHGS, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston
9:30 AM–4:30 PM Cost: $125, Breakfast and lunch included

Research your ancestry long enough and you’re bound to hit a brick wall—the paper trail vanishes, the family seemingly disappears, and you’re unable to go back to earlier generations. Whether you are struggling to find an immigrant’s exact origins, uncover a maiden name, determine parentage, or discover where a family moved to, cluster research can help. The Research Services team at New England Historic Genealogical Society is routinely contracted to solve such genealogical mysteries. In this full-day seminar, our experts will teach you valuable organizational tips and practical strategies to circumnavigate common genealogical brick walls and enrich your understanding of an ancestor’s life. Register today!

May

May 3 - New Visitor Tour
NEHGS, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston
10:00 AM–11:00 AM Cost: FREE

This free orientation and tour introduces you to the resources available at the NEHGS research facility. Founded in 1845, NEHGS is the country's oldest and largest nonprofit genealogy library and archive. With more than 15 million artifacts, books, manuscripts, microfilms, journals, photographs, and records—and expert staff to help you navigate it all—NEHGS provides the access you need to research your family history. You do not have to be a member to participate. Tour attendees are welcome to use our resources following the tour. No registration necessary.

May 3 - Official Book Launch Villa Astor: Paradise Restored on the Amalfi Coast
Presented by author Curt DiCamillo
NEHGS, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston
5:30 PM–7:30 PM Cost: $95

Dominating the Bay of Naples in the charming town of Sorrento, with spectacular views of Mount Vesuvius, Villa Astor is an Italian landmark with a rich history dating back to the Roman Empire. American businessman, collector, and politician William Waldorf Astor——founder of the legendary Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York——fell in love with Italy during his time as American ambassador in Rome. He purchased the villa that now bears his name and turned it into a paradise of art, beauty, architecture, and exquisite gardens. Please join us for a special reception and lecture with author Curt DiCamillo, NEHGS Curator of Special Collections. Attendees will receive a copy of the book Villa Astor: Paradise Restored on the Amalfi Coast. Register today.

May 5 - Researching WWI Veteran Ancestors
Part of our First Friday lecture series
Presented by David Allen Lambert
NEHGS, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston
12:00 PM–1:00 PM Cost: FREE

Throughout American history, brave men and women have answered the call to serve our country and defend our families. Many of us can claim these courageous citizens as our ancestors. But how do we learn more about their service? Researching World War I veterans presents unique challenges. In 1973 a fire destroyed destroyed 16 to 18 million personnel records for the U.S. Army between (service years 1912 to 1960). Learn how you can start to reconstruct your ancestor’s service using draft registration cards and enlistments, the US census, discharge papers, unit histories, and more. Please register.

May 7 - Reception and Lecture: "Kernwood Country Club: A Brief History"
In partnership with the Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS and the Jewish Heritage Center of the North Shore
NEHGS, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston
10:00 AM-12:00 PM Cost: FREE

Please join the Jewish Heritage Center at the New England Historic Genealogical Society for a reception welcoming members of the Jewish Heritage Center of the North Shore and the general public. Jim New, Kernwood Country Club Historian-in-Residence, will give a special presentation, “Kernwood Country Club: A Brief History” and share stories about the Club’s origin and evolution. A light kosher breakfast will be provided.

More than a century ago, Filenes’ executive Louis Kirstein, like many other prominent businessmen from Greater Boston, was fascinated with the growing leisure phenomenon of golf. But Kirstein and a group of friends found the doors to those clubs locked tight, for one simple reason: they were Jewish. The area’s most storied clubs had restrictive membership policies. Their discrimination led to the establishment of the first Jewish country club in greater Boston and one of the most enduring institutions on the North Shore: Kernwood Country Club in Salem, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2014. Register today!

May 11 - Benjamin Franklin in London: the British Life of America’s Founding Father
In partnership with the Royal Oak Foundation
Presented by George Goodwin
NEHGS, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston
6:00 PM–Lecture, 7:00-7:30 PM-Reception; Cost: $30 with code 17SNEHGS (register with Royal Oak Foundation)

For the vast majority of his life, Benjamin Franklin was not only a British royalist, but an advocate of North America as part of the British Empire. As a young man during the 1720s he spent 18 formative months in England. Indeed, for more than one-fifth of his life, Franklin lived in London. He dined with prime ministers, members of parliament, even kings and Britain’s most esteemed intellectuals. He was so influenced by what he found during his time in London that, over the next three decades, he created many of America’s longstanding institutions based on what he witnessed in Britain. In 1757, Franklin returned to London as a colonial representative and world-renowned scientist. He was still there in March 1775, just weeks before the outbreak of the American War of Independence, desperately trying to forestall the breach between Britain and the colonies. Finally he was forced to leave, barely escaping arrest. In this fast-moving talk, historian George Goodwin gives a colorful account of Franklin’s British years and offers a revealing portrait of one of the most remarkable figures in U.S. history, effectively disputing the commonly held perception of Franklin as an outsider in British politics. Register today!

May 13 - Irish Study Group
NEHGS, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston
9:30 AM-12:00 PM Cost: FREE

This Irish Genealogy Study Group gathers each month to talk about research problems and share solutions. Everyone is welcome and attendees are invited to stay and use the library resources afterwards. Contact Mary Ellen Grogan at megrogan@ix.netcom.com for more information. No registration necessary.

May 17 - Induction Ceremony of NASA Astronauts into the Jewish-American Hall of Fame
In partnership with the Jewish Heritage Center and the Jewish-American Hall of Fame
NEHGS, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston
6:00 PM-7:30 PM Cost: FREE

Join us as we induct Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman and Dr. Judith Resnik into the Jewish-American Hall of Fame. Dr. Hoffman will talk about his experiences in the NASA Space Program and Dr. Charles Resnik will give a talk about the life of his sister, Judith, who was a NASA Astronaut and who died in the January 28, 1986 Challenger explosion. Help us celebrate and honor the lives of these two extraordinary Americans who have contributed another chapter to the history of Jews in America. Register for free today!

May 18 - Reception and Lecture with John Crichton, 7th Earl of Erne
In partnership with the Boston Branch of The English-Speaking Union
NEHGS, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston
5:00 PM- Reception, 5:30-6:30 PM- Lecture; Cost: $30

Hailed as a hidden gem above the shimmering waters of Lough Erne and surrounded by 2,000 acres of land managed by the National Trust, the present Crom Castle was built by John Crichton, 3rd Earl of Erne, in the 1830s and is still owned and occupied by the Crichton family. Designed in Tudor revival style by Scottish architect Edward Blore, who also designed sections of Buckingham Palace, the interior features beautiful Gothic revival archways and stained glass. Many royals have visited Crom over the years, including the Queen and Prince Philip in 2012. Crom Castle was also used as the location for the popular 2013 BBC series Blandings, adapted from the novels of PG Wodehouse. John Crichton, the 7th Earl of Erne, inherited the house and title in December 2015 upon the death of his father, Henry Crichton, 6th Earl of Erne. The Earl will speak about his family home, the challenges of maintaining such a property, and his plans for its future. Register today.

May 20 - Italian Family History Day
Featuring keynote speaker Mary Tedesco
Dante Alighieri Society of Massachusetts
41 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02139
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM; Cost: $125

Knowing our ancestors is essential to knowing ourselves. As Italian-Americans, we each inherit a magnificent personal family history. Genealogical research enables us to reclaim and honor this proud legacy. Explore your Italian heritage with the experts at NEHGS! Master using Italian resources and records on both sides of the Atlantic, learn how to apply for Italian dual citizenship, and gain the tools needed to plan your research trip to Italy. Whether you are just beginning your Italian family history discovery or have been researching for years, you won’t want to miss this seminar. Let's find our ancestors; let’s explore our Italian family roots! Register today!

May 20 - New Visitor Tour
NEHGS, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston
10:00 AM–11:00 AM Cost: FREE

This free orientation and tour introduces you to the resources available at the NEHGS research facility. Founded in 1845, NEHGS is the country's oldest and largest nonprofit genealogy library and archive. With more than 15 million artifacts, books, manuscripts, microfilms, journals, photographs, and records—and expert staff to help you navigate it all—NEHGS provides the access you need to research your family history. You do not have to be a member to participate. Tour attendees are welcome to use our resources following the tour. No registration necessary.

May 24 - Mapping the Genome of Black and White Photography
In partnership with the Ticknor Society
Presented by Paul Messier
NEHGS, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston
6:00 PM– Reception, 6:30-7:30 PM- Lecture; Cost: FREE

Join the Ticknor Society and New England Historic Genealogical Society for a special discussion on "the genetic makeup" of black and white photography. In the late 1990s, Paul Messier, now head of the Lens Media Lab (LML) at Yale University, began a collection of historic photographic papers with the aim of providing a baseline to date and authenticate photographic prints. Nearly twenty years and 5,000 samples later, this is possibly the largest collection of its kind in the world. Paul will discuss his work, the diversity and language of the medium, and how meaning and measurements can be drawn from it. Register for free today.

May 25 - Treacherous Beauty: A Scene of Sabotage and Deceit at America’s Founding
with author Stephen H. Case and playwright Patrick Gabridge
NEHGS, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston
6:00–7:30 PM Cost: $30

Histories of the Revolutionary War have long honored heroines such as Betsy Ross, Abigail Adams, and Molly Pitcher. Yet few people know about one of the war’s most remarkable women, a beautiful Philadelphia society girl named Peggy Shippen. While war was raging between England and its rebellious colonists, Peggy befriended a suave British officer and then married a crippled revolutionary general twice her age. She brought the two men together in a treasonous plot that nearly turned George Washington into a prisoner and changed the course of the war. Peggy Shippen was Mrs. Benedict Arnold. The story of Peggy Shippen from the popular biography Treacherous Beauty has been adapted into a movie script. Join Stephen Case, co-author of Treacherous Beauty and playwright Patrick Gabridge, for a special evening featuring a conversation with the writers and a first look at scenes from this dramatic retelling. Register today.

Special Exhibit

April 18 – October 31, 2017 – Voices of War: Americans in World War I, 1917-1918
Presented by NEHGS Special Collections, Jewish Heritage Center, and Historic Newton
NEHGS, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston
Tuesday – Saturday 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Cost: Free and open to the public

One hundred years ago, America entered into a worldwide conflict unlike any it had known before. It was the Great War, the First World War, the War to End All Wars. Using letters, diaries, photographs, ephemera, and other special items from the collections of NEHGS, the Jewish Heritage Center, and Historic Newton, this exhibit brings to life the story of two American soldiers: Charles Judd Farley and Bernard Louis Gorfinkle. Farley was an ambulance driver with the American Expeditionary Forces and the United States Motor Transport Corps; Gorfinkle a Judge Advocate with the American Expeditionary Forces, 26th Yankee Division. Farley volunteered to serve with France in 1916; Gorfinkle traveled to France with his Division in 1917. Throughout the building, visitors will learn about the War through the experiences of these two men. Richly illustrated panels also tell of the American Red Cross, the role of women on the front lines, the Jewish American experience in the US military, and more. The exhibit is self-guided. If you would like to arrange for a guided tour or a group visit, please contact education@nehgs.org or call 617-226-1226.