Online Events

Attend lectures, courses, and author events from your home

Please note: All online programs are moving forward as scheduled—we look forward to seeing you online!

Note: The schedule below is subject to change.

Online Course

Adoption Research

Live Sessions: October 14, 21, and 28 6:00 - 7:30 PM EDT Access through January 31, 2021
Presented by Experts at American Ancestors
Cost: $85

Encountering adoption in your family history research—no matter how recent or distant it may be—can cause an immediate brick wall. With scarce records and restricted access, it can be difficult to identify biological family members and take your research further. You need to work methodically and creatively. In this three-week online course, experts at American Ancestors will provide you with a historical understanding of adoption in America, review the types of records that are likely to exist, illustrate how to use DNA to find biological family, and demonstrate key research strategies that may connect generations.

October 14 - Class 1: History of Adoption in America, Presented by Melanie McComb

Adoption as a legal process in America is a relatively new invention. This first class will provide an overview of adoption in America, the types of records that document adoption and guardianship (including aid societies and maternity homes), access restrictions, and other considerations when researching adopted ancestors.

October 21 - Class 2: Using DNA to Find Biological Family, Presented by Christopher C. Child

DNA testing has made connecting with living family much easier in the last several years. This is especially true for adoptees. This class will review some of the basics of DNA testing, demonstrate how to accurately read your results, and offer best practices for reaching out to family.

October 28 - Class 3: Strategies for Researching Adopted Ancestors, Presented by Sheilagh Doerfler

With restricted or closed access to many adoption records, you have to be methodical in your research and think creatively. Using several case studies that apply both DNA and traditional document-based research, Genealogist Sheilagh Doerfler will walk you through some key strategies and search techniques to piece together a person’s biological family.

NOTE: This copyrighted broadcast is the property of New England Historic Genealogical Society. Any rebroadcast without the express permission is forbidden.

Online Course

17th-Century English Research

Live Sessions: October 28, November 4, 11, and 18 2:00 - 3:30 PM EDT/EST Access through Februrary 28, 2021
Presented by Else Churchill, Genealogist of the Society of Genealogists (UK)
Cost: $115

More than 20,000 individuals migrated from England to New England between 1620 and 1640. Today, there are tens of millions of Americans who descend from these early settlers. Genealogist Else Churchill of the Society of Genealogists—the premiere and largest genealogical society in the UK—will lead this four-week online course that explores English roots prior to 1700. Else will provide practical research strategies, an overview of essential and lesser-known resources, and illustrative case studies to take your research to the next level.

October 28 - Class 1: Hopping the Pond: Some Ideas and Sources for Americans Researching Their British Ancestors Before 1700

This first session will provide an overview of the chronology and key factors that led to British migration into America and some resources and techniques for answering the common questions: where did they come from? and where did they go?

November 4 - Class 2: Researching Before 1700

This talk will look at some 17th century sources that might supplement the deficiencies of contemporary parish registers, including State Papers, tax records, heraldic visitations, quarter sessions, Protestation Returns and records of recusants and other dissenters as well as soldiers of the English Civil Wars. It will use case studies and examples from sources to illustrate what might be found.

November 11 - Class 3: English Church Courts

Often described as the "bawdy courts" or "court of scolds" these records illustrate the moral and religious constraints that governed communities in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. English family historians are familiar with church court records relating to wills and marriage licenses, but much more information can be found amongst the records of the church courts.

November 18 - Class 4: 17th-Century Problems: Strategies and Searches

This session will look at the possible sources that might help extend research back in England.

About the Speaker: Else Churchill has been the Genealogist at the Society of Genealogists (SoG) in London, England since 1998. She has more than thirty years of experience as a professional genealogical librarian and researcher. Formerly the Librarian of the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies, Else now leads the SoG’s education and publishing programs as well as being the Society’s subject specialist. She has appeared on both the UK and American television show, Who Do You Think You Are? and is a regular columnist for Your Family Tree, has written many articles for the British genealogical press, and of course the Society’s own Genealogists Magazine. Else lectures regularly for the Society of Genealogists, The National Archives, and for local groups around the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and the US. Her main interests lie in the seventeenth century and sources for people who lived through the English Civil Wars, but Else also specializes in researching prior to the Victorian Censuses.

About the Society of Genealogists: Founded in 1911 the Society of Genealogists (SoG) is Britain’s National Family History Library and Education Centre. The SoG maintains a splendid genealogical library in London.

NOTE: This copyrighted broadcast is the property of New England Historic Genealogical Society. Any rebroadcast without the express permission is forbidden.

Virtual Family History Benefit Event

Honoring Author and Historian Jill Lepore

Thursday, October 29
5:00 PM EDT Virtual Reception with Honoree (Patron or Benefactor registration required); 5:30 PM EDT General Program
Presentation of Honoree’s Genealogy by D. Brenton Simons; Talk by Jill Lepore: American Ancestors: Reading Portraits
Cost: $65 General Program; Sponsorship levels available

Join American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society as we honor author and historian Jill Lepore.

Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University. She is also a staff writer at The New Yorker, a celebrated author, and the host of the podcast The Last Archive. A prize-winning professor, she teaches classes in evidence, historical methods, humanistic inquiry, and American history. As a wide-ranging and prolific essayist, Lepore writes about American history, law, literature, and politics. She is the author of many award-winning books, including the international bestseller, These Truths: A History of the United States (2018). Her latest book is IF THEN: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future. 


Stories from the Archives: Objects of Mourning

Thursday, November 5 3:00 – 4:00 PM EST
Presented by Judy Lucey
Cost: FREE

The Archives at American Ancestors collects the material culture and written history of families across the country. This webinar will feature items of mourning from the R. Stanton Avery Special Collections and the Wyner Family Heritage Center at NEHGS, including letters of condolence, coffin plates, mourning jewelry, embroidered memorials, and more from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries. Each object has its unique place in history and family memory; hear the stories behind these items and the families who donated them.

Author Event

Tamara Payne with The Dead are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X

Thursday, November 5, 5:00 - 6:00 PM EST
Presented by American Inspiration Author Series in partnership with the Boston Public Library and GBH Forum Network
Cost: FREE

Moderator: L’Merchie Frazier, Director of Education and Interpretation, Museum of African American History

This comprehensive and historic biography paints an unprecedented portrait of Malcolm X, setting him against the larger backdrop of American history. Drawn from hundreds of hours of the interviews including with all living siblings of the Malcolm Little family, classmates, street friends, cellmates, Nation of Islam figures, FBI moles and cops, and political leaders around the world, The Dead Are Arising traces his life from his Nebraska birth in 1925 to his Harlem assassination in 1965. It provides searing vignettes culled from Malcolm’s Depression-era youth, describing the influence of his Garveyite parents: his father, Earl, a circuit-riding preacher; and his mother, Louise, who instilled black pride in her children. Don’t miss hearing from Tamara Payne, the author’s daughter – who, following her father’s death, heroically completed the biography – about this penetrating and riveting work, which has been longlisted for the 2020 National Book Award, featured on numerous “best of” lists, and heralded by O, the Oprah Magazine.

Research Program

Virtual Fall Research Stay-At-Home

Live broadcasts November 12 - November 14 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. EST
Presented by Experts at American Ancestors
Cost: $375

Do you find you have more time than ever to work on family history but don’t know where to start? Are you tackling a brick -wall and need more guidance as you research from home? The Fall Research Stay-At-Home, a virtual program from the experts at American Ancestors and NEHGS, is a three-day online experience filled with consultations, lectures, and more! Learn about essential resources and research strategies that can be accessed and applied digitally, attend lectures from our staff on popular genealogical topics, chat with our experts and other participants daily, and receive one-on-one consultation time focused on your research questions. From the most advanced researcher to someone just beginning their journey into family history research, the Fall Research Stay-At-Home will give you the necessary skills and knowledge to continue your family history research online from home.

    Program includes:
  • Six lectures and access to recordings
  • Lecture handouts and materials
  • Two, one-on-one consultations (scheduled by our staff ahead of time)
  • Activitiy and Demo sessions with our experts and other participants

NOTE: Live sessions will be broadcast through Zoom Video Conferencing. Information about accessing both live and recorded content will be sent to participants ahead of time. Access to a personal device, and internet connection is required to take full advantage of this program.

Thursday, November 12: Organizing
9:30 AM: Welcome and Introductions
10:15 AM - 12:00 PM: Consultations* and personal research
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM: Break for Lunch
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM: Lecture: Choosing a Genealogical Software Program, Rhonda R. McClure
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM: Demo/Activity Session
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM: Lecture: Organizing Family Papers for Donation, Lindsay Murphy
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM: Demo/Activity Session

Friday, November 13: Land & Probate
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM: Consultations* and personal research
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM: Break for Lunch
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM: Lecture: Using Land Records in Family History Research, David Allen Lambert
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM: Demo/Activity Session
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM: Lecture: Getting the Most from Probate Records, Melanie McComb
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM: Demo/Activity Session

Saturday, November 14: Periodicals
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM: Consultations* and personal research
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM: Break for Lunch
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM: Lecture: Mining the Treasures in Newspapers, Rhonda R. McClure
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM: Demo/Activity Session
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM: Searching Scholarly Journals on, Don LeClair
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM: Demo/Activity Session

*Each participant is guaranteed 2 consultations during the program. Consultations will be scheduled ahead of time by American Ancestors staff and will be based on information provided on the research questionnaire filled out by participants.

*Schedule subject to change.

NOTE: This copyrighted broadcast is the property of New England Historic Genealogical Society.

Author Event

Nathaniel Philbrick, Boston Public Library Baxter Lecture on Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War

Thursday, November 12, 6:00 - 7:00 PM EST
Presented by the Boston Public Library in partnership with American Ancestors NEHGS, the State Library of Massachusetts, and GBH Forum Network
Cost: FREE

Moderated by: Ryan. J. Woods, COO and EVP of American Ancestors and NEHGS

How did America begin? That simple question launched acclaimed author Nathaniel Philbrick on an extraordinary journey to understand the truth behind our most sacred national myth: the voyage of the Mayflower and the settlement of Plymouth Colony. Join us for a special conversation with Nathaniel Philbrick on Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War.


Jewish Immigrants in the American Antiques Trade

Tuesday, November 17, 2020 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM EST
A Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center Event
Presented by Briann Greenfield and Erica Lome
Cost: FREE

In the early twentieth century, Jewish cabinetmakers from Eastern Europe played a pivotal role in the emerging market for antiques and their reproductions. In this talk, Briann Greenfield and Erica Lome explore the lives and careers of two immigrants, Israel Sack and Nathan Margolis, who trained together in Lithuania and became noted authorities on Early American furniture. Their clients included some of the most famous collectors of their era, such as Henry Francis du Pont, J.P. Morgan, and Luke Vincent Lockwood.

As an antique dealer and cabinetmaker respectively, Sack and Margolis exemplified a larger tradition whereby America’s oldest families depended on Jewish immigrant labor to preserve and reproduce their colonial heritage. This talk recovers their fascinating legacy and demonstrates their lasting influence on American decorative arts.

Online Conversation Course

Discussing DNA: Finding Unexpected Results

Live Panel Discussion: November 18, 2020, 6:00 PM EST; Access to recordings and materials from November 11 through February 28, 2021
Presented by Christopher C. Child, Libby Copeland, and Bill Griffeth
Cost: $115

In the past few decades, DNA testing has opened new doors for the field of genealogy. For an individual, however, unexpected DNA test results can open a can of worms: revealing unknown parentage, long lost siblings, and other family secrets. Such discoveries can affect one’s understanding of their family—no matter how many generations removed, their culture, and their identity. This online conversation course brings together genetic genealogists, authors, and journalists to discuss the implications and impact of unexpected test results. Through a combination of instructive videos, educational resources, and a lively panel discussion, you will hear how DNA testing has affected how we do family history, learn about the prevalence of genetic surprises, and gain tools to interpret and cope with unexpected test results.

Our panelists:

  • NEHGS Genetic Genealogist Christopher C. Child will demonstrate how to interpret unexpected results and how to unravel family mysteries using DNA
  • Science Journalist Libby Copeland, who previewed her new book The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are on our American Inspiration author series, will speak to big-picture findings and trends in genetic testing, and share some remarkable stories
  • Author and TV host Bill Griffeth, author of The Stranger in My Genes: A Memoir will share his very personal experience and the lessons he’s learned moving forward following a surprising result

This online seminar includes:

  • Exclusive access to more than two hours' worth of instructive videos, plus downloaded slides, handouts, and other educational materials
  • 90-minute live conversation and Q&A with our panel of experts
  • $30 voucher for the purchase of related DNA books, test kits, and other resources at our online bookstore
  • Access to all course materials and unlimited replay of all videos through the end of February 2021

The live Q&A will be held on Zoom Video Conferencing. A link to the live session, recorded videos, bookstore voucher, and other materials will be sent to participants in early November.

NOTE: This copyrighted broadcast is the property of New England Historic Genealogical Society. Any rebroadcast without express permission is forbidden.


Navigating the Digital Library & Archives at

Thursday, November 19 3:00 – 4:00 PM EST
Presented by Sally Benny
Cost: FREE

Our newly redesigned Digital Library & Archives contains thousands of digitized materials from three repositories at American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society: the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center, R. Stanton Avery Special Collections, and Research Library. In this webinar, Curator of Digital Collections Sally Benny will guide you through the much improved and expanded upon site, leading you to digitized archival and published materials including letters, diaries, photographs, newspapers, business records, genealogies, city directories, organizational records, and more.


The Great Houses of Yorkshire

Friday, November 20 4:00 – 5:00 PM EST
Presented by Curt DiCamillo, FRSA, Curator of Special Collections
Cost: FREE

Yorkshire may contain more magnificent historic houses than any county in Britain. In this webinar—part travelogue, part virtual tour—architectural historian Curt DiCamillo recalls our 2018 American Ancestors heritage tour to Yorkshire, bringing you to some of the best country houses in the region, including, Castle Howard, famous as the starring player in the two filmed versions of "Brideshead Revisited"; Sledmere House, a jewel-like Neoclassical masterpiece still in the ownership of its original family; Newby Hall, a glorious Robert Adam house with a core very likely by Christopher Wren; and the mysterious Wentworth Woodhouse, which boasts the longest façade—650 feet—of any house in Britain. Travel to Yorkshire’s great houses without leaving home!

Online Conference

20th Century Immigration to America

Access to five class recordings starting November 13; Live Q&A with Instructors November 21, 2:00 - 3:30 PM EST; Access to all materials until February 28, 2021.
Presented by Experts at American Ancestors
Cost: $125

The twentieth century was a watershed for immigration to America. Between 1900 and 1915 alone, more than 15 million immigrants arrived in America. Amid this influx of immigration and major world events, the United States responded with key changes to its policies. Luckily, for family historians, this was also a period of increased record keeping. This online conference will provide you with the context, records, and strategies for more fully understanding your ancestors’ arrival in the United States.

The five classes for this conference will be pre-recorded and made available to registrants on a conference webpage starting on November 13. We will then have a live Q&A with the instructors on Saturday, November 21 from 2:00 - 3:30 PM EST (this will also be recorded and posted to the conference page). You’ll have access to all of those materials until the end of February 2021. This format gives registrants more time with the materials while still allowing for teacher-student interaction. Of course, you can also reach out directly to our instructors by email.

Class 1: History of Immigration to America in the Twentieth Century, Presented by Rhonda R. McClure

This first class will provide the important context for understanding your ancestors’ emigrant experience, why certain records were created, and how immigration policies changed throughout the 20th century. We will discuss who was coming to America, the reasons for emigrating, how world events affected immigration, the arrival process, and ports of entry, plus the introduction of the quota system, visas, and increased legislation.

Reading and Locating Passenger Lists, Presented by Lindsay Fulton

The 20th century was the age of the passenger list. Unlike the previous centuries, ship manifests from this time focused on the individual passengers and provide a goldmine of information for family historians. To fully understand and analyze passenger lists, we need to understand how they were created, what information is included, and what inferences can be made. This class will also discuss strategies for narrowing your search when a passenger list can’t be found and piecing together an entire family’s movements to the United States.

Class 3: Immigration Records, Presented by James Heffernan

Beyond the all-important passenger list, immigration to America resulted in the creation of several other records. This class will demonstrate how to leverage Alien Files (A-Files), passports, border crossings, and more in your family history research.

Class 4: Using Immigrant Aid Society Records, Presented by Melanie McComb

With the influx of immigrants to America in the 20th century, many immigrant aid societies were created to assist new arrivals with job placement, medical support, finding lost family, and generally get them acclimated to life in America. Some of these organizations include Traveler’s Aid Society, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), Charitable Irish Society of Boston, the Irish Emigrant Society of New York, St. Raphael’s Society, and many others. The records and case files kept by each society can offer a detailed look into the life of your ancestor. This session will provide a brief history of the immigrant aid society movement in America, how they operated, what information can be found in records, and how to locate them.

Class 5: Immigrant Investigation and Deportation Case Files, Presented by Rhonda R. McClure

An immigrant could be turned away from entering the United States for a variety of reasons: bad health, likely to become a public charge, political allegiance, etc. This final class will review materials found in Record Group 85 (RG 85) that pertain to deportation, immigrant investigation, and Chinese Exclusion Act case files. We’ll look at what information is provided, how to access the materials, and how they may be helpful in piecing together your family history.

NOTE: This copyrighted broadcast is the property of New England Historic Genealogical Society. Any rebroadcast without the express permission is forbidden.


Jewish and African American Cemeteries as Borders Uncrossed

Tuesday, December 1, 2020 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM EST
A Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center Event
Presented by Dr. Kami Fletcher and Dr. Allan Amanik
Cost: FREE

Why do Americans tend to separate their dead along communal lines rooted in faith, race, ethnicity, or social standing? Join us for a presentation by Dr. Kami Fletcher and Dr. Allan Amanik, editors of the anthology Till Death do us Part: American Ethnic Cemeteries as Borders Uncrossed (University Press of Mississippi/Jackson, 2020) as they discuss the physical and symbolic borders of America’s ethnic cemeteries and what these divisions reveal about American history. Drs. Amanik and Fletcher will share the histories behind the development of New York’s Jewish cemeteries and the 1807 founding of Baltimore’s African Burying Ground, and what the physical and invisible borders of these cemeteries tell us about how Americans negotiated race, ethnicity, religion, class, and national origin in the 19th century.

Author Event

Nicholas Basbanes with Cross of Snow: The Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, December 7, 6:00 - 7:00 PM EST
In conversation with Diana Korzenik, compiler of the Appleton Family Archives
Presented in partnership with the State Library of Massachusetts and GBH Forum Network
Cost: FREE

Enjoy a lively dialogue about the life and work of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) and his multi-talented second wife, Fanny Appleton Longfellow (1817-1861), featuring Nicholas A. Basbanes, author of Cross of Snow: A Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Diana Korzenik, complier of the Appleton Family Archives. Since the biography’s release in June, reviewers have taken particular note of the modern feminist approach Basbanes has employed to give full biographical attention to Fanny, taking in her work as a brilliant artist, diarist, correspondent, and chronicler of her times. His narrative follows the couple from before they met, during their seven-year courtship, and in their significant partnering on works we know as his literary production, functioning, in her words, as a “pretty active spur upon his Pegasus.” Basbanes and Korzenik will discuss their respective views of this dynamic couple at various stages of their lives.

Schedule a Private Webinar for your Group

Hire one of our experts to virtually present to your group on a subject of your choosing! Our custom webinars allow members of your group to hear and watch a presentation in real time, interact with a genealogical expert, type in questions and receive verbal responses, and have exclusive access to a recording of the presentation. Each custom webinar lasts one hour, and can serve a maximum of 500 individual registrants. Webinars may be scheduled for anytime between 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM eastern time Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; and 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM eastern time on Wednesdays.

To receive a quote and begin the booking process for a custom webinar, please complete our request form. Requests must be made at least 8 weeks prior to the intended event date. Questions? Contact:


NEHGS webinars are FREE, live events that provide an overview of the resources, expertise, and educational opportunities available at NEHGS. Online Courses are paid, in-depth programs and offer more support material and greater access to the instructor(s). Our online education programs are open to anyone.

Anyone can register and attend our online programs.

Register for an event by clicking on the program title above or the “Register” link. After registration, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to join the live broadcast.

All information needed to join a live webinar is included in your confirmation email sent upon registration. You will receive the same information by email one day and one hour before the presentation. Note: Log on 5 to 10 minutes prior to the start time to download the Citrix Online Launcher.

All online programs are recorded for future viewing. Recorded webinars are posted to our Online Learning Center and may be viewed by anyone. Recordings of online courses are available only to registered participants of a given course.