Monday, July 9, 2012

Online Hint : American Ancestors a Major Player for Web Family History Research (Part 1)

In your effort to leave no stone unturned in your search for family history nuggets, you'll want to make sure to add American Ancestors to your online research arsenal.  Formerly known as New England Ancestors, American Ancestors is the official website of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), the oldest continuous family history society in the U.S. 

If you say that you don't have New England ancestry or that you have done all of that area's research ready to be enlightened.  First of all, the reason why the website is no longer called New England Ancestors is because the society realized that their title gave the wrong impression of their mission statement & geographic coverage.  Taken literally, New England would only encompass the original 13 states/colonies.  The states of New York and Pennsylvania are not historically considered part of New England, but have always been a primary focus of NEHGS, and in recent years they have cast their net much wider to include the entire United States. 

Some New England area resources have been available in a variety of forums for years, online & off, in the form of transcriptions, indexes, extracts & abstracts.  Now, the NEHGS brings to their website what we all seek - images!  Whether it be from their massive manuscript collection, select vital  & court records, or images of genealogy's most authoritative journals, American Ancestors is becoming a serious contender, going up against industry giants, Family Search and others, and doing so at a very reasonable rate of less than $80.00 for an annual subscription.

Judith H. Halseth, Ed.D - Courtesy of
For several years, the Van Buren District Library (VBDL) in Decatur has been endowed with a gift institutional membership in the NEHGS, including access to American Ancestors, thanks to the continuing gift of Dr. Judith H. Halseth of Paw Paw, society ambassador and former trustee.  VBDL is pleased to announce that Dr. Halseth has recently renewed this gift for another year thus allowing free access at any of the library's public computers. 

During this multi-installment post, we will take a few examples from this blogger's family history to illustrate the many useful components of American Ancestors online.  See you next time to begin the hunt.

Nameless Picture of the Day
Photographer - J. C. Holmes, Poor's Block, Decatur
From the collection of Judith (Brown) Grime

Can you identify the young woman in this carte-de-visite photograph?  Do you have knowledge of the photographer?  Please contact us if you have any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the photo's catalog number with your e-mail.