Tuesday, October 4, 2011

American Ancestors: Featured library resource for October 2011

American Ancestors is the online database of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, located on Newbury Street in Boston.  We on Cape Cod are fortunate to be within easy reach of NEHGS, fondly known in CCGS as HistGen.  In fact, the Society is sponsoring a bus trip right to the entrance of NEHGS on Tuesday, October 25.  (Click here for details and registration.)  Many of our members belong to NEGHS.  But if you don’t, you can access their collections at the CCGS Library room in Dennisport.  (Only a few other libraries on the Cape subscribe: Sturgis in Barnstable, Falmouth, Cape Cod Community College, and Vineyard Haven.)

The New England Historic Genealogical Society was founded in 1845, and has specialized in collecting genealogical resources relating to New England.  Their database, American Ancestors, was called New England Ancestors until 2010.  However, their collections include data from the rest of the country and the world.  As stated on their website, “[it] is one of the most widely used online genealogical resources in the country. More than 15,000 members research on the website every day. This site features nearly 3,000 unique searchable online collections, offering information on more than 135 million people.”  The database includes information on their extensive and unique manuscript collections (unpublished handwritten or typed documents) which total over 5,000 linear feet.

American Ancestors supports both keyword and advanced searching and a video on searching the database explaining the features and strengths and limitations of each type is worth viewing.  Search results can be limited by both database type and name.  Among the most popular databases are the Massachusetts vital records, cemetery records transcribed from the manuscript collections, and publications by NEHGS such as the Register and the Great Migration series.  Images of the original pages are available in many instances.

NEHGS members and paying subscribers can access American Ancestors from home, but anyone can use it for free at the CCGS Library, located at the Dennis Public Library in Dennisport.  Visit us and give it a try, with the help of our library volunteers!

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