J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Free Peek into the American Ancestors Databases

Since I'm on the road this week, I'm going to highlight some online databases that have caught my eye.

The New England Historical Genealogical Society has announced that all the databases at its American Ancestors website will be free through Tuesday, 17 July. People need to sign in as guest members to access the back issues of the New England Historic Genealogical Register, the Suffolk County probate records, biographies of the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati, the world's largest database of Mayflower descendants, Boston's Catholic records starting in 1789, and much more.

This is of course a push to induce people researching their ancestors to get hooked on those N.E.H.G.S. databases and become regular members. And that online access really is useful. Just this month I looked up the probate inventory of a Continental Navy veteran, discovering that he owned no real estate but a quarter of a ship and 3,000 pounds of coffee. He was, I conclude, a merchant captain who died unexpectedly before that last cargo was sold.

Among the N.E.H.G.S. databases available is the Early Vermont Settlers, 1700-1784 project directed by Scott Andrew Bartley. This week the society added 74 new profiles of heads of families from Hartland, Springfield, Hartford, and other towns in Windsor County, Vermont. For info on exactly who those people are, see these blog posts.


Chris Hurley of Woburn said...

Apparently, due to the terms of partnership with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives, probate file papers for various counties in Massachusetts are always free at NEHGS/AmAn, and without a login. The Secretary of State has a convenient jumping off point with a county list. (Choose the File Papers sub-option to link to the americanacestors.org search page for that county.)

Chris Hurley of Woburn said...

I found Mass. Probate File papers are available at NEHGS w/o a login for these counties: Bristol, Berkshire, Essex, Hampshire, Middlesex(1st series), Plymouth, Worcester. These two counties required a login: Barnstable and Suffolk.