The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) was the first genealogical society established in the United States. Millions of documents, manuscripts, records, books, microfilms, photographs, artifacts, and electronic resources are housed in its library, and there are 500 searchable online databases available to members. What many people don’t know is that there are also Free Databases available to everyone. All you have to do is complete a guest registration on their site, AmericanAncestors.org.
A membership in NEHGS includes many valuable benefits, and they sometimes offer discounts on the $79.95 annual membership fee. The NEHGS Library catalog is searchable online, and you can determine if their holdings include items of interest to you and your research. However, if you are like me and your genealogy budget is $0, then free databases are a wonderful find.
Ancestry.com recently pulled the Social Security Death Index from RootsWeb, the free site, leaving it available on its paid site. It is quite nice to find that it is still available free at NEHGS.
Another database which I have found useful is New York Wills. I have Dutch ancestors who were in New York in the 1600s so I love this Calendar of Wills.
The Irish Immigrant Advertisements is from The Boston Pilot “Missing Friends” column with ads from people looking for “lost” friends and relatives who had immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland. I haven’t found any of my Irish family yet, but I hope that someday I will see a familiar name.
You can also sign up for NEHGS’ weekly newsletter, The Weekly Genealogist — it’s free, too. I highly recommend it. My favorite part is the weekly survey. Last week’s survey asked if any of your ancestors were living in the thirteen American colonies on July 4, 1776. This week’s survey wants to know if your research has debunked a family myth. I look forward to the answers each week and to finding out what the new question is.
I hope that you find the NEHGS as helpful as I have. There is a lot more on the website to explore (as there always is in genealogy). It’s so much fun to find that some of it is free!