Visiting New England Historic and Genealogical Society

While we were on our road trip to the east coast, we were lucky enough to spend a few nights in Boston. I had never been to Boston and I had so many things I wanted to do. We did get to do a small amount of sight-seeing, we went into Cheers and purchased a few souvenirs for the family. We walked through the commons a few times, checked out the farmers market and walked the Freedom Trail.  As I am sure you can see, we did a lot in the bit of time we had there. We had two nights and a day and 1/2 to split up and see everything. The day we left Boston, (to head Jefferson County, NY) I had just a bit of time to check out the New England Historic Genealogical Society. I had already searched their data base and knew they had a few things that I wanted to print out, I wanted to make sure I got copies of anything I could.

Let me tell you that driving around Boston is very confusing. But I managed to do it, even though many warned us not to.  As we were driving around looking for the NEHGS, we drove down the street looking for the address and then hoping that I would be able to pull over and let my Aunt take the driver’s seat while I went inside. As we sat at a stop light, in the second lane with a truck to our right, we were discussing how difficult it seems to find everything in Boston, a truck moved and my cousin, said “hey, I think it is right here!”

Not the best picture, I took this on my phone, with my hands full of files!

I turned to my right and there it was. I was lucky enough to get over right away and turn onto the side street so that I could pull over and get out of the car. I had already made sure everything I needed was in the backseat of the car. I carefully, pulled everything out, made sure I did not have a bag (because of the rules at Newberry Library in Chicago, see this post). I walked around the corner and entered into the most beautiful building. I checked in and paid my $15 non-member fee (my membership had run out the month before and I am currently cutting my genealogy expenses). I told the woman what I was looking for and she sent me up to the sixth floor (I believe), right after she offered me a bag to hold all of my files. I laughed and told her I purposely did not bring in a bag because the genealogy library at home does not allow them.  I bagged up my things and headed off to the sixth floor.

The library/genealogist from this floor was on lunch, so I browsed the room and its holdings. I felt out-of-place, had no clue where to find help. I waited a good 20 minutes beyond the time the librarian was to return and found the stairs. I headed downstairs to see if I could find anyone that could assist me. Turns out, I had been sent to the wrong floor and I just needed to go down 1 more floor. I finally made it to where there were people around and most importantly, there was someone to help me. I pulled out the information I was hoping to take home with me. I thought I came prepared, I took notes on what I found on their website, with the records # they listed. This was not helpful. The lady had to look everything up manually and then give me the CD’s the indexes were on, all information taken from my ancestors church in NY. Most of this information I had, but I wanted to get printouts anyway. I am glad I did this, it did give me a bit more information on some of the family lines I was working on and with this information, I was able to track down more living relatives (I hope to make contact with them soon).

But, the one record that I wanted to walk away with, I did not. That is the probate records for Hilaire Fontaine/Alexander Springer. This is a newly discovered line and I really wanted some concrete paperwork on the family. I believe she told me that I would have to go to Essex County to request the record or to utilize their request a copy and pay to have it emailed. I was not wanting to do this, I was looking for instant gratification! Not so much…I was on a time crunch, definitely no time to drive someplace else. I still need to order a copy of the records. Hopefully sometime in the near future I will be able to do this.

Back to the records, I was able to look at. I found a marriage record for a John O’Connell and Marie Goyette at St Paul’s Catholic Church in Hudson Falls, NY. When I last spoke with St Mary’s who houses the records for St Paul’s they did not have any listing’s of O’Connell marriages. I was beyond thrilled! Now, I am not 100% sure this is my John O’Connell, but I have a  great hunch that it is and will continue looking until I find the evidence to prove I am right. I do know that buried to the right of John is a Marie O’Connell, but I have not found an obit for her or John yet. Keep your fingers crossed that I will stumble across a record sometime soon!



Similar Posts


  1. The next time you are at NEHGS make an appointment to meet up with one of the genealogists. They’ll have what you need ready for you when you get there, and walk you through the rest. It’s a service well worth the time if you are coming from a long distance and don’t have a lot of time to spend wandering around perusing the resources.

  2. Heather, Thanks for the tip. If I had a specific time I knew I would have been in the area, I would probably have gone that route. Unfortunately, I only knew I would be in Boston and it would be a short time frame. Wasn’t 100% sure how much time I would have had there. I feel very fortunate that I got the 1/2 hour I did. I will definitely keep this in mind for the next trip.

    How I hope there will be a next trip!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.