Geneology: The 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower


This year marks the 400th Anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower. I suspect that several you may descend from some of these early settlers to our shores. The New England Historical and Genealogical Society has many activities and exhibits planned during this year. I am sure that many will end up being canceled or postponed which is a shame, but it is unavoidable.

If you think that you might be descended from one of the persons who sailed on the Mayflower, you will likely find records that will help you to prove this on their site. The employees and volunteers at NEHGS are knowledgeable and can help you to navigate these records. A certain amount of index searching can be done for free without a membership.

In addition to the activities planned this year, NEHGS is a superb resource for those doing research in New England and the Maritime provinces. In addition to their extensive online resources they have thousands of manuscripts, books and other resources on site. You will need a membership in order to access these records. However, from time to time they do offer free access to non-members for specific time periods.

To get a look at the vast resources available, go to the site Looking at the banner you will find a search section that covers their databases and special collections. It is divided into many subcategories and contains 1.4 billion names from around the world. The next title is Services and includes consult an expert, free research quote, ask a genealogist among others. Then the title Learn that includes such subject as Guides for Family History research, webinars, lectures and how-to videos, templates and charts as well as on-line events completes this section. The Library title gives detailed information on the library itself and has the link to the catalog. The final three titles are Events, News and Bookstore and are somewhat self-explanatory.

One entire section of the 5th floor is devoted to Jewish Research and they have a dedicated and talented staff to assist you with this research. This could be invaluable for those tracing their Jewish roots due to the destruction of so many records during WWII.

They offer a great weekly Newsletter that will keep you up to date on some of the work being done at the Library, interesting stories that have been uncovered during the course of research or sent to them by members, and notices of upcoming webinars, podcasts and other activities.

Their staff of genealogists are available to do research for you on-line. They also take appointments for those who can go to the Library in Boston. This can be a bit pricey but can also break that brick wall allowing you to continue researching whatever family line had you stumped. Some of the topics that I have observed them working on are Colonial, Revolutionary and War of 1812 military veterans, Irish ancestors, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. These are just the very tip of the iceberg.

I found that taking the time to view their webinar on using American Ancestors greatly enhanced my ability to successfully search this site. I have availed myself of several other webinars over the last several years and have found them all to be well done.
For those of you wishing to trace your potential Mayflower Ancestors you can start right here in Jamestown. The Hall House has the “Silver Books” as well as 15 other books on our shelves that pertain to this topic.

To read Janet Walberg’s previous genealogy columns or to delve deeper into her writings and insights for searching out and recording your own family’s genealogy, please go to and visit Janet’s own web page.