New England Historic Genealogical Society

Overview: The New England Historic Genealogical Society’s R. Stanton Avery Special Collections collects manuscripts and visual materials with focuses on American genealogical research, particularly the Northeast, and local history. The institution is also particularly rich in materials related to the migration of families from New England to other parts of the country.

Special Collections contains the papers of numerous genealogists, including twenty-two Fellows of the American Society of Genealogists. There are also many family association collections and original documents available both individually and as part of family papers collections. Such documents include account books, autograph albums, Bible records, commissions, correspondence, diaries, deeds, family registers, muster rolls, photographs, samples, scrapbooks, sermons, receipts, and wills.

American Revolution Materials: The manuscript collection at the New England Historic Genealogical Society includes a number of original materials from American Revolutionary soldiers. These documents include five account books, eleven diaries and journals, nine orderly books, and thirteen rolls on subjects including pay, muster, return of officers, and return of ordinance. The documents cover many Revolution-era campaigns, including events in Boston such as the siege of Boston and the encampment at Cambridge and provide information about daily life, economics, and military activities. The Society also holds a number of returns and receipts from the Continental Army’s Wagon Master’s Department (1776-1783) and accounts, bills, and receipts from the British Quartermaster-General and Commissary General.

In addition to materials related to the war effort, the Society also possesses several collections that contain a mix of documents from the era including the Thomas Nixon Papers (1777-1800), the John Ford Papers (1765-1878), and the Abel Mason Papers.

Key Words: Boston, British army, Cambridge, Continental Army, diaries, John Ford, journals, Abel Mason, Thomas Nixon, receipts, siege of Boston, soldiers/militia

Collection Policies: The New England Historic Genealogical Society is actively expanding its manuscript holdings and visual materials, both via donation and purchase. Finding aids are available primarily in print, though a few PDF versions have been attached to their catalog records. Basic catalog records are available for 75-80% of the collection, while approximately 40% of the institution’s multi-box collections have been fully processed. The New England Historic Genealogical Society is willing to lend materials for exhibits and has participated in and hosted exhibits in the past.