Generatio longa, vita brevis

NEHGS building at 99-101 Newbury StreetWelcome to Vita Brevis, the blog of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Vita Brevis is designed to offer the reader short essays by the Society’s expert staff on their own research as well as news of the greater genealogical community.

As the nation’s oldest genealogical Society, the NEHGS collection has always contained books and manuscripts on other subjects than New England; now, with its growing database collection, NEHGS is truly a national – and an international – resource for family history.

Vita Brevis will include short posts on research methods – applicable to a variety of genealogical subjects – as well as posts on results. Like a mosaic, these posts will, in time, form a new collection for the genealogical researcher to explore.

About New England Historic Genealogical Society

Since 1845, the New England Historic Genealogical Society has been the country's leading research center for genealogists and family historians of every skill level. Today we provide more than 25,000 members worldwide with access to some of the most important and valuable research tools anywhere. The NEHGS library and archive, located at 99 Newbury Street in downtown Boston, is home to more than 28 million items, including artifacts, documents, records, journals, letters, books, manuscripts, and other items dating back hundreds of years.

30 thoughts on “Generatio longa, vita brevis

  1. I will echo the previous comments. A simple subscription that will give me notification with Vita Brevis is available, would be helpful. I’m not likely to go after something unless it is placed in front of me with banners flying.

  2. This is a WordPress blog, so shouldn’t there be a follow button? As an alternative could you tweet when there are new posts? Like the others have said, love to read the blog but definitely need a notification otherwise I won’t remember to check it.

    1. There’s an RSS feed for the site. If you use Feedly you can just plug in the URL for the blog and it will find the RSS feed.

  3. Would appreciate a link to this blog. Regular notification of availability of new postings would also be good. So far, looks interesting.

  4. Me, also. Keep it simple with availability to have subscription options for the posts ( weekly, monthly, quarterly for example). I get overwhelmed with info and would like to focus on these in spurts w.o overtaxing my email acct. Thank you

  5. I echo others comments. My first check into family stories finds a reply from Carole Gardner that carries a story of my ancestors that I was not aware of. I’d hate to miss future stories and comment. RSS or email updates would be great.

  6. An RSS link would be very nice, and keep NEHGS right on the same page as all the other genealogical RSS feed I receive.

    1. THANKS FOR BEING RESPONSIVE. I HAVE ANOTHER QUESTION REGARDING TECHNOLOGICAL APPROACHES TO PRESERVING RECORDS. I DO NOT KNOW WHERE OR TO WHOM THE QUESTION SHOULD GO. I AM TRAVELING TO ITALY TO RECORD SEVERAL HUNDRED YEARS OF CHURCH HISTORY. I AM DOING THIS AT MY OWN EXPENSE AND PLEASURE TO GET THOSE RECORDS BEFORE THEY ARE LOST. I WANT TO SCAN THE BOUND BOOKS. I DON’T KNOW THE TECHNIQUE THAT WORKS BEST, NOR THE BEST TYPE OF SCANNER. I AM THINKING TO BUY THE Fujitsu PA03641 DOCUMENT SCANNER, AND WILL HAVE TO HOPE THAT IT IS THE BEST FOR THE JOB, IF I DON’T GET SOME GUIDANCE. CAN ANYONE THERE TELL ME WHAT MIGHT BE CONSIDERATIONS BEFORE PURCHASE? THANKS FOR THE TIME YOU PUT INTO MAKING THIS LOVELY BLOG WORK.
      JUDITH

      1. I visited the NEHGS recently and was advised to use my cell phone to copy records. It worked very well – I just photographed the pages and could transfer the photos later, and blow them up to read. You just need a good cell phone.

  7. Somewhat of a “ditto” to all of the above – “Vita Brevis” is an excellent inter-active learning and sharing concept. The Society is doing us all a great favor by allowing us a glimpse into the projects of these true professionals. ~ Much obliged in any format!

    PS: It seems “Vita Brevis” is already linked off of “American Ancestors”….. after all, we are here aren’t we?

    J. Record

  8. The link to your RSS feed doesn’t work. Please fix it. I
    won’t be reading this blog unless it shows up in my RSS
    reader.

  9. Many New England 17th and 18th century ancestors found their way to New York State, with family members found there in the 19th century. I suggest someone do a post about “Fulton Postcards” (http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html), which I have been using fruitfully for about a week seeking out obituaries of members of my tree dying in NY State from about 1830 to the late 1900s. Many of the resulting obits provide information I’ve not found anywhere else.

  10. Three of my grandchildren are home schooled. I have been using age-interesting articles in your blog for reading aloud. For example the recent one about double dating. The essays present a different perspective on history and makes it personal for them. I am the ancestor hunter in the family and try to get them interested in that as well. Not only do the articles bring them back in history, but it improves their reading vocabulary. Thanks!

  11. I write the newsletters for our local Genealogical society and a local irish American Club and I lead two classes- an annual workshop for BoyScouts seeking their genealogy merit badge, and a Genealogy study group and provide various other educational presentations throughout the year. I have found your various vita brevis articles so engrossing I would like to share them when the topic is appropriate. May I do so ? I have looked for a copyright restriction and haven’t found clear guidance. I would provide full attribution always and do not profit in any material way from these classes or newsletters.

  12. I would like to know the source of the beautiful family tree that is the background of the Vita Brevis title. Two of the people on it have a surname similar to a mystery surname (brick wall) in my ancestry.

  13. Has anyone developed some sort of database for anonymous family photographs? Sadly, I have several photo books from around 1900 and many ancestors whom I cannot identify.

    If there were a site where anonymous family pictures were posted under a list of suspected family names, there might actually be a way to start identifying these photographs. I recently discovered that a family member mislabeled several photographs I had but a distant family cousin was able to clarify this for me.

    I don’t want my children to toss these pictures down the road because they have no idea who the people are. If we could place a name to the picture, it is less likely this will occur. Is anyone else in this predicament? What if NEHGS became to “go to” site for this? Christopher Child, are you listening? Thank you.

    1. I too have photos of unknown relatives. About 30 years ago, an aunt handed a box of photos to me and said “I don’t know who these people are, but they are relatives.”

    2. Try “Dead Fred”. It’s a website where people post pictures of unknown ancestors in hopes that someone can identify them.

  14. I was looking to contact David Allen Lambert about a large and detailed original family photo album from the1800’s I have in which the first photo that appears is the one and only Elisha Hawes. It also includes photos of most of the family members listed in Mr. Lambert’s research about Stoughton Mass. Some of the photos and sir names include Farrington, King, Davenport,Cook, and Stewart. Even has a photo of Fanny Davenport.
    I can’t seem to find a email address for Mr. Lambert so if the webmaster reads this please advise Mr. Lambert he is welcome to contact me at the email address I provided to this website……………………………

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