All posts by Ryan Woods

About Ryan Woods

Engaged in museum and library management for more than a decade, Ryan Woods oversees the day-to-day operations of NEHGS and is responsible for the strategic implementation of technology and content services. Since joining NEHGS in 2007, he has held successive roles developing education programs, supervising the research library, and leading business and technology initiatives, including the creation of the Society’s flagship website, Prior to arriving at NEHGS, Ryan served in several key capacities at the Mary Baker Eddy Library and at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, where he was recognized by members of Congress and the Archivist of the United States with a special commendation for outstanding achievement in public service. A licensed educator and author of educational and genealogical articles, he earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in history, education, and non-profit program management from Boston University. In addition to his work at NEHGS, Ryan serves on several boards of historical and educational institutions and is a member of the Society of the Cincinnati, the Society of Colonial Wars, the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem.

An historic collaboration

archdiocese-and-nehgs-project-branding-square-format-croppedOn Tuesday, NEHGS announced the first fruits of an historic collaboration with the Archdiocese of Boston, one where – over a period of years – Archdiocesan records will be digitized and made available on the NEHGS website, In the fullness of time, this collaboration will preserve and make accessible unique records to tell the stories of some 10 million people from the earliest days of the Catholic community in Massachusetts through the twentieth century. These records are key because they often include events not captured in civil registrations. Whether because of a home birth or a conscious decision not to report an event to a civil authority, these documents might include the only written record for a birth or a death. Their importance and value cannot be overstated. Continue reading An historic collaboration

A Historic Collaboration with FamilySearch

From the Ohio Tax Records database* supplied to NEHGS by
From the Ohio Tax Records database* supplied to NEHGS by

Last week a group of NEHGS staff members joined 22,000 attendees at the 2015 RootsTech Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, for four days of learning, research, and fun. At the keynote session of the conference, NEHGS and FamilySearch made a historic announcement: a multi-year collaboration between the two nonprofit organizations to share data, digitize new records, and work to build an online family tree experience for NEHGS constituents. Continue reading A Historic Collaboration with FamilySearch

Fifty years on Newbury Street

Reading Room Ashburton Place
The Reading Room at 9 Ashburton Place. R. Stanton Avery Special Collections, NEHGS

On 14 December 1964, NEHGS opened its doors to members at 99–101 Newbury Street for the very first time. The building on Newbury Street is the Society’s seventh home since it was founded in 1845, and this location has served as our headquarters during the greatest period of growth in our history. In the fifty years since arriving in the Back Bay, our membership has increased from 3,000 to an active constituency of more than 70,000; our library print collections have grown from 30,000 volumes to more than 250,000 volumes; and our endowment has improved from approximately $1 million to more than $25 million.

Continue reading Fifty years on Newbury Street

Banks’ Planters of the Commonwealth

Planters-of-the-CommonwealthIn genealogical research, discovering the names of ships on which immigrant ancestors came to the New World is interesting  not only as a discrete fact, but because it can often be a clue for further research. As there was a tendency for members of communities to travel together, knowing the names of ships and the places of origin of the ships’ passengers is helpful in understanding the composition of communities and revealing where to search for related, elusive ancestors.

Unlike more modern listings of passengers for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, compiled by the shipping companies in official ship manifests for departures and arrivals, for the seventeenth century no such official ship passenger lists were created. Continue reading Banks’ Planters of the Commonwealth

Middlesex County probate records now online

Middlesex County map 1
State map from Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research, 5th edition (NEHGS, 2012)

Middlesex County was created on 10 May 1643 as one of the original four counties of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The other original counties were Essex, Suffolk, and a now extinct Norfolk – a name later reused for a different geographic region in the state.

At its founding, Middlesex County covered a broad swath of Massachusetts. The county was bordered to the north by New Hampshire, to the east by Essex County, to the south by Suffolk County, and to the west by New York – until Hampshire County was created in 1662. Continue reading Middlesex County probate records now online