American Ancestors

American Ancestors ( is the online archive at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. It is the most-used genealogical society website in the world. This archive provides access to more than one billion records. Included in their collections are early American records including England, New England, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia materials. They also maintain the largest searchable collection of published genealogical research journals and magazines.

A free Guest account gives web visitors access to a limited number of databases and occasionally offers access to selected databases for a limited time. The free databases include:

  • Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850
  • Worcester County, MA: Index to Probate Records, 1731-1881
  • Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati
  • Gloucester, MA: Burials in Gloucester Cemeteries
  • Social Security Death Index
  • Irish Immigrant Advertisements, 1831-1920
  • New York Wills, 1626-1836
  • Index of Revolutionary War Pensioners
  • Middlesex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1648-1871
  • Rhode Island Roots journal
  • Mass Historical Data Relating to Cities and Towns
  • American Jewish Historical Society – New England Archives: Jewish Cemeteries in Massachusetts
  • Sharon, MA: Sharon Memorial Park Cemetery
  • Ware, MA Families, Genealogies of
  • Weymouth Revolutionary War Soldiers and Sailors
  • Essex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1638-1881
  • Plymouth County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1686-1881
  • Worcester County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1731-1881
  • Suffolk County Court of Common Pleas – Index to Cases, 1756-1776
  • Norfolk County, MA: Index to Probate records, 1793-1900
  • Armenian Immigrant Births, Deaths and Marriages in Massachusetts – 1880-1915
  • Boston, MA: Taking Records, 1800
  • Family Tree Samplers

There are three levels of membership offering different services. The Individual membership ($89.95/year) offers research benefits for one individual while the Friend level ($150/year) includes discounts on consultations and research-for-hire with a 15-minute complimentary consultation. The Associate level ($250/year) includes the same discounts along with a 45-minute complimentary consultation. Some of the Friend and Associate membership fees are tax deductible.

The society also publishes the Vita Brevis blog ( which is available to all. It spotlights items from their collections, offers tips, announces special offers and other useful information. If you are researching ancestors in the New England region, this blog offers an good preview of what American Ancestors has available.

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