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  • Writer's pictureMaggie Meahl

Field Trip: New England Historic Genealogical Society

*Originally posted November 25th 2019*

First floor reading room at NEHGS.

What better way to spend a classic New England dreary and damp November day than at the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS). I pronounce it “negs.” My reason for visiting was to attend a lecture by Michelle Marchetti Coughlin, an independent researcher and writer. Her lecture coincides with the publication of her latest book, Penelope Winslow, Plymouth Colony First Lady: Re-Imagining a Life c2019 and published by the Pilgrim Society of Plymouth, MA.

Penelope Winslow: Plymouth Colony First Lady, Re-Imagining a Life by Coughlin

Since I knew I was going to make the pilgrimage (get it?) into Boston, in my car (for flexibility), I thought, let’s mine the stacks at NEHGS for any tidbits or leads on my study of Margaret Barrett Huntington Stoughton (MBHS–1595-1665). My project is similar in nature to Coughlin’s so it helps me to see the research methods of much more experienced researchers and historians. She makes it look easy.

This is my second attempt at a scholarly project–a book on an immigrant to America, MBHS, and her new life in 17th century New England. If that chapter/essay works, I may move on to her progeny as they were successful merchants in Norwich, CT for many generations, MANY. That is the plan right now. My first historical article was published this year by Connecticut History Review. Although I am very proud of it, it is not as buttoned up as it should be.

Tips for Visiting Archives:

I am a person who needs templates and forms to organize historical research. So, I made my own form to use when I pull information from sources, whether on-line, in a library, or in a museum. Here is a snapshot of it:

A simple form to take to the archives.

This form works very well with a research log. Because of the Information Age we live in, one has to be disciplined when keeping track of any and all sources one comes across. Below is an example of NEHGS historical research log that they keep handy in the reading rooms. It helps keep track of sources that yield results and more importantly, those that do not. If a researcher does not KEEP TRACK of sources viewed, then there is a very good chance he/she will waste time and visit that source again.

The research log keeps track of the items you view when researching.

Key reminder: be prepared before any visit to an archive or library or other research depository. Doing so will help you be more successful in your research and writing. Use forms and/or some type of plan to make this happen. Also, don’t forget a pencil.

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