Our family album

As we close out our 175th anniversary year, I was struck by the wealth of our own history as I worked along with Cécile Engeln on The Family Album: A Visual History of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1845–2020. I have been an employee of NEHGS for only four years, so I didn’t really know many of the details about our past history myself.

Scenes of old NEHGS homes.

As the graphic designer on the Publications team, I worked with the photos and concepts that Brenton Simons had selected, arranged the photos chronologically throughout the book, and designed the pages around them, while Cécile wrote the history to go along with the photos. It turned out to be a great visual representation of our history. Those who know us can enjoy a trip down Memory Lane, while those who are new to our organization can learn about our past history through the photos.

I love this photo of the well-dressed lady in her hat among the books.

Between Family Treasures: 175 Years of Collecting Art and Furniture at the New England Historic Genealogical Society and this one, the six months leading up to March were a whirlwind of fun design challenges and work on beautiful and interesting images. In addition, we had a firm deadline to get both books in-hand by the scheduled April 175th NEHGS anniversary event. So, after finishing most of Family Treasures, we forged ahead with this project, laying other work aside so we could focus on it, as we had gotten a late start. The six months preceding March was a rush of work, and we were very excited to see the books come into print, just as the world locked-down and the anniversary event was sadly cancelled.

Author Cécile Engeln and Dave Lambert in period costumes ambling around Back Bay, Boston. Curt DiCamillo enjoying a drink and a laugh with Leslie Homes, along with other iconic NEHGS moments.

Perhaps the pain of the cancellation took some time to get over for me, but now that there has been some time, I can reflect on the production of that book and sit back in my work-at-home office and enjoy the rich history that is portrayed.

Remember when we held in-person events? Our history is full of people getting together and enjoying genealogy and family history in each other’s company, standing shoulder to shoulder throughout the years. Stay tuned, as we will surely do so again.


About Ellen Maxwell

Ellen joined the NEHGS staff with over 20 years of publishing experience, working most of this time as a design and production manager. With experience in student and teacher books, early readers, textbooks and trade books, along with interests in typography, art history and photo manipulation, she is putting her talents to work for Newbury Street Press and other publications at NEHGS.

6 thoughts on “Our family album

  1. If I had known you were putting together such a book I would have sent you a photograph of my aunt who worked at NEHGS in the thirties. She was Miss Jean Simonds. I wonder if there are old records in the society archives?
    Your book looks very attractive! Sorry about your celebration. It would be all right to hold it when all this is over! No one would mind.

    1. Thanks so much! Yes, there are old NEHGS records in the archives. This is what we used to find the old photos and documents.

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