All posts by Helen Herzer

About Helen Herzer

Helen Herzer is the NEHGS Volunteer Coordinator. She oversees NEHGS volunteers providing assistance to the staff on various projects. She is at 101 Newbury Street three days a week, usually on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Born in Danbury, Connecticut and raised on the north shore of Long Island, Helen was drawn to the Boston area to attend Harvard College. A long-time member who continues to research her own family lines emanating from upstate New York, she makes frequent pilgrimages to the Albany area in search of records.

The power of one volunteer

Early in the process.

Large, dusty, and certain to leave an indelible brown smudge if allowed to touch your clothing, handling the fourteen volumes of Albany County, New York Deeds, 1630-1894 was my first assignment after I became an NEHGS volunteer in 2005. With ancestors who settled near Fort Orange (present-day Albany) in 1650, I had a personal interest in helping to bring this collection to a broader audience. These early land records represented some of the few city and county records that had not been destroyed or damaged during the disastrous 1880 fire at Albany City Hall.    Continue reading The power of one volunteer

Tiptoe through the tombstones

1904 Circular on Epitaphs p1
Click on the images to expand them

When I first began researching at the NEHGS Library, I was drawn to the wide array of cemetery records that could be found in published books and donated manuscripts. It’s not by choice that I spend time locating cemetery records; it is because many family members had the ‘misfortune’ of living in New York State, where, outside of New York City, vital records registration did not start until 1881. Instead of using cemetery records to supplement birth and death dates, they often represent the only vital information on my ancestors. Continue reading Tiptoe through the tombstones

New York newspapers as a substitute for vital records

Times-Union headline In the 22 January 2014 issue of NEHGS’ Weekly Genealogist, a ‘story of interest’ highlighted the sad plight of 17,000 square feet of old newspapers held by the New York State Library in Albany.  Faced with the demand to archive an increasing amount of education department paperwork, the article – “State Library’s Tough Calls on What to Save, What to Shred” – illustrated how once treasured collections are now losing the battle for available storage space. Continue reading New York newspapers as a substitute for vital records