Attend a 2020 Education Event with American Ancestors

Broaden your understanding of the Mayflower story, hear the tales of tragedy and triumphs of the Pilgrims and Wampanoag, and explore your family’s connections to this history by attending an education event with American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society. Join us at our research center in Boston, online through our learning center, or across the country at one of our events commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing.

Interested in other education programs? View our full list

| Lectures & Seminars | Online Programs | Special Events | Concert Series | Exhibits |

Lectures & Seminars

From Pilgrims to Patriots: Researching Early New England Ancestors

Presented by Chief Genealogist David Allen Lambert and Director of Research Services Lindsay Fulton

Saturday, May 2, 9:30 AM–6:00 PM

History Colorado Center, 1200 N Broadway, Denver, CO 80203

Cost: $125 (includes five lectures, lunch, and reception)

Explore the history and lives of your early New England ancestors with the oldest genealogical society in the country! Discover essential resources and records for colonial New England research, understand early settlement and migration patterns, learn how to research your early veteran ancestors, and hear how to verify your connection to the passengers of the Mayflower. In addition to lectures, you’ll have a chance to browse some of our most recent publications, hear about upcoming activities and projects, and speak with attending staff. Register today!

Summer Institute for Advanced Researchers: Contributing to Mayflower Scholarship

July 15 – July 18, 2020

Cost: $1,200

This year’s Summer Institute will help you develop your research and findings into a scholarly project. Learn how to write a proof argument to verify Mayflower lineage, craft an article for Mayflower Descendant, manage a DNA study project, complete a genealogical sketch for sixth- and seventh-generation descendants, and more. Open to current NEHGS members only. Register today!

Online Programs

Online Course: Verifying Your Mayflower Lineage

Presented by Margaret Bobertz, Katrina Fahy, and Lindsay Fulton

Wednesdays, 3/11, 3/18, and 3/25 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM EST

Access to recordings, handouts, slides, and more until June 30, 2020

Cost: $85

Four hundred years ago, the Mayflower landed on the shores of Massachusetts with 102 passengers aboard. Today, there is an estimated 35 million Mayflower descendants worldwide. Join experts from New England Historic Genealogical Society and the General Society of Mayflower Descendants for a three-part online course on verifying your Mayflower lineage, creating a proof argument when vital records are hard to come by, and ultimately, applying for membership in the Mayflower Society. Register today!

Webinar: Mayflower Resources on

Presented by Don LeClair, Associate Director, Database Search and Systems

Thursday, March 19, 2020 3:00 – 4:00 PM EST

Cost: FREE

Interested in learning if you are descended from a Mayflower passenger? Tracing your connection to the Mayflower has never been easier! offers the largest collection of searchable Mayflower genealogy databases in the world. Discover the databases and online resources at that can help you make the connection you've been looking for. From indexed GSMD applications to scholarly journals to compiled genealogies and study projects, you will learn how to leverage these resources in your family history research. Register today!

Online Conference: Mayflower Migrations: Origins and Diaspora

Presented by Director of the Great Migration Study Project Robert Charles Anderson, FASG and Senior Researcher Katrina Fahy

Saturday, May 9, 2020 12:00 – 3:30 PM EST

Cost: $85 Registration to open in early April.

Many of us are familiar with the story of the Mayflower, but who exactly were the passengers? Where did they come from? Why did they migrate? Where did they settle after Plymouth Colony? Join leading early New England experts to explore the movements and motivations behind the voyage of the Mayflower and how they relate to later arrivals during the Great Migration. This online conference will illuminate the interpersonal, ideological, and geographic connections of the passengers; explore the motivations behind their departure from England; and show how subsequent generations settled across New England, parts of Canada, and beyond, informing today’s diaspora of Mayflower descendants. Throughout the presentation we will also explore areas of future scholarship. Registration to open in early April.

Special Events

Annual Gala Dinner: A Celebration of the 175th Anniversary of NEHGS and a Commemoration of the Landing of the Mayflower

Wednesday, April 22, 2020 5:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Boston, Massachusetts

Our annual April Family History Benefit dinner will be a special gala celebration commemorating the 175th anniversary of New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower. We’ll honor former UK Prime Minister Sir John Major, who will receive the prestigious NEHGS Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Public Service. We will also bestow NEHGS Preservation and History Awards on two outstanding leaders: distinguished educator, historian, and author Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, a scholar who chairs the Department of History at Harvard University; and Philippe de Montebello, the longest serving director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, who presently serves as the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Hispanic Society of America. Register today!

Concert Series

The Beggars’ Songbook: Revolt in the Spanish Netherlands, Historical and Musical Illustration of the Pilgrims’ 10-Year sojourn in the Netherlands

Featuring Long & Away

Thursday, May 14, 2020 6:00 – 7:30 PM

American Ancestors Research Center, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA

Cost: $20

In 1608 a group of English Separatists crossed the English Channel to flee religious persecution and begin a new life in the Netherlands. The aspiring young Republic, had so far more or less successfully fought off the oppressive rule of Habsburg Spain in a brutal war (1568–1648) pitching the Dutch “Beggars” (Geuzen) against the powerful Phillip II of Spain. The Pilgrims’ time in the city of Leiden coincided with a nine-year hiatus in the war, a time of relative peace and growing prosperity from 1609 to 1621. The cultural and intellectual atmosphere was one of religious tolerance. The impending end of the truce and the culture shock of living poor lives in a foreign country, however, compelled the Separatists to leave, booking passage on a leaky boat back to Plymouth, England. There they boarded an unremarkable merchant vessel bound for the New World—the Mayflower.

During this performance, you’ll hear examples from the Geuzenliedboek (“Beggars' Songbook”), a popular compilation of political songs, and Valerius’ Neder-landtsche Gedenck-clanck, a history of the war written during the truce years, which was illustrated with songs set to popular melodies from all over Europe. We will hear Dutch songs of political turmoil alongside works by Spanish composers Cabezón and Ortiz to illuminate the musical world of the Netherlands during the Pilgrims’ time there. Register today!

Wampanoag Nation Song & Dance

Featuring Wampanoag Nation Singers and Dancers

Thursday, August 13, 2020 6:00 – 7:30 PM

American Ancestors Research Center, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA

Cost: $20

The Wampanoag have lived in southeastern Massachusetts for more than 12,000 years and were the first tribe encountered by the passengers of the Mayflower. An integral part of America’s earliest beginnings, and a voice largely silenced in the colonial narrative, join us for a celebration of both Wampanoag history and culture. Dressed in traditional clothing and accompanied by water drum and handcrafted rattles, the Wampanoag Nation Singers and Dancers perform Eastern social songs and dances with audience participation. Register today!

The Immigrant Experience to America

Featuring Promised Land

Thursday, November 19, 2020 6:00 – 7:30 PM

American Ancestors Research Center, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA

Cost: $20

With the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower, we also celebrate 400 years of immigration to America. Through many centuries of immigration, America has become a melting pot of different cultures and identities. Our ethnic and cultural diversity as a nation can be witnessed in the music and sounds we claim as our own. In this performance, join Promised Land, a trio of accomplished multi-instrumentalist performers of American Folk music, to celebrate our nation’s roots. Beginning with investigations into their own ancestral backgrounds, each member of Promised Land is dedicated to exploring the tapestry of sounds, cultures and histories that comprise our nation. Register today!


The Origins and Legacy of the Mayflower

American Ancestors Research Center, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston

Free and open to the public during regular library hours

The story of the Mayflower is the quintessential American story—one that resonates across four centuries with themes of democracy, religious freedom, and cultural heritage. While not the first group of European settlers to arrive on the shores of America, the Mayflower landing has become synonymous with the founding of America. But who were these Pilgrims, what motivated their departure from England, and why has their story been so ensconced in our nation's history? This exhibit seeks to explore the origins of the Mayflower migration and its lasting legacy, as expressed through anniversary commemorations, American mythos, and modern-day descendants. Items in this exhibition are drawn from the R. Stanton Avery Special Collections and the Fine Art Collection at New England Historic Genealogical Society. This exhibition has been generously supported by Anne Louise C. Van Nostrand, Brenda Williams, and Elizabeth H. Owens. Braille version of the exhibit made possible by the Flora Nichols Beggs Trust.

The History of Wampum Belts

American Ancestors Research Center, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston

Free and open to the public during regular library hours

Also viewable online!

From precolonial to contemporary times, wampum belts have been an integral part of the living, indigenous traditions that continue to be used for ceremonial purposes, adornment, and to record or reflect specific events and agreements. This exhibit explores the history, usage, and meaning behind wampum belts and their place in Wampanoag culture. Produced by SmokeSygnals, a Native American owned marketing and communications company.

The Wampanoag Scene: Creating Tribal Legacy

American Ancestors Research Center, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston

Outside (weather permitting) during regular library hours

In the exhibit you see a young Patuxet mother looking over a wampum belt while her child sleeps by her side. The beads in the belt are organized in a way to remind them of their ancestors— a great grandfather known for his fishing, a grandmother sachem, a messenger runner father, a mother that tended the crops, their many uncles and aunts and a husband that was taken as a slave in 1614. The young woman thinks of how she will record their place in the village. Produced by SmokeSygnals, a Native American owned marketing and communications company.

Download a FREE Guide to Mayflower ancestry

Are you a Mayflower descendant? This guide will help you find out.

Honor Your Ancestors with a Pilgrim Quadricentennial Membership

Honor your ancestors with a Pilgrim Quadricentennial Membership -- only available in 2020

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