About the Committee on Heraldry

1914 seal of the Committee painted by William Truman Aldrich.

1914 seal of the Committee painted by William Truman Aldrich.

The Committee on Heraldry of the New England Historic Genealogical Society is the oldest non-governmental heraldic body in the English-speaking world. The Committee was established on 3 February 1864, within the New England Historic Genealogical Society, to “collect and preserve information in regard to heraldry.” Although based in New England, the Committee’s heraldic interests have always been national in scope, embracing the use of heraldry and coats of arms throughout the current United States and all its colonial predecessors.

Among the committee’s activities and publications over many years the most significant has been the Roll of Arms, a register of coats of arms of settlers in the colonies now comprising the United States, or immigrants to the United States, whose arms are more than one hundred years old, and were borne by proved hereditary right or lawful grant in the settler’s country of origin. Compilation of the Roll of Arms began in 1914, though it was based on earlier work of Committee members first published in the 1890s. The Committee still welcomes the submission of new entries for the Roll. In addition, since 1933 the Committee has also recorded arms newly assumed or historically used within the United States, or arms granted or confirmed to the use of Americans in modern times by the heraldic authorities of foreign governments. Lists of such modern or assumed arms recorded by the Committee have not been published but may be placed on this website in the future.

The Committee and its members have long been involved in a variety of heraldic endeavors beyond the Roll of Arms, including publication of scholarly works, consultation and educational activities within and outside the NEHGS. Publications of the Committee or its members range from the Heraldic Journal, launched in Boston in 1865 by members of the Committee (short-lived but still useful), down to the recent publication of The Balliol Roll (Boston: NEHGS, 2002), the earliest surviving manuscript collection of Scottish coats of arms.

Our most recent publication is the one-volume edition of the Roll of Arms covering registrations 1–741 (NEHGS, 2013); this book may be purchased from the NEHGS via the americanancestors.org online store. Discussions are ongoing concerning the publication of new parts of the Roll of Arms, covering registrations from 742 onward, in print and online.