25 November 2020

Happy Thanksgiving from NGS!

The National Genealogical Society wishes you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

In this very memorable year, we celebrate the strength of family connections. We are grateful to be connected to you.

Thank you for your continued support throughout the year. And an extra dose of gratitude to the many volunteers who make our success possible.

Be safe and stay well,

The NGS Staff and Board of Directors

Please Note: The NGS office will close for Thanksgiving at 3:00 p.m. Wednesday and will reopen Monday with normal business hours.

We thought you might enjoy Thanksgiving Goes Virtual: How to Carve Out New Traditions Amid the Ongoing Pandemic from the Washington Post. It includes suggestions from NGS on sharing family stories.

24 November 2020

New Books for Arizona and Nevada Research from NGS

 NGS Introduces Two New Research in the States Books: Arizona and Nevada

NGS is pleased to announce the publication of two new books as part of its Research in the States series, which now covers research in twenty-nine states. The newest volumes are Research in Arizona by David E. Rencher, AG, CG®, FUGA, FIGRS, and Research in Nevada, by Stefani Evans, CG. The books are available in the NGS store in both PDF and print versions.

Both guidebooks provide detailed information on a wealth of resources, including:
  • Archives, Libraries, and Societies
  • Atlas, Gazetteers, and Maps
  • Business, Cemetery, Ethnic, Institutional, Military, and Naturalization Records
  • Organizational Records, Directories, and Newspapers
  • Probate, School, State, Tax, and Vital Records
  • Railroads, Religious Records, Women, and more
The authors include the website address, physical address, and telephone number for each resource.

In Research in Arizona, Rencher also provides detailed information for those researching Native American ancestors, which include Apache, Hopi, Navaho, and Pueblo of Zuni tribes. The guidebook covers Arizona’s pre-territorial, territorial, federal, and Indian censuses. For those researching Spanish and Mexican ancestors, Research in Arizona offers helpful information on finding records from the state’s pre-territorial periods when it was ruled by Spain (1562–1821) and Mexico (1821–1853).

The author also includes out-of-state repositories for Arizona related records.

Rencher is the director of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the chief genealogical officer for FamilySearch, and serves on the NGS board of directors as chair of the Development Committee. He is the Irish course coordinator and instructor for several prestigious genealogical institutes. He also is the past chair of the joint committee for Record Preservation and Access and a Fellow of Utah Genealogical Association.

Research in Nevada discusses Nevada’s land records and the Desert Land, Homestead, and Taylor Grazing Acts. Water and mining records are noted as are records from the Great Depression including the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Enrollee Records and works created by the Works Projects Administration. Evans also includes records of brands as well as resources to aid genealogists interested in researching ancestors who worked on the construction of the Hoover (Boulder) Dam or lived in Boulder City during that time.

Evans has served as an NGS director, Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) trustee, BCG Education Fund trustee, and Nevada Delegate for the Southwest Oral History Association. She chaired the NGS 2013 Family History Conference in Las Vegas and has written for the NGS Quarterly, NGS Magazine, and the NYG&B Record.

Research in the States series is edited by Barbara Vines Little, CG®, FNGS, FVGS, a former NGS president and editor of the Magazine of Virginia Genealogy. Research in Arizona and Research in Nevada are available for purchase in the NGS online store in both PDF and print versions.


11 November 2020

NGS Introduces New Course: Reading Old Handwriting


NGS Introduces New Online Course: Reading Old Handwriting

The National Genealogical Society introduced today the newest course in its Continuing Genealogical Studies series, Reading Old Handwriting. This illustrated course is essential for everyone researching their family tree. It offers family historians tips to understand hard-to-read handwriting in documents such as wills and deeds. Its practice exercises teach how to read and interpret handwritten land records, probate files, and, of course, your ancestors’ personal letters.

NGS Education Director Angela McGhie states, “…the ability to read old handwriting is a foundational skill for understanding many of the documents family historians discover in their research. Being able to read old handwriting is the first step in interpreting genealogically relevant facts. Our new course Reading Old Handwriting complements NGS’s course, Transcribing, Extracting, and Abstracting Genealogical Documents, which was released in June 2020.”

The course guides genealogists through ten modules. Every module has multiple hands-on exercises to help family historians develop expertise in reading documents from a variety of locations and time periods. Course author Carla S. Cegielski is a freelance genealogical researcher and author of the Tech Tips column in the quarterly NGS Magazine.

For more information and to register, visit Reading Old Handwriting on NGS’s website.

07 October 2020

Nominations Open for NGS 2021 Awards and Competitions


Nominations Open for NGS 2021 Awards & Competitions

The National Genealogical Society (NGS) invites individuals, societies, and organizations to participate in its 2021 Awards and Competitions program. NGS annually recognizes excellence in the field of genealogy. This year we have expanded our program to reflect our merger with the Federation of Genealogical Societies. The deadline for submission of nominations is 15 December 2020.

The NGS Awards program recognizes scholarship, service, excellence, and achievement in the fields of genealogy, history, and biography by presenting awards to individuals, societies, and organizations. The Society’s competitions include

  • Family History Writing Contest
  • Award for Excellence: Genealogy or Family History Book
  • Award for Excellence: Genealogical Methods and Sources
  • Award for Excellence: NGSQ
  • The NGS Newsletter Competition
  • The Rubincam Youth Writing Competition

NGS also inducts one person each year into its National Genealogy Hall of Fame. See a full description of the awards and competitions and access nomination forms on the NGS website.

“We encourage family historians and genealogists to nominate an organization they know or an individual they work with, research with, or admire for an award or competition,” said Janet L. Bailey, chair of the award committee. “There are so many outstanding individuals, societies, and organizations that deserve national recognition. We hope their peers will consider nominating them before December 15."

06 October 2020

The October-December 2020 Issue of NGS Magazine is Now Online

NGS Magazine cover

The October–December 2020 issue of NGS Magazine, Volume 46, Number 4, has been mailed to members and is available online in the Members Only section of the website. This issue's theme is "Research from Home."

EDITOR'S NOTE by Deb Cyprych

Six months after the COVID-19 pandemic led to lockdowns around the world, many libraries and archives have limited access. The National Archives, the Library of Congress, and the Family History Library are still closed as this issue goes to press. Libraries and archives that have reopened will likely have restrictions for some time. In these circumstances, research from home has become a primary method for genealogists tapping into digitized books, scanned records, and databases online.

Claire Mire Bettag tells a story of persistence and amazing payoffs. After a twenty-year search for the origins of her ancestor, she found a tip referring to a digitized administrative report that eventually led her to information about three generations in notarial records. While serendipitous, her story is not unique. Genealogists who continue to search broadly may find such treasures online, too—perhaps even a virtual tour of an ancestor’s neighborhood, as Claire found.

FamilySearch continues to increase access to digitized records. Its new system, Explore Historical Images, publishes images faster than ever before, so quickly that many are not yet indexed by name or listed in the catalog. Robert Raymond explains how to locate and view them in Explore Historical Images by searching for place, date, and life event. He also discloses the next innovation for FamilySearch: Computer Assisted Indexing of historical records.

All researchers can view the results of research projects published by students at Brigham Young University’s Center for Family History and Genealogy. Jill Crandell describes the topics: European emigrant records, script tutorials for eight languages, pre-1841 British census records, Chester and Lancashire marriages, Discovering English Ancestors, Kinship and Poverty in Early Modern Britain, the Nauvoo Community Project, and Welsh Mormon History.

Kathy Petlewski uses two search terms to explore and compare four free digital libraries of interest to historians and genealogists: Google Books, HathiTrust, Digital Public Library of America, and FamilySearch Digital Library. Carla Cegielski discusses the scope of the Internet Archive, a digital library where reading is just one of the twenty-one useful and even entertaining activities for genealogists.

In this issue’s other articles, David Lambert provides an overview of the most recent scholarship for the Mayflower passengers’ descendants and the prime sources for researching Plymouth Colony families; Paul Woodbury demonstrates how to establish a strong foundation for future genetic genealogy research success by creating a detailed profile, preparing lists of ancestral surnames, and uploading a family tree; and Debbie Smyth shows how learning skills in transcribing, abstracting, and extracting can enable genealogists to overcome obstacles and achieve more accurate research and analysis results.



  • Developing Genealogical Skills in Transcribing, Extracting, and Abstracting by Debbie Wilson Smyth
  • Never Give Up! Never! Never! Never! by Claire Mire Bettag, CG, FUGA, FNGS
  • Explore Historical Images on FamilySearch by Robert Raymond
  • Research Projects of the BYU Center for Family History and Genealogy by Jill N. Crandell, MA, AG
  • Resources for Researching Mayflower Descendants by David Allen Lambert


  • PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE Welcome to the New NGS by Kathryn M. Doyle

    • Call for Proposals for NGS 2022 Family History Conference

    • NGS 2021 Family History Conference: Welcome to Virginia! by Robin Dwyer-Maurice and Teresa Kelley

    • Researching in Digital Libraries from Home by Kathy Petlewski, MSLS
    • Twenty-One Activities for Genealogists in the Internet Archive by Carla S. Cegielski
    • Foundations for Genetic Genealogy Success: Profiles and Family Trees by Paul Woodbury

NGS Magazine is published quarterly to update members of the National Genealogical Society on NGS activities and to provide genealogists with special information and guidance on conducting effective genealogical research. The magazine is sent to libraries by subscription. Online access to NGS Magazine is available only as long as membership is active.

25 September 2020

NGS Announces Results of Board of Directors Elections

NGS Announces Results of

2020 Board of Directors Election 

The National Genealogical Society announced the results of its 2020 Board of Directors election at its annual meeting on 1 September 2020. The incoming slate includes three new positions to reflect the upcoming merger of NGS and the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) on 1 October 2020. These new board positions are Vice President for Society & Organization Management and two directors at large drawn from FGS ranks.

Outgoing President Benjamin B. Spratling, JD, of Birmingham, Alabama, announced the results of the election and the incoming board members who will be seated on 1 October.

NGS Officers (1 October 2020 – 30 September 2022)

  • President: Kathryn M. Doyle, California
  • Vice President: Ellen Pinckney Balthazar, Texas 
  • Vice President of Society & Organization Management: Cheri Hudson Passey, South Carolina
  • Secretary: Ed Donakey, Utah
  • Treasurer: Deborah Lebo Hoskins, Pennsylvania
NGS Directors serve four-year terms that are staggered so that the entire slate does not turn over in one election cycle.

NGS Regional Directors
  • Director of Region 2: Faye Stallings, Texas
  • Director of Region 3: Janet L. Bailey, Virginia
  • Director of Region 4: Bernice Alexander Bennett, Maryland
Directors at Large
  • Janet A. Alpert, South Carolina
  • Colleen Robledo Greene, California
  • Marlis Humphrey, Florida
  • Andre Kearns, Washington, DC
  • David Rencher, Utah
Continuing their terms on the Board of Directors are Angie Bush, MS, Director of Region 1, and Ronald V. Hodges, PhD, Director at Large.

“I congratulate the incoming Board members,” Spratling said, “And I extend my sincere gratitude for their commitment and service to the National Genealogical Society. I also thank the Nominating Committee, including Jordan Jones, chair; Deborah A. Abbott, PhD; B. Darrell Jackson, PhD, CG; Darcie Hind Posz; CG, and D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS, for their excellent work.”

The entire 2020 NGS Annual Meeting can be viewed on YouTube. It includes a short video about the upcoming merger of NGS and FGS, which will be finalized on 1 October 2020, and features outgoing President Benjamin B, Spratling, FGS President Faye Stallings who has been newly elected to NGS Board, incoming President Kathryn M. Doyle, and Executive Director Matt Menashes.

21 September 2020

NGSQ September 2020 Issue is Now Online!

Oliverel Eves "O.E." Guillory (1875–1944)

The September 2020 issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Volume 108, Number 3, is available online in the Members Only section of the website. Members should see the new edition in their mailboxes in the next few weeks.

Although not obvious by the titles, one of this month's articles features sibling research and Y-DNA to support the conclusion. Another inferential case determines the identity and parentage of an African American women born in the 1850s, despite her many name changes.


  • “A Father for Walter Griffith of Tuscarawas County, Ohio” by Ann Raymont, CG
  • “A Woman of Many Names: Henrietta Dixon of Baltimore City, Maryland” by Nicole Gilkison LaRue, CG
  • “The Case of the Missing Moffetts of Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts” by Pamela Lyons Brinegar, CG

  • “The Records of the English Chancery Court Revisited: A New Search Paradigm” by Ronald A. Hill, PhD, CG Emeritus, FASG, FNGS


  • Only a Name Survives


  • Housekeeping 1870s Style
  • There Goes the Neighborhood   4
  • Women Lawyers
  • A Burglar Caught Napping
  • Victorian Social Distancing?
  • Achieving Equality in Marriage


The National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) is published four times per year, in March, June, September, and December. The journal is edited by Nancy A. Peters, CG®, CGLSM, and Allen R. Peterson, AG, CG®.

29 July 2020

NGS Member Discount for FGS Virtual Conference Plus NGS-FGS Merger Updates

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) has offered NGS members a $10 discount on registration for their virtual conference, which begins 2 September 2020. See more exciting details about their virtual program below or visit the FGS conference website. Details and the discount code have been emailed to members. And if you register before 15 August, you will save $40 on a regular registration with the NGS Member and Early Bird discounts combined.

NGS-FGS Merger Updates
The NGS merger with FGS continues to move forward. NGS and FGS recently met three significant milestones on the way to the merger. First, the NGS Board modified its bylaws to allow genealogy societies and organizations to be members of NGS with full voting rights (one org/one vote). Previously, societies and organizations had no membership voting rights and were only eligible to "subscribe" to NGS publications and programs. Second, the boards of both NGS and FGS approved the legal documents necessary to merge. Finally, the FGS membership vote on the merger, which is required under Illinois law, is now underway. All of these steps are milestones on the path to creating the "New NGS." The next step will be the announcement of the slate of candidates for the NGS Board. The slate includes a new Vice President for Society & Organization Management and additional at-large directors from the FGS ranks. Both organizations remain on target for the final merger that will occur on 1 October 2020.

FGS Virtual Conference Plus NGS Discount
In recognition of the upcoming merger of NGS and FGS, FGS has graciously offered NGS members a $10 discount on registration for its virtual conference. The FGS virtual event will begin with FGS "Live!" on 2 September 2020, starting at 11:00 a.m. (EDT) and concluding at 7:00 p.m. (EDT). In addition to the live event, all conference registrations will include a collection of sixteen society management sessions assembled by FGS and more than thirty sponsored sessions.

The registration packages also allow you to select ten, twenty, or forty-five sessions from the On-Demand content, including more than eighty sessions by leading genealogists from which to choose. All registration packages provide online access to the digital conference syllabus. A special commemorative goody bag is included with the forty-five-session package and you will be entered for a chance to win one of two free registrations to the May 2021 NGS Family History Conference in Richmond, Virginia. If you had already registered for the FGS conference in Kansas City, your registration will convert to the twenty-session conference package. For more information, visit the FGS conference website.

The FGS Live! event will feature lectures from some of the most popular genealogy speakers:
  • David E. Rencher, “FGS: Celebrating the Past and the Future”
  • Judy G. Russell, “Quarantined! Genealogy, The Law & Public Health”
  • Ari Wilkins, “Scaling the 1870 Brick Wall in African American Research”
  • Thomas W. Jones, “Building a Respectable Genealogy, One Documented Biography at a Time” 
  • CeCe Moore, “Strategies of ‘The Genetic Detective’”
  • Lisa Louise Cooke, “The 2020 Genealogist’s Google Search Methodology”

The FGS Live! event will also include special presentations from our two Platinum sponsors:
  • Ancestry’s “Journey to ‘Roots Less Traveled’”
  • Ron Tanner of FamilySearch, “What’s New at FamilySearch”

An online chat will take place during the Live! event and there will be a Q&A session following each session.

The following two-hour workshops will also be held on 3-4 September:
  • Angie Bush, “Using the ‘What are the Odds’ (WATO) Tool” on 9/3/2020
  • Cari Taplin, “Using Google’s My Maps as a Planning & Analysis Tool” on 9/3/2020
  • Angie Bush, “Latest Developments in Company Tools for DNA” on 9/4/2020
  • Pam Vestal, “What the Heck Does That Say” on 9/4/2020

For a full description of the registration packages, a list of the available On-Demand content, a list of all of the free sessions, and much more information, visit the FGS conference website. To learn more, visit fgs.org.