15 September 2021

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month


National Hispanic Heritage Month 2021

It’s time to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month which runs September 15–October 15, 2021.

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have joined together to pay tribute to generations of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society.

Resource list:

The Family History Guide's Hispanic Resources

And don't forget that NGS members have full access to the NGS Magazine archives and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly archives. Articles of interest include:

"The Catholic Church in the American Southwest" by David McDonald, NGS Magazine, 39 (Oct/Nov/Dec 2013): 17–20.

"Introduction to Research in Latin America" by Debbie Gurtler, NGS Magazine, 41 (Jul/Aug/Sep 2015): 37–41.

"California Historic Missions and Their Records" by Sheila Benedict, NGS Magazine, 42 (Apr/May/Jun 2016): 23–26.

"War and Marriage: Some Reasons for Deportation in Hispanic North America" by George R. Ryskamp, NGSQ, 86 (June1998): 134-137.

23 August 2021

New Books for Alabama and Maryland Research from NGS


National Genealogical Society Introduces 

Two New Research in the States Books:

Alabama and Maryland

The National Genealogical Society (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 thirty states and the tribal records of Oklahoma’s American Indians. The newest volumes are Research in Alabama by LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG, CGL, and a new edition of Research in Maryland, by Rebecca Whitman Koford, CG, CGL, and Debra A. Hoffman, PLCGS. 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
  • Atlases, Gazetteers, and Maps
  • Bible, Cemetery, and Census Records
  • Court and other Jurisdictional Records
  • Directories and Newspapers
  • Ethnic, Land, Probate, and Religious Records
  • Military, Naturalization, State, Tax, Vital Records, and more

The guide books include the website address, physical address, and telephone number for each repository.

In Research in Alabama, Garrett-Nelson also reviews archival documentation regarding the state’s enslaved people and its free people of color, including non-traditional repositories. The author covers information on pertinent digital collections and databases such as bills of sale, estate inventories, and letters as well as postbellum records.

Alabama was one of the few states to grant property rights to married women prior to the Civil War. Historical records of testamentary documents, deeds, bills of sale, and more offer a possible pathway for tracing maternal ancestors. These topics and more are thoroughly addressed in Research in Alabama.

Garrett-Nelson is an author, lecturer, and a trustee and president of the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). She is the registrar general of the Sons and Daughters of the United States Middle Passage. Her articles have appeared in NGS Quarterly and the Journal of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society.

Research in Maryland, New Edition, is an invaluable guide for family historians who seek to trace ancestors who lived in Maryland as well as lands that were once part of the “Maryland Colony,” including Delaware, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania as far north as Philadelphia, and parts of what are Virginia and West Virginia. Koford and Hoffman explain the system of land grants during the colonial period as well as after America’s independence. They also discuss Maryland’s court system and its numerous name and jurisdictional changes during and after the colonial period.

Maryland’s state and local governments did not begin to keep records of births and deaths until the late nineteenth century. Research in Maryland reviews other sources including religious records for Anglican/Episcopalian, Baptist, Lutheran and Reformed, Methodist, Roman Catholic, and Quaker religions; and source material for several ethnic groups, including African American, German, Irish, Jewish, and Native American. The authors also describe the resources at Maryland State Archives (MSA) and its Archives of Maryland Online, which includes more than 471,000 historical documents.

Koford is an author and lecturer and Course One coordinator at the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Records (IGHR). She serves on the Board of the ProGen Study Groups, is the executive director of the BCG, and is director of the Genealogical Institute on Federal Records.

Hoffman specializes in Maryland and German research. An author and lecturer, she has presented at IGHR and coordinated the Maryland course at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. She is past co-director of Gen-Fed and recording secretary for the Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society.

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

02 July 2021

The July–Sept 2021 Issue of NGS Magazine is Now Online


The July–September 2021 issue of NGS Magazine, Volume 47, Number 3, is being printed and is now available online in the Members Only section of the website. The USPS is still experiencing long delays in some areas for delivery of print copies. This issue's theme is Myths and Errors.

EDITOR'S NOTE by Deb Cyprych

Genealogists know that family traditions must be proved before they can be accepted as true. But some beliefs, such as assuming that a woman was the mother of all children in a family, are more insidious. In many situations, assumptions aren’t reliable, “facts” are legends, and official records are incorrect. This issue provides guidance for navigating the hazards of myths and errors in genealogy.

Jeanne Larzalere Bloom sets the stage by explaining four types of assumptions: fundamental, valid, unsound, and unrecognized. Through examples, she demonstrates that every assumption should be examined to determine if objective evidence verifies it. Recognizing and testing assumptions helps avoid inaccurate conclusions and tracing the wrong people.

Sometimes a single word can open a researcher’s eyes to previously unknown clues, theories, and records. Tony Burroughs discusses the paths he took when he noticed the word Corrected on a death certificate. The tale of his journey conveys valuable lessons relevant to any research.

Certain stories are common in Germanic families. Roger Minert dispels fifteen Germanic family history myths and beliefs, such as claims of nobility or assuming baptismal sponsors were relatives. Accepting these legends and misconceptions without verification can block research efforts unnecessarily.

Records in stone can be wrong, too. Despite multiple records for a Civil War soldier, the name on his military tombstone was inaccurate for more than a century. Bryna O’Sullivan describes the process for correcting a military tombstone and provides resources for national cemeteries.

The families of convicts transported from England to America often tried to hide their criminal past. Nathan Murphy summarizes the characteristics of 125 transportees to aid researchers in identifying ancestors among the forty-five thousand people sentenced to serve labor terms in Maryland and Virginia. Their records—many accessible online—pinpoint the parish where the crime occurred.

Concluding this issue’s theme of myths and errors, Kathy Petlewski's Reference Desk column stresses the need to evaluate the accuracy of other people’s work in online family trees.

In other columns, Pam Pracser Anderson and Magdalena Radovic-Moreno offer advice on developing and enhancing a county archive by cultivating relationships with genealogists and community partners; Paul Woodbury covers the meaning of ethnicity admixture estimates, how they work, why they may differ, and supplemental information provided by major testing companies; and Carla Cegielski outlines the effectiveness of password generators and managers for maintaining secure passwords.



  • NGS 2022 Family History Conference: Mining for Ancestors in the Golden State by Kathleen O. Beitiks 
  • Assumptions: The Traps and Snares of Genealogy by Jeanne Larzalere Bloom
  • A Missed Notation: Opening a Pandora’s Box by Tony Burroughs, FUGA
  • Debunking Popular Lore in Germanic Family History Research by Roger P. Minert, PhD, Emeritus AG, FUGA
  • Correcting the Record on a Veteran’s Tombstone by Bryna O’Sullivan 
  • Proving the Identities of Transported Convicts by Nathan W. Murphy, MA, AG, FASG


  • PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE by Kathryn M. Doyle
    • NGS Announces 2021 Awards and Competition Honorees by Janet L. Bailey
    • The NGS Bible Collection by Shirley Langdon Wilcox, CG, FNGS, FVGS
    • Developing a County Archive by Pam Pracser Anderson, MS, CG, and Magdalena Radovic-Moreno
    • Accuracy in Online Family Trees by Kathy Petlewski, MSLS

    • Introduction to Ethnicity Admixture  by Paul Woodbury
    • Password Management for Genealogists by Carla S. Cegielski

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.

22 June 2021

NGSQ June 2021 Issue is Now Online!

William Kesey, ca. 1885–86
(22 February 1819 – 27 September 1886)

The June 2021 Issue of the NGSQ is Now Online

The June 2021 issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Volume 109, Number 1, is available online in the members only section of the website and printed issues are being prepared for mailing. The USPS is still experiencing long delays in some areas for delivery of print copies. We apologize if your print copy is affected.


  • “Louis Monet’s Daughters Dorothée and Dorothée: Sorting Tri-Racial Roots of Two Same-Named, Previously Merged, Colonial-Born Freedwomen” by Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FNGS, FASG
  • “A Family for William Kesey of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and California” by Pam Pracser Anderson, CG
  • “Geo-Genealogy Leads to a Birth Family for Mrs. Dena Gerloff of Ringgold and Lee Counties, Iowa” by J. H. Fonkert, CG
  • “Finding Thomas Richardson’s Mother Among Seventeen Births in Manchester, England” by Allen R. Peterson, AG, CG


  • “Everything Has to Do with Geography”
  • A Conscientious Clerk
  • Wayfinding in 1917
  • South Carolina Mother’s Petition
  • A Troublesome Customer

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®.

19 June 2021

Happy Juneteenth!

Today we commemorate Juneteenth, the day in 1865 that enslaved African-Americans in Texas learned that they were free. NGS is committed to helping all people discover inspirational family stories of freedom and to share them forward.

NGS board member Bernice Alexander Bennett's discovery of a family story led to an exciting historic initiative: Honoring Black Resilience Through the Black Homesteader’s Project

Happy Juneteenth!

19 May 2021

NGS Announces Its 2021 Awards & Competition Honorees


NGS Announces Its

2021 Awards & Competition Honorees

NGS announced its 2021 award honorees and competition winners at our Virtual 2021 Family History Conference, NGS Live!, on 19 May. The following awards recognize excellence, achievement, and genealogical service.

NGS Award Honorees
National Genealogy Hall of Fame: John T. Humphrey, CG®
NGS introduced its National Genealogy Hall of Fame in 1986. The award honors outstanding genealogists whose achievements in American genealogy have had a great impact on the field. We invite you to visit the National Genealogy Hall of Fame and learn about its honorees. Nominated by the Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society, this year’s inductee is John T. Humphrey. Born in Penn Argyl, Pennsylvania, in 1948, he died in Washington, DC, in 2012. Always a scholar, Humphrey had a passion for sharing his knowledge and teaching others.

In demand as a speaker on German and Pennsylvania topics, Humphrey became an expert in reading old German script. In 2008, at Williamsburg's 400th Anniversary Celebration, he gave a keynote address on German contributions to America. Two years later, he was invited to Germany to speak on researching Germans in America. In 2011 he taught the first-ever German course at Samford’s Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research.

Humphrey authored many genealogical articles and books. Two of his most recognized publications are Understanding and Using Baptismal Records and Pennsylvania Births, fifteen volumes of birth and baptism transcriptions. He broke new ground when he unearthed ancestor charts of Nazi SS officers in captured German records housed at the United States National Archives. Humphrey served as president of the Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society and vice president of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania. He joined the NGS staff as education manager in 2000.

All who heard Humphrey’s lectures, read his books and articles, or participated in NGS activities he initiated, benefited from his knowledge and skills.

The Filby Award for Genealogical Librarianship, sponsored by ProQuest since 2006, honors an outstanding librarian whose primary focus is genealogy and local history. This year’s winner, David E. Rencher AG®, CG, FIGRS, FUGA, is director of the Family History Library (FHL), Salt Lake City, Utah, and the chief genealogical officer for FamilySearch.

Rencher is one of the few genealogists with AG and CG credentials and a renowned lecturer who presents at local, national, and international conferences, institutes, and webinars. In his professional capacity, he partners with archives to digitize historical records and is a trusted collaborator. His leadership in technology advanced the book scanning program for FHL; record-matching methods for FamilySearch databases; and implementation of automated indexes for the 1880 census, the Social Security Death Index, and military casualty files for Vietnam and Korea.

Rencher recently authored Research in Arizona for NGS‘s Research in the States series of guidebooks. He also is the author of numerous articles, particularly regarding Irish research, and a contributing author of NGS’s online course for Continuing Genealogical Studies called War of 1812 Records.

Past president and a Fellow of the Utah Genealogical Association, Rencher is currently on the Board of Directors of the National Genealogical Society. He also is a Fellow of the Irish Genealogical Research Society in London; vice president of the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History; advisor to the Board of the New England Historic Genealogical Society; and director for Gen-Fed Alumni Association.

The 2021 Conference Award was presented to the Virginia Genealogical Society, Mary Vidlak, president, in recognition of its dedication and sustained service to the 2021 NGS Family History Conference.

Conference Certificates of Appreciation honor the VGS host committee chairs: Mary O’Brien Vidlak, CG, & Chuck Novak; volunteer co-chairs: Katie Derby and Kathy Merithew; registration co-chairs: Donald Moore and Phillip Ciske; publicity co-chairs: Robin Dwyer-Maurice and Teresa Kelly; conference blogger: Shannon Benton; hospitality chair: Catherine Gill; VGS booth co-chairs: Deborah Harvey, CG, and Nicki Peak Birch, CG; VGS events chair: Mary O’Brien Vidlak CG.

President’s Citation
The President’s Citation recognizes and acknowledges particularly dedicated efforts on behalf of the National Genealogical Society. During the past year, in the midst of a historic pandemic, the NGS staff accepted the herculean task of transitioning to a newly merged organization while expanding the Society’s education programs and preparing for our second virtual Family History Conference. Despite lockdowns and changing protocols with all the additional work that resulted, NGS staff exemplified an extraordinary level of professionalism. “With gratitude for their expertise, energy, flexibility, and positive attitude,” NGS President Kathryn Doyle said, “I am thrilled to present this year’s NGS President’s Citation Award to our dedicated staff: Executive Director Matt Menashes; Accounting Manager Karen Soch; Conference Manager Erin Shifflett; Member Services Manager Susan Yockey; and Courtney Holmes, our Registrar for many years.

NGS Competition Winners
The NGS Awards for Excellence are presented for a specific, significant single contribution in the form of a family genealogy or family history book; a publication discussing or demonstrating genealogical methods and sources; or an article published in the NGS Quarterly.

Award for Excellence: Genealogy and Family History Book

This year’s recipient is Kyle Hurst, of Boston, Massachusetts. The title of her book is Ancestors and Descendants of Charles Le Caron and Victoire Sprague.

Honorable mention: Michael Grow, for his book, John Grow of Ipswich, Massachusetts, and Some of His Descendants: A Middle-Class Family in Social and Economic Context from the 17th Century to the Present.

Award for Excellence: Genealogical Methods and Sources
Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGLSM, FASG, FNGS, FUGA, is this year’s recipient. The title of her book is Professional Genealogy: Preparation, Practice, and Standards.

Honorable mention: Peter J. Malia, for his book, New Haven Town Records, 1769-1819.

Award for Excellence: National Genealogical Society Quarterly
LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG, CGL, of Washington, DC, received the Award for Excellence for her article, “Parents for Isaac Garrett of Laurens County, South Carolina: DNA Corroborates Oral Tradition,” published in the June 2020 issue of the NGSQ.

The NGS Family History Writing Contest has been a Society tradition since 1986. This year’s winner is Amy Larner Giroux, PhD, CG, CGL, for her paper, “The Many Names of Frances Ellsworth: Correlating Evidence to Identify a Birth Name.”

The NGS Newsletter Competition recognizes the hard work and creativity of volunteer editors who publish the newsletters of our member organizations. The competition reviews them according to size of membership: small organizations (under 500) and large organizations (500 and up).

Large Societies and Organizations:
This year’s winner is The Tracer, newsletter of the Hamilton County (Ohio) Genealogical Society, Eileen Muccino, editor.

Honorable Mention: Virginia Genealogical Society Newsletter, published by the Virginia Genealogical Society, Orange, Virginia, and edited by Birgitte Tessier.

Small Societies and Organizations:
The winner is the Newsletter of the Irish Family History Forum, Long Island, New York, edited by Jim Regan.

Honorable mention: Our Endicott Heritage Trail, John Endecott Family Association, Laurie Endicott Thomas, editor.

The Rubincam Youth Writing Contest was established in 1986 to encourage and recognize our youth as the next generation of family historians. It honors Milton Rubincam, CG, FASG, FNGS, for his many years of service to NGS and to the field of genealogy.

Senior Category (Grades 9 - 12):
Wren Marsh of Houston, Texas, for his entry, “Generation to Generation.”

Honorable mention: Akram Elkouraichi, of Yonkers, New York, for his paper, “Project Hesperides: A Genealogical and Biographical Study of the Elkouraichi Family of Ben Ahmed, Morocco Through the Generations.”

Junior Category (Grades 6 - 8):
Asa Marsh of Houston, Texas, is the winner for his paper, “A Short History of My Grandmother: Helen F. Wren.”

Honorable mention: Ava Bielawski, of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, for her entry, “Dorothy Lundy: A Daughter of Emile Terrenoire, Where the Inspiration Began.”

SLAM! Idea Showcase Awards
On 18 May, during NGS 2021 SLAM! Idea Showcase, six organizations received awards. They were selected from among thirty-two recorded video “poster” presentations highlighting innovative projects, programs, and activities benefiting genealogical researchers. The winners were St. Louis Genealogical Society, St. Louis, Missouri: “Congregation Project”; German Historical Institute, Washington, DC: “German Heritage in Letters”; and Chester County (Pennsylvania) Archives: “1777 Chester County Property Atlas Portal.” Honorable mentions went to Godfrey Memorial Library, Middletown, Connecticut: “Genealogy Roundtable”; Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort, Kentucky: “Kentucky Ancestors Town Hall”; and St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis, Missouri: “Rooted in Inclusion: Forgoing the Family Tree Model.”

The National Genealogical Society congratulates all the 2021 award recipients and contest winners. Sincere thanks go to the volunteer judges, chairs, and evaluators from across the country who generously gave their time and expertise to review the submissions for each award and competition. Thanks, too, to Janet Bailey, awards chair, and Susan Yockey of the NGS staff.

Please help us with awards for next year, when we hope to be together again. Consider nominating an individual or organization who exemplifies the qualities we honor with our awards or encouraging someone to participate in one of our competitions.

06 May 2021

Only Six Days Left to Register for NGS 2021 Live!

Only Six Days Left to Register for NGS 2021 Live!

You have just six days left to register for the National Genealogical Society (NGS) 2021 Live!

Just six days to sign up to hear The New York Times best-selling author, Dani Shapiro, discuss the sometimes unintended, but life-altering, consequences of genealogical DNA testing on 19 May at 1:40 p.m. (EDT).

To date, tens of millions of people have taken consumer DNA tests to search for ancestors. Shapiro explored the subject in Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity. During NGS Live! she will share her shock when she discovered that her deceased father was not her biological father and talk about her journey to come to terms with medical ethics, kinship, and the multitudinous facets that make up one’s identity. Her talk, Family Secrets, will not be available later on-demand.

Just six days left to register for two days of fascinating lectures on family history research with live Q&A.

Just six days left to be included in drawings for terrific giveaways, including:
  • Five, Annual World Explorer memberships to Ancestry
  • Five, Annual Fold3 subscriptions
  • Five, Annual Newspapers.com Publisher’s Extra subscriptions
  • Five, Ancestry DNA kits
  • Three, One Year MyHeritage Complete Plans
  • Three, Family Finders from FamilyTreeDNA
  • Two, MyHeritage DNA Kits
  • Two, Free registrations for the NGS 2022 Family History Conference in Sacramento, CA
  • Two, One-year NGS Memberships
  • One Each, Family History Guide: Hoodie, T-Shirt, Tote Bag, Large Tumbler, Mouse Pad

These are just some of the highlights of NGS Live! Don’t miss out on a rich array of learning opportunities for every area of interest and every level of expertise in family history.

Register Today!

02 May 2021

National Genealogical Society Announces SLAM! Idea Showcase Award Winners


National Genealogical Society Announces

SLAM! Idea Showcase Award Winners

The National Genealogical Society (NGS) is pleased to announce that six organizations will receive awards during its 2021 SLAM! Idea Showcase on 18 May. The award winners were selected from among thirty-two recorded poster sessions highlighting innovative projects, programs, and activities benefiting genealogical researchers. Three submissions will receive cash prizes of $250 each:

  • St. Louis Genealogical Society, St. Louis, Missouri: “Congregation Project”
  • German Historical Institute, Washington, DC: “German Heritage in Letters”
  • Chester County (Pennsylvania) Archives: “1777 Chester County Property Atlas Portal”

Three will receive honorable mention:

  • Godfrey Memorial Library, Middletown, Connecticut: “Genealogy Roundtable”
  • Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort, Kentucky: “Kentucky Ancestors Town Hall”
  • St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis, Missouri: “Rooted in Inclusion: Forgoing the Family Tree Model”

All six will receive a one-year library subscription to photo enhancement software from VIVID-PIX.

Videos submitted by the award winners will be featured at the SLAM! Idea Showcase mainstage program on 18 May beginning at 3:00 p.m. (EDT). The program will also include the announcement of the 2021 Filby Award for Genealogical Librarianship and a greeting from the Library of Virginia, the 2021 NGS Conference host library. Following the mainstage event, attendees will have the opportunity to view poster sessions and chat live with their submitters. The event is free, but registration is required. Visit the conference website to register.

The SLAM! Idea Showcase is a new NGS event to promote information sharing, collaboration, networking, and collegiality among genealogical information providers. The program is sponsored by VIVID-PIX, Ancestry, and Collectionaire.

The Virtual NGS 2021 Family History Conference is scheduled for May 19-22. Conference and registration information is available online.