28 September 2022

Foundations in Family History Course: Creating a Research Plan

Do You Use a Research Plan for Your Family History?

Researching family history is a gratifying and addictive pastime. Sometimes we chase down a rabbit hole and don’t find the elusive ancestor we're looking for. That particular ancestor and their parentage may be the key to the next generation we're trying to identify.
Creating a research plan helps us stay focused. An important first step is to formulate a specific research question for one person and focus on records that may answer that question.
Next, review the documents collected for information relating to the question and identify additional records available for the time and place. This effort at the beginning of the research project will pay off. Some research plans can be accomplished in a couple of hours (for example, to find when and where John Smith and Mary Jones got married). More extensive research plans (for questions such as “Who were the parents of John Smith and Mary Jones?”) may include several phases and require research over longer periods of time.

Whether you have a simple or complex question in your research, the National Genealogical Society (NGS) can help. The NGS Foundations in Family History online course will teach you all eight steps for creating a research plan and using a research log.
The lesson on creating a research plan is just one of the eighteen lessons in the Foundations in Family History course that will help you become a more successful genealogist and researcher. Learn more and sign up online.


Visit the NGS website to discover additional genealogy courses.

15 September 2022

NGSQ September Issue is Now Online!

NGSQ cover Sept 2022
Andrew Blanchard Marriner, ca. 1890s

The September 2022 Issue of the NGSQ is Now Online

The September 2022 issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Volume 110, Number 3, is available online in the members-only section of the website and printed issues are being prepared for mailing. The USPS is still experiencing delays in some areas for the delivery of print copies. We apologize if your print copy is affected.


  • “The Brambach, Mangold, and Beplat Saga: Evidence Supports Sensationalist News Stories” by Amy Larner Giroux, PhD, CG, CGL
  • “Parents for Mary Ann (Marriner) Graves of New Jersey and Pennsylvania” by by Debbie Hadley

  • “Do Slave Schedules Accurately Report Owners?” by Tony Burroughs 

  • Making the Most of What You Have

  • Wall Family Bible
  • The Three Bears Revisited


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®.

06 July 2022

The July–September 2022 Issue of the NGS Magazine is Now Online

The July–Sept 2022 Issue  
of the NGS Magazine is Now Online

The July–September 2022 issue of NGS Magazine, Volume 48, Number 3, is being printed and is now available online in the Members Only section of the website. Delivery of print copies depends upon USPS schedules. This issue’s theme is Genealogy Tools.

EDITOR'S NOTE by Deb Cyprych

Genealogical tools of various types can help researchers in charting a new course of discovery. The articles in this issue describe tools genealogists can develop for customized purposes.

Shannon Green explores the importance of correlation in the research process. Her examples illustrate the value of tables, maps, and timelines as tools of comparison and contrast that enable researchers to view data from a different angle, generate ideas for further study, test hypotheses, and assess and communicate the validity of conclusions.

Mind maps offer customized formats for following the trail of evidence. Amy Larner Giroux’s approach starts with a record rather than a central idea. She outlines four steps for using a hand-drawn or electronic mind map to plot the basic elements in the record, analyze information and develop questions, explore possible paths to find solutions, and create a research plan for the next steps.

Locality guides improve research effectiveness by increasing knowledge of a specific area and its resources. Jan Joyce discusses the advantages of creating succinct, individualized guides and presents a step-by-step process for their development and usage: targeting the geographic locality, conducting a literature review, writing the guide, using it, and refining its information.

Timelines are fundamental tools for gaining a new perspective in genealogical research. Cari Taplin describes the benefits, creation, and organization of timelines. Her examples display the use of timelines to notice gaps in research, suggest locations of records, distinguish the identities of people with similar names, and organize multiple items of information, among many other features.

Microsoft Excel’s power for analysis and manipulation of data is significant and can be tapped for many purposes. Jill Crandell provides instructions for calculations of ages and time intervals, sorting large volumes of data to solve research problems, and workarounds to handle Excel’s inability to format dates prior to 1900.

Columnists in this issue present information about genealogy tools as well. Paul Woodbury explains how the Leeds Method, SmartArt and Lucidchart, and What Are the Odds? can help with interpreting DNA evidence. Rhonda Hoffman discusses the development of questions for surveying society members. Kathy Petlewski describes her method of creating digital catalog cards to keep track of books and make them easily accessible.

On a different topic, Craig R. Scott uses a case study for an Illinois soldier to outline the sources available for researching US soldiers, sailors, volunteers, and militiamen in the Mexican War. More than one hundred thousand US servicemen participated in the 1846-1848 War with Mexico, which resulted in the United States obtaining a half million acres of territory in the West and Southwest.



  • NGS 2023 Family History Conference: Specialize Research Facilities in Virginia by Teresa Kelley
  • Correlation: A Powerful Research Tool by Shannon Green, CG
  • Enhancing Source Analysis with Mind Maps by Amy Larner Giroux, PhD, CG, CGL
  • Creating and Using Locality Guides as Genealogical Tools by Jan Joyce, DBA, CG, CGL, AG
  • Using Timelines to Gain Perspective on Research Problems by Cari A. Taplin, CG
  • Unlocking the Power of Microsoft Excel for Genealogical Research by Jill N. Crandell, MA, AG 
  • Researching US Servicemen in the Mexican war by Craig R. Scott, CG, FUGA


  • PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE by Kathryn M. Doyle
  • EDITOR'S NOTE by Deb Cyprych
    • Make Connections on FORUM by Kate Smith
    • 2022 NGS Awards and Competition Results Announced by Judy Nimer Muhn
    • Charts and Diagrams for Genetic Genealogy: Organization, Analysis, and Reports by Paul Woodbury
    • Surveying Society Memberships: Part 1, Questions by Rhonda Hoffman, MLS
    • Maintaining a Personal Genealogy Library Catalog in the Digital Age by Kathy Petlewski, MSLS

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.

05 July 2022

NGSQ June 2022 is now online!

Mary Stevens (Sangston) Gwyn (1812–80) who married into the Gwyn family,
the subject of the feature article by Anita A. Lustenberger, CG.

The June 2022 Issue of the NGSQ is Now Online

The June 2022 issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Volume 110, Number 2, is available online in the members-only section of the website and printed issues are being prepared for mailing. The USPS is still experiencing delays in some areas for the delivery of print copies. We apologize if your print copy is affected.


  • “The Children of Robert and Ann (Ransone) Gwyn of Gloucester County, Virginia” by Anita A. Lustenberger, CG
  • “John and Nicholas Leonard of Trumbull County, Ohio: Sons of Nicholas Leonard of Berkeley County, Virginia” by David M. Lawrence, JD
  • “One Man, Three Surnames: Identifying Parents for Louis Adolph Fairweather of New York, Illinois, and California” by Sharon L. Hoyt, CG
  • “Did You Know? A Survey of the Growing NGS Research in the States Series” by Barbara Vines Little, CG, FNGS
  • Life's Milestons
  • Manumissions by Rachel Moore, 1780
  • Elopement Before the Tide
  • Believe It or Not
  • A Taxing State of Affairs

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 2022

Commemorating Juneteenth and Discovering Family History

Juneteenth is more than a remembrance of the stain slavery left on our nation. It is our nation's way to honor Black Americans' long march toward freedom and the profound impact those many steps have left on our national conscience and our pursuit of a just and equitable society.

The National Genealogical Society is proud to help Ancestry® announce the premiere of a powerful new film, “A Dream Delivered: The Lost Letters of Hawkins Wilson,” which brings to light a family reunion over a century in the making. 

Visit Ancestry.com/Blackhistory starting on June 17 to watch the film and learn more, and to get started exploring your own family story. 

Join us for the next MemberConnects! for an encore of Andre Kearn's NGS Conference banquet presentation, "Revealing Our Full American Mosaic."  The Zoom meeting is Wednesday, 29 June, at 8:00 p.m. (ET).

The National Genealogical Society will be closed Monday, 20 June 2022, in observance of the Juneteenth holiday.

07 June 2022

NGS Releases Two New Research in the States Books


NGS Releases New Research in the States Books:

New Mexico and Oregon

Two new Research in the States books— Research in New Mexico by Karen Stein Daniel, CG, and Research in Oregon, 3rd Edition, by Connie Miller Lenzen, CG, FNGS—are now available in the NGS store in both PDF and print versions.

In Research in New Mexico, author Karen Stein Daniel discusses where to find records of both indigenous and non-indigenous people. The state is home to three Apache tribes, the Navaho Nation, and nineteen Pueblo tribes. Since 1598, Hispanics including Crypto-Jews have settled in New Mexico. By the late 1860s, Black Americans began to arrive along with French, German, Greek, Italian, and Jewish immigrants; Los Árabes from the Middle East; and South African Boers. Research in New Mexico offers readers an extensive review of genealogical resources of the people who have populated America’s 47th state.

In Research in Oregon, 3rd Edition, Connie Miller Lenzen introduces family historians to a wealth of repositories and other archival resources throughout the state. The book covers both Oregon’s many Native American tribes as well as its non-indigenous population, including White pioneers who settled in Oregon in the 1840s. Chinese began to arrive in the 1850s. They were followed by Japanese. By law, Blacks were excluded from the state until 1868 when the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution was ratified. Ethnic groups from Europe included Basques, Greeks, Irish, Swedes, and Volga Germans. Hispanic and Jewish Americans and later Iranians, Russians, Vietnamese also settled in Oregon. Research in Oregon provides genealogists with a concise guidebook for researching their ancestors.

Research in the States series is edited by Barbara Vines Little, CG, FNGS, FUGA, FVGS.

To purchase, Research in New Mexico and Research in Oregon, 3rd Edition, visit the NGS online store.

28 May 2022

NGS Presents Awards at Conference Banquet

NGS Awards Excellence in Genealogy Scholarship and Service at
Family History Conference in Sacramento, California

NGS held its annual banquet on Friday evening, 27 May, at its 2022 Family History Conference in Sacramento, California, to present awards that acknowledge and honor genealogical scholarship and service. The banquet speaker, Andre Kearns, spoke about the opportunity genealogy offers us to uncover the stories of people traditionally excluded from historical narratives in his presentation, “Revealing Our Full American Mosaic.” Awards Committee Chair Judy Nimer Muhn opened the awards portion of the banquet.

National Genealogy Hall of Fame
Beginning in 1986, the National Genealogy Hall of Fame program, administered by the National Genealogical Society, has honored outstanding genealogists whose achievements in American genealogy have had a great impact on the field and who have been deceased for at least five years. Their contributions to genealogy in this country need to be significant in a way that was unique, pioneering, or exemplary. Entries are judged by a panel of genealogists from various parts of the United States.

This year, Clarence Almon Torrey, FASG, nominated by the American Society of Genealogists, was elected to the National Genealogy Hall of Fame.

Torrey was born 28 August 1869 in Manchester, Iowa; he died 5 February 1962 in Newton, Massachusetts. For forty-one years (1921-1962), he was actively engaged in the field of genealogy. From 1927 until his death, he compiled information on New England marriages. The compilation became a twelve-volume manuscript, titled "New England Marriages Prior to 1700." It includes approximately 37,000 New England couples and was drawn from many thousands of references from printed sources. First published (without the references) in 1985, the manuscript has gone through many printings, eventually with notated references.

Torrey was elected a fellow in the American Society of Genealogists in 1942. As a contributing editor for its publication, The American Genealogist, Torrey provided numerous articles including "Marriages in England of Early American Immigrants," "Some Early Marriages at Reading, Massachusetts," and "Errors in Printed Massachusetts Vital Records." He also published a number of genealogies and family histories including David Roe of Flushing, Long Island, and Some of His Descendants: A Record of Six Generations.

Torrey specialized in uncovering English origins and identifying the maiden names of the wives of seventeenth century New England and Long Island colonists. He was a careful, meticulous researcher. His long and extensive labors in the field of New England genealogy made him an "elder statesman" to other genealogists.

The Lou D. Szucs Distinguished Service Award recognizes exemplary contributions to the mission of NGS. At the banquet, the Board of Directors presented the award to Janet Bailey, Frances Millhouser, Connie Jeremiah, and Shirley Langdon Wilcox, CG, FNGS, FVGS, for their outstanding service to NGS. When NGS moved to new offices in 2017, the paper archives of the society were stored in a basement which flooded in 2021. This team of volunteers dedicated more than 300 hours through the summer and fall of 2021 to the preservation of these documents. They dried and organized over forty bankers boxes of documents during the pandemic, providing all the necessary work needed to save these historical items of the Society.

The Award of Merit is presented to an individual or non-profit genealogical or historical organization to recognize exceptional contributions to the field of genealogy over a period of five or more years, which have significantly aided research or increased interest in genealogy. This year the NGS Board of Directors presented the award to Kathleen Hrenko Rubano. She has been a member of the Bristol Chapter of the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists, Inc. (MSOG) for more than ten years with six of those years as president of the Chapter.

Rubano has devoted much of her time helping to promote the study of genealogy beginning with novice learners to those with advanced skills. As president of Bristol Chapter (2013-2019), she was the driving force in the recruitment of new members and arranging for quality monthly presentations. She also presented a "Getting into Genealogy" program to community groups, local libraries, and other organizations interested in genealogy, a project in which she continues to participate. She was instrumental in creating an "International Ancestry Day" when members volunteer to share family stories and the techniques used during their research as well as ethnic food associated with the topics of the day. Rubano continues to offer her volunteer service to the local Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) chapter and Massachusetts State Archives.

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. Entries serve to foster scholarship and/or otherwise advance or promote excellence in genealogy.

Award for Excellence: Genealogy and Family History Book
This year’s recipient is Pamela Stone Eagleson, CG, for Descendants of Thomas Stone, ca. 1720-1791 of Prince William County, Virginia. Amherst, Mass.: P. S. Eagleson, 2021. Second place went to Karen Stein Daniel, CG, for Victor Massé and Emilie Lucile Vincent from the First French Republic to the Republic of Texas. San Antonio, Tex.: K. S. Daniel, 2020.

Award for Excellence: Genealogical Methods and Sources
This year’s recipients are Sunny Jane Morton and Harold Henderson, CG, for How to Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2021. Second place went to Robert. W. Johnson, JD, CG, and Elizabeth Williams Gomoll, CG, for Husförhörslӓngder: Swedish Household Examination Records: Framing the Solutions to Your Swedish Ancestry Puzzles. St. Paul, Minn.: Johnson & Gomoll, 2021.

Award for Excellence: National Genealogical Society Quarterly 
Barbara Vines Little, CG, FNGS, FUGA, FVGS, received the award for “Correct Interpretation of an Eighteenth-Century Virginia Will Restores the Parents of Allerton Newton of Westmoreland County, Virginia.” published in the December 2021 issue of the NGSQ.

25 May 2022

NGS Presents Awards at Opening Session of Conference


NGS Presents Awards Honoring Excellence in 

Newsletter Editorship and Service to NGS

NGS began its four-day Family History Conference in Sacramento, California, on 25 May 2022 at the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center. Following the Opening Session’s keynote address, entitled “The Chinese Who Built America's Transcontinental Railroad” by Gordon H. Chang, NGS Awards Chair Judy Nimer Muhn presented several awards to honor the conference’s local volunteer leadership and to recognize the winners of the NGS Newsletter Competition and the Rubincam Youth Writing Competition. Also presented were the Genealogy Tourism Award, the President’s Citation, Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern Lifetime Achievement Award, and The Shirley Langdon Wilcox Award for Exemplary Volunteerism.

The Award of Honor was presented to the California Genealogical Society, James Sorenson, president, in recognition of the Society’s dedication and sustained service in support of the NGS 2022 Family History Conference.

Certificates of Appreciation were given to committee chairs who worked tirelessly to assure the success of the conference. The honorees included: Local Host Committee Chair Jane Knowles Lindsey; Tours Chair Patricia Smith; Event Co-Chairs Jane Knowles Lindsey and Larry Youngman; Hospitality Chair Sheri Fenley; Publicity Chair Kathleen Beitiks; Conference Blogger Roger Prince; Registration Chair Joanna Shear; Technology Chair Theresa Murphy; Vendor Co-Chairs Rich Kehoe, James Sorenson, and Leslie Sorenson; and Volunteer Co-Chairs Maureen Hanlon and Chris Pattillo.

Genealogy Tourism Award 
The Genealogy Tourism Award was presented to the West Florida Genealogical Society of Pensacola, Florida, in recognition of its 1821 Sampler project in commemoration of Florida’s Territorial Bicentennial and Escambia County’s 200th anniversary. The project is a notable addition to research resources and encourages family history tourism, which this award seeks to promote.

The winners of the 2022 NGS Newsletter Competition, honoring excellence in newsletter editorship in two categories, are:

Newsletter for a Small Society with less than 500 members
Winner: Newsletter of the Irish Family History Forum, Irish Family History Forum, Plainview, New York, edited by Jim Regan.

Honorable Mention: The Archivist, Genealogical Society of Bergen County, Midland Park, New Jersey, edited by Michelle D. Novak.

Newsletter for a Large Society with more than 500 members
Winner: The Forum Insider, Genealogical Forum of Oregon, Portland, Oregon, edited by Geri Auerbach and Keri Logan

Rubincam Youth Writing Competition 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.

Junior Rubincam Youth Award
Winner: Maverick C. Marsh for “My Papa: The Life of My Grandfather, Dr. David Wren, Jr.”

Honorable Mention: Mandy Chang for “Chang Lian Sheng” and Emily Feichthaler for “My Mother, My Hero”

Senior Rubincam Youth Award
Winner: Julian Ananyev for “One Family's Journey Through Eurasia To America”

Honorable Mention: Riley Miller, "Forged In Fire” and Trinity Thai, "The Genealogy of the Thai Family"

The Shirley Langdon Wilcox Award for Exemplary Volunteerism recognizes a volunteer whose generosity of spirit and time has greatly benefited the National Genealogical Society and the genealogical community in general. Dawn Carey Henry of DeWitt, Michigan, is this year’s award recipient. During days, weeks, and months succeeding the merger of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) with NGS (2020-2021), Henry served as the first chair of the Delegate Council Steering Committee. She guided this advisory group of representatives from societies and organizations as it built its framework and operational procedures and defined the role of the society delegates. She continues to assist the current steering committee when needed.

The Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes an individual whose positive influence and leadership have fostered unity and helped make family history a vital force in the community. This year’s award recipient is William J. Forsyth, PMP. For more than twenty years, Forsyth worked to promote genealogy in the library community as well as genealogy education by sponsoring Librarian’s Day for NGS, FGS, the American Library Association, and several large regional conferences. He championed for funding from ProQuest to continue efforts in support of Librarians’ Day at national conferences and institutes. He also advocated for ProQuest’s sponsorship of the Filby Award for Genealogical Librarianship. Through his work, Forsyth became a luminary in the field of genealogy.

Filby Award for Genealogical Librarianship
Cheryl Lang, MLS, Midwest Genealogy Center, Independence, Missouri, received the 2022 Filby Award for Genealogical Librarianship along with its $1,000 prize. Created in 1999 by NGS, the award is named for the late P. William Filby, former director of the Maryland Historical Society and author of many core genealogical reference tools that genealogists have relied on for decades. It is presented annually at the NGS Family History Conference and has been sponsored by ProQuest since 2006.

Lang is the recently retired manager of the Midwest Genealogy Center branch of Mid-Continent Public Library in Independence, Missouri. During her tenure at the Midwest Genealogy Center, she increased book scanning at the library by reaching out to smaller libraries and bringing books to her library to be scanned. She also launched the oral history project at MCPL. She also wrote a chapter, “A Genealogy Library in The Pandemic Age,” in Pivoting During the Pandemic: Ideas for Serving Your Community Anytime, Anywhere, offering real-life examples of what it means to be a 24/7 library.

Lang currently serves as first vice president (2021–2023) of the board of directors of the Missouri State Genealogical Association. She is a member of the History Section and the Genealogy Committee of the Reference and User Services Association of the American Library Association.

The President’s Citation is given in recognition of outstanding, continuing, or unusual contributions to genealogy or the Society. C. Ann Staley, CG, CGL, was awarded the 2022 President’s Citation, honoring her years of service to the field. She was the NGS conference chair in 2016 and has been a member of the conference committee for a number of years. In 2020 she was the host of the first virtual NGS conference, NGS Live! She has also served as an officer with the Jacksonville Genealogical Society; a volunteer with the Florida Genealogical Society responsible for Florida Genealogical Society webinars; and as vice president of the Genealogical Speakers Guild.

The NGS 2022 Family History Conference continues through Saturday, 29 May.