12 February 2019

NGS and Our New Website Featured by the New York Times

In the New York Times Smarter Living section 3 February 2019, journalist Jaya Saxena considers why you should “dig up your family’s history” and how to do it. Where did she go for advice?—to the National Genealogical Society (NGS).

In her article, Saxena recommends the National Genealogical Society and our website as a top choice to learn how to begin to build your personal family history. This timely article was circulated to more than four million daily readers who subscribe to the digital New York Times. It features links to NGS’s new website homepage and to our “How to Build a Family Tree” tutorial in the Free Genealogy Resources section of the website.

Please forward the Times article along to friends and family members who are just now (or not yet) discovering the joys of searching for their roots. And make sure you also share NGS’s recommended pathways at our website to learn how to research family history, at all levels of expertise: Getting Started, Going to the Next Level, or Building Advanced Skills.

If you haven’t visited the new site, log in and discover many more helpful resources available free or for members only, including online courses from home; our best-selling genealogy books; and articles in NGS Magazine, NGS Monthly, and the NGS Quarterly journal. See why the National Genealogical Society is a top choice for learning more about how to discover your family’s story and find out what all the buzz is about!

Saxena, Jaya. Why You Should Dig Up Your Family’s History−and How to Do It.3 February 2019. New York Times, Digital Replica Edition, Smarter Living Section.

08 February 2019

NGSQ December 2018 Issue Now Online

The December 2018 issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Volume 106, Number 4, has been mailed to members and is available online in the Members Only section of the website.


2017 Winner, Family History Writing Contest:
     The Kennedy-Burns Family of South Carolina and New York by Morna Lahnice Hollister 

  • Sanner Family Corrections and Additions by Richard A. Hayden
  • The Secret Life of Ralph Cleworth in Derbyshire and Lancashire, England by Allen R. Peterson, CG, and Valerie S. Brown
  • DNA Helps Identify “Molly” (Frisch/Lancour) Morelli’s Father by Jill Morelli, CG  


  • Other Doors Open

  • “Instances of much gravity are too frequent”
  • Transported 


The National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) is published four times per year in March, June, September, and December. 

07 February 2019

NGS Magazine October–December 2018 Issue

The October-December 2018 issue of NGS Magazine, Volume 44, Number 4, has been mailed to members and is available online in the Members Only section of the website.

EDITOR'S NOTE by Deb Cyprych

While every place has its own history and record-keeping practices, urban settings have unique challenges as well as research opportunities. Large populations complicate the effort of identifying a single person, and the multiple newspapers, churches, and cemeteries in cities increase the number of places to search for records.
In this issue, Meryl Schumacker explores some of the characteristics and strategies of urban research. She discusses studying geography and jurisdictional changes, identifying an ancestor’s place of worship, and using a selection of records important in urban research: censuses, city directories, tax lists, and municipal records. Jordan Jones recommends practical steps for organizing and accessing the mass of files and images that may accumulate during genealogical research, particularly while tracing urban ancestors.  
Since most city-dwellers didn’t own property, deeds aren’t as helpful in urban research as they are in rural research. However, other types of records, such as city directories and Sanborn maps, are more common in urban areas than in rural locales. Sanborn maps make it possible to visualize ancestors’ homes and neighborhoods. Rebecca Lowery explains their content and techniques for locating and using these extremely detailed maps. The next issue will include an article by Terry Koch-Bostic on city directories.
Cities tended to have high concentrations of immigrants and ethnic groups. African Americans have been migrating to cities since the arrival of their ancestors, not just during the Great Migration from the South. Timothy Pinnick examines the history of African American migrations and presents resources that can be used to trace ancestors originating in the southern states. Kathy Petlewski profiles eleven ethnic benevolent societies founded in cities between 1729 and 1881 to assist immigrants, and demonstrates that some of their records—with genealogical information—are accessible.
In a column featuring National Archives sources useful for tracing urban residents, Claire Prechtel Kluskens highlights draft registration and naturalization records, District of Columbia records, and photographs.
Also in this issue, Ann Fleming reveals the breadth of the 2019 Family History Conference in St. Charles, Missouri, 8-11 May, and Scott Holl describes the extensive genealogical collections at the nearby St. Louis County Library, including the NGS Book Loan Collection. Tina Beaird portrays the three waves of the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed more than sixty million people and outlines resources for researching the pandemic’s impact on communities.

Table of Contents


NGS 2019 Family History Conference—Your Journey of Discovery, by Ann Carter Fleming, CG, CGL, FNGS

St. Louis County Library: A Major Research Destination, by Scott Holl, MA, MLIS

City Folk: Strategies for Urban Research, by Meryl Schumacker, CG

African Americans in the Urban Landscape, 1865-1930, by Timothy N. Pinnick

Using Sanborn Maps for Family History, by Rebecca Lowery, PhD

1918 Pandemic: Fighting Influenza During the Great War, by Tina Beaird, MLIS


President’s Message, by Ben Spratling

Editor’s Note, by Deb Cyprych

NGS News

NGS 2020 Family History Conference: Echoes of Our Ancestors Call for Proposals

Have You Visited the Fully Redesigned NGS Website? by Terry Koch-Bostic

2018 NGS Volunteers

Reference Desk: The Records of Ethnic Benevolent Societies in Urban America, by Kathy Petlewski, MSLS

National Archives: Urban Residents in Federal Records, by Claire Prechtel Kluskens

Technology: Organizing Genealogy Files and Notes, by Jordan Jones

04 January 2019

NGS Welcomes New NGSQ Editors – Effective Winter 2019 Issue

The National Genealogical Society Welcomes
Nancy Peters and Allen Peterson as its New NGSQ Editors

The National Genealogical Society (NGS) has named Nancy A. Peters, CG®, CGLSM, and Allen R. Peterson, CG, as co-editors of its National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ). They take the reins of editorial responsibility for this prestigious publication from retiring editors Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA, and Melinde Lutz Byrne, CG, FASG, FNGS. 

“It is an honor to serve as co-editor of the NGSQ,” said Nancy Peters, of Aiken, South Carolina. Allen Peterson of Katy, Texas, concurred, noting, “The NGS Quarterly is among the most scholarly genealogical journals in the United States and in the world. Nancy and I are determined to maintain the high standards set by our predecessors.”

Nancy A. Peters, CG, CGL
A full-time professional genealogist, Peters serves on the executive committee and as a trustee of the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) and is the former editor of its newsletter, OnBoard. She has conducted in-depth genealogical research to solve complex “brick wall” problems of identity and kinship for clients. Her personal and client research focuses primarily in England, Germany, New York, and southeastern United States. She lectures at the NGS Family History Conference and is an instructor for the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy and the BCG Education Fund on skill-building topics and genealogy standards. Her articles have appeared in NGSQ and other genealogical journals. She is the author of Chapter 18, “Research Reports” in the Writing, Editing & Publishing section of Professional Genealogy: Preparation, Practice, & Standards (2018). 

Allen R. Peterson, CG
Peterson is a BCG trustee and was vice-president of the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History from 2016 through 2018. He has both published and peer reviewed numerous articles in the NGSQ during the past decade. His research experience is primarily focused in England but extends to genealogical records in Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Virginia. Peterson served as the director of the Katy Texas Family History Center—an annex of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City—for seventeen years and is a member of NGS, and several other genealogical societies in the United States and Britain. In addition to the NGSQ, his articles have appeared in NGS Magazine; the Jackson County (North Carolina) Genealogical Society’s Journeys Through Jackson; and The Derbyshire Family History Society. He is the author of two, privately printed, family history books.

“We are fortunate to have recruited such excellent genealogists to take the helm of the Quarterly,” said NGS President Ben Spratling, JD. “NGS is profoundly grateful to our retiring editors, Tom Jones and Melinde Byrne, who have served as co-editors since 2002 and 2006, respectively. Their genealogical expertise and editorial acumen enhanced the Quarterly’s reputation as one of the foremost scholarly genealogical journals.”

Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG
Thomas W. Jones is an award-winning genealogical researcher, writer, editor, and educator. A professor emeritus at Gallaudet University, he is a former trustee and past president of BCG and has taught genealogical courses at Boston University, Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, Institute on Genealogy and Historical Research, Western Institute of Genealogy, and elsewhere. He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles and the best-selling NGS textbooks Mastering Genealogical Proof and Mastering Genealogical Documentation. 

Melinde Lutz Byrne, CG
Melinde Lutz Byrne has been a genealogist, author, consultant, and editor since 1976. She has authored and co-authored thirty books and more than sixty articles as well as numerous editorials and reviews. She is the director for genealogical programs at Excelsior College and at Boston University (BU) and has worked with local law enforcement on “John or Jane Doe” cold cases and with estate lawyers on missing heir cases. She is a former president of the American Society of Genealogists.

“I know that Tom and Melinde join me in welcoming incoming editors Nancy and Allen,” said Spratling. “I extend my best wishes to Alison Hare [CG] who had to step aside as a incoming co-editor due to health reasons.”

The words Certified Genealogist and its acronym, CG, are a registered certification mark, and the designations Certified Genealogical Lecturer and its acronym, CGL, are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.

02 January 2019

NGS 2020 Conference - Call for Proposals Now Open

The National Genealogical Society Announces
Call for Proposals
for 2020 Family History Conference

The National Genealogical Society 2020 Family History Conference, Echo of Our Ancestors, will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, 20‒23 May 2020. NGS will open the call for proposals on 2 January 2019 and proposals will be accepted until 1 April 2019.

The echoes of our ancestors resonate within us. Their voices, beliefs, cultures, choices, experiences, and traditions still influence the people we are today. We carry their physical traits in our DNA, and display some of their talents and occupational inclinations. The choices our ancestors made—including their decisions to migrate and where to settle—continue to influence new generations and are often reflected in their religion, associations, sense of cultural heritage, and ties to communities.

The study of family history gives greater meaning and dimension to our lives. As the prior generations fade from view, the results of our research illuminate the pale echoes of the past and bring our ancestors back to life to resonate for future generations. The NGS 2020 Family History Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, will explore our connections to our ancestors and the vestiges of their lives, which we can discover through the records that still exist. Conference tracks under consideration include the following:
  • Impact of wars, poverty, famine, persecution, and the industrial revolution on movement from ancestral homes in the Americas and abroad 
  • Immigration, naturalization, and passenger records 
  • Historical migrations, trails, and events that affected patterns of settlement
  • Hard-to-find ancestors who seem to disappear from records
  • Approaches to rural and urban research
  • Military records
  • Occupations and trades
  • Modes of transportation
  • Religions and related record collections
  • Ethnic resources and research techniques
  • Postcards, letters, diaries, and manuscripts
  • Immigrant, benevolent, and religious associations
  • Specialized collections of the Family History Library and other repositories
NGS also requests proposals that include the integration of DNA and technology in family history research as well as methodology and problem solving. NGS encourages proposals that demonstrate methods to help genealogists accurately identify ancestors through reasonably exhaustive research, proper source citations, analysis and correlation, resolution of conflicts, and sound reasoning and coherent writing.

Speakers who wish to submit lecture proposals may submit up to eight proposals electronically. The speaker compensation is described in detail on the website. Please visit the website for details about required speaker information and each submitted proposal.

This year NGS has included a free webinar, Becoming a Better Conference Speaker: Proposals and Preparations, which can be found on the National Genealogical Society YouTube channel. Speakers are encouraged to view the webinar before beginning the proposal process. Topics covered include: Lecture Proposals, Presentation, Syllabus, Communicate, and Deliver.

NGS members will receive first consideration as speakers. Notifications for acceptance will be issued in September 2019. Syllabus material, due 28 January 2020, is required for each lecture or workshop presentation and will be included in the syllabus distributed to all conference registrants. Electronic presentation programs are expected from the speakers. Presenters must provide their own digital projector, laptop, and connector to projector cable. NGS will provide projector support, which consists of a VGA or HTMI cable, cart, and power strip. Internet connections will not be provided in lecture rooms.

Sponsored Lecture Proposals
If your genealogical organization would like to sponsor a lecture, submit proposals to NGS. If your organization would like to sponsor a luncheon, please contact [email protected]. Do not use the sponsored lecture form.

Please consider preparing a proposal for the 2020 NGS conference in Salt Lake City.
The NGS Conference Committee

28 December 2018

Angela McGhie To Lead NGS Education Program with Liz Stratton

Angela Packer McGhie & Liz Stratton to Lead
The National Genealogical Society’s Education Program

The National Genealogical Society (NGS) is pleased to welcome Angela Packer McGhie, CG, as its education director and Liz Stratton, PLCGS, as its administrative course manager. They succeed Julie Miller, CG, CGLSM, FNGS, who has ably served as the interim education manager since March 2018.

NGS President Ben Spratling announced that McGhie, as the new education director, will be responsible for identifying and developing overall educational programming for new online courses that take advantage of sophisticated software to deliver optimum learning experiences. “As the administrative course manager, Stratton will complement McGhie’s work,” said Spratling, “managing the day-to-day operation of educational courses, coordinating the workflow, and acting as liaison to our students.”

Angela McGhie
McGhie has a background in secondary school education and is a board-certified genealogist, author, and lecturer who brings ten years of genealogical education experience to her new position. McGhie wrote the curriculum for the ProGen Study Program, served as its administrator (2008–2014), and is now on the board of directors. The ProGen Study Program guides aspiring professional genealogists to develop genealogical writing and business skills. McGhie has developed numerous genealogy institute courses including for the Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. She also served as an instructor for the Boston University Certificate Program in Genealogical Research and for Howard Community College.

“I began my own genealogical education with the NGS Home Study Course,” said McGhie. “I’m excited to bring my expertise in genealogical education to developing courses for NGS. Both Liz and I look forward to continuing NGS’s tradition of providing educational opportunities for the genealogical community.”

Liz Stratton
Stratton holds a Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies (PLCGS) from the National Institute of Genealogical Studies and is a regular attendee of genealogical institutes and conferences. She served as a GenProof mentor (2013-2016) and ProGen coordinator (2010-2012). She is the recent past-president of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) Virtual Chapter, for which she developed monthly educational programs. During her tenure as Education Director of the Hamilton County (Ohio) Genealogical Society, she developed three, interactive education series and started the Advanced Genealogy Forum.

“We are deeply indebted to Julie Miller,” said Terry Koch-Bostic, chair of the NGS Education Committee. “She stepped in and took charge of the Society’s education department at a critical time and restructured it. She established new process guidelines; developed short and long-term goals; and reviewed all of NGS’s courses, overseeing updates and revisions in the 2018 calendar year. Miller also helped insure the education section was ready for the launch of the new NGS website this past fall. Thanks to her, Angela and Liz will be able to take the reins of an educational program that reflects the exemplary standards for which the National Genealogical Society is known.“

We look forward to our members meeting Angela and Liz at the NGS Conference in St. Charles, Missouri, in May 2019.

24 December 2018

Happy Holidays!

Season's greetings from the NGS Board of Directors and NGS staff.

In observance of the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays, the NGS office will be closed on the following dates:
  • Tuesday - December 25, 2018
  • Wednesday - December 26, 2018
  • Tuesday - January 1, 2019