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.

11 April 2022

The April–June Issue of the NGS Magazine is Now Online

William J. Whipper, 1835–1907, Probate Judge of Beaufort County,
South Carolina, 1882–1892.

The April–June 2022 Issue  
of the NGS Magazine is Now Online

The April–June 2022 issue of NGS Magazine, Volume 48, Number 2, 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 Probate Research.

EDITOR'S NOTE by Deb Cyprych

This issue takes a deep dive into the many types of probate records that can reveal details about ancestors. While some records are online, not all are indexed, and thorough probate research requires checking multiple sources.

Nancy A. Peters provides a summary of nine basic types of probate records besides wills: petitions, bonds, letters of administration or letters testamentary, inventories, appraisements, accounts, orders for sale of real estate, sale bills, and final settlements or distributions. Her four examples demonstrate the value of these records, and her list of strategies to try when no probate records are found offers useful tips.

Enslaved people were considered assets and treated as personal property in probate proceedings and equity cases. Enslavers’ probate records may identify the names, ages, relationships, origins, occupations, and other characteristics of enslaved people, whether implied or specified, that could lead to further research. LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson gives examples and describes the role of intestate law in tracing ownership, locating and surveying relevant probate files, and making reasonable inferences.

The vocabulary of probate records, like other legal records, is often unfamiliar, causing researchers to overlook valuable information. Judy Russell outlines a process for working effectively with legal terminology: transcribing the record to study each word in context, reviewing relevant laws to learn why the record was created, and using contemporary legal dictionaries to ensure correct understanding.

While probate in most US states is based on the county, New England’s jurisdictional history makes locating records more complex. Rhode Island probate is kept within each town, Connecticut’s probate districts include several towns, and some of Vermont’s counties have two probate courts. In several New England states, probate records are held in unexpected places due to prior jurisdictions. Six New England genealogists profile their state's probate system, major changes, and access to records.

Estate inventories, appraisements, and sale bills can offer details about an ancestor’s home, possessions, lifestyle, work, socio-economic status, people in the household, neighbors, and relatives. In her column, Kathy Petlewski shows how the information in these records can be used for multiple purposes.

In the Society Forum column, Rhonda Hoffman discusses creative methods used by societies to acquire content for their publications.

Paul Woodbury’s DNA Discovery column presents a thorough explanation of how autosomal DNA testing can indicate misattributed parentage and how to prove or disprove this probability.



  • Beyond the Will: What Probate Records Reveal about Ancestors by Nancy A. Peters, CG, CGL
  • Gleaning Information about Enslaved Ancestors from Probate Files by LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG, FASG
  • No Longer “All Greek to Me”: Dealing with Legal Lingo in Probate Records by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL
  • Probate Research in New England
    • Introduction, by Bryna O’Sullivan
    • Connecticut, by Bryna O’Sullivan
    • Maine by Helen Shaw, CG
    • Massachusetts by Sara E. Campbell
    • New Hampshire by Robert Cameron Weir
    • Rhode Island by Diane Boumenot
    • Vermont by Ann D. Watson


  • PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE by Kathryn M. Doyle
  • EDITOR'S NOTE by Deb Cyprych
    • Becoming a Better Researcher: Introducing NGS Foundations in Family History by Terry Koch-Bostic
    • Estate Inventories: Windows into Ancestors’ Lives by Kathy Petlewski, MSLS
    • Genealogical Society Publications: Creative and Successful Strategies for Acquiring Content by Rhonda Hoffman, MLS
    • Broken Branches: Detecting Cases of Misattributed Parentage with DNA Evidence 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 March 2022

NGSQ March 2022 is now online!

wedding couple
John H. and Mary C. (Wendelgass) Schweigert
1901, Rochester, Monroe County, New York

The March 2022 Issue of the NGSQ is Now Online

The March 2022 issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Volume 110, 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 delays in some areas for the delivery of print copies. We apologize if your print copy is affected.


  • “Parents for Corbett Edward White of West Springfield, Massachusetts” by Claire Ammon, CG
  • "Getting to Know the Neighbors: Searching for John Stafford’s Father in Elizabethan and Jacobean Derbyshire, England" by Allen R. Peterson, AG, CG
  • “The Identities of Two Richard Condons of Peterborough County, Ontario, Canada” by Elizabeth Reynolds Moye, PhD, CG
  • “Four Farms, Four Names: The Identity and Parentage of Dirk Weversborg of the Netherlands” by Yvette Hoitink, CG

  • What is Your Heritage?
  • A Justice for Workers

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®.


28 January 2022

Introducing a New Course: Foundations in Family History


National Genealogical Society Introduces New Course
Foundations in Family History

Today NGS launched Foundations in Family History, a new online course designed for genealogy hobbyists and intermediate researchers. This course was developed to give each family historian a solid foundation in the research skills needed to find and evaluate records for their family and to build their family tree—generation by generation.

The course consists of three parts with eighteen lessons which build on one another. Students will learn how to examine sources and develop a research plan. The course demonstrates how online resources and published family history sources can impact students’ research. Also featured are
  • a step-by-step process for using, locating, and evaluating genealogy records;
  • practical applications to apply lessons to personal family research;
  • case studies and citations that illustrate how to put lessons into action; and
  • complementary NGS Magazine articles and videos.

Foundations in Family History is the ideal course for the DNA test taker who wants to create a family tree to connect with matches; the genealogy enthusiast who wants to take their family history knowledge to the next level; or the librarian or archivist who wants to learn more to assist their patrons. This course, along with a new certificate course for more advanced researchers coming later in 2022, replaces American Genealogical Studies.

For more information and to enroll, visit NGS Foundations in Family History.

20 January 2022

The January–March 2022 Issue of NGS Magazine is Now Online

The January–March 2022 Issue of the NGS Magazine is Now Online

The January–March 2022 issue of NGS Magazine, Volume 48, Number 1, 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 the delivery of print copies.

EDITOR'S NOTE by Deb Cyprych

This issue’s theme features the people and records of California and the West, in celebration of the NGS Family History Conference this May in Sacramento, California. Genealogists across the country are anticipating the opportunity to share and learn together at the first in-person NGS conference in three years. (Virtual and package options are also available.)

Conference attendees can take advantage of the proximity of the California History Section of the California State Library in Sacramento. Another section of the California State Library is the Sutro Library in San Francisco. Angela Maani and Dvorah Lewis describe the multitude of genealogical resources in both collections.

From 1819 to the 1960s, thousands of Indigenous children were relocated to Indian boarding schools in twenty-nine states, usually far from their homes, under the US government’s forced assimilation policy. Judy Nimer Muhn discusses the history of the boarding schools, the traumatic experiences endured by many children, and the resources available for researching the schools and the students.

Records created since about 1906 at Mexican border crossing stations in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas provide rich biographical details. Colleen Robledo Greene explains border crossing manifest cards and sheets, associated records, and strategies for accessing them.

Two articles continue the census theme of the last issue, leading up to the release of the 1950 US census on 1 April. Shelley Bishop covers the evolution and specifics of enumeration practices and instructions from 1880 to 1950, and Kathy Petlewski explores the value and variety of state census records, which include some questions not asked in federal censuses.

David Rencher examines the history and achievements of the Stern-NARA Gift Fund, which has facilitated the microfilming and digitization of millions of documents in the National Archives through the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, Preserve the Pensions—War of 1812, the US-Mexican War Project, and many other projects.

Scott Holl profiles the winners of the 2021 SLAM! Idea Showcase. SLAM! stands for Societies, Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and members of organizations may glean ideas to consider for their own projects. Paul Woodbury makes recommendations for analyzing and interpreting a test taker's closest autosomal DNA matches, and Carla Cegielski offers useful tools for understanding and calculating dates in genealogical research.



  • Stern-NARA Gift Fund: Together, Genealogists Have Made a Difference! by David E. Rencher, AG, CG, FUGA, FIGRS
  • NGS 2022 Family History Conference: Striking Genealogical Gold in Sacramento by Kathleen O. Beitiks
  • Genealogy Research at the California State Library by Angela Maani and Dvorah Lewis
  • Researching Children in Indian Boarding Schools by Judy Nimer Muhn
  • Researching Mexican Families in Border Crossing Records by Colleen Robledo Greene, MLIS
  • The Evolution of US Census Instructions: Part Two, 1880 to 1950 by Shelley Bishop


  • PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE by Kathryn M. Doyle
  • EDITOR'S NOTE by Deb Cyprych
    • Genealogical Gems in State Census Records by Kathy Petlewski, MSLS
    • 2021 NGS SLAM! Idea Showcase Projects by Scott Holl, MLIS
    • The Closest Autosomal DNA Matches by Paul Woodbury
    • Calendar Tools and Calculators for Genealogy 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.