09 May 2014

Excellence in Genealogy Scholarship and Service Honored by NGS Awards

NGS held its annual banquet on Friday evening, 9 May 2014, at the NGS 2014 Family History Conference in Richmond, Virginia, to present awards that acknowledge and honor genealogical scholarship and service. Each year, these awards are presented to organizations and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to NGS programs or have performed outstanding work in the field of genealogy, history, biography, or heraldry.

National Genealogical Society 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 the field of American genealogy have had a great impact on our field. Qualified nominations are solicited annually from genealogical organizations. Those nominated must have been deceased for at least five years and have been actively engaged in genealogy for a minimum of ten years. Their contributions to the field of genealogy in this country need to have been significant in a way that was unique, pioneering, or exemplary. Such contributions could have been as an author of books or articles that added significantly to the body of published works, served as a model of genealogical research or writing, or made source records more readily available. Nominees could also have been a teacher or lecturer, or contributed to the field through leadership in a genealogical organization or periodical.

Entries are judged by a panel of genealogists from various parts of the United States. This year, Florence Harlow Barclay, whose nomination was made by The American Society of Genealogists and supported by the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, the Cape Cod Genealogical Society, and the New England Historical Genealogical Society, was elected to the NGS Hall of Fame. The main body of her work consists of over fifty articles published in The American Genealogist between 1946 and 1971. She was appointed a contributing editor to The American Genealogist in 1951 and served as vice president of the society in 1964-65, chair of the publications and membership committees, and was one of the founding members of the Harlow Family Association.

Fellowship in the National Genealogical Society recognizes a valued servant of the National Genealogical Society. This year’s Fellow, Janet A. Alpert, served on the NGS Board from 2004–2012 as secretary, president, and past-president. During her four years as NGS President, Jan used her management skills, acquired from a thirty-five year career in the title insurance industry, to guide the Society toward a financial model based on best practices in the business community helping to create a solid financial foundation for the society.

Jan was 2011 Conference Chair in Charleston, a role that overlapped with her last year as NGS President. She is also Co-Chair in 2014 Richmond. Jan represented the Society and the genealogical community on several occasions, speaking on Capitol Hill advocating records access and preservation issues.

Although she has gone above and beyond what is normally expected in her many roles at NGS, it is her work with the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) and the impact that it has had and continues to have on record access that is of primary importance to both NGS and the genealogical community at large, She was unanimously chosen to become its chairperson beginning in January 2013.

For her years of service to the genealogical community and her volunteer efforts on behalf of the National Genealogical Society and the genealogical community at large, the NGS Board has elected Janet A. Alpert a Fellow of the National Genealogical 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 has significantly aided research or increased interest in genealogy. The Award of Merit goes to Don Eckerle of the German Genealogy Group, NY; John Martino of the Italian Genealogy Group, NY; and Bob Boeckle of the German Genealogy Group, NY. Together, the three men organized and led their fellow members and over 1,000 volunteers from the Long Island Genealogy Federation and beyond to create one of the most important databases in the US: digitized indexes to over 16 million records that include the earliest vital records for the five boroughs of New York City plus Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island, plus naturalization indexes for all of these counties as well as NARA-NY’s entire naturalization collection from six district courts in New York and three in New Jersey. Don managed the computer and database creation for this work, John managed the thousands of volunteers, and Bob managed the scanning and printing of millions of records. This work represents only two of the many key searchable databases produced by these prolific, hardworking groups of volunteers who scanned and printed over 20 million records to offer these free indexes to family researchers all over the world as a gateway to finding their New York ancestors.

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 over a period of years. Sharon B. Hodges of Alexandria, Virginia, has graded lessons for the NGS home study course for fifteen years and has also served as a judge for the society's newsletter competition.  She is a former secretary of the Fairfax (Virginia) Genealogical Society, is the current president of the Mount Vernon (Virginia) Genealogical Society, and serves as a Governor at Large of the Virginia Genealogical Society. For her many year of service to NGS and the genealogical community, the NGS Board has selected Sharon to be the fourth recipient of the Wilcox Award.

Family History Writing Contest: Leslie Anderson of Silver Spring, Maryland, was the winner of the Family History Writing contest with her entry, Tabitha's Story: Survival, Struggle, and Success. This award is to encourage NGS members to write a family history that covers at least three generations and not more than four generations of their family. This scholarly article will be published in the upcoming December issue of the NGSQ.

National Genealogical Society Quarterly’s Award for Excellence: This award is presented for an outstanding article published in the NGSQ in the previous calendar year. For 2013, the editors have chosen Parentage of Martha Smith of Alabama and Mississippi: Overcoming Inconsistent, Incorrect, and Missing Records, by Laurel T. Baty, cg, published in the June 2013 issue of the NGSQ.

Award for Excellence: Genealogical Methods and Sources: This year’s recipient was Ted O. Brooke of Cumming, Georgia. The title of his entry was Georgia Stray Wills, 1733-1900. This award is for a specific, significant single contribution in the form of a book, an article, or a series of articles that discuss genealogical methods and sources, which serves to foster scholarship and/or advances or promotes excellence in genealogy. 

Award for Excellence: Genealogy and Family History Book: This year’s recipient was Robert V. Montague III of Navarre, Florida. The title of his entry was History and Genealogy of Peter Montague of Jamestown, Virginia (1603–2003). This award is for a specific, significant single contribution in the form of a family genealogy or family history book published in the past five years. Entries serve to foster scholarship and/or otherwise advance or promote excellence in genealogy. 

Senior Rubincam Youth Award (for students in grades 10–12 or between the ages of 16 and 18): Rachel Hattok of Leavenworth Kansas, was this year’s winner. The title of her entry was Through the Years. The Senior Rubincam Award was established in 1986 to honor Milton Rubincam, cg, fasg, fngs, for his many years of service to the National Genealogical Society and to the field of genealogy. The award encourages and recognizes our youth as the next generation of family historians. 

Home Study Course Scholarship: Krista M Burnette of Galax, Virginia, was the winner of the Home Study Course Scholarship. Burnette received the award for having demonstrated her serious interest in pursuing a career in genealogy. Criteria include attending genealogy conferences and training, subscribing to genealogical publications, and membership in NGS. The renowned NGS Home Study Course provides a solid foundation for researchers just starting out and new possibilities for experienced researchers’ more difficult problems.

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