05 October 2019

NGS Magazine July–Sept 2019 Issue Now Online

The July-September 2019 issue of NGS Magazine, Volume 45, Number 3, is ready for mailing to members and is available online in the Members Only section of the website.

EDITOR'S NOTE by Deb Cyprych

Digital tools and resources have become essential in genealogy. Family historians regularly use websites to access record images, software to organize information, and electronic media to connect with other researchers. This issue highlights two key aspects of digital genealogy and three types of tools that offer research assistance.

Negative search results in a FamilySearch database could mean that the record doesn’t exist in a particular FamilySearch collection, that the record exists but hasn’t been digitized, or that the record has been digitized but not yet indexed. Robert Raymond outlines an array of techniques for determining the coverage and indexing of FamilySearch record collections, so genealogists can plan their research accordingly.

Genealogical software programs and websites that host family trees are useful for keeping track of individuals, relationships, and facts, but their flexibility may allow researchers to become inconsistent in data entry methods. Ronald V. Hodges explains the best practices for data entry with detailed examples.

Donna Cox Baker describes the robust functions of Zotero, a free reference management tool that can store voluminous research and guide the collection of source information. Carla S. Cegielski demonstrates how browser extensions can simplify tasks and ease vexations such as “page not found” error messages. Kathy Petlewski provides an update to her 2013 NGS Magazine article on online family trees with a focus on privacy, sources, DNA, and mobile applications.

Other articles in this issue feature autobiographies, records preservation, lineage society qualifications, and DNA testing decisions.

B. Darrell Jackson makes a persuasive argument for the value of asking relatives to write or dictate their own memories. His examples reveal how personal accounts can answer important questions and convey the uniqueness of personality.

Janet Alpert reports on the broad scope of efforts by the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) to maintain access to vital records, with breaking news about a new model act including shorter embargo periods for birth and death records.

Bryna O’Sullivan discusses two ways in which Quebec ancestors can qualify for the Sons or Daughters of the American Revolution and lists the variety of patriotic services accepted by DAR. She also details the “last act” policy of SAR and DAR, which can nullify an application if the ancestor performed a Loyalist act after service in support of the Revolution.

Paul Woodbury, our newest columnist, has helped solve hundreds of genetic genealogy cases for clients. His first DNA Discovery column for NGS Magazine tackles the pressing question of whether genealogists should or should not take a DNA test.

Phyllis Matthews Ziller, our proofreader extraordinaire for the past seven years, has resigned to focus on other endeavors. Her eagle eye has been a valuable asset, and we wish her well.

Table of Contents


  • Determining FamilySearch Collection and Index Coverage by Robert Raymond
  • Best Practices for Data Entry in Family Trees by Ronald V. Hodges, PhD
  • Managing Research with Zotero by Donna Cox Baker, PhD
  • Nine Solutions for Stress-Free Web Browsing by Carla S. Cegielski
  • The Case for Autobiography by B. Darrell Jackson, PhD, CG
  • Unexpected Patriots: Finding Ancestors in Quebec Who Qualify for DAR and SAR by Bryna O’Sullivan
  • The "Last Act" Policy of the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution by Bryna O’Sullivan


  • PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE by Ben Spratling
  • EDITOR’S NOTE by Deb Cyprych
    • Hotel Reservations Now Open for NGS 2020 Family History Conference
    • NGS Awards and Competitions Deadline: 15 December 2019
    • Nominations to the National Genealogy Hall of Fame
    • Call for Proposals for NGS 2021 Family History Conference
  • Salt Lake City: The Heart of Genealogical Research by Erin Pritchett
  • Records Preservation and Access Committee: Working for Genealogists by Janet A. Alpert
  • REFERENCE DESK Online Family Trees: An Update by Kathy Petlewski, MSLS
  • DNA DISCOVERY To Test or Not to Test? 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.

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