29 April 2020

The April–June 2020 Issue of NGS Magazine is Now Online

The April–June 2020 issue of NGS Magazine, Volume 46, Number 2, is available online in the Members Only section of the website and will be mailed to members in the coming weeks. Log in soon to read the article about the virtual NGS 2020 Family History Conference and its 15 May registration deadline. If you have not already discovered the pleasure of reading the digital edition of NGS Magazine, we urge you to start with this issue. Editor, Deb Cyprych and Designer, Mikayle Stole have worked tirelessly to bring you excellent and informative articles in a pleasing format with beautiful color images. Many of us at NGS can’t wait to see and read the digital version and then savor it all over again when the print version arrives. We hope you enjoy reading each issue as much as we do!

EDITOR'S NOTE by Deb Cyprych

This spring, while people around the world stay at home to slow the spread of COVID-19, workers are risking their health to provide medical care and other essential services. Dedicated to the spirit of these heroes, this issue highlights the records of ancestral military veterans who risked their welfare to serve their country.

In gratitude for the work done by military personnel, Congress passed a series of acts to award bounty land to enlistees and veterans for service between 1790 and 1855. Susan Goss Johnston demonstrates that far more veterans applied for bounty land than for pensions, and that their applications are becoming more accessible. These files, which are not identical to the warrants and patents found in online databases, may offer detailed information.

American citizenship was granted to three hundred thousand immigrants who served in US military forces during World War I. Since the process occurred in military camps usually far from the soldiers’ homes, their records can be hard to find. Debra M. Dudek addresses the myths associated with these naturalizations, access to the records, and the types of information in petitions, naturalization certificate files, and Alien Papers.

Some immigrants provided military service opposed to the United States. During the Revolutionary War, King George III of Great Britain negotiated treaties with the rulers of six German principalities to furnish so-called Hessian soldiers to fight against the American patriots. Craig R. Scott outlines the process for researching ancestors among the five thousand soldiers who remained in North America.

Descendants may not even be aware that their ancestors served in the military. Kathy Petlewski explains how to thoroughly check the census columns requesting brief information about military service in 1840, 1890, 1910, 1930, 1940, and 1950 (after its release in 2022). Some state censuses also requested information about veterans.

In this issue’s other articles, Teri E. Flack describes the history and achievements of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, Paul Woodbury explains the biological aspects that control DNA inheritance, and Carla Cegielski covers the value and process of using RSS feeds to receive useful information.

Annette Burke Lyttle reveals that the opposition of Quakers to slavery evolved over time. Focusing on the Friends of the Philadelphia area, she illustrates that early Quakers participated in the purchase and sale of enslaved people, while later Friends forbade such transactions but tolerated slaveholding until it was prohibited in 1776. The records of many monthly meetings contain manumissions and personal details.

To see the digital issues of NGS Magazine in color for the last three years, visit https://www.ngsgenealogy.org/magazine/archives and log in as a member. Issues from 2005 to date are searchable individually, and all URLs mentioned in the articles are hyperlinked to the corresponding websites.



  • Five Things to Know about FGS before the Merger by Teri E. Flack
  • An Underutilized Treasure: Bounty Land Warrant Applications by Susan Goss Johnston
  • Researching Hessian Soldiers in the Revolutionary War by Craig R. Scott, CG, FUGA
  • Immigrant Ancestors in World War I Military Naturalizations by Debra M. Dudek
  • Quakers and Slavery in the City of Brotherly Love by Annette Burke Lyttle


  • PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE NGS and the New Normal by Ben Spratling
    NGS 2020 Family History Conference is Now Virtual by Jan Alpert, NGS Conference Chair, and Luana Darby, 2020 Conference Chair
    Finding Veterans in Federal Census Records by Kathy Petlewski, MSLS
    The Biological Journey of DNA Inheritance: From Meiosis to Fertilization by Paul Woodbury
    Using RSS Feeds for Productivity 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.

28 April 2020

Registration Open for NGS 2020 Live! Virtual Conference

Registration Now Open for the 
NGS 2020 Live! Virtual Conference

Register now for our Virtual Family History Conference starting with NGS 2020 Live! on 20 May, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (EDT). In addition, conference registrants will receive streaming access to your choice of up to 45 On-Demand! audio-video sessions from 1 July 2020 through 15 May 2021; an electronic copy of the conference syllabus; and an opportunity to win one of seventeen prizes on 20 May. Registration closes on 15 May 2020. If you were already registered to attend the event in Salt Lake City, your registration will automatically be transferred to the virtual event. For more details, visit the conference website.

NGS 2020 Live! will feature lectures by four of the most renowned genealogy scholars in America, including:

  • “Validating Unsourced Online Information,” Thomas Wright Jones, PhD, CG®, FASG, FUGA, FNGS 
  • “Breaker Boys and Spinner Girls: Child Labor Laws and Their Records,” Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGLSM 
  • “Turning Witnesses into Evidence,” Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA
  • “What If? Learning About DNA Through Case Studies,” Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JD. 

An online chat will take place during each session as well as a short Q&A after each session facilitated by Ann Staley, CG, CGL.

The virtual conference also will include the latest genealogy news in presentations by representatives from Ancestry, FamilySearch, and FamilyTreeDNA. Steffani Raff will give the keynote luncheon talk, “Echoes of the Women Who have Gone Before—Celebrating Women’s Suffrage,” followed by a Q&A. Participants on 20 May also will be eligible to win one of the following prizes:
  • One-year membership to Newspapers.com
  • DNA kit courtesy of Ancestry 
  • One-year World Explorer membership to Ancestry.com
  • One-year Membership to Fold3 
  • A registration to NGS 2021 Family History Conference in Richmond, Virginia

Family historians and genealogists may register for one of three options. The “Full” Package is described above. The “Works” Package includes everything in the Full Package with an additional twenty-five audio-video sessions and a USB with 45 audio recordings. NGS 2020 “Light” Package includes registration for the NGS 2020 Live! virtual conference on 20 May; an electronic copy of the conference syllabus; and ten On-Demand! audio-video sessions.

For more information about NGS 2020 Live! or to register, visit our conference website.

16 April 2020

NGS Announces Move to Virtual Conference for 2020

The National Genealogical Society Announces
2020 Family History Conference Will be Virtual

Due to the continuing spread of COVID-19 across the nation and concern for the health and safety of all those involved in our 2020 Family History Conference, the National Genealogical Society (NGS) has changed its in-person conference to a virtual conference.

Our main priority is to protect the welfare of all attendees, speakers, exhibitors, volunteers, and staff involved in the conference. Therefore, NGS is developing a virtual conference that is a mixture of live and on-demand programming. A full day of NGS 2020 Live! is planned for Wednesday, 20 May, from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (EDT). In addition, streaming access to many more sessions will be available starting in July.

In the coming days, we will post specific information relevant to our registrants, speakers, award recipients, exhibitors, and sponsors. We will also let you know how all prior commitments to social events, meals, workshops, and tour fees, as well as registration, will be handled.

Thank you for your patience, understanding, and commitment to NGS as we all make our way through these challenging times.

07 April 2020

Deadline Approach for NGS 2021 Call for Proposals

Deadline Approaching to Submit Lecture Proposals for 
NGS 2021 Family History Conference

Time is running out for speakers to submit lecture proposals for the National Genealogical Society 2021 Family History Conference, Virginia: The Deep Roots of a Nation. The conference will be held in Richmond, Virginia, 19‒22 May 2021. All proposals—including those from organizations interested in sponsoring lectures—must be submitted electronically at https://www.ngsgenealogy.org/call-for-proposals/ by 11:59 p.m. EDT on 15 April 2020.

Seventeenth century, native born Virginian William Byrd II once said, “In the beginning, all America was Virginia.” The first permanent English settlement was established at Jamestown in 1607. Since then immigrants from many countries have made Virginia their home. Some remained for generations while many others moved on to new frontiers to expand, populate, and build a nation. In 1619 the first ship carrying enslaved African Americans arrived in Port Comfort, Virginia. Transcontinental slave trade continued for more than two hundred years. Virginia’s Native American tribes include the Pamunkey, Chickahominy, Upper Mattaponi, Rappahannock, Nansemond, and Monacan. Throughout the centuries, the Virginia General Assembly has been in continuous operation since its first meeting in Jamestown’s church in 1619. Richmond and its surrounding area offer a treasure-trove of resources for family historians.

Conference tracks under consideration include DNA; government records; heritage; immigration, naturalization, and passenger records; land; maps; migrations, trails, and events that affected patterns of settlement; military; organizing methods; repositories; and Virginia and her neighbors. NGS also requests proposals that address the law as it relates to genealogy, methodology, analysis, 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; sound reasoning; and coherent writing.

The NGS 2021 Family History Conference will be the first conference after the merger of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) into the National Genealogical Society. Therefore the conference will dedicate a full day to topics that focus on society management on Tuesday, 18 May 2021. Topics under consideration include best practices, leadership, membership, programs, publications, disaster plans, and record preservation. Suggested formats include lectures, panels, and workshops.

Speakers who wish to submit lecture proposals may submit up to eight proposals electronically by 11:59 p.m. EDT on 15 April 2020.The speaker compensation is described in detail on the website. Please visit the website for details about required speaker information and each submitted proposal.

NGS has a free webinar, Becoming a Better Conference Speaker: Proposals and Preparations, on its YouTube channel. Speakers are encouraged to view the webinar before beginning the proposal process.

NGS members will receive first consideration as speakers. Notifications for acceptance will be issued in August 2020. Syllabus material, due 2 February 2021, is required for each lecture or workshop presentation and will be included in the syllabus distributed to all conference registrants. Speakers are expected to use electronic presentation programs and provide their own digital projector, laptop, and connector to the projector cable. NGS will provide projector support, which consists of a VGA or HDMI 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.