20 May 2020

NGS Awards Excellence in Genealogy Scholarship and Service

NGS Announced Today 
Its 2020 Award & Competition Winners
During NGS 2020 Live!

Today, during NGS 2020 Live!—the first segment of our Virtual Family History Conference—Janet L. Bailey, chair of the NGS Awards Committee, announced the winners of our 2020 awards and competitions. The following awards recognize excellence, achievement, and genealogical service.

National Genealogy Hall of Fame:  George Ely Russell, CG® FASG, FNGS

NGS introduced its National Genealogy Hall of Fame in 1986.  The award honors outstanding genealogists whose achievements in American genealogy have had a great impact on the field.  We invite you to visit the National Genealogy Hall of Fame and learn about its honorees.

This year George Ely Russell who was nominated by the American Society of Genealogists, was elected to the National Genealogy Hall of Fame. Born in Niagara Falls, New York, on 24 November 1927, George died in Ijamsville, Maryland, on 9 January 2013.

In 1955, Russell started what became a massive output of genealogical articles and books, reaching around 150 publications. From 1970 to 1986, he served as editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) bringing it to its highest scholarly standards. NGSQ became recognized as “one of the four leading genealogical journals,” the position it holds today. For several years, he was editor and publisher of Genealogical Periodical Annual Index, a pioneer publication in that field. His numerous articles on early Maryland families represent a significant contribution to the literature. As a lecturer at major genealogical conferences, he was an inspiration, mentor, and teacher to many aspiring genealogists.

Over the years, Russell also served on the NGS Council; was a contributing editor for The American Genealogist (1982–1993); a contributing editor for the Western Maryland Genealogy (1985–2013); and founder and first president of the Prince George’s County (MD) Genealogical Society (1969). He was the recipient of the NGS Distinguished Service Award (1978); a Fellow, American Society of Genealogists (1980–2013); a Fellow, National Genealogical Society (1981); and a board-certified associate (Certified Genealogist®) of the Board for Certification of Genealogists® (1967–2012).

Russell was a man with a dry sense of humor that was enjoyed by many. He was dedicated, knowledgeable, and a wonderful friend to those who were fortunate to know him personally. His legacy of accumulated genealogical material will be valuable to generations to come.

NGS Fellow:  Ronald Ames Hill, PhD, CG, CGLSM

NGS Fellows are recognized for their outstanding work in genealogy or the related fields of history, biography, or heraldry, in addition to outstanding service to the National Genealogical Society. This year’s Fellow is Ronald Ames Hill of Portland, Oregon.

Hill is among the most prolific NGSQ authors. To date, the journal has published eighteen of his articles. He has written another thirty genealogical articles that have appeared in other publications. Hill has served on NGSQ’s editorial board for seventeen years. In that capacity, he provides the editors and prospective authors detailed and helpful advice and critiques of papers submitted for publication consideration.

A former NGS board member and conference speaker, Hill also has spoken at Federation of Genealogic Societies and GenTech conferences, the North American Cornish Genealogy Seminar, and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. One of his eight model family histories won the 2008 NGS Award of Excellence for a Genealogy and Family History Book.

The President’s Citation:  Ric Murphy

The President’s Citation is given in recognition of outstanding, continuing, or unusual contributions to genealogy or the Society. Ric Murphy, national vice president for history, for the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, (AAHGS) is this year’s recipient of the President’s Citation. The award recognizes Murphy for his extraordinary career as an educator, historian, scholar, lecturer, and award-winning author.  His work explores the roles and rich contributions made by African Americans in United States history.

As a direct result of his groundbreaking research, Murphy learned that his African American family lineage dates to the earliest colonial periods of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Jamestown, Virginia.  In 1983 he submitted his mother’s application to the Daughters of the American Revolution where she became the first African American woman during modern times to descend from an African American Revolutionary solider, an enslaved man named Caesar Russell.

Through his leadership, he has helped residents of communities of color understand the historical and genealogical importance of the African diaspora, and the importance of personal genealogical research, and learning about and connecting to their African roots.  He has conducted training sessions helping Americans of African descent to find their Revolutionary War ancestors and has assisted many to become members of the lineage societies of Daughters and the Sons of the American Revolution. He is one of the founders and charter members of the only African American lineage society, the Sons and Daughters of the United States Middle Passage.

He recently chaired AAHGS’s 400th Commemoration Commission, bringing attention to the arrival of the first documented Africans in English North America in 1619, at Point Comfort in the Virginia colony; and helped to guide the organization in recording the historic contributions and achievements of Americans of African descent over a four-hundred-year period.

The Filby Award for Genealogical Librarianship:  Kris Rzepczynski

The Filby Award, sponsored by ProQuest since 2006, with its $1,000 prize, is presented to Kris Rzepczynski, senior archivist, the Archives of Michigan, Lansing, Michigan.

State Archivist Mark Harvey says Rzepczynski, “embodies the many aspects of an exemplary genealogical librarian/archivist.” He worked with the Abrams Family Historical Collection, at the Library of Michigan from 1998-2012.  In 2012, he moved, with the Collection, to the Archives of Michigan.  He continued hosting the Abrams Family History Seminar and introduced researcher “lock-ins” the night before seminar, drawing up to fifty researchers who could get one-on-one research attention from a team of family history archivists and librarians.

Rzepczynski regularly writes articles on genealogy research tips and book reviews for the Trace, the magazine of the Archives of Michigan, and averages 30-40 presentations per year, from New York state throughout Michigan and west to Montana.  His work and infectious enthusiasm for family history has helped many researchers clear log jams in their research and inspired them to help others.

Working tirelessly to promote archival collections, assist researchers, Rzepcyznski still finds time to preserve the collections for the future. Currently, he oversees the acquisition of many Michigan county records that will be housed at the Archives of Michigan. He works with Family Search on digitizing records such as the Michigan Naturalization Project and the Michigan Probate Project.

The Conference Award of Honor is presented to the Utah Genealogical Association, Kelly Summers, president, in recognition of the Association’s dedication and sustained service in support of the 2020 NGS Family History Conference.

Conference Certificates of Appreciation are given to those who worked unstintingly to plan this year’s conference.  The honorees include: Conference Chair Luana Darby, Conference Blog Editor Valerie Elkins, Hospitality Chair Rebecca Dalton, Librarians’ Day Moderator Kim Harrison, Local Events Chairs Katrena Mortenson and Zachary Hamilton. Local Host Committee Chair Tristan Tolman, AG; Registration Chair Suzannah Beasley, AG;  Local Publicity Chair Erin Pritchett; Vendor Support Co-Chairs Pat Richley-Erickson and Gordon Erickson; and Volunteer Chair Ken Smith.

The NGS Newsletter Competition honors excellence in newsletter editorship in three categories:

Major Genealogical and/or Historical Societies
This year’s winner is The Virginia Genealogical Society Newsletter, published by the Virginia Genealogical Society, Orange, Virginia, and edited by Deborah R. Harvey.

Local Genealogical and/or Historical Societies
The winner is The Heritage, newsletter of the Gwinnett Historical Society, Lawrenceville, Georgia, edited by Miriam Machida.

Honorable mention: The Newsletter of the Irish Family History Forum, Long Island, New York, edited by Jim Regan.

Family Associations. 
The 2020 recipient is The Hungerford World Tree, newsletter of The Hungerford Family Foundation, Inc., in Bonita Springs, Florida, edited by Charles C. Morgan.

Honorable Mention:  The Seeley Genealogical Society Newsletter, edited by Paul Taylor.

The NGS 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.

Award for Excellence: Genealogy and Family History Book
This year’s recipient is George L Findlen, CG, CGL, of Madison, Wisconsin. The title of his book is Our Acadian Martin Family History; The First Four Generations, 1650-1800.
Honorable mention: Cdr. Stephen F. Snell, USN (Ret.) for his book, Descendants of Thomas Snell (1634-1725): of Fillongley, Warwickshire, England and Bridgewater, Plymouth.

Award for Excellence: Genealogical Methods and Sources
Robert C Anderson, FASG, is this year’s recipient. The title of his book is Puritan Pedigrees: The Deep Roots of the Great Migration to New England.

Award for Excellence: National Genealogical Society Quarterly
Melinda Daffin Henningfield, CG, of Ashland, Oregon, received the Award for Excellence for her article, “A Family for Mary (Jones) Hobbs Clark of Carroll County, Arkansas,” published in the March 2019 issue of the NGSQ.

The Rubincam Youth Writing Contest 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.

Jason DiRusso of Vestavia Hill, Alabama, is the winner of this year’s Senior Category for students in grades ten through twelve. The title of his entry is “The Family History of a Boy and His Dog.”

Andrea Bergamaschi, of Fossombrone, Italy, is the winner of the Junior Rubincam Youth Award for students in grades seven through nine. The title of her entry is “A Dad, my Superhero: Life of Valerio Bergamaschi.”

Honorable mentions were presented to Logan Starkey, of Malvern, Arkansas, (Senior Category) for his paper, “Up Close and Personal with Four Generations,” and Elizabeth Bradshaw of Centerville, Virginia, (Junior Category) for her paper, “Carline Grove: A Biography.”

The National Genealogical Society congratulates all of the 2020 award recipients and contest winners.  Sincere thanks go to the volunteer judges, chairs, and evaluators from across the country who generously gave their time and expertise to review the submissions for each award and competition.  Thanks, too, to Janet Bailey, Awards Chair and Susan Yockey of the NGS Staff.

NGS asks you to help us with next year’s awards.  You probably know an individual or organization who exemplifies the qualities we honor with our awards. You may know someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of genealogy, or maybe you have been impressed with a local newsletter.  Please consider nominating them or encourage someone to enter one of our competitions. 

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