19 January 2021

The January-March 2021 Issue of NGS Magazine is Now Online


The January–March 2021 issue of NGS Magazine, Volume 47, Number 1, is available online in the Members Only section of the website. This issue's theme is "Virginia research."

EDITOR'S NOTE by Deb Cyprych

Although the COVID-19 pandemic may force the NGS 2021 Family History Conference in Richmond to become completely virtual, Virginia research remains a vital topic for genealogists tracing ancestors with connections in Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky (once part of Virginia).

Family historians planning a research trip to any location may benefit from the steps outlined by Nicki Peak Birch. Her description of online resources, repositories, and the unique aspects of Virginia research—such as separate records for Virginia’s thirty-eight independent cities—gives genealogists a head start in their journey of discovery.

The Library of Virginia in Richmond is the premier destination for Virginia researchers. Virginia Dunn highlights its rich collections of published abstracts and indexes, manuscripts, maps, microfilmed county and city records, research guides, and digital collections.

Many assume that most free Black people lived in northern states prior to the Civil War, but half lived in slave states in 1860 including fifty-eight thousand in Virginia. Leslie Anderson explains the restricted legal status of free Black Virginians and the history of the state's underutilized free Negro registers, some beginning in the eighteenth century.

Legislative petitions offer personal details and stories of people in Virginia and other states. Jennifer Davis McDaid discusses the value and variety of petitions in Virginia Memory’s Legislative Petitions Digital Collection and the Race and Slavery Project's database of petitions in fifteen southern states.

German and Scots-Irish people headed south from Pennsylvania to settle in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia during the colonial period. Kathy Petlewski’s column describes their migrations and presents online resources for researching these settlers.

This issue kicks off a new column called Society Forum, dedicated to sharing ideas and advice for genealogical organizations. The first guest author is Julie Cahill Tarr, past editor of FORUM (formerly published by the Federation of Genealogical Societies), who describes an engaging way to involve society members: a genealogical scavenger hunt.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, the history of the 1918 flu pandemic becomes even more relevant. Lori Lyn Price describes the similarities and differences of the two pandemics, with a focus on the impact of the 1918 pandemic on daily life and researching its local ramifications for ancestors.

Carla Cegielski’s column features By the People, a Library of Congress transcription project, and two Library of Virginia projects. Paul Woodbury continues his series of columns on genetic genealogy testing options by profiling the four major DNA testing companies: 23andMe, AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, and MyHeritage.



  • Preparing for a Research Trip to Virginia by Nicki Peak Birch, CG
  • The Library of Virginia Welcomes Researchers by Virginia Dunn
  • Free Negro Registers in Virginia by Leslie Anderson
  • Public Records, Private Lives: Legislative Petitions by Jennifer Davis McDaid
  • The 1918 Flu Pandemic: Impact on Daily Life by Lori Lyn Price, MAS, MLA


  • PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE by Kathryn M. Doyle
    • Create a Scavenger Hunt for Your Members by Julie Cahill Tarr
    • Early Settlers in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia by Kathy Petlewski, MSLS
    • Transcription Projects: Giving Back by Carla S. Cegielski
    • Where to Test? Genetic Genealogy Testing Options 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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