21 April 2021

The April–June 2021 Issue of NGS Magazine is Now Online

The April–June 2021 issue of NGS Magazine, Volume 47, Number 2, has been mailed to members and is available online in the Members Only section of the website. This issue's theme is Hard Times. 

The registration deadline is 12 May for all live events during the NGS 2021 Family History Conference. NGS 2021 On-Demand! provides access to even more lectures starting 15 June, available through 31 December 2021. An article in the news section has more details on all conference components.

EDITOR'S NOTE by Deb Cyprych

The past year has been difficult for everyone and tragic for many. Besides the direct impact of illness, long-term health complications, and death caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people have suffered from loss of income, social isolation, mental health disorders, and other hardships.

Our ancestors endured hard times, too. Although few wrote about their experiences, many records of the organizations where they sought relief have survived. This issue explores the records of individuals created by almshouses, Freedmen’s Bureau offices, federal bankruptcy courts, and soldiers’ homes.

Almshouse residents included poor families, mentally ill people, orphans, frail older people, vagrants, and people with disabilities. Darryn Lickliter demonstrates that the admission registers, annual reports, and other records of almshouses can provide data not easily found in other sources before 1850.

After the Civil War, the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands operated in fifteen states and the District of Columbia to assist formerly enslaved people and refugees struggling to survive. While many of the Bureau’s records provide personal details, their volume and method of organization makes using them difficult. Sharon Batiste Gillins presents a thorough guide for understanding and accessing the records.

Another complex but potentially rich record group was created by federal bankruptcy courts. Between 1800 and 1940, one and a half million individuals and companies filed for bankruptcy under four federal acts. Jessica Hopkins outlines the requirements of the acts and the current process for locating and requesting records.

“Old soldiers’ homes” have assisted veterans in the United States since 1833. Kathy Petlewski discusses the history and records of the US Naval Home in Philadelphia, the US Soldiers’ Home in Washington, DC, the branch homes of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in various states, and the homes funded by states and Confederate organizations.

Dedicated county archives provide many advantages to genealogists. Pam Pracser Anderson and Magdalena Radovic-Moreno describe the typical holdings of county archives and how to use them to expand research options.

In our new column, Society Forum, Gail Schaffer Blankenau illustrates the benefits of family associations for researchers and the hallmarks of successful societies.

Genealogists have become accustomed to meeting online during the pandemic. Learn more about finding and attending webinars in Carla Cegielski’s Tech Tips column.

Paul Woodbury continues his series on DNA testing with eight steps to pursue when new autosomal DNA test results are received.

May the next year bring better health and less stress than the last!



  • NGS 2022 Family History Conference: Our American Mosaic by Kathleen O. Beitiks 
  • Researching Poor Ancestors: Almshouse Records by Darryn Lickliter
  • Navigating Freedmen's Bureau Records for Research Success by Sharon Batiste Gillins
  • A Wealth of Information: Federal Bankruptcy Records, 1800–1940 by Jessica Hopkins
  • Unique Resources in County Archives by Pam Pracser Anderson, MS, CG, and Magdalena Radovic-Moreno


  • PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE by Kathryn M. Doyle
    • It’s All in the Family: Benefits of Family Associations by Gail Schaffer Blankenau
    • The History and Records of Old Soldiers’ Homes by Kathy Petlewski, MSLS
    • Genealogy Webinars by Carla S. Cegielski
    • Eight Steps to Pursue with New Autosomal DNA Test Results 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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