NGS Announces Its
2021 Awards & Competition Honorees
NGS Award Honorees
National Genealogy Hall of Fame: John T. Humphrey, CG®
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. Nominated by the Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society, this year’s inductee is John T. Humphrey. Born in Penn Argyl, Pennsylvania, in 1948, he died in Washington, DC, in 2012. Always a scholar, Humphrey had a passion for sharing his knowledge and teaching others.
In demand as a speaker on German and Pennsylvania topics, Humphrey became an expert in reading old German script. In 2008, at Williamsburg's 400th Anniversary Celebration, he gave a keynote address on German contributions to America. Two years later, he was invited to Germany to speak on researching Germans in America. In 2011 he taught the first-ever German course at Samford’s Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research.
Humphrey authored many genealogical articles and books. Two of his most recognized publications are Understanding and Using Baptismal Records and Pennsylvania Births, fifteen volumes of birth and baptism transcriptions. He broke new ground when he unearthed ancestor charts of Nazi SS officers in captured German records housed at the United States National Archives. Humphrey served as president of the Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society and vice president of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania. He joined the NGS staff as education manager in 2000.
All who heard Humphrey’s lectures, read his books and articles, or participated in NGS activities he initiated, benefited from his knowledge and skills.
The Filby Award for Genealogical Librarianship, sponsored by ProQuest since 2006, honors an outstanding librarian whose primary focus is genealogy and local history. This year’s winner, David E. Rencher AG®, CG, FIGRS, FUGA, is director of the Family History Library (FHL), Salt Lake City, Utah, and the chief genealogical officer for FamilySearch.
Rencher is one of the few genealogists with AG and CG credentials and a renowned lecturer who presents at local, national, and international conferences, institutes, and webinars. In his professional capacity, he partners with archives to digitize historical records and is a trusted collaborator. His leadership in technology advanced the book scanning program for FHL; record-matching methods for FamilySearch databases; and implementation of automated indexes for the 1880 census, the Social Security Death Index, and military casualty files for Vietnam and Korea.
Rencher recently authored Research in Arizona for NGS‘s Research in the States series of guidebooks. He also is the author of numerous articles, particularly regarding Irish research, and a contributing author of NGS’s online course for Continuing Genealogical Studies called War of 1812 Records.
Past president and a Fellow of the Utah Genealogical Association, Rencher is currently on the Board of Directors of the National Genealogical Society. He also is a Fellow of the Irish Genealogical Research Society in London; vice president of the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History; advisor to the Board of the New England Historic Genealogical Society; and director for Gen-Fed Alumni Association.
The 2021 Conference Award was presented to the Virginia Genealogical Society, Mary Vidlak, president, in recognition of its dedication and sustained service to the 2021 NGS Family History Conference.
Conference Certificates of Appreciation honor the VGS host committee chairs: Mary O’Brien Vidlak, CG, & Chuck Novak; volunteer co-chairs: Katie Derby and Kathy Merithew; registration co-chairs: Donald Moore and Phillip Ciske; publicity co-chairs: Robin Dwyer-Maurice and Teresa Kelly; conference blogger: Shannon Benton; hospitality chair: Catherine Gill; VGS booth co-chairs: Deborah Harvey, CG, and Nicki Peak Birch, CG; VGS events chair: Mary O’Brien Vidlak CG.
NGS Competition Winners
The President’s Citation recognizes and acknowledges particularly dedicated efforts on behalf of the National Genealogical Society. During the past year, in the midst of a historic pandemic, the NGS staff accepted the herculean task of transitioning to a newly merged organization while expanding the Society’s education programs and preparing for our second virtual Family History Conference. Despite lockdowns and changing protocols with all the additional work that resulted, NGS staff exemplified an extraordinary level of professionalism. “With gratitude for their expertise, energy, flexibility, and positive attitude,” NGS President Kathryn Doyle said, “I am thrilled to present this year’s NGS President’s Citation Award to our dedicated staff: Executive Director Matt Menashes; Accounting Manager Karen Soch; Conference Manager Erin Shifflett; Member Services Manager Susan Yockey; and Courtney Holmes, our Registrar for many years.
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 Kyle Hurst, of Boston, Massachusetts. The title of her book is Ancestors and Descendants of Charles Le Caron and Victoire Sprague.
Honorable mention: Michael Grow, for his book, John Grow of Ipswich, Massachusetts, and Some of His Descendants: A Middle-Class Family in Social and Economic Context from the 17th Century to the Present.
Award for Excellence: Genealogical Methods and Sources
Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGLSM, FASG, FNGS, FUGA, is this year’s recipient. The title of her book is Professional Genealogy: Preparation, Practice, and Standards.
Honorable mention: Peter J. Malia, for his book, New Haven Town Records, 1769-1819.
Award for Excellence: National Genealogical Society Quarterly
LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG, CGL, of Washington, DC, received the Award for Excellence for her article, “Parents for Isaac Garrett of Laurens County, South Carolina: DNA Corroborates Oral Tradition,” published in the June 2020 issue of the NGSQ.
The NGS Family History Writing Contest has been a Society tradition since 1986. This year’s winner is Amy Larner Giroux, PhD, CG, CGL, for her paper, “The Many Names of Frances Ellsworth: Correlating Evidence to Identify a Birth Name.”
The NGS Newsletter Competition recognizes the hard work and creativity of volunteer editors who publish the newsletters of our member organizations. The competition reviews them according to size of membership: small organizations (under 500) and large organizations (500 and up).
Large Societies and Organizations:
This year’s winner is The Tracer, newsletter of the Hamilton County (Ohio) Genealogical Society, Eileen Muccino, editor.
Honorable Mention: Virginia Genealogical Society Newsletter, published by the Virginia Genealogical Society, Orange, Virginia, and edited by Birgitte Tessier.
Small Societies and Organizations:
The winner is the Newsletter of the Irish Family History Forum, Long Island, New York, edited by Jim Regan.
Honorable mention: Our Endicott Heritage Trail, John Endecott Family Association, Laurie Endicott Thomas, editor.
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.
Senior Category (Grades 9 - 12):
Wren Marsh of Houston, Texas, for his entry, “Generation to Generation.”
Honorable mention: Akram Elkouraichi, of Yonkers, New York, for his paper, “Project Hesperides: A Genealogical and Biographical Study of the Elkouraichi Family of Ben Ahmed, Morocco Through the Generations.”
Junior Category (Grades 6 - 8):
Asa Marsh of Houston, Texas, is the winner for his paper, “A Short History of My Grandmother: Helen F. Wren.”
Honorable mention: Ava Bielawski, of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, for her entry, “Dorothy Lundy: A Daughter of Emile Terrenoire, Where the Inspiration Began.”
SLAM! Idea Showcase Awards
On 18 May, during NGS 2021 SLAM! Idea Showcase, six organizations received awards. They were selected from among thirty-two recorded video “poster” presentations highlighting innovative projects, programs, and activities benefiting genealogical researchers. The winners were St. Louis Genealogical Society, St. Louis, Missouri: “Congregation Project”; German Historical Institute, Washington, DC: “German Heritage in Letters”; and Chester County (Pennsylvania) Archives: “1777 Chester County Property Atlas Portal.” Honorable mentions went to Godfrey Memorial Library, Middletown, Connecticut: “Genealogy Roundtable”; Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort, Kentucky: “Kentucky Ancestors Town Hall”; and St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis, Missouri: “Rooted in Inclusion: Forgoing the Family Tree Model.”
The National Genealogical Society congratulates all the 2021 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.
Please help us with awards for next year, when we hope to be together again. Consider nominating an individual or organization who exemplifies the qualities we honor with our awards or encouraging someone to participate in one of our competitions.