02 July 2021

The July–Sept 2021 Issue of NGS Magazine is Now Online


The July–September 2021 issue of NGS Magazine, Volume 47, Number 3, is being printed and is now available online in the Members Only section of the website. The USPS is still experiencing long delays in some areas for delivery of print copies. This issue's theme is Myths and Errors.

EDITOR'S NOTE by Deb Cyprych

Genealogists know that family traditions must be proved before they can be accepted as true. But some beliefs, such as assuming that a woman was the mother of all children in a family, are more insidious. In many situations, assumptions aren’t reliable, “facts” are legends, and official records are incorrect. This issue provides guidance for navigating the hazards of myths and errors in genealogy.

Jeanne Larzalere Bloom sets the stage by explaining four types of assumptions: fundamental, valid, unsound, and unrecognized. Through examples, she demonstrates that every assumption should be examined to determine if objective evidence verifies it. Recognizing and testing assumptions helps avoid inaccurate conclusions and tracing the wrong people.

Sometimes a single word can open a researcher’s eyes to previously unknown clues, theories, and records. Tony Burroughs discusses the paths he took when he noticed the word Corrected on a death certificate. The tale of his journey conveys valuable lessons relevant to any research.

Certain stories are common in Germanic families. Roger Minert dispels fifteen Germanic family history myths and beliefs, such as claims of nobility or assuming baptismal sponsors were relatives. Accepting these legends and misconceptions without verification can block research efforts unnecessarily.

Records in stone can be wrong, too. Despite multiple records for a Civil War soldier, the name on his military tombstone was inaccurate for more than a century. Bryna O’Sullivan describes the process for correcting a military tombstone and provides resources for national cemeteries.

The families of convicts transported from England to America often tried to hide their criminal past. Nathan Murphy summarizes the characteristics of 125 transportees to aid researchers in identifying ancestors among the forty-five thousand people sentenced to serve labor terms in Maryland and Virginia. Their records—many accessible online—pinpoint the parish where the crime occurred.

Concluding this issue’s theme of myths and errors, Kathy Petlewski's Reference Desk column stresses the need to evaluate the accuracy of other people’s work in online family trees.

In other columns, Pam Pracser Anderson and Magdalena Radovic-Moreno offer advice on developing and enhancing a county archive by cultivating relationships with genealogists and community partners; Paul Woodbury covers the meaning of ethnicity admixture estimates, how they work, why they may differ, and supplemental information provided by major testing companies; and Carla Cegielski outlines the effectiveness of password generators and managers for maintaining secure passwords.



  • NGS 2022 Family History Conference: Mining for Ancestors in the Golden State by Kathleen O. Beitiks 
  • Assumptions: The Traps and Snares of Genealogy by Jeanne Larzalere Bloom
  • A Missed Notation: Opening a Pandora’s Box by Tony Burroughs, FUGA
  • Debunking Popular Lore in Germanic Family History Research by Roger P. Minert, PhD, Emeritus AG, FUGA
  • Correcting the Record on a Veteran’s Tombstone by Bryna O’Sullivan 
  • Proving the Identities of Transported Convicts by Nathan W. Murphy, MA, AG, FASG


  • PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE by Kathryn M. Doyle
    • NGS Announces 2021 Awards and Competition Honorees by Janet L. Bailey
    • The NGS Bible Collection by Shirley Langdon Wilcox, CG, FNGS, FVGS
    • Developing a County Archive by Pam Pracser Anderson, MS, CG, and Magdalena Radovic-Moreno
    • Accuracy in Online Family Trees by Kathy Petlewski, MSLS

    • Introduction to Ethnicity Admixture  by Paul Woodbury
    • Password Management for Genealogists 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.