26 April 2023

The War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions Project Continues

The Preserve the 1812 Pensions Project Continues

NGS has signed a new contract with Ancestry and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to resume the digitization of the War of 1812 pensions.

As some of you may remember, the initial work on this project began in 2010. It has been both an important and a monumental task spanning 7.2 million pages contained in 180,000 files. In 2020, as COVID-19 forced the closure of NARA, the project was put on hold. We are pleased to announce the next phase—digitization of surnames starting with the letters Sj to U—begins again this month. Our target is to complete this phase in one year.

NARA first sought partners on this project back in 2008. On 27 April 2010, the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) announced a national fundraising initiative to raise over $3 million to support the project. Fold3 was selected to digitize the records, and Ancestry.com agreed to match every dollar raised for the project. The digitized records would be, and indeed have been, made available to the public for free.

When FGS merged with NGS, we agreed to uphold our commitment and see this project through to the end. Today, we are fulfilling our promise and moving forward with the next phase.

To learn more about this project, visit the NGS website.

24 April 2023

120/120 Anniversary Fundraising Drive

On 23 April 2023, the National Genealogical Society (NGS) reached an historic milestone. Members and friends are invited to celebrate our 120th Anniversary with a financial gift to NGS.

To honor the extraordinary commitment of our members over 120 years, NGS established the

National Genealogical Society
1903 - 2023
120th Anniversary Grove

We are asking members to step forward and commemorate the Society’s 120th Anniversary by donating $120 in honor of a genealogist (past or present) or an ancestor of their choice. NGS will recognize designated persons by planting a tree in their honor through One Tree Planted, adding a real tree to a family tree. Donors will be acknowledged in the April-June 2024 issue of NGS Magazine.

Please join us in this special celebration of the Society’s 120th Anniversary by donating online today.


20 April 2023

Thank You, Volunteers!


Thank You to All the Amazing NGS Volunteers
Volunteer Recognition Day
20 April 2023

The National Genealogical Society (NGS) could not function without volunteers contributing to our success. Our programs depend on the time and talent of many people dedicated to strengthening the genealogy and family history community. We appreciate their generosity and invite you to join us in thanking them.

The April–June 2023 issue of NGS Magazine, Volume 49, No. 2, lists and thanks our 2022 volunteers (pages nine and ten). We do this each April in honor of National Volunteer Month to recognize the outstanding people who do important work. We encourage you to view the list and express gratitude to the volunteers you may know personally.

10 April 2023

The Second Quarter 2023 Issue of NGS Magazine is Now Online

The April–June 2023 Issue  
of the NGS Magazine is Now Online

The April–June 2023 issue of NGS Magazine, Volume 49, Number 2, is being printed and is now available online in the Members Only section of the website. Delivery of print copies depends upon USPS schedules. This issue’s theme is Methodology.

EDITOR'S NOTE by Deb Cyprych

This issue explores methodology: the approaches, procedures, and strategies that are most successful in genealogy. Application of best practices in methodology can help family historians solve or at least chip away at problems typically called brick walls.

As tempting as it may be to jump online and start searching databases, the first steps in any research project should be problem analysis and planning. Diana Elder outlines the steps: defining an objective, analyzing starting-point information, studying the location, developing a hypothesis, and identifying and prioritizing sources. Her case study demonstrates the process and the results.

When a county’s records have been destroyed or lost, it may seem that the trail has ended for an ancestral search. However, as Kelvin Meyers notes, researchers can pursue other options to find information. He recommends verifying the extent of the record loss, tracking down all surviving county records, checking other jurisdictions, and seeking records outside courthouses.

Sometimes an ancestor’s path seems to reach a dead end, but expanding research to relatives and associates often locates additional documents for the person or provides indirect evidence. Julie Stoddard discusses cluster research, including how and when to use it, identifying the people in an ancestor's cluster, and organizing the findings.

Information about events in family history may be unexpected, incomplete, or misleading. Researchers want to know the whole story: Why did it happen? What was the context? Jennifer Zinck presents two case studies to show how some questions can be answered by considering relevant laws and customs, resolving conflicts, using date calculators, and avoiding invalid assumptions.

Many Americans know little about Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States since 1898 and the point of origin for the second largest US Hispanic population. Debbie Gurtler describes Puerto Rico’s unique history, major record types, naming practices, language aids, and genealogical resources.

In this issue’s columns, David Rencher offers thought-provoking strategies for the leadership of genealogical societies, in light of current innovation disruptions; Paul Woodbury provides practical tips for contacting and exchanging helpful information with genetic cousins; Carla Cegielski explains five methods for finding online sources of downloaded images of unknown origin; and Kathy Petlewski explores the use of JSTOR’s scholarly journal articles in research.

I’m pleased to announce the availability of the first index to the titles and authors of NGS Magazine articles, covering issues between 2005 and 2022. For more information, see page 6. I hope the index will be useful for finding articles about genealogical topics that may assist in research.



  • Research Planning for the Win: Next Steps for Breaking Down a Brick Wall by Diana Elder, AG
  • Overcoming Record Loss by Kelvin L. Meyers
  • Finding New Evidence: Strategies to Improve Cluster Research by Julie Stoddard, MSc, AG 
  • Hidden Stories: Exploring the Unexpected in Family History by Jennifer Zinck, CG
  • Research on the Island of Enchantment by Debbie Gurtler, AG


  • PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE by Kathryn M. Doyle
  • EDITOR'S NOTE by Deb Cyprych
    • Relevant Society Leadership in the Twenty-first Century by David E. Rencher, AG, CG, FUGA, FIGRS
    • Tips for Contacting Genetic Cousins by Paul Woodbury
    • Strategies for Finding the Origin of an Image File by Carla S. Cegielski
    • Using JSTOR in Genealogical Research by Kathy Petlewski, MSLS

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.