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National Genealogical Society

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The National Genealogical Society (NGS) aims to serve and grow the genealogical community by providing education and training, fostering increased quality and standards, and promoting access to and preservation of genealogical records.[1]

It is the premier American national society for everyone from the beginner to the most advanced family historian.[2]

In conjunction with a sponsoring local genealogical society, it stages an annual NGS Conference.

See also National Genealogical Society Book Loan Collection housed at the St. Louis County Library headquarters in Missouri.

Benefits[edit | edit source]

NGS serves its Members by:[2]
  • providing genealogical skill development through information, education, publications, an annual conference, and guided research trips
  • establishing and promoting the highest standards of ethical research and practices
  • promoting access to, and preservation of, genealogical records
  • providing the tools to help you discover more about your family history.

NGS members enjoy:[3]

  • four issues of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly per year
  • four issues of the NGS Magazine per year
  • monthly subscription to the digital publication NGS Monthly
  • access the Members Only section of the NGS website including publications archives, databases, ask expert recordings, downloadable products, members logo, and partner discounts
  • access to the UpFront with NGS blog
  • discounts for NGS online store purchases, educational courses, and NGS Conference registration
  • access to the NGSQ index 1912-current, and selected back issues of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly
  • online genealogy courses and tutorials (some free)
  • free online video interviews with leading genealogists
  • NGS conferences and events
  • NGS organized research trips
  • free research worksheets and forms
  • partnership organization discounts
  • NGS awards and competitions
  • NGS online store

History of the Society[edit | edit source]

Origins. Dr. Albert C. Peale, a registrar of several patriotic societies, published in the Historical Bulletin (2:55 13 April 1903) the following: "As a genealogist, I suggest the formation of a local genealogical society of which your paper should be the official organ." This proposal was taken up by the Historical Bulletin's publisher, Newton Leon Collamer, who invited interested persons to meet at his residence. On 24 April 1903 the six attendees to the preliminary meeting held in Washington, D.C. appointed an organizing committee. The committee mailed genealogists throughout the United States a prospectus for the "American Genealogical Association." Interest was generated and during the summer work was begun on a constitution. On 14 November that constitution was approved. Then in meetings on 15 and 21 December 1903 the by-laws were were adopted, officers were elected, and the National Genealogical Society was officially and formally organized.[4]

Milestones. To obtain legal status, the Society was officially incorporated on 16 June 1904, under the laws of the District of Columbia with 49 charter members. Of these charter members 18 lived outside the District of Columbia area and were called "non-resident" or "corresponding" members. In 1911 members also began planning the organization of auxiliary branches in several states beyond DC.</ref>

One of the most pivotal points in NGS history was reached in April 1912 with the first publication of the Quarterly of the National Genealogical Society.</ref>

The early constitution provided for an oak tree seal which was used for the Society prior to 1911, when that was changed to an eagle.[5] Early NGS emphasis was on heraldry, and collecting marriage data about the members' ancestors.</ref> Monthly meetings (October to May) were started in 1908; annual banquets in 1910.[6] An NGS library of genealogical books was begun in 1912, a lending service by mail started in 1964, and in 2001 the collection was moved to the St. Louis County Library in Missouri.[7] NGS annual awards were instituted in 1955, a Hall of Fame, and annual NGS conferences in the states in 1981, and annual competitions in 1982.[8] Research trips organized through NGS to various destinations around the world were begun in 1998.[8]

For a more detailed history of NGS see Shirley Langdon Wilcox's The National Genealogical Society: A Look at Its First One Hundred Years (pdf) (2003).

NGS Officers[edit | edit source]

For a list of NGS officers see NGS Board of Directors on the National Genealogical Society Internet site.

Blogs[edit | edit source]

Facebook page[edit | edit source]

National Genealogical Society Facebook page

Publications[edit | edit source]

  • National Genealogical Society Quarter (NGSQ) emphasizes scholarship, readability, and practical help in genealogical problem solving[11]
  • NGS Magazine a quarterly with articles that show-and-tell how to be a more effective researcher[12]

  • Research in the States Series consists of concise guides to the history, records, and research facilities of each state.

Available at the Family History Library


  • Numbering Your Genealogy
  • Creating a Winning Family History
  • NGSQ reprints
  • Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones
  • Genealogy and the Law by Kay Haviland Freilich and William B. Freilich
  • selected older legacy publications may also be available

Newsletter[edit | edit source]

  • NGS Monthly digital publication about methodology for genealogists, views on sources, research and techniques, NGS genealogy and conference news, press releases, and comments[13]

Collections[edit | edit source]

  • National Intellegener, 1800–1850. Fully indexed abstracts from The National Intelligencer (Washington, DC) newspaper. This is a database of marriage and death notices. The name index is fully searchable and assists with name variations and misspelled names. (For members online.)[3]
  • NGS Bible Records collection is currently being indexed and digitized. Most Bibles, but not all, have an every-name index. The index is fully searchable. Images of most Bible pages are available in PDF format. (For members online.)[3]
  • NGS Member Ancestry Charts (MACs). A massive collection of family group sheets sent in by NGS members since the 1960s is being indexed and digitized. A full abstract of all (1,000,000+) names on every MAC with dates and places is done for 66,000 MACs sent in before 1995. Work continues on MACs received since then. (For members online.)[3]
  • NGS Book Loan Collection is available in the Special Collections room at the St. Louis County Library (SLCL) in Missouri. The collection consists of 20,000-plus books including more than 6,000 family histories; state, county, and local histories; abstracts of records of cemeteries, churches, courts, deeds, marriages, wills and other probate records; and strong holdings for states along the East Coast and New England.[14] Almost every book is available for Interlibrary Loan to NGS members and non-members alike.[15] To obtain an item from this collection:
1. Search the St. Louis County Library catalog by subject, title, author, or keyword. Call numbers without a beginning "R" (for example, 929.3 or Q929.3) circulate and can be borrowed through Interlibrary Loan.
2. Print the catalog record of the book you want.
3. Take the printout to the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) department of your local library to order the book
- the free Family History Skills self-paced, self-graded course[16]
- American Genealogical Studies series on basics, documentation, beyond the basics, and writing reports[17]
- Continuing Genealogical Studies series on genetics, Revolutionary War, Civil War, and World War I research[18]

Events[edit | edit source]

Annual Conferences[edit | edit source]

Each year the National Genealogical Society partners with a different local genealogical society to co-sponsor a conference in the states which features conference sessions about research techniques and resources from well-respected instructors, conference exhibits, and pre-conference events. For information and registration for the next conference see NGS Conference.

Research Trips[edit | edit source]

From time to time NGS sponsors trips with expert guides to various noteworthy genealogical destinations such as Ireland, Washington DC, Fort Wayne IN, Madison WI, or Salt Lake City UT.[19]

Awards/Competitions[edit | edit source]

NGS recognizes genealogical excellence, scholarship, and achievements by presenting awards to organizations or individuals. They also recognize excellence in genealogical scholarship and service by supporting several annual competitions. They induct one person per year into the National Genealogy Hall of Fame.[20]

NGS Guidelines[edit | edit source]

These guidelines are NGS recommended standards for improving genealogical skills and performance. They are accessible in PDF format on the NGS website:[21]

  • Guidelines for Sound Genealogical Research
  • Guidelines for Using Records Repositories and Libraries
  • Guidelines for Use of Computer Technology in Genealogical Research
  • Guidelines for Sharing Information with Others
  • Guidelines for Genealogical Self-Improvement and Growth

Projects and Committees[edit | edit source]

Frequently Asked Questions[edit | edit source]

Q. What are the directions to the society?
A. From the Northeast (Washington DC Capitol Hill area) merge onto I-395 S toward Richmond (Crossing into Virginia). Merge onto VA-27 S/Washington Blvd S via EXIT 8A toward S Arl Ridge Rd/VA-244/Columbia Pike. Merge onto VA-244 W/Columbia Pike toward Baileys Crossroads, then go 1.1 miles to the National Genealogical Society at 3108 COLUMBIA PIKE on the left in the SunTrust building. (If you reach S Glebe Rd you've gone about 0.1 miles too far.)[24]
Q. What are the society's hours of operation?
A. 8:30AM - 4:30PM Mondays through Sundays. Closed holidays.[25]

Alternate Repositories[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. NGS Mission in National Genealogical Society (accessed 14 March 2019).
  2. 2.0 2.1 NGS Membership Trifold pdf in National Genealogical Society (accessed 12 November 2018).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Individual Member Benefits in National Genealogical Society (accessed 14 March 2019).
  4. History in National Genealogical Society (accessed 14 March 2019).
  5. Shirley Langdon Wilcox, The National Genealogical Society: A Look at Its First One Hundred Years (PDF), (2003), 7 (accessed 14 March 2019).
  6. Wilcox, 16
  7. Wilcox, 14-15.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Wilcox, 11.
  9. Upfront with NGS in National Genealogical Society (14 March 2019).
  10. NGS Conference Blog (accessed 16 January 2017).
  11. National Genealogical Society Quarterly in National Genealogical Society (accessed 12 November 2018).
  12. NGS Magazine in National Genealogical Society (accessed 12 November 2018).
  13. NGS Monthly in National Genealogical Society (accessed 14 March 2019).
  14. NGS Book Loan Collection in National Genealogical Society (accessed 14 March 2019).
  15. References for Researching in National Genealogical Society (accessed 14 January 2017).
  16. Free Family History Skills Course in National Genealogical Society (accessed 14 March 2019).
  17. American Genealogical Studies in National Genealogical Society (accessed 14 March 2019).
  18. Continuing Genealogical Studies in National Genealogical Society (accessed 14 March 2019).
  19. Research Trips in National Genealogical Society (accessed 14 March 2019).
  20. Awards and Competitions in National Genealogical Society (accessed 14 March 2019).
  21. NGS Guidelines in National Genealogical Society (accessed 14 March 2019).
  22. Genealogical Data Model in National Genealogical Model (accessed 16 January 2017).
  23. NGS Committees in National Genealogical Society (accessed 16 January 2017).
  24. Directions from MapQuest.
  25. About in National Genealogical Society page on Facebook (accessed 13 March 2019).