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Taylor to head NYG&B

This week is just full of good news out of the Big Apple.

First, we got the news from the New York Public Library that it had opened up its entire collection of more than 180,000 public domain images and documents in high-resolution format — completely free of restrictions, fees or permissions. As the announcement said, “No permission required, no hoops to jump through: just go forth and reuse!”1

The Legal Genealogist thought it’d be hard to beat that.

And then the second announcement came in.

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) announced that it had concluded its search for a new president to succeed McKelden Smith, who is retiring after serving as president for the past seven years.

Now you have to know a little about the history of the NYG&B in recent years. It hit a really rocky patch back in 2006-2007 over the sale of its building on 58th Street in Manhattan. A dispute over that sale and the role of the membership in the future of the NYG&B threatened to splinter the organization to the point where its ability to continue was in doubt.2

McKelden Smith was the first president chosen after the brouhaha over the building — and he had his hands full getting the NYG&B back on track. It’s to his enormous credit that the society — the second oldest genealogical society in the United States — recovered and thrived.

So choosing a successor wasn’t a simple task at all. The new president needed to be able to continue serving as a public face of the NYG&B to the broader New York community and administering the many tasks of the NYG&B. But the general feeling was that the successor needed one more set of skills: the new president also needed to have strong genealogical credentials.

That’s not an easy combination to find. There are loads of thoroughly competent genealogists with strong credentials. There are loads of people with enough public presence to adequately represent and lead (and, let’s face it, fund-raise for) a group like the NYG&B. There are very few potential candidates who can do both.

for Genealogy RoadshowBut, yesterday, the NYG&B announced that it had landed one of those very few: as of February 1, the new president of the NYG&B will be D. Joshua Taylor.

Newcomers to the genealogical community may know Josh mostly as a featured genealogist on the TV series Who Do You Think You Are? and currently as a host on the popular PBS series Genealogy Roadshow, just wrapping up production for its third season.

His credentials are a lot broader and deeper than that.

He holds a master’s degree in history and a master of library science degree in archival management. He’s the former Director of Education and Programs at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, former Director of Family History at, and currently serves as President of the Federation of Genealogical Societies.

His written work includes numerous articles in American Ancestors, the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly, and other periodicals, and he authored The Keane and Sheahan Families of Bridgeport, Connecticut, a study of a family’s immigration and life in New England after the Irish famine.

It’s a good match, between a great genealogist and a great genealogical society. You can read more at the NYG&B blog, here.


  1. Shana Kimball, “Free for All: NYPL Enhances Public Domain Collections For Sharing and Reuse,” NYPL Blogs, posted 5 Jan 2016 ( : accessed 6 Jan 2016).
  2. See e.g. Diane Haddad, “NYG&B Controversy: Members Decry Voting Proposal,” Genealogy Insider, posted 13 Feb 2007 ( : accessed 7 Jan 2016).
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