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Spreading the word

It’s tucked away on the website of the American Society of Genealogists.

A quiet — and quietly powerful — group of genealogists who elect Fellows to their ranks of no more than 50 persons at a time, the ASG is, it says, “an independent society of fellows dedicated to serving the discipline of genealogy through promoting the highest standards of genealogical scholarship.”1

It’s the parent of the now-independent Board for Certification of Genealogists, created by ASG in 1964 as a certifying body for the field; the publisher of The Genealogist; a co-founder of the Genealogical Institute on Federal Records.

And though it’s quiet, when it speaks, its voice should be heard.

Even when it tucks the news away on its low-key website.

The news, from its November 2 annual meeting, was the awarding of a Certificate of Appreciation — something that doesn’t happen all that often at ASG. Between 1961 and 2017, there were only 15 individuals and three organizations or institutions who’d ever been awarded the ASG Certificate of Appreciation — and the last one was two years ago.

It’s now 16 individuals who’ve been so recognized:

On rare occasions the American Society of Genealogists awards a Certificate of Appreciation to an individual or organization in recognition of extraordinary contributions to the discipline of genealogy. At its Annual Meeting November 2, 2019, the Society awarded a Certificate of Appreciation to David Rencher, A.G., C.G., Chief Genealogical Officer of FamilySearch and, from 1999 to 2002 and again since 2018, Director of the Family History Library, in recognition of his vigorous and visionary efforts to serve the aims of scholarly genealogy at the Family History Library and at FamilySearch.

There are few individuals in the genealogical community who have had the impact that David Rencher has had. A Pennsylvania native who grew up in Arizona, David never intended to be a genealogist: his plan was to become a professional musician. A co-worker’s influence and a single class in family history at Brigham Young University changed that plan — and we can all be thankful for that.

David Rencher

He worked first as a record searcher for the Institute of Family Research, joined the Family History Library after college on the British reference desk, and rose to become director of the Family History Library in 1999. In 2002, he was named director of a new division of records and information, and then Chief Genealogical Officer of FamilySearch. Last year, he was again named Director of the Family History Library. He is one of only a few genealogists who hold credentials as both Certified Genealogist from BCG and Accredited Genealogist from ICAPGen.2

So many of the advances in records access that we as genealogists benefit from are the direct result of David’s passion for genealogy and for the work of FamilySearch. He’s worked tirelessly to acquire vast quantities of genealogical records, to partner with other groups to make them accessible, to modernize and update the Family History Library and more.

That tireless commitment has now been recognized by ASG, quietly, tucked away on its website… and it’s an honor and a pleasure to held spread the word.

Congratulations, David E. Rencher, AG, CG.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “When quiet news shouldn’t be,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 5 Nov 2019).


Image: FamilySearch media.

  1. About the ASG,” American Society of Genealogists ( : accessed 5 Nov 2019).
  2. See generally “Spotlight: David Rencher, AG, CG,” OnBoard 13 (Sept 2007): 24.
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