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Nominations sought for NGS Hall of Fame

Thirty four times, the genealogical community has honored one of our best, one that we’ve lost.

Thirty four times, the focus has been on someone who has made contributions to the field of genealogy that were of lasting significance in ways that were unique, pioneering, or exemplary.

Thirty four times, individual genealogists and groups have nominated those persons whose achievements or contributions have made an impact on the field — and one has been selected: a genealogist whose unique, pioneering, or exemplary work lives on today.

Thirty four times.

Starting in 1986 with Donald Lines Jacobus and continuing to 2019 with George Harrison Sanford King, 25 men and nine women have been elected to the National Genealogy Hall of Fame.

Jacobus, the first person chosen, was “nominated for this honor by the American Society of Genealogists, the Genealogical Society of Utah, and the DuPage County (IL) Genealogical Society. During his lifetime, Jacobus was widely regarded as the dean of American genealogists, and he is recognized as the founder of the modern school of genealogy in the United States. He was the editor and publisher of The American Genealogist for forty-three years, and he may have been the most prolific genealogical writer of any generation. His writings include the classic, Genealogy as Pastime and Profession. On his death, he was described by his colleague Milton Rubincam, as ‘the man who more than any other single individual elevated genealogy to the high degree of scholarship it now occupies.’”1

King, the most recent honoree, was an expert on the families of Virginia’s Northern Neck:

George Harrison Sanford King, born 1914, was a resident of Fredericksburg, Virginia, all of his life. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 1935 with a chemistry degree. As a young man he developed an interest in genealogy, emphasizing a scholarly approach to research and documentation. In the 1930s he along with others lobbied the Virginia General Assembly for funds to restore deteriorating records, for which all Virginia researchers are grateful.


He was known as an expert on the complex family relationships of Virginia’s Northern Neck, an area that includes what are often referred to as burned counties. Using numerous sources, he kept extensive notes and transcriptions on early Virginia families. A card index to his more than 100,000 papers is available at the Virginia Historical Society and abstracts are being published in the Magazine of Virginia Genealogy.


As Virginia did not keep early vital records, Mr. King published record abstracts for many church parish records. He also had the foresight to collect and preserve bible records. He published articles in numerous periodicals. In 1947 he was elected a fellow of the American Society of Genealogists. He was active in many societies and was a registrar for Virginia’s Order of the First Families.


He was one of the experts who assisted in the compilation of the first edition, published in 1956, of Adventurers of Purse and Person. This publication has been revised and expanded several times and is considered the bible of early Virginia families.2

In between Jacobus and King, the award recognized a wide variety of genealogical giants: Walter Goodwin Davis (1987); Gilbert Cope (1988); John Farmer (1989); George Andrews Moriarty, Jr. (1990); Lucy Mary Kellogg (1991); Meredith Bright Colket, Jr. (1992); Henry Fitzgilbert Waters (1993); Archibald Fowler Bennett (1994); Joseph Lemuel Chester (1995); George Ernest Bowman (1996); John Insley Coddington (1997); Jean Stephenson (1998); James Dent Walker (1999); Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern (2000); Richard Stephen Lackey (2001); Hannah Benner Roach (2002); Milton Rubincam (2003); Herbert Furman Seversmith (2004); Mary Campbell (Lovering) Holman (2005); Kenn Stryker-Rodda (2006); Walter Lee Sheppard, Jr. (2007); Lowell M. Volkel (2008); Willard Calvin Heiss (2009); Rosalie Fellows Bailey (2010); Albert Cook Myers (2011); Josephine Cosette Mayou Stillman Frost (2012); Earl Gregg Swem (2013); Florence Harlow Barclay (2014); Donald Arleigh Sinclair (2015); Marsha Hoffman Rising (2016); Peter Stebbins Craig (2017); and Mary Smith Fay (2018).3

Thirty four of our best… And, now, it’s up to us to help select the 35th person.

The National Genealogical Society and the National Genealogy Hall of Fame Committee are seeking nominations from the entire genealogical community for persons whose achievements or contributions have made an impact on the field. The next honoree and the society that honored the nominee will be announced at the NGS 2020 Family History Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, in May.

Nominations for election to the National Genealogy Hall of Fame are made by genealogical societies and historical societies throughout the United States, and have to be submitted by 15 December 2019.

Here are the guidelines for nominations:

• “A nominee must have been actively engaged in genealogy in the United States for at least ten years, must have been deceased for at least five years at the time of nomination, and must have made contributions to the field of genealogy judged to be of lasting significance in ways that were unique, pioneering, or exemplary.”4

• “The National Genealogy Hall of Fame is an educational project in which the entire genealogical community is invited to participate. Affiliation with the National Genealogical Society is not required.”5

• “The National Genealogy Hall of Fame Committee elects one person to the Hall of Fame annually. Those elected are permanently commemorated in the Hall of Fame at Society headquarters, Arlington, Virginia.”6

• “Nominations for election to the National Genealogy Hall of Fame are due by 15 December each year. Official nomination forms are available from our website,, Awards & Competitions, or by contacting the National Genealogical Society, 6400 Arlington Blvd, Suite 810, Falls Church, VA 22042-2318; phone 1-800-473-0060.”7

Here’s a link to the official nomination form so no excuses!

Let’s all put on our thinking caps and consider those who were among our best… those we can honor for their service to our community.

It only takes a few minutes to help honor and remember a lifetime of service.

It’s time to choose number 35.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Choosing number 35,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 27 Nov 2019).


  1. “Donald Lines Jacobus (Elected 1986),” National Genealogy Hall of Fame Members, National Genealogical Society ( : accessed 26 Nov 2019).
  2. Ibid., “George Harrison Sanford King (Elected 2019).”
  3. Ibid.
  4. Call for Nominations,” National Genealogical Society ( : accessed 26 Nov 2019).
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
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