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Nominations sought for NGS Hall of Fame

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

Thirty five 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 five 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 five times.

Starting in 1986 with Donald Lines Jacobus and continuing to 2020 with George Ely Russell, 26 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

Russell, the most recent honoree, was an expert on early Maryland genealogy and a prolific writer and genealogical editor:

George Ely Russell was born in Niagara Falls, NY, on November 24, 1927. He died in Ijamsville, MD, on January 9, 2013.


In 1955, George started what became a massive output of genealogical articles and books, reaching around 150 publications. From 1970 to 1986 he was the editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, bringing it to its highest scholarly standards.


His numerous articles on early Maryland families represent a significant contribution to the literature. As a lecturer at major genealogical conferences, he was an inspiration, mentor and teacher to many aspiring genealogists.


Over the years, George also served on the NGS Council; was a contributing editor for The American Genealogist; and was a founder and 1st president of the Prince George’s County (Md.) Genealogical Society.


He was the recipient of the 1978 NGS Distinguished Service Award; a 1980 Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists; a 1981 Fellow of NGS; and a board-certified associate of the Board for Certification of Genealogists.


George’s dry sense of humor was enjoyed by many. He was dedicated, knowledgeable, and a wonderful friend to those who were fortunate to know him personally. His legacy of accumulated genealogical material will be a valuable resource for generations to come.2

In between Jacobus and Russell, 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); Mary Smith Fay (2018); and George Harrison Sanford King (2019).3

Thirty five of our best… And, now, it’s up to us to help select the 36th 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 2021 Family History Conference in Richmond, Virginia, 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 2020.

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 36.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Choosing number 36,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 16 Oct 2020).


  1. “Donald Lines Jacobus (Elected 1986),” National Genealogy Hall of Fame Members, National Genealogical Society ( : accessed 16 Oct 2020).
  2. Ibid., “George Ely Russell (Elected 2020).” And no — darnitall — he was not a relative.
  3. Ibid.
  4. “Call for Nominations,” Nominations to the National Genealogy Hall of Fame, National Genealogical Society ( : accessed 16 Oct 2020).
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
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