Select Page

Nominations sought for NGS Hall of Fame

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

Thirty six 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 six 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 six times.

Starting in 1986 with Donald Lines Jacobus and continuing to 2021 with John T. Humphrey, 27 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

Humphrey, the most recent honoree, was an expert on Pennsylvania and German genealogy and a prolific writer and researcher:

John T. Humphrey, born 16 April 1948 in Penn Argyl, Pennsylvania, died on 12 August 2012 in Washington, D.C. John Humphrey’s most recognized contribution to the field was his Pennsylvania Births series of books that transcribed birth and baptism records from more than a dozen Pennsylvania counties. But more significantly, John had a passion for sharing his knowledge with others in the community. The evidence is his work as the education manager for the National Genealogical Society, his many lectures and articles, and the many years he served as a board member and president of the Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society.


John excelled also at sharing his extensive knowledge through his speaking engagements. He attended his first NGS conference in 1990 in Arlington, Virginia, and in just three short years he became a presenter at the 1993 NGS Baltimore conference, teaching others skills to improve their research. John quickly was in demand as a speaker on German and Pennsylvania topics at local, state, national, and international venues. He became an expert in reading old German script, in part by traveling to Germany and taking a course to improve his skills.


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.


John served as president of the Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society and as vice president of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania. In 2008, the German Embassy asked him to give the keynote address on Germans and their contributions to America at the 400th Anniversary Celebration in Williamsburg, Virginia. This was the same year he became a BCG associate as a Certified Genealogist ® (CG). Two years later, he was honored to be invited to Germany to give a presentation on researching Germans in America. In 2011 he received rave reviews when he taught the first-ever German course at Samford’s Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research.


Whether doing the grunt work of compiling his multivolume Pennsylvania Births series; or making sense of the details in his Understanding and Using Baptismal Records; or unearthing the ancestor charts of Nazi SS officers from Captured German Records housed in the National Archives—John T. Humphrey was up to the challenge of performing research and interpretation to genealogical standards. All who heard his lectures, read his books and articles, or participated in the NGS activities John initiated benefited from his genealogical knowledge and skills.2

In between Jacobus and Humphrey , 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); George Harrison Sanford King (2019); and George Ely Russell (2020).3

Thirty six of our best… And, now, it’s up to us to help select the 37th 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 2022 Family History Conference in Sacramento, California, 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 2021.

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 37.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Choosing number 37,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 22 Oct 2021).


  1. “Donald Lines Jacobus (Elected 1986),” National Genealogy Hall of Fame Members, National Genealogical Society ( : accessed 22 Oct 2021).
  2. Ibid., “John T. Humphrey (Elected 2021).”
  3. Ibid.
  4. “Call for Nominations,” Nominations to the National Genealogy Hall of Fame, National Genealogical Society ( : accessed 22 Oct 2021).
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email