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COVID uncertainty spurs shift

The Genealogical Institute on Federal Records (Gen-Fed, for short) announced late Monday that its 2022 session will be held virtually rather than in-person at the U.S. National Archives during the week of 8-13 August 2022.

The announcement, on the Gen-Fed website, explained: “As much as we hope that the National Archives may be open in August, we fear it may not be as open as we wish or that it may be forced to close again just as we are ready to start classes. So it is with an abundance of caution (and disappointment) we make the decision to hold Gen-Fed virtually again. Our instructors’ and students’ safety is our primary consideration.”1

GenFed logo

The Legal Genealogist is part of the instructor team for this stellar program — and is as disappointed as anyone that conditions just don’t seem right yet for planning to hold the institute in person.

But I am 110% behind this decision: last year proved Gen-Fed can offer a first-class educational experience virtually — in some ways even superior to in-person because it allows for participation by archivists from far-flung repositories in the NARA system and not just those based in Washington, D.C. There are disadvantages, to be sure, and each potential registrant will have to weigh the pluses and minuses for a virtual course in 2022 versus what we all expect will be in-person in 2023 and beyond.

Registration for 2022 will be a bit different than it’s been in the past. First off, registration will be online, with a registration link posted to the Gen-Fed website (see on Tuesday, 1 March. That link will open at 9 a.m. Eastern (8 a.m. CT, 7 a.m. MT, 6 a.m. PT) and stay open through Monday, 7 March, at 9 p.m. Eastern (8 p.m. CT, 7 p.m. MT 6 p.m. PT).

Second, as last year, students who had been registered when the pandemic hit and were forced to postpone will get first shot at the limited seats in the course. Then, “A drawing for the remaining seats … plus 20 waitlist names will be held online LIVE on Saturday, March 12th, at 10 am Pac./11 am Mtn./12 pm Cent./1 pm EDT.”2

And that means that nobody has to be sitting online, fingers poised over the keyboard, the instant that registration opens: the drawing will be random and so “the day and time of application will not determine place in line for a seat.”3

The cost for the week-long program is being held at the 2020 level of $575. And what it offers is unparalleled: there are pre-class videos about using NARA, Q&A sessions with NARA archivists, hands-on practice exercises, personal research advice from archival records specialist and an array of class sessions ranging from The National Archives’ Catalog, presented by archivist Claire Kluskens, to Researching Enslaved African Americans in Federal Records, presented by LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG, CGL, FASG. In between, there are sessions on immigration, legislative records, land and military records and, yes, my own sessions on federal court records including the one we always have fun with: Busted, Bankrupt, Banged Up: Stories in Federal Court Records.

For more information, check out the Gen-Fed website — and then mark your calendar to add your name to the list between the first and the seventh of March for the registration drawing to be held on March 12.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Gen-Fed 2022 goes virtual,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 23 Feb 2022).


  1. Registration for Gen-Fed 2022: March 1 to March,” Gen-Fed News, posted 21 Feb 2022, ( : accessed 23 Feb 2022).
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
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