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Nominations sought for National Genealogy Hall of Fame

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

Thirty eight 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 eight 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 eight times.

Starting in 1986 with Donald Lines Jacobus and continuing to 2023 with John Martino, 29 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

Martino, the most recent honoree, was New York genealogist who spearheaded efforts to make critical records available online:

John Martino was born on 27 October 1936 in Brooklyn, New York; he died on 30 November 2015 in Huntington, New York. For more than twenty-two years (1993-2015), he was actively engaged in the field of genealogy. Martino spearheaded an expansive volunteer initiative to assist genealogists and researchers tracing individuals through some of the most populous cities and counties in the United States. As project coordinator, he played a key role in obtaining permission to use these records, fundraising, volunteer recruiting, distribution of copies of records to volunteers, and verification.


He was instrumental in recruiting nearly a thousand volunteers from around the world to work on special projects that involved organizing and deciphering handwritten records, transcribing, creating finding aids, and indexing more than sixteen million records relating to immigration, naturalization, and vital record events. Some of the records that he helped make publicly accessible comprised cemetery, church, court, immigration, military, naturalization, and vital records. They included about 1,600,000 draft registration records from World War II for New York City, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico and 5,317,300 records from the death index (1891-1948) of New York City’s Municipal Archive. Projects that he set in motion continue today.


Martino lectured on many family history topics at public libraries, colleges, and genealogical and historical societies. He especially liked to share the numerous examples of notable Americans that were discovered during his indexing and organizational projects. He was a founding member of the Italian Genealogical Group (IGG), established in 1993, and held many positions with IGG over the years..2

In between Jacobus and Martino, 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); George Ely Russell (2020); John T. Humphrey (2021); and Clarence Almon Torrey (2022).3

Thirty eight of our best… And, now, it’s up to us to help select the 39th 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 2024 Family History Conference to be held virtually 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 2023.

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 39.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Choosing number 39,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 6 Nov 2023).


  1. “Donald Lines Jacobus (Elected 1986),” National Genealogy Hall of Fame Members, National Genealogical Society ( : accessed 6 Nov 2023).
  2. Ibid., “John Martino (Elected 2023).”
  3. Ibid.
  4. “Call for Nominations,” Nominations to the National Genealogy Hall of Fame, National Genealogical Society ( : accessed Nov 2023).
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
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