From the NYG&B staff: What we're thankful for this holiday season

2018 has been a great year at the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. We have interacted with hundreds of our members at conferences and events around the country, including our own New York State Family History Conference this past September.

We have helped thousands of researchers make new discoveries by providing online records, teaching new methods, sharing important information about New York State genealogy, and providing research services. 

We have also continued our organization's tradition of preservation - our scanning and digitization projects have moved along, and we brought several new sets of records online for the first time ever.

As we gear up for the end of the year, look ahead to 2019 (our 150th anniversary!), and reflect on 2018, we would like to share some of our thoughts with you - we asked each NYG&B staff member to write a short paragraph about what we're thankful for in the context of our work at the NYG&B.  

If you would like to support the work we do and our mission, please consider giving a donation of any size this holiday season - thanks to the generosity of our Board of Trustees, all new and increased donations are being matched from now until the end of the year! Learn more about how your donation helps and make a gift today


Author Russell Shorto with Jennifer Davis and
D. Joshua Taylor at our 2018 Fall Benefit

D. Joshua Taylor, President

I am so grateful that 149 years ago a group of men and women gathered to create the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society.They were visionary, creating an organization that collect and preserve the stories of New York families.

Not only did they establish what would become New York’s largest – and only statewide genealogical organization, they also set the foundation for The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, which would become the largest published resource of peer-reviewed material documenting New York families in existence.

My gratitude this year also extends to the wonderful members of the NYG&B team who work each day to continue the mission started by our founders nearly 150 years ago. They, along with our dedicated Board of Trustees provide leadership and guidance that help to ensure our success.


Jennifer Davis, Director of Development and Membership

The members and supporters of the NYG&B make EVERYTHING we do possible!  We are so fortunate that our members are not only committed to the mission but have a true affection for the Society and everyone involved in it. 

By helping people research their family stories for 149 years we have created our own family of members and friends who care about genealogy and family history. Your support consists not only of your membership fees and donations, but also your encouragement, your attendance at events, and your advocacy for the genealogy field as a whole.

For all of that, I am grateful!  Thank you for letting us into your families and for being part of ours! 


Susan R. Miller, Director of Programs and Outreach 

Susan R. Miller with the group who attended our 
Empire State Exploration trip in February

I'm thankful for the NYG&B’s scholarship—it shines in so many areas, including The Record, our Fellows who have earned their fellowship through scholarship, our authors and editors, all the historians and genealogists who contributed to the New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer, and so many other learning assets.

All these people and resources make finding our families easier.

I’m thankful for being able to meet so many wonderful members on our research tours, at conferences, at programs, and many other places -- and to hear their (mostly New York) family stories.


Frederick Wertz, Director of Digital Services

I'm thankful for the organizations that have reached out to us - in the past, and in 2018 - to partner for digitization and preservation opportunities.

A core part of our mission is preserving materials useful to those researching New York's past, and we're always thrilled when an organization offers to donate historical records to us instead of throwing them in the dumpster! 

This past year, The New York Times reached out for help digitizing the New York Times Obituaries Index, which we were glad to assist with - we are thankful that, as part of the deal, we are able to share the digitized copies in our eLibrary. Other organizations have offered rare records like insurance files, genealogy vertical files, and other types of records - these are all stored in safe, climate-controlled locations where they now await digitization by our team of dedicated volunteers. I'm certainly thankful for all of them too! 


Anna King with two NYG&B interns, Megan
and Daisy

Anna King, Office Administrator

If you have visited the NYG&B, you have probably noticed and even sat at the large, wooden table in the library surrounded by volumes of references, bound issues of The Record and New York Researcher, as well as many of our other publications.

On any given day, visitors to the NYG&B will also notice that seated at the table are a combination of interns and volunteers helping us accomplish our mission. I became a part of the NYG&B team about a year ago and in that time I have met and helped recruit many wonderful interns and volunteers who offer their time and energy on a regular basis.

I am thankful for these individuals. 

Their standing commitment to our organization has resulted in the digitization of hundreds of thousands of documents; the seamless execution of events like the New York State Family History Conference and the recent benefit luncheon with Russell Shorto; and the acquisition of numerous records, data, and research that will be added to our e-library. The NYG&B is a stronger organization thanks to our generous volunteers and interns.


Michelle Granger, Accounting Manager

I’m thankful for all components of NYG&B that contribute to the financial success of the organization.

From the Founders' vision, Development & Membership, Programs & Education, Digital Services, and Office Administration. The Mission driving the endeavors of our team make it a pleasure to report on the financial progress of our efforts.

While numbers only tell a portion of the story, I’m gratified that accounting for revenue, expenses, budgets and projections aid in the organization’s overall direction. In addition to our team, I’m thankful to outside stakeholders who indirectly impact the team, like vendors who cheerfully settle account issues, regulatory agencies who make it a joy to cut through red tape, auditors who return audit selections in entirety, and financial institutions who offer lollipops for standing on line for a ½ hour.

I’m thankful to see fruit from the labor here and how quickly team members regroup for the next challenge. Most of all, I’m thankful for rubbing elbows with the hardest working team in America.


Fred Wertz and Ashley Lish with some NYG&B 
members at a member reception

Ashley Lish, Staff Genealogist

I am thankful for repositories, without which we would not be able to do genealogy research.

During our recent research trip to Albany, I was able to see some of the New York State Archives’ holdings and was struck by the sheer size of their collections; there are so many records available to use in our research that we would not have without repositories like the New York State Archives.

They, along with countless other repositories, have made efforts to preserve the records that may lead us to the information we need. Without their efforts, genealogical research would be much more challenging, if not impossible, because we would not have the records needed to do the work.

I’m thankful for all the repositories that collect, archive, preserve, and digitize documents and books, and make them accessible to researchers, allowing us to learn about our families.


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About the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society is 
a registered 501(c)(3) organization devoted to 
preserving, documenting, and sharing the history of
New York State families. Read more about our mission.  

Since 1869, our mission has been to help our thousands of worldwide members discover their family's New York story, and there has never been a better time to join.

The cost of an Individual Annual Membership is less than six dollars a month, and includes the following benefits: 

  • Access to over 50 exclusive digital record sets covering the entire state of New York, including the fully searchable archives of The Record
  • A complimentary subscription to all of Findmypast's North American records, as well as U.K. and Irish Census records.
  • Access to hundreds of expert-authored Knowledge Base articles and webinars to help you navigate the tricky New York research landscape. 
  • Exclusive discounts and advanced access to conferences, seminars, workshops and lectures to learn more about researching people and places across New York State. 

To learn more or join us, please visit our member benefits page