Search back issues of the NGSQ online for free
When undertaking research on a new surname, in a new geographic area, or on a new subject, it is advisable to first conduct a literature search to see what has been previously published regarding the topic at hand.
In my pre-Internet college days, a literature search or “preliminary survey” would have included books and published journal articles available at the various university libraries. In the Internet age, that search must be extended to include reputable websites and blogs. Of course, the Internet makes it easier to search catalogs of major libraries as well.
One such journal that bears review at the start of any American genealogical project is the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ), published by the National Genealogical Society (NGS) since 1912. It is a peer-reviewed genealogical journal with the broadest range of subject matter in the United States, encompassing all geographic regions and ethnic groups. As a member of NGS, I have been receiving this publication in the mail since 1997 and typically read my copy cover to cover within a few days of its arrival in my mailbox.
All researchers, regardless of membership status in NGS, can conduct a search of NGSQ at the National Genealogical Society’s website: http://www.ngsgenealogy.org. Navigate to Publications and Videos>NGS Member Periodicals>National Genealogical Society Quarterly>NGS Quarterly Index Search:
Or, simply click this link: http://members.ngsgenealogy.org/NGSQSearch/search.cfm
There are two types of searches that can be performed: by author or by title. Results may be limited by clicking one of the special category checkboxes. The search engine is a little temperamental. If I input marsha rising or rising, marsha hoffman in the Author Name search box, my search yields no results. If I then try the Author Name marsha hoffman rising, my search nets 16 hits. The NGSQ Index search page also allows one to browse for all articles published in any given year by using the drop-down arrow and clicking the View Selected Year button.
Unfortunately, there is no ability to conduct an every-word search at this time. However, I have successfully located a variety of articles of interest by putting a keyword or keywords in the Article Title search box. Examples of keyword searches might include: virginia, new jersey, civil war or bounty land. If looking for articles about a particular county, i.e. Preble County, Ohio, input search terms of preble co rather than preble county to pick up abbreviations for county, or variations such as the word counties in the title.
Back issues of the NGSQ may be available for purchase ($15 non-members/$12 members). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for availability. Many genealogical societies and larger public libraries will also have back issues in their collections.
One of the benefits of membership in the National Genealogical Society is the ability to download complete issues or volumes of the Quarterly. Issues published between 1973 and 2012 (with exception of the years 1975 and 1977) are available. To access this content, a member must first login to the Members Only section of the website.
A number of years ago, volumes 1-85 of the NGSQ were published by Broderbund Software on CD. This collection complements the online offerings available on the National Genealogical Society’s website.
When undertaking any new research on a surname, location in the United States, or topic, the National Genealogical Society Quarterly is one important journal that should be included in your literature search. The online search feature makes it a bit easier to locate articles that may be of interest.