John Thomas Humphrey, CG (1948-2012)
The genealogical community and the National Genealogical Society have lost a dear friend and scholar with the death of John Thomas Humphrey on 12 August 2012. John’s work in our field is some of the most important and essential for early Pennsylvania and German genealogy. His forty years of work with Pennsylvania records is represented in his fifteen volume Pennsylvania Births Series, two family histories, and numerous articles. He received critical acclaim for his Understanding and Using Baptismal Records. John’s deep knowledge of German genealogy and records included his ability to read and write in old German script and extended to repositories in Germany. He was a frequent teacher and lecturer, sharing his expertise in workshops, institutes, and conferences for genealogical learning as well as serving on many society boards. He extended the reach of his teaching in these specialties by authoring practical guides so that others might share his success in furthering their family history. His most recent publication is Finding Your German Ancestors: A Practical Guide for Genealogists.
John’s contributions and dedication to the National Genealogical Society since the 1990s knew no bounds. John shared key insights about the importance of original documents in NGS’s video Finding Your Family at the National Archives. Over the years, John served as a director of the NGS Learning Center and also as the NGS Education Director managing online and home study courses. He led research tours to Germany and Salt Lake City. John actively volunteered and contributed to many of NGS’s national conferences as a lecturer, a consultant at the NGS booth, an exhibits chair, and supporter of many of the details for producing a high quality educational conference. John even rolled up his sleeves and made fine custom shelving for the former historic home of NGS, Glebe House. He was a man of grace and many unexpected talents.
Several years ago NGS produced a short video, Paths To Your Past, in which John told how “NGS had literally transformed my life.” He explained how he began family history research as a child but only joined NGS and attended his first conference in 1990, at the age of 42. He gave NGS much credit for his success and for helping him see new ways to solve research problems. But we at the National Genealogical Society, his many colleagues over the years, feel John has helped light the way for us and all genealogists. His painstaking and detailed scholarship in both his writings and his lectures lives on as his legacy to help guide the way for generations to come.