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The National Institute on Genealogical Research (N.I.G.R.), at the National Archives in Washington D.C. and College Park, Maryland, is an intensive program offering on-site examination of federal records. Designed for experienced researchers, it is not an introduction to genealogy.

The program focuses on commonly used records such as immigration, military, land, African American, and naturalization. Complementing those core lectures will be presentations on lesser-known federal records useful to family historians. The group spends one day at Archives II in College Park, Maryland, and there are optional evening sessions at the Library of Congress and the DAR library.

NIGR has been a leader in genealogical education since its founding in 1950. It was incorporated in 1989 as a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization. Trustees are representatives of the American Society of Genealogists, Association of Professional Genealogists, Board for Certification of Genealogists, Federation of Genealogical Societies, National Genealogical Society, and the institute's alumni association. The National Archives, a non-voting member, provides strong support.


NIGR 2015


In view of the recent death of Patricia Shawker, CG, director of NIGR, 2007–2015, the board of directors has postponed the 2015 institute until July 2016.
Information on how to register for 2016 will be announced by December 1, 2015. Please check back for updates.




Malissa Ruffner, J.D., CGSM


The board is pleased to announce the appointment of Malissa Ruffner, J.D., CGSM,  to succeed as director of NIGR, effective immediately. She will assume responsibility for the institute in July 2016 and future years. The National Archives, through its representative on the board of directors, has expressed strong support for the continuation of NIGR and will work with the new director to assure success in coming years.
Malissa, a resident of Baltimore, Maryland, earned a Bachelor of Arts from Goucher College and a law degree and a Master of Library Science degree, both from the University of Maryland. In addition to genealogy, she has worked as a lawyer, and in schools, libraries and archives. Her genealogical pursuits include client work, writing and blogging, lecturing, and participation in conferences and institutes, including NIGR, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University, the Genealogical Research Institute at Pittsburgh, Forensic Genealogy Institute, ProGen, and “Come Home to New England” at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Malissa currently serves on the Maryland Genealogical Society Board of Directors and on the Intellectual Property Committee of the Board for Certification of Genealogy.
Additional information about the next institute will be forthcoming.


Patricia O’Brien Shawker, CGSM, FMGS

The National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR) and the larger genealogical community are mourning the loss of Patricia O’Brien Shawker, CGSM, FMGS, who died on January 16, 2015, after a battle with cancer. Patty was widely known as the Director of  NIGR for the past seven years, guiding hundreds of attendees during their first research endeavors at NARA in Washington, D.C.She is being remembered for her expertise, generosity, ready smile, and remarkably broad career. Her specialties were Maryland research, federal records, lineage applications, and methodology.

Patty was actively involved at every societal level. Her undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Maryland made her a valued organizational volunteer. Certified by the Board of Certified Genealogists® since 1999, she was a trustee of the BCG Education Fund and its treasurer. She was the treasurer of the National Genealogical Society from 2003 until 2006.She served on the board of the Maryland Genealogical Society for several years, including one term as treasurer. She became the registrar of the Prince George’s County Genealogical Society in 1998, a position she still held at her death. She had been a volunteer staff aid at NARA since 2005 and served as a mentor for the ProGen 6 study group.

Patty lectured nationally, including at NGS conferences, and continued to present locally.She wrote Research in Maryland of the NGS Research in the States Series, authored several guides published in the Maryland Genealogical Society Journal, and was a long time contributing editor to The PGCGS Bulletin. She received the Jane Roush McCafferty, CGSM, Award of Excellence from the Prince George's County Genealogical Society in 2009. In May of 2014, she was named a Fellow of the Maryland Genealogical Society for her outstanding scholarship, contributions to MGS, and the genealogical community.

She is survived by her husband, Dr. Thomas Shawker, with whom she shared a passion for genealogy, her mother, four siblings, and six nieces and nephews.

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