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Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

My name is Judy Russell. I’m a genealogist with a law degree, and my purpose at The Legal Genealogist is, in part, to help folks understand the often arcane and even impenetrable legal concepts and terminology that are so very important to those of us studying family history.

I’ve worked as a newspaper reporter, trade association writer, legal investigator, defense attorney, federal prosecutor, law editor and, for more than 20 years before my retirement in 2014, I was an adjunct member of the faculty at Rutgers Law School.  I’m a Colorado native with roots deep in the American south on my mother’s side (from Virginia to Texas and just about everywhere in between!) and entirely in Germany on my father’s side.

I’ve spent the last decade learning my trade as a genealogist, and hold credentials as a Certified Genealogist® and Certified Genealogical LecturerSM from the Board for Certification of Genealogists® where I currently serve as a member of the Board of Trustees.

 I’m a member of the National Genealogical Society, the Association of Professional Genealogists, and, among others, the state genealogical societies of New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia, Texas and Illinois.  I’ve attended the National Institute on Genealogical Research (predecessor to today’s Genealogical Institute on Federal Records) at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and completed Elizabeth Shown Mills’ course in Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis and Thomas W. Jones’ course in Writing and Publishing for Genealogists at the Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research (IGHR).

I’m privileged now to serve on the faculty at IGHR, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI), and the Genealogical Institute on Federal Records (Gen-Fed).  I’ve written for the following publications including the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, the National Genealogical Society Magazine and BCG’s Onboard newsletter, among others.


Ms. Russell’s topic at Friday’s Dinner“Slavery & Black Laws of the North States” Slavery’s force was felt far north of the Mason-Dixon Line, and the Black Laws of northern states created valuable records for tracing African-American families. Learn how understanding this law and its records can be uniquely rewarding for descendants of the enslaved and enslavers alike, and of those who were their neighbors and friends.