Donald Lines Jacobus

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Donald Lines Jacobus, FASG
Born Donald Lines Jacobus
(1887-10-03)3 October 1887
of, New Haven, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Died 7 October 1970
Occupation Genealogical Writer
Nationality American
Period 1912 - 1970
Genre Genealogy

Donald Lines Jacobus, FASG (1887-1970) of New Haven, Connecticut, was widely regarded among genealogists as the dean of American genealogy during his lifetime.[1]

Jacobus struggled to teach and stress the importance of a scientific method of using primary sources in genealogical research. This replaced the idea of oral traditions and acceptance of time-honored pedigrees as facts due to their age. He provided the first basics of proper documentation and citation for all genealogists.[2] While he endorsed the concept of eugenics he felt it was seriously lacking in the ability to properly trace bloodlines nor were those proponents of the field experienced enough in genealogical research or ability.[2]

He established the New Haven Genealogical Magazine in 1922, which became The American Genealogist (TAG) ten years later. He served as the periodical's editor and publisher for 43 years until 1966.[2][3][4]


Jacobus was the son of John Ira Jacobus and Ida Wilmot.[5]

"He never married and was devoted to his widowed mother throughout her life. His favorite hobby was charting the descendants of Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella (Ferdie and Izzie as he called them), demonstrating that as serious as genealogy had become for him, it was also bound up in fun and fantasy."[2]

Important works[edit]

Jacobus was a prolific writer. Besides his numerous magazine articles, he is perhaps best known for two publications:[2][3][4]


In recognition of his contributions and his status of elevating genealogy to the social sciences, Jacobus was the first person inducted into the National Genealogy Hall of Fame. He was nominated for this honor by the American Society of Genealogists, the Genealogical Society of Utah, and the DuPage County (IL) Genealogical Society.[3][4][5]

The Donald Lines Jacobus Award was established in 1972 by the American Society of Genealogists to encourage sound scholarship in genealogical writing. Jacobus promoted a scientific method of ancestor research that replaced reliance on oral tradition and time-honored pedigrees with primary source documentation. It was an approach made possible because of enormous efforts to preserve and index early church records and grave stone inscriptions carried out by patriotic and heraldic societies, government agencies and religious groups (particularly the Mormons) during the very years that Jacobus was starting his work.[4]

Jacobus was one of the earliest Fellows of the American Society of Genealogists, an Honor Society of fifty members chosen on the basis of the significance of their contributions to genealogy. On his death, he was described by his colleague Milton Rubincam, as "the man who more than any other single individual elevated genealogy to the high degree of scholarship it now occupies."[4]

A list of eleven of his books can be found at:


  1. ^ "The Donald Lines Jacobus Award". American Society of Genealogists. Archived from the original on 12 October 2009. Retrieved 4 Nov 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Baltimore, Baltimore, MD on 25 November 2014 (2015). "Donald Lines Jacobus and the Making of American Genealogy". All Academic Research. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Lucy Jarvis (2015). "Who was Donald Lines Jacobus, and why should you know about him?". Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Donald Lines Jacobus". National Genealogy Hall of Fame Members. National Genealogical Society. 2015. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  5. ^ a b Tammy (Tucker) Wingle (2010). "Donald Lines Jacobus". Retrieved 7 June 2015.

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