LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson: Author | Teacher | Certified Genealogical Lecturer ℠ | Certified Genealogist® | Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists


I worked as a tax lawyer for 35 years before retiring from a partner-level position at Ernst & Young in 2013. I am now an author, lecturer, teacher, Certified Genealogist® and Certified Genealogical LecturerSM. In 2021, I was elected as the 170th Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists, the independent honorary society of the leading published scholars in the field of American genealogy. Founded in 1940, the ASG is limited to fifty life-time members designated as Fellows.

I became a Board-certified Genealogist (no. 1065) in 2015. I was elected to three three-year terms as a Trustee and served two years as Treasurer of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. I also served as President of BCG from 2019-2022. I am on the editorial board of both the Journal of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

In 2019, I conceived, created, and coordinated the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy’s inaugural African American genealogy course, 1619-2019: Four Hundred Years of African American Genealogy. The Utah Genealogical Association awarded me the 2019 Distinguished Service Award “for instrumental guidance in support of new programs and codified policies for SLIG.” I also serve on the faculty of the three other major genealogical institutes: the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, the Genealogical Institute on Federal Records, and the Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research.

From 2017-2023 I served as the Registrar General of the Sons and Daughters of the United States Middle Passage, a national lineage society that honors ancestors who were enslaved in the United States. I also worked as a facilitator (teaching assistant) in the Boston University Genealogical Research Certificate Online Program (Fall 2016 through the Summer of 2019), and volunteered as a mentor for ProGen Study 37 (June 2018 through June 2019).

I am available to lecture at local, regional, and national genealogical conferences as well as for libraries and societies. See the Speaking page on this website.

*The words Certified Genealogist and the designation CG are registered certification marks, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer and CGL are service marks, of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic competency evaluations, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.

In the News

LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson Is a Source of Pride. (FamilySearch Blog, 07 June 2024)

Slavery’s Descendants [Part 1]: America’s Family Secret. Garrett-Nelson is quoted and worked with Reuters to review its reporting.

How Reuters researched and reported Slavery’s Descendants. This page explains Garrett-Nelson’s involvement in the project.
In the Telling. Episode 25 LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson talks about the mystical aspect of doing genealogy: how the ancestors seem to guide you in uncovering their stories.

Two Women Researched Slavery in Their Family. They Didn’t See the Same Story. LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson is quoted in this Wall Street Journal article.

Genealogy Connection #71 Drew Smith interviews LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, President of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, and a specialist in African Ancestored Families in the South

Aaron Goodwin, “The Zeitgeist and Serendipity” (NGS Monthly, June 2020).

LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG, CGL, Sharing Her Knowledge About African American Research (Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly, June 2020, 39-41.)​

And the Distinguished Service Award Goes to LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson! (Utah Genealogical Association Blog, 21 Feb 2019)

Welcome, LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, CG! (BCG Springboard, 30 Nov 2015)


John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, B.A.

New York University School of Law, J.D.

New York University School of Law, Master of Laws (Tax)

Boston University. Center for Professional Research: Genealogical Research Certificate, 2011

Genealogical Institute on Federal Records (formerly the National Institute on Genealogical Research) (2012)

ProGen Study Group 13 (2011—2013)

Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group (GenProof 25, 2013 – 2014)

Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum (2016)

Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, You Be The Judge: A Practicum Using Standards to Evaluate Genealogical Work (2017)

Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, A Practical Approach: Establishing Genealogical Proof With DNA (2018)

Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, Mastering the Art of Genealogical Documentation, with Thomas W. Jones, PhD (2019)

Texas Institute of Genealogical Research, DNA Fundamentals for Genealogy (2021)

Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, Beyond the Golden Door: Immigrants to the U.S.A. after 1890, with Rich Venezia (2023)

Society Memberships

  • Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS)
  • AAHGS James Dent Walker District of Columbia Chapter
  • Association for the Study of African American Life and History
  • Association of Professional Genealogists (APG)
  • Avery Institute of Afro-American History & Culture (Charleston, SC)
  • Fairfax Genealogical Society
  • Genealogical Speakers Guild
  • National Genealogical Society
  • New England Historic Genealogical Society
  • Laurens District Chapter of the South Carolina Genealogical Society (SCGS)
  • South Carolina Historical Society
  • Utah Genealogical Association

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