Archive for the ‘Board for the Certification of Genealogists’ Category

Board for Certification of Genealogists to release new Standards Manual

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FROM: Board for Certification of Genealogists, P. O. Box 14291, Washington, DC 20044

www.BCGcertification.org

DATE: 12 December 2013

SUBJECT: Genealogy Standards Updated in New Manual

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Office@BCGcertification.org

Washington, DC, December 12, 2013 – In honor of its fiftieth anniversary, the Board for Certification of Genealogists® (“BCG”) has issued Genealogy Standards, a manual for best practices in research and assembly of accurate family histories. This revision completely updates and reorganizes the original 2000 edition of The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual.

“Accuracy is fundamental to genealogical research,” writes editor Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CGSM, CGLSM, in the introduction. “Without it, a family’s history would be fiction. This manual presents the standards family historians use to obtain valid results. These standards apply to all genealogical research, whether shared privately or published.”

The 83 specific standards cover the process of researching family history and the finished products of the research. Based on the five-part Genealogical Proof Standard, the standards cover:

  • documenting (standards 1–8);
  • researching (standards 9–50), including planning, collecting, and reasoning from evidence;
  • writing (standards 51–73), including proofs, assembly, and special products;
  • teaching and lecturing (standards 74–81); and
  • continuing education (standards 82 & 83).

The 100-page book includes appendices: the genealogist’s code, a description of BCG and its work, a list of sources and resources where examples of work that meets standards are regularly published, a glossary, and an evidence-process map distinguishing the three kinds of sources, information, and< evidence.

“We are delighted to provide this new edition, which is meant for all genealogical researchers and practitioners as a way to recognize sound genealogy,” said BCG president Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL. “We appreciate the many hands that helped bring this new edition to fruition and look forward to its widespread usage in the field.”

SAVE 20%! To place a specially-priced, pre-publication order with delivery in the first part of February 2014, visit http://www.bcgcertification.org/catalog/index.html. Regularly priced at $14.95, the pre-publication price is $11.95 before January 27, 2014.

Board for Certification of Genealogists. Genealogy Standards, 50th anniversary edition. New York: Turner Publishing Co., 2014. 100 pp., paper, ISBN 978-1-63026-018-7, $14.95.

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What’s up?

When I started this year I didn’t intend that my blog would go silent. I thought it would be business-as-usual, with at least a good though-provoking post every so often. Sadly, as the year went on, the posts got less and less frequent.

Rest assured, though, I am not disappearing—just reorganizing my priorities. I will try to continue to post as much as I can, but my efforts in the field of genealogy are being refocused.

Among some of the things I have been working on this year:

  • I taught at three major institutes, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (in January), the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (in June), and the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (in July).
  • I have written several articles published in various journals: two in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (December 2012 and March 2013), one in the Maryland Genealogical Society Journal, and one in Chinook, the magazine of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Several other articles have been written and are pending publication, one of which even (gasp) involves research into my own family. Even more articles are in various stages of completion.
  • I have been assisting with the creation of the Southern Appalachians Genealogical Association. I am serving as Editor of the annual Journal. If any of my readers have an interest in the Southern Appalachians region, please join the society and consider writing for the Journal. The call for submissions is posted on their website.
  • You may have seen me on the Chris O’Donnell episode of Who Do You Think You Are? That was fun. I am also credited (though I do not appear on-screen) for my research in the Christina Applegate episode.
  • I have continued to serve my term on the Board of Directors for the Association of Professional Genealogists. I also served as Chapter Representative of Greater Philadelphia Area chapter of APG, helping with the chapter’s organization and incorporation into the APG—a process now complete! Unfortunately I will be stepping down from both of these positions next year.
  • This month, I was elected to a three-year term on the Board of Trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. I am looking forward to being able to contribute what I can in this position.
  • Supplementing my genealogical activities, I have also been taking several online courses to continue my own education in several subjects. Some of these relate indirectly to my work in genealogy; some do not. You may soon witness the incorporation of some of these topics into my educational offerings.
  • There are a few other projects I have been working on as well, but I am not at liberty to tell you about them yet. As soon as I can tell you, I will.

You might notice some trends.

When I first began my career as a professional genealogist, I wanted to focus on two things: writing/publishing and promoting higher standards for research. Over the years, in not wanting to turn down opportunities, I became involved in other endeavors. I spread myself too thin. So this year I decide to reassess my career goals, and have been moving away from anything that did not further my goals. My new activities will (hopefully) continue to reflect these goals.

Be patient with me. I plan to soon regain some semblance of balance in posting to the blog. I may not post as often as I once did, but it should be more often than it has been recently.

Michael

Looking Back on ’12, Forward to ’13

The New Year always brings reflection. Since I started this blog, I have used it as a way to gauge my professional progress. You can read about my goals from previous years in these earlier posts:

In last year’s post, I set a few goals for myself. Let’s see how I managed to meet them (or not):

1. Continue to design new presentations. . . .

This was a great year for presenting. I did two all-day workshops in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in March, and in Germantown, Tennessee, in May. I also spoke at the National Genealogical Society Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, in May. And in June I delivered five lectures at the Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research in Birmingham, Alabama. I also delivered several individual lectures in Philadelphia and at several societies in Maryland and Delaware.

As for 2013, first up is the Maryland Genealogy Crash Course for Family Tree University on January 10. From January 14 through January 18, I will be on the faculty at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, co-teaching Course 8: Producing a Quality Family Narrative, with John Philip Colletta, Ph.D., FUGA, presenting two lectures in Thomas MacEntee’s Course 6: A Genealogist’s Guide to the Internet Galaxy, and delivering an evening lecture, “What is a ‘Reasonably Exhaustive Search’?.”

Then in June, I will again be on the faculty of the Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research, with three lectures in Course 3: Research in the South, Part II: Cessions & Territories, and one lecture in Course 6: Professional Genealogy. On July 17 I will be conducting another webinar for Legacy Family Tree, “Research in the Old Line State: An Overview of Maryland Genealogy.” From July 21 through July 26 John Philip Colletta and I will be teaching “Your Immigrant Ancestors’ Stories: Writing a Quality Narrative” at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh.

I hope to see some of you in the coming year!

2. Complete some books that have been sitting on my shelf. . . .

Nope, still didn’t get them finished. Maybe I’ll have time in 2013.

3. Finish my updated edition of Online State Resources for Genealogy. . . .

I finished the updated edition in August, with both a PDF and an EPUB edition (which still has some bugs). With the book growing each year, it will take longer and longer to check the links and add new resources. I believe that an annual update will be a more realistic goal, especially considering my other projects. Expect a new edition sometime this summer.

4. Get started on some new books. . . .

I have started the series, and expect that I will be able to get at least the first volume (maybe more) finished this year.

5. Have an article accepted for publication in an academic journal. . . .

I had two articles published in the Maryland Genealogical Society Journal in 2012 and my first article will be published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly in the upcoming December 2012 issue. I have a little more research to do for the article I intend for The Genealogist, but I have already started writing the Maryland Historical Magazine article.

6. Get better at time management. . . .

My time management has improved slightly. Still want to be more productive in 2013.

7. Write some magazine articles. . . .

I had a much slower year in magazines in 2012. I did have an article published in Family Chronicle, an article in the National Genealogical Society Magazine, and two articles in the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly.

8. Submit to genealogy writing competitions. . . .

In April I learned that I had won first prize in the National Genealogical Society Family History Writing Contest! It was such a tough competition that they actually chose two winners, myself and F. Warren Bitner, CG. I would like to take this time to congratulate Warren as well, whom I have finally gotten to know a little bit at the 2012 national conferences.

I didn’t enter any other competitions in 2012, so on that end I failed, but here’s looking forward to the future. :)

9. Attend the new Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. . . .

Sadly, after being away from home, out of state, for eight weekends in a row̶–̶̶from the 2012 NGS Conference through the Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research at Samford University–I simply had to rest. But, while I did not attend the Institute in 2012, I will be attending in 2013. I am actually going to be on the faculty, teaching the course “Your Immigrant Ancestors’ Stories: Writing a Quality Narrative” with coordinator John Philip Colletta, Ph.D., FUGA.

10. Find some time to research my family for a change!

Not as much as I may have liked. But I have been getting some of my research written into at least one article that I hope to submit to the New York Genealogical & Biographical Record later this year. Maybe I’ll be able to write more than one. If I start writing articles on my previous research on my own and my wife’s families, I could potentially have articles in journals of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and South Dakota! This is a long-term project, though, so don’t expect too many in 2013.

I already have quite a bit planned for 2013, so I am not going to set any goals other than to renew the goals from 2012. Let’s see if I have any better luck this year.

Happy New Year!

Blogs by Board-certified genealogists

According to the Geneabloggers website, there are currently over 2500 blogs.

In an effort to recognize the work of those who have achieved the Certified Genealogist(sm) credential awarded by the Board for the Certification of Genealogists, I would like to present this list of blogs by Board-certified genealogists. The broad range of topics discussed in these blogs shows the range of interests and specialties that credentialed genealogists pursue.

Not all of these authors are professional genealogists. Not all of them conduct research for clients. Yet all of these authors share a dedication to upholding the high standards of research proscribed by the Board.

Claire Ammon, CG, Once Upon A Time in New Haven (http://www.claireammon.com/once-upon-a-time-in-new-haven/)

Susan Farrell Bankhead, CG, Susan’s Genealogy Blog (http://www.susansgenealogyblog.com/)

Karen Miller Bennett, CG, Karen’s Chatt (http://www.karenmillerbennett.com/)

Amy Johnson Crow, CG, Amy Johnson Crow blog (http://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/blog/)

Catherine Becker Wiest Desmarais, CG, No Stone Unturned (http://www.stonehouseresearch.com/blog/)

Jay H. Fonkert, CG, Four Generations Genealogy (http://fourgenerationsgenealogy.blogspot.com/)

Ladonna Garner, CG, The Leafseeker (http://blog.leafseeker.com/)

Linda Woodward Geiger, CG, Anamnesis: Musings by Linda (http://www.musingsbylinda.com/anamnesis/)

Linda Woodward Geiger, CG, Musings by Linda: My Family Research (http://www.musingsbylinda.com/MyFamily/)

Linda Woodward Geiger, CG, Musings by Linda: North Georgia Families (http://www.musingsbylinda.com/NorthGeorgia/)

Myra Vanderpool Gormley, CG, Shaking Family Trees (http://shakingfamilytrees.blogspot.com/)

Michael Hait, CG, Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com)

Jean Wilcox Hibben, CG, Circlemending: Completing the Family Circle (http://circlemending.blogspot.com/)

Melanie D. Holtz, CG, Finding Our Italian Roots (http://italiangenealogyroots.blogspot.com/)

Cecile Wendt Jensen, CG, Michigan Polonia (http://www.mipolonia.net/)

Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog (http://wkygenealogy.blogspot.com/)

Polly Kimmitt, CG, PollyBlog (http://pk-pollyblog.blogspot.com/)

Rachal Mills Lennon, CG, Finding Southern Ancestors: A Blog (http://www.findingsouthernancestors.com/blog1.html)

Connie Lenzen, CG, Connie’s comments about genealogy and family (http://connie-lenzen.blogspot.com/)

J. Mark Lowe, CG, Keeping the Story Alive (http://keepingthestoryalive.blogspot.com/)

J. Mark Lowe, CG, Kentucky & Tennessee Stories (http://kytnstories.blogspot.com/)

Barbara J. Mathews, CG, The Demanding Genealogist (http://demandinggenealogist.blogspot.com/)

Brenda Dougall Merriman, CG, Brenda Dougall Merriman blog (http://brendadougallmerriman.blogspot.com/)

Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, Evidence Explained: QuickLessons (http://www.evidenceexplained.com)

Donald W. Moore, CG, Antecedents (http://antecedents.wordpress.com/blog/)

Anne Morddel, CG, The French Genealogy Blog (http://french-genealogy.typepad.com/)

Judy G. Russell, CG, The Legal Genealogist (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog/)

Craig R. Scott, CG, As Craig Sees It (http://crssays.blogspot.com/)

Craig R. Scott, CG, Stump Craig (http://stumpcraig.blogspot.com/)

Christine Sharbrough, CG, Genealogy in 2012 – The Next Generation (http://genealogy2012.wordpress.com/)

Christine Sharbrough, CG, Cyrus E. Dallin, American Renaissance Sculptor (http://cyrusedallin.wordpress.com/)

Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, Paula’s Genealogical Eclectica (http://paulastuartwarren.blogspot.com/)

Cath Madden Trindle, CG, CSGA Copyright: Copyright Issues for the 21st Century Genealogical Community (http://csgacopyright.wordpress.com/)

Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, Deb’s Delvings in Genealogy (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/)

Looking Back on ’11, Forward to ’12

New Year’s Day is a time for reflection on the past, and a time for assessing one’s goals and future plans.

Since I started this blog, I have used it as a way to gauge my professional progress. You can read about my goals from previous years in these earlier posts:

Last year I did not set public goals for myself. I think I meant to do so, but somehow neglected to write the post. Due to this neglect, I will instead note some of my accomplishments in 2011, and set some goals for myself in 2012. (Much more like what I did in the first post above, for 2009/2010.)

I am a bit taken back when I look at what I have accomplished this past year. I managed so much more than I imagined possible a year ago. In no particular order, these are some of the accomplishments of which I am personally most proud:

1. At the end of January 2011, I published the ebook Online State Resources for Genealogists. Within less than a week I had sold about 200 copies, which is far more than I expected. I originally planned to have an update prepared by mid-summer, but this has not yet been completed. I will be working hard this month to have the update finished by the end of January.

2. Also in January, I was reelected to another 2-year stint as Vice-President of the National Capital Area Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists.

3. In March I completed the 18-month ProGen Study Group educational program. This was very helpful in networking with other “transitional” genealogists over the course of the program. We all certainly learned a lot from each other, and from our mentor J. Mark Lowe, CG.

4. Though I was unable to attend the National Genealogical Society’s annual conference in Charleston, South Carolina, in May, it was still a momentous occasion for me. It marked the debut of my publication Genealogy at a Glance: African American Genealogy Research (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2011), and the announcement of the winners of the 2010 International Society of Family History Writers & Editors Excellence in Writing Competition. My article, “Learning from Genealogical Failure,” won 1st Prize in the “Newspaper Columns” category.

5. In May, amid a very active blogging discussion concerning professional genealogy, I renamed, revamped, and relaunched this blog. It was originally called “Tricks of the Tree” when I started blogging in 2008, but my blogging was sporadic at best: 7 posts in 2008, 19 posts in 2009, and just 4 posts in 2010. Since the relaunch as “Planting the Seeds” in May, I have written 123 posts!

6. In June I again attended the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University (Birmingham, Alabama), completing Elizabeth Shown Mills’s “Advanced Methodology & Evidence Analysis” course.

7. In July 2011 I achieved my primary professional goal by becoming a Certified Genealogist(sm) through the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

8. From May through October I worked with the National Park Service researching a community of slaves that once lived on Monocacy National Battlefield. The results of my research are currently being developed into an exhibit that will debut in January 2012, and research is expected to continue in 2012 and 2013.

9. In November the Association of Professional Genealogists announced that I had been elected to the APG Board of Directors, for the Southeast Region for 2012-2013.

10. At the end of November I published my first instructional book, aimed at genealogical lecturers: Show ‘N’ Tell: Creating Effective and Attractive Genealogy Presentations. Unlike my previous self-published books, this book does not contain transcriptions or indexes of record sources. Completing the writing was a major accomplishment for me.

And now my goals for 2012:

1. Continue to design new presentations. I already have quite a few presentations scheduled for 2012, including two lectures at the 2012 National Genealogical Society annual conference, and four lectures at the 2012 Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University. I have all-day workshops of four lectures each scheduled in Oklahoma and Tennessee, and single lectures scheduled in Maryland and Pennsylvania. I also have two webinars for Legacy Family Tree scheduled, and an appearance on the “Research at the National Archives and Beyond” Internet radio show with host Bernice Bennett on BlogTalkRadio.com. However, I would like to create more new presentations, so that I am not merely giving the same presentations over and over again. (You can see all of my currently scheduled future engagements using the Calendar in the right sidebar.)

2. Complete some books that have been sitting on my shelf. I have made significant progress on several books, but have not yet finished them. One of them contains transcriptions of Civil War draft exemptions in Baltimore city, Maryland. Other subjects include St. Mary’s County, Maryland, tax papers, and Prince George’s County, Maryland, estate inventories. All of these books have been sitting on my shelf.

3. Finish my updated edition of Online State Resources for Genealogy. I have made significant progress to this end, but I really want to take a few days and get this update finished. This involves not only adding new resources, but also a redesign. I also want to make an edition to be used in e-readers. While I am at it, I would also like to make the updates semiannual rather than annual (so hopefully another update in June or July).

4. Get started on some new books. I have a series of books in mind that I have barely started working on, but I really need to hanker down and hammer them out. I won’t reveal the subject of this series yet, but I believe that it will be greatly appreciated when complete.

5. Have an article accepted for publication in an academic journal. I have two case studies that I am writing up for the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, and another that I intend for The Genealogist. I also have an article in mind for a historical journal, probably the Maryland Historical Magazine. In 2012 I would really like to dedicate myself to completing and submitting these articles.

6. Get better at time management. A few months ago, I created a simplified weekly schedule that would provide time for research and writing. So far I have not kept it for even a single week. I really need to get better at this–I am just not very organized when it comes to spending my time productively.

7. Write some magazine articles. I would really like to publish more magazine articles this year than I did in 2011. The popular magazines have room for less advanced descriptions of records and research methodology. I have also been considering writing an article on genealogy (in general) for a non-genealogy magazine. I have not yet decided which magazine would be best.

8. Submit to genealogy writing competitions. There are several writing competitions happening this year. If I can actually write enough entries, I would love to enter them all!

9. Attend the new Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. Registration for GRIP opens in February 2012. The Institute will be held from Sunday, 22 July 2012 through Friday, 27 July 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I am particularly interested in the course “Advanced Research Methods” taught by Thomas W. Jones, Claire Bettag, and Rick Sayre.

10. Find some time to research my family for a change! After all, this is why I got into this mess in the first place. :)

Happy New Year!

No “genealogical community”?

My recent article “The Genealogy Paradigm Shift: Are bloggers the new ‘experts’?” was apparently not the only response to Thomas Macentee’s Geneabloggers post entitled, “Open Thread Thursday: Do We Eat Our Own In The Genealogy Industry?

James Tanner posted the article, “Well Said Tom, Here’s My Response,” on his Genealogy’s Star blog. In this article, James writes,

I don’t think that historically there has been a “genealogical community.” I believe that the bloggers are in the process of creating such a community. Before there was the “professional, journal writing” genealogical group but I don’t think you could view them as a “community.”[1]

I hope that James will further explain this statement. No genealogical community?

How about the National Genealogical Society? It has been around since 1903! Or any of these societies:

  • The New England Historic Genealogical Society (est. 1845)
  • The New York Genealogical & Biographical Society (est. 1869)
  • The American Society of Genealogists (est. 1940)
  • The Board for the Certification of Genealogists (est. 1964)
  • The Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (est. 1977)
  • The Association of Professional Genealogists (est. 1979)

Or any of the hundreds of local, county, state, or regional historical and genealogical societies throughout the world?

When I was corresponding with distant historical societies and genealogical societies or other researchers working on the same families, on paper with envelopes and stamps, I felt like part of a community.

Certainly, this was a small community, especially if compared with the thousands of GeneaBloggers and members of the “online genealogy community.”

But it was a community.

To me, a community is a group of people with common interests and common goals, working together, offering each other support. How can anyone look at the accomplishments of genealogists of the past, including the organizations that they formed and progress that they made together and claim that “historically there has [not] been a ‘genealogy community’”?

Without the genealogy community of the past, we would not have the online genealogy community.

SOURCES:

[1] James Tanner, “Well Said Tom, Here’s My Response,” Genealogy’s Star blog, posted 14 Dec 2011 (http://genealogysstar.blogspot.com : accessed 18 Dec 2011).

If you would like to cite this post:

Michael Hait, CG, “No ‘genealogical community’?,” Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 18 Dec 2011 (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com : accessed [access date]). [Please also feel free to include a hyperlink to the specific article if you are citing this post in an online forum.]

So, are you ready for certification?

I have been absolutely amazed at the responses to my last two posts. My intention was to give people a glimpse “behind the curtain,” to see the actual judging process for themselves, as well as raise awareness of some common mistakes. If you have not yet read them, you can read part one here and part two here.

I just want to also remind people that this was an unsuccessful application. My recent successful application is much different.

So, after reading these posts, do you feel ready for certification?

The Board for the Certification of Genealogists offers a short checklist on its website, entitled, “Are You Ready for Certification?” I would recommend that everyone interested in becoming certified go through this checklist to test your readiness. Be honest with yourself though. If you exaggerate your qualifications, you are only hurting yourself.

The BCG also offers other resources to help you in your goal. You should definitely take advantage of all of these as learning opportunities.

1. Read the Application Guide thorougly. Be sure that you understand all of the requirements. Practice them. For example, take a handful of records from your private collection and transcribe them, abstract them, and perform the other “Document Work” requirements. Use a wide variety of record types — deeds, wills, tax lists, census records, etc. If you are not currently conducting client research, take a few of you own research problems and write them up as if you were conducting the research for a client. The BCG also provides two practice records on their website, with the Document work completed. The full Application Guide is available online here.

2. Study the Judging Rubrics. If you have practiced parts of your application on your own, try honestly evaluating these parts according to the rubrics. The best part of the rubrics (in my opinion) is that they state plainly which of the BCG Standards are applicable to each evaluation. You can read the rubrics online here.

3. Read and understand the BCG Standards Manual. A very active and enlightening discussion took place on the Transitional Genealogists Forum mailing list beginning in January 2010. This discussion went through the BCG Standards one by one, with discussion from many Board-certified genealogists, professional genealogists, and “transitional” genealogists. You can see the start of this discussion here. A new thread was started for each individual standard following this one, so you may have to go back to the list archives index to find them all. However, I would credit this discussion with some of the understandings of the standards that I have come to. You can purchase The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual on Amazon.com, or purchase it directly from the BCG.

4. Read the books and articles suggested on the BCG’s “Supplemental Study List.” This list is available on the BCG’s website here. Several of these books were also mentioned in my blog post “The top 5 books on my bookshelf.” Of particular importance, in my opinion, are Elizabeth Shown Mills’s Evidence!, Christine Rose’s The Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case, and Numbering Your Genealogy: Basic Systems, Complex Families, and International Kin, by Joan F. Curran, Madilyn Coen Crane, and John H. Wray. This last book, published by the National Genealogical Society, will help you tremendously when writing your Kinship Determination Project. If you are a member of the National Genealogical Society, you will also want to be sure to read the special issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly dealing with evidence. This issue was published in September 1999 (vol. 87, no. 3), and can be read online by NGS members.

5. Consider a formal education program. The BCG has compiled a list of educational programs, including university-sponsored programs, institutes, major conferences, and independent study courses. This list can be read here.

6. Read the “Skillbuilding” articles. These articles provide some great tips for using specific record groups in great depth, tips for methodology, and other articles that will help to prepare you for the depth of research expected of Board-certified genealogists. These articles, originally printed in OnBoard, can be found on the BCG website here. Of particular interest to the readers of this series of posts is “Skillbuilding: A Judge’s Notes From an Application for CG,” which provides similar information from the perspective of a BCG judge.

7. Read the “Ten Tips for Success” article. This article shares some common elements with this blog post. It can be read here.

8. Study the Work Samples. Several examples of case studies, proof arguments, compiled genealogies, narrative lineages, and research reports have been posted on the BCG website here. Read them and study them. Compare them to the rubrics and standards, to see how they meet each one. And then apply the lessons you have learned to your own work.

9. Watch the seminar video. Thomas Jones, CG, and Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, present a seminar on becoming certified at various national conferences and institutes. If you have not attended the seminar in person, you can still benefit by watching the video. This video can be viewed on the BCG website here.

10. Read the “Application Strategies.” Five articles, originally published in the BCG’s OnBoard journal, have been reprinted on the BCG website. These articles specifically deal with the application process, from details on putting together the physical portfolio to a survey of a group of successful applicants. You can read these articles here.

In addition to all of the above resources provided by the Board itself, I would also make the following recommendations:

11. Join the Transitional Genealogists Forum mailing list. This list often has some great discussions, as noted above on the BCG Standards, and as noted before when discussing citations in my post “Source Citations: Why Form Matters, part one.” The list is extremely welcoming of genealogists of all levels, and is frequented by many professional and Board-certified genealogists, including Elizabeth Shown Mills, Elissa Scalise Powell, Thomas Jones, and others! The Archives of the mailing list comprise another great source for information, as we discuss issues relevant to conducting professional-level genealogical research. Details of this Rootsweb-hosted mailing list can be seen here.

12. Join a study group. The ProGen Study Group is great for those aspiring professional genealogists who are considering certification. This 18-month program take an in-depth look at the book Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills. Each month studies an individual chapter with a practical assignment for each, including several that will help you with the basics of establishing a business. Other assignments help with evidence analysis and writing a proof argument. A second useful study group meets monthly to discuss a selected article from the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. This group picks apart the article and discusses what went right, what went wrong, what could have been explained better, etc. There is not currently a website, but you can obtain more information by sending an email to the coordinator, Sheri Fenley.

There is, of course, no amount of education and practice than can guarantee success. Some people may be able to succeed without all of the preparatory steps I note above. Others may be able to perform all of these tasks and not succeed the first time. But stick with it if you are interested. The judges comments are a great learning experience in and of themselves, as noted in the previous post.

If you think you are ready to begin certification, go ahead and submit your Preliminary Application. You have a full year to complete the portfolio, and during that time you will have access to the BCG-ACTION mailing list for help on preparing the application itself, as well as a complimentary subscription to OnBoard. If you are not ready after the first year, you can always request an extension, at the cost of $50 per year. It is better to pay $50 for the extension and succeed, than to pay $220 to fail.

So, are you ready for certification?

If you would like to cite this post: Michael Hait, “So, are you ready for certification?,” Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 17 Jul 2011 (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com : accessed [access date]).

How Not to Become Certified, part two

I promised in my post “How Not to Become Certified, part one,” to share some of the judge’s comments from my unsuccessful 2007 application to the Board for the Certification of Genealogists. I feel that this can be a valuable learning experience for those planning their own application for certification. Read the first post for my own opinions as to why that portfolio was unsuccessful.

Please note that the judging system in use at that time is no longer used by the BCG. However, the judge’s comments are still appropriate. To learn about the current BCG judging process, read “The Judging Process” on the BCG website, and review the current evaluation rubrics.

This application received a mixed decision: one judge approved the application, two judges disapproved it. The BCG regulations require all mixed decisions to be reviewed by a fourth judge, whose decision is final. Below are comments from all four judges, both positive and negative, that address common problems that researchers have. I will not add my own commentary but allow the judge’s words to speak for themselves.

[Regarding "Understanding & use of contradictory evidence"] “While noted as contradictory, no resolution was offered…”

“Did not apply the Genealogical Proof Standard.”

“An efficient research plan would call for identifying the location prior to searching for a document.”

“The abstract has entirely too many abbreviations, and the style changes from naming the devisee first, to naming the property first.”

“The outline form for results works well.”

“The applicant consistently referred to the typescript extract of a letter as a transcript. As he demonstrated with the document work, a transcript is a full, word for word, copy of a document. These few lines, taken out of a letter, are not a transcript.”

“A lot of interesting information is still in the footnotes. Moving information from footnotes into the text would create a more interesting story.”

“The text hinted at discrepancies, but did not develop the proof.”

“It is disappointing ot read between the lines and see a competent genealogist, yet realize that the work presented in this portfolio does  not meet the BCG Standards for Certification. The problems with the Case Study and report could be rectified with experience and attention to detail. However, due to the fact there was no attempt to apply the Genealogical Proof Standard or write a proof summary in any part of the portfolio, this judge is unable to recommend approval.”

“Use a wide range of sources per standard 19.”

“Heavy reliance on derivative sources.”

“Some kinship proof weak, see standard 50.”

“Proof summary inadequate, insufficient discussion, see standard 41.”

“Need a wider range of sources, see standard 19.”

“[T]he applicatioin guide states that applicants should show which of the three formats they chose for the case study. This was not done and therefore creates another area of uncertainty for judges.”

“Judges do expect more biographical data and historical or cultural context in the Kinship-Determination report and the portfolio was weak in these areas.”

“Footnote 5 might also be a possibility [for creating a proof summary] as it summarizes indirect evidence for the parents of Mary Lusby, but it wasn’t developed into a proof summary.”

“The Kinship-Determination project was the weakest part of the portfolio. There was very little biographical information, the format was not a recommended style, and it lacked the required two proof summaries. Without demonstrations of proof summaries this portfolio cannot be approved.”

“It is unfortunate that although Mr. Hait has satisfactorily met many of the standards, several major ones are unmet and they are so serious that certification cannot be recommended. However, Mr. Hait is encouraged to learn from the judges’ comments, correct the noted deficiencies and omissions, and later apply with a new portfolio that demonstrates what he has learned.”

And I did just that.

If you would like to cite this post: Michael Hait, “How Not to Become Certified, part two,” Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 16 Jul 2011 (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com : accessed [access date]).

How Not to Become Certified, part one

First, I would like to thank all who have left me notes of congratulations here on my blog, Facebook, Twitter, and by email. Achieving the Certified Genealogist(sm) status has been a long process for me, involving a lot of work and continued education.

Many would be surprised to learn that I applied for certification once before, and failed, back in 2007. At that time, though I had years of experience researching my own family, I had only been conducting client work for about a year. For several reasons, I did not succeed. After receiving the notice of the disapproval of my portfolio, it took about two years before I could look back on that first application and understand what it had been missing. I would like to share these lessons with you.

1. I had no support structure behind the initial submission. As I stated above, in 2007, when I originally applied, I had only been conducting client research for a little over a year. I was unaware of the APG mailing list, and, though I was a member of several societies as well as the Association of Professional Genealogists, I had never attended a meeting. I had never attended even a local conference. At that point, I was completely self-educated and had relatively little professional experience (even though I had researched my own family for many years).

2. I did not understand the instructions for the kinship determination project (KDP). I had no clear definition of a “compiled, narrative” genealogy in my mind. What I submitted fell far short of what was expected because of this problem. The discussion of sources and evidence was done entirely in the footnotes, rather than in the text body, and much of the KDP included only sparse vital information on each individual. The research clearly did not meet what I now understand of the Genealogical Proof Standard.

3. I rushed through the final processes involved with the submission, because I did not want to file for an extension. As it was, I mailed the portfolio Priority Mail from a Washington, D. C., post office to the BCG’s Washington, D. C. post office box address, on the day prior to the due date. Had I simply paid the $50 (at the time) for the extension, I could have done a better job of editing, and could have included much more information in the body of the KDP, to better fit my own vision of what was expected.

4. I did not clearly separate and define the sections, leading at least one of the judges to mistake my case study as the client report.

5. My client report itself was poorly selected. I selected a project that I was personally proud of, as it involved the identification of the next of kin of a Korean War POW for the purposes of DNA testing of the newly-located remains. However, I failed to realize that this report was not much better than a document retrieval. While it did not receive too much negative criticism from any of the judges (other than the notice that it was ultimately a document retrieval), neither did it represent the best of the work that I was doing at the time.

These are not the judge’s actual comments and criticisms, of course. These are only my own reflections on why I failed. My continued education and experience, as well as discussions with other CGs has led me to these understandings. I will actually share some of the judge’s comments in a future post. This first application, however, was judged under a now-outdated evaluation form, prior to the creation and adoption of the current judging rubrics. The judge’s comments, however, will still prove valuable to those seeking certification.

Stay tuned for more…

If you would like to cite this post: Michael Hait, “How Not to Become Certified, part one,” Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 15 Jul 2011 (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com : accessed [access date]).

What is a Certified Genealogist(sm)?

According to the brochure “Why Hire a Board-Certified Genealogist?” published by the Board for the Certification of Genealogists,

Certified Genealogist (CG): one who is proficient in all areas of genealogical research and analysis. Those who carry this credential conduct broadly based projects whose goals are to find and interpret evidence, assemble proof of identity and relationships, and prepare sound reports and historical accounts of families, past and present.

To become a Certified Genealogist, one must have a portfolio reviewed by three judges, themselves Certified.

This portfolio consists of various genealogical work products, including

  • Document Work. Each applicant is provided with a photocopy of an original document. The applicant must first transcribe and abstract the document. Then the applicant must identify a hypothetical research focus in which this document would be used, analyze the information in the document in light of this focus, and submit a short research plan to follow up on the information in this document. All of these same steps must then also be completed using a document provided by the applicant.
  • Research Report. Each applicant must provide a recent client research report, exactly as it was delivered to the client. No modifications can be made prior to submission. Permission from the client to submit the report must also be provided.
  • Case Study: Conflicting or Indirect Evidence. A written case study utilizing either conflicting or indirect evidence must be submitted. The case study should describe the research problem and all research steps taken to solve this problem. Often these case studies will be akin to what one would read in the top genealogical journals, such as National Genealogical Society Quarterly.
  • Kinship-Determination Project. Each applicant must submit a narrative genealogy, narrative pedigree, or narrative lineage covering at least three sequential generations. Within this project, the applicant must discuss evidence proving at least two parent-child links in different generations. Every statement of fact must be documented, and the project must demonstrate broad research meeting the Genealogical Proof Standard.

Certified Genealogists represent those whose work has been judged to meet the stringent BCG Standards. Among the CGs active today are the best and brightest genealogists nationwide. A look at the online roster on the website of the Board for the Certification of Genealogists is like reading a “who’s who” of genealogy.

Certified Genealogists are many things to many people.

But the short answer to that question, as you will see in my new profile, is that, as of 9 July 2011, I am now a Certified Genealogist! It was a long, two-year process (I needed an extension just to be sure I had my portfolio ready!), but the results finally came in!

If you would like to cite this post: Michael Hait, “What is a Certified Genealogist(sm)?,” Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 11 Jul 2011 (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com : accessed [access date]).

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