Archive for the ‘Professional Genealogy’ Category

Top 10 genealogy resources

I have been away a while—I know, I know—but I just couldn’t resist the latest blogging theme bouncing around. Top 10 lists always seem to bring me out of my little hole.

Judy G. Russell, CG, CGL, posted her legal-centric list at “Top 10 genealogy websites” on her award-winning blog The Legal Genealogist. The theme was started by James Tanner’s post “My Top Ten Genealogy Programs for Now” at his blog Genealogy’s Star. Several other bloggers have also followed suit (and Judy names a few, so I will not repeat the list here).

My list will be a little different. I will not focus exclusively on resources or websites, but instead on foundational works.

  1. The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010). If you write, which I assume that you do, this guide is absolutely necessary. CMOS covers grammar, punctuation, style, and citations, among numerous other topics related to writing and publishing. This also happens to be the style guide adopted by most humanities publishers, including all of the major genealogical journals. There is also an accompanying website available by subscription that allows full-text searching and offers additional assistance.
  2. Wayne C. Booth, et al., The Craft of Research, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008). This guide is intended for university students researching for classes. Genealogy is a type of research, first and foremost. Many genealogical errors would be avoided if the researcher had a solid foundation in how to conduct research in general. This guide is one of the industry-standard introductions to basic research methodology.
  3. Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, 50th anniversary ed. (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry.com, 2014). Nearly everyone that reads this blog should know that I am a dedicated evangelist for standards-based genealogical research. This book offers the only comprehensive compilation of the standards that have evolved in the field over the past century.
  4. Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society, 2013). This workbook offers most thorough exploration of genealogical standards of proof, written by one of the undisputed leaders in the field. The lessons are comprehensive and each chapter offers hands-on exercises utilizing two complex-evidence case studies also written by the author.
  5. ArchiveGrid (https://beta.worldcat.org/archivegrid/). As the URL reveals, this website is an offshoot of WorldCat. It includes, however, primarily manuscript collections held by over 1000 archival repositories, making the search much more focused. The site is easy to search for a surname, location, or topic, and returns descriptions and links to the finding aids for the relevant collections. In a recent project, for example, I was able to locate more than a half-dozen relevant collections in the same number of separate universities, historical societies, and libraries. Never neglect the oft-ignored possibility that your ancestor’s personal papers have been collected somewhere!
  6. Google. James Tanner included Google, but I am going to offer a slightly more specific view of its tools:
    • Web Search (http://www.google.com). No description likely necessary here, the most important function of Google is its search engine, so prevalent that “googling” something has become a verb unto itself. You can also limit the format of results using Image Search or Video Search, among other options.
    • Alerts (https://www.google.com/alerts). Google Alerts will email you anytime a new link is located for your keywords. This is a great way to monitor surnames of interest.
    • Books (https://books.google.com/). Google Books has digitized millions of books in whole or in part, most of which allow full-text search and many of which can be downloaded as a PDF and other digital formats.
    • Scholar (https://scholar.google.com/). Google Scholar searches scholarly and academic resources such as journals and dissertations, and provides links to content available online. This is a great way to learn about recent research related to the history and culture of your ancestral places, religion, ethnicity, etc.
    • Maps (https://www.google.com/maps) and Earth (https://www.google.com/intl/en/earth/). Because who doesn’t want to know where events happened, how close one location is to another, etc.? Google Earth is especially fun once you learn to overlay historic maps, plats, etc.
    • Translate (https://translate.google.com/). Though there are some real problems with automated direct translation between many languages, this tool will still be helpful in many cases in getting a general sense of the meaning of a document written in a language that you can’t read.
    • And there are many others that I won’t get into, like Gmail and Drive. Great for general productivity alone or with a group of researchers.
  7. Internet Archive (https://archive.org/) and Hathi Trust (https://www.hathitrust.org/). See above under Google Books, these two sites offer millions of digitized historic books. Internet Archive includes hundreds of reels of NARA microfilm publications, digitized in partnership with the Allen County Public Library! Though they are not indexed, they also have not been edited in any way. This provides the opportunity to view census records, etc., in the context of the original microfilm that has been digitized by other sites. Internet Archive also hosts the “Wayback Machine,” the most comprehensive archive of past websites (which is great for finding online information that somehow disappeared).
  8. Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd ed. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2015). I’m sure that you didn’t think I would forget the book of which I spent two posts discussing the merits a few years ago. Read them here and here. Also take the time to visit the companion website, which offers some very useful forums on documentation and evidence analysis.
  9. Anthony Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments, 4th ed. (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 2009). Reaching a defensible conclusion using conflicting direct, indirect, and/or negative evidence, is often a matter of logic. This short, general guide to the art of formulating a logical argument could almost serve as a guide to genealogical proof arguments. It looks at form, substance, and common fallacies, among other subjects.
  10. The Internet. This tenth spot is tough. So many websites offer online digitized record images that it is impossible to list them all. Obviously, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com) and FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org) lead the pack, but other sites include national and international archives, state archives, local public libraries and historical societies, university libraries, etc. Basically, the Internet has completely revolutionized the way that genealogical research is conducted in the twenty-first century. I’m certain that I am not the only researcher who misses the disproportionate “microfilm muscle” (*sarcasm*), but the ability to research with a simple point-and-click deserves a place on every list. Of course, not all material has been digitized, but the Internet also offers access to repository catalogs for access to additional microfilmed and original paper records. Frankly, it’s a bit difficult to imagine how we managed to survive back in the early 1990s, before the Internet was so prevalent. We did it, but I don’t even want to think about those crazy Dark Ages.

What do you think? Do these resources make your list? What shows up on your Top 10?

National Genealogical Society seeks nominations for 2015 Genealogy Hall of Fame

The following announcement was received from the National Genealogical Society:

NATIONAL GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY SEEKS NOMINATIONS FOR THE 2015 GENEALOGY HALL OF FAME

Would your society like to honor a genealogist whose exemplary work lives on today? Perhaps there was a notable genealogist in your state or county whose name should be memorialized in the National Genealogy Hall of Fame.

If so, the National Genealogical Society would like to hear from you. NGS is seeking nominations from the entire genealogical community for persons whose achievements or contributions have made an impact on the field. This educational program increases appreciation of the high standards advocated and achieved by committed genealogists whose work paved the way for researchers today.

Since 1986 when Donald Lines Jacobus became the first genealogist elected to the National Genealogy Hall of Fame, twenty‐five outstanding genealogists have been recognized for their contributions. The 2015 honoree will join this select group of distinguished members. This year’s selection, and the society that honored the nominee, will be feted at the 2015 NGS Family History Conference to be held in St. Charles, Missouri. Nominations for election to the Hall of Fame are made by genealogical societies and historical societies throughout the United States.

Guidelines for nominations:

  • A nominee must have been actively engaged in genealogy in the United States for at least ten years, must have been deceased for at least five years at the time of nomination, and must have made contributions to the field of genealogy judged to be of lasting significance in ways that were unique, pioneering, or exemplary.
  •  The National Genealogy Hall of Fame is an educational project in which the entire genealogical community is invited to participate. Affiliation with the National Genealogical Society is not required.
  •  The National Genealogy Hall of Fame Committee elects one person to the Hall of Fame annually. Those elected are permanently commemorated in the Hall of Fame at Society headquarters, Arlington, Virginia.
  •  Nominations for election to the Hall of Fame are due by 31 January each year. Official nomination forms are available from our website, http://www.ngsgenealogy.org, Awards & Competitions, or by contacting the National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, VA 22204‐4304; phone 1‐800‐473‐0060.

The National Genealogical Society’s Genealogy Hall of Fame includes such notable genealogists as Donald Lines Jacobus, John Insley Coddington, Jean Stephenson, James Dent Walker, Richard S. Lackey, Milton Rubincam, Kenn Stryker-Rodda, Walter Lee Sheppard, Jr., and Rosalie Fellows Bailey. To see a full list of current members of the Hall of Fame, with short biographical notes, visit http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/halloffame_winners.

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

Virtual Professional Management Conference for APG Members

Are you unable to attend our upcoming APG Professional Management Conference (PMC) in person? We are excited to announce a virtual option for a selection of the lectures. APG has partnered with FamilySearch to offer streaming for the following lectures:

 

Tuesday afternoon, 19 March 2013, 3:30-5:00 p.m., MDT

Variables in Professional Genealogists’ Approaches to Research

Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS

 

Wednesday afternoon, 20 March 2013, 1:30-5:00 p.m., MDT

Client Reports: Dos, Don’t, and Maybes

Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS

More Than the Begats: Using the Law to Spice up a Research Report

Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG

The Best Educational Plan for You: The Workshop

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL

 

The virtual option is available for APG members only. Pricing is $30 for Tuesday’s lecture and $65 for Wednesdays lectures. The lectures will available through the APG website as a live stream, with recordings accessible for one week. Log in to the APG member site and register at http://www.apgen.org/members/virtualpmc.html. For those interested in attending APG 2013 PMC in person in Salt Lake, 19-20 March, register at http://www.apgen.org/conferences/index.html.

We look forward to your participation!

 

Kathleen W. Hinckley, CG

Executive Director

Association Professional Genealogists

 

APG is a registered trademark of the Association of Professional Genealogists. Certified Genealogist, CG, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer, CGL, are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists used by the Board to identify its program of genealogical competency evaluation and used under license by the Board’s Associates. All other trade and service marks are property of their respective owners.

Addressing questions about the professional genealogy survey

From now through next Tuesday, 26 February 2013, I am conducting a survey of anyone identifying themselves as a professional genealogist. For more details and the link to the survey, please read the announcement here.

First, I would like to thank all of those professionals who have taken the time to respond to my survey. The more people respond, the more accurate this portrait of our community will be, and the better we might understand ourselves.

I would like to also respond to some of the questions I have received in various forums.

1. This survey is completely anonymous. At no point do I ask for your name or any contact information. I do ask for the ZIP code for US residents. I am gathering this information as a way to map out where US professional genealogists live. Do certain areas have a higher concentration of professionals than others? If so, do these areas correspond to high population centers, active genealogical societies or APG chapters, or major genealogical repositories? (Or is there some other factor that might affect the concentration of professional genealogists?)

Several people have pointed out that I might be able to identify respondents using their ZIP code. I can only assure respondents that I will not do that. I am not interested in individual data—only the collective statistics. I will not share the ZIP codes with anyone else. When I discuss the results, I will only discuss in terms of states or regions.

2. The survey is lacking in international representation. I definitely want input from international professional genealogists. I simply don’t know a lot of the intricacies of international genealogy communities. This ignorance is most glaring when it comes to the membership organizations and educational opportunities available. Please complete the survey anyway. There are a few free-form boxes for membership organizations and educational opportunities where you can input your responses.

3. The survey is not just for those who conduct research for clients. The sole qualifying question is whether you consider yourself a professional genealogist. You do not have to conduct client research, you do not have to be credentialed, and you do not have to be a member of any particular organization. In fact, part of the goal of the survey is to capture data from those who consider themselves professional genealogists but may not fit into older models of what a professional genealogist is and does.

4. The survey does not require any answers about income. It does ask a few questions about income, but these questions offer “Decline to answer” as an option. Money is always something that people get rightfully anxious about discussing.

There were other questions concerning income that I considered asking. For example, what percentage of your income stems from research, writing, lecturing, etc.? However, I decided that two or three questions about income were more than enough. Perhaps in a future survey, these other questions can be asked (whether by myself or by someone else).

For the sake of uniformity, and recognizing that my reach is somewhat geographically-limited, all questions concerning income are in U. S. dollars. For international members who use other currencies, please try to estimate a conversion into U. S. dollars if you choose to respond to those questions.

———

I hope these additional explanations help to alleviate some of your concerns. To take the survey, use the link in this post.

Creating a portrait of professional genealogy

The March 2007 issue of the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly published the results of a member survey.[1] It is the most recent portrait (of which I am aware) of the community of professional genealogists. In 2012, the APG conducted another membership survey, but its goal was not to paint a portrait of the community, but to determine the direction of the future of the organization. Its results have not yet been published.

I believe it is time for a new portrait of the professional genealogy community. A lot has changed in the past five years:

  • Ancestry.com instituted (and then discontinued) the ExpertConnect program, introducing many genealogists to the profession and strengthening the client market.
  • Social media and the Internet–including blogs, Facebook, and Twitter–decimated the “wall” between professional genealogists and our avocational counterparts.
  • The membership of the Association of Professional Genealogists has grown from just over 1800 members to over 2500 members.
  • APG has grown into a truly international organization, with chapters in Ontario, Canada, and Western Canada, as well as the Internet-based Virtual Chapter.[2] New chapters are currently being organized in the British Isles and Australia/New Zealand.[3]

The most glaring omission in APG’s previous surveys is that the surveys targeted only those professionals who were, at the time, members of APG. There are many professional genealogists who are not members of APG, for various reasons.

As this blog’s stated purpose is to support and educate professionals and aspiring professionals, I have designed a survey to try to meet these goals. I would like to produce a portrait of the professional genealogist community. This survey is not, in any way, sponsored or endorsed by the Association of Professional Genealogists or any other organization.

I would like to invite any who consider themselves professional genealogists–whether your business focus is research, education, publishing, or something entirely different–to complete this survey. Please share this post freely, so that the survey might reach those professionals who may not otherwise find it.

The survey is anonymous–it does not inquire the names of any respondents. The questions are relatively straightforward, and should not take more than 5 or 10 minutes to complete.

[Click here for answers to some common questions/concerns regarding the survey. Added 21 Feb 2013.]

The survey will be open for one week, beginning today, 19 February 2013, and closing on 26 February 2013. Sometime in the future I will discuss the results in this blog.

Click here to take the survey

Note: I do recognize that there is one shortcoming inherent in the survey. As it is being produced and shared online, only those professional genealogists with an online presence will be able to respond. In today’s world, with the Internet as prevalent as it is, am hoping that this will create only a small, reasonable, and acceptable margin of error.

SOURCES:

[1] Sharon Tate Moody, CG, “Who Are We?: A By-the-Numbers Look at the Average APG Member,” Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly, March 2007, 5–7.

[2] “Chapters,” Association of Professional Genealogists (http://www.apgen.org/chapters/index.html : accessed 19 February 2013).

[3] Minutes, Association of Professional Genealogists Board Meeting, FGS Conference – Birmingham, Alabama, 31 August 2012, “Board Meeting Minutes,” Association of Professional Genealogists: Members Only (http://www.apgen.org : accessed 19 February 2013); content available to members only.

Writing the Ridgelys

On 11 August 2010 National Park Service archaeologists at Monocacy National Battlefield announced that, using clues from the historical record, they had discovered the remains of several slave cabins dating from ca. 1794–1827.[1] I remember reading the Washington Post report on the discovery, and thinking I would love to research the families that lived there.

Within two months, I received an interesting telephone call from the owner of African American genealogy website Afrigeneas. They had been contacted by Essence Magazine for a feature piece, and needed someone with experience researching slaves in Maryland. With the deadline looming I was able to identify one of the slaves owned by the Vincendiere family and trace his descendants down to a journalist in Pittsburgh. His obituary named his ex-wife and a daughter, both still living. The piece, “A Legacy of Love and Pride,” by Robin D. Stone, appeared in the February 2011 issue of Essence.[2]

I decided to follow this with an article discussing some of the research I had done—the methodology, not just the results. On 21 February 2011 I published “Researching the descendants of the Vincendiere slaves, part one” in the African American Genealogy column I wrote on Examiner.com.[3] I originally intended this short piece as part of a series describing the research I had conducted on the family. The first part garnered some attention from the right people. Within another few weeks I received an email—and then a phone call—from the Cultural Resources Program Manager of Monocacy Battlefield, Joy Beasley. We met for lunch and discussed a potential project.

To make a long story short, the National Park Service hired me to research the lives and descendants of all of the slaves living in the slave village—all of the slaves owned by the Vincendiere family. When all was said and done, several months later, I delivered a report over 900 pages in total length, including document images. I had discovered the identities of slaves and their descendants not only in Maryland, but also in Louisiana. One of these families was the Ridgely family.

The Ridgely family—including mother Caroline Ridgely, her children, and their descendants—fascinated me. Their stories were remarkable. All of them had been freed by 1860. Caroline’s son Cornelius Ridgely served in the U. S. Navy during the Civil War. A number of the descendants graduated from various universities. Several became doctors or dentists in Baltimore and Washington, D. C. One descendant worked for the National Park Service during the 1930s before serving in World War II, and later became principal of a Washington, D. C., high school not far from where I worked in Washington. The family story seemed perfect for a three- or four-generation family history narrative. The story wrote itself.

Writing a family history narrative uses different skills than does writing a proof argument or a case study. The one piece of advice I would give anyone attempting to write such a piece is to identify a common theme that holds the story together. This technique produces a compelling narrative.

After I had finished it, I spent about a month editing it. Reading it and re-reading it. Making sure the sentences were concise and the paragraphs were topical. Finally, just a few days before the deadline, I mailed copies to the National Genealogical Society, for its annual Family History Writing Contest.

Several months passed. Finally I received a response. I had won First Place. The prize was an all-expenses-paid trip to the NGS Conference and possible publication in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. As I was already speaking at the 2012 Conference just a month or so later, I was given the option of attending the 2013 Conference in Las Vegas.

For publication in the Quarterly, more work still needed to be done. The Contest judges had provided me with comments for improving the article. Taking these into consideration, I went into another round of editing and rewriting. Finally I submitted the product to Thomas W. Jones and Melinde Lutz Byrne, the editors of the Quarterly.

A short while later, the editors came back to me with more edits and a few items that needed follow-up. Another round and I resubmitted the article.

After all was said and done, the editors sent me a final draft. This draft was in the familiar format of the Quarterly—the fonts, the spacing, the header and footer. It was a very exciting day for me. Having an article published in the preeminent genealogical journal in the United States had been a long-term goal of mine. I was finally at the last step.

Of course, the rest of the issue had to be laid out. It had to go to the printer. I had to wait for the issue to be completed.

About two weeks ago, my two-and-a-half-year journey had reached a new milestone. I received my copies of the December 2012 issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. My article, “In the Shadow of Rebellions: Maryland Ridgelys in Slavery and Freedom,” was the first in the issue.[4]

This research has not yet reached its final conclusion. Who knows where it may take me next?

SOURCES:

[1] “Slave Village Discovered in Maryland,” press release, 11 August 2010, National Park Service, Monocacy National Battlefield, Maryland (http://www.nps.gov/mono/slavevillage2010.htm : accessed 16 February 2013).

[2] Robin D. Stone, “A Legacy of Love and Pride,” Essence Magazine, February 2011, 122–127.

[3] Michael Hait, “Researching the descendants of the Vincendiere slaves, part one,” posted 21 February 2011, in “National African American Genealogy” column, Examiner.com (http://www.examiner.com/article/researching-the-descendants-of-the-vincendiere-slaves-part-one : accessed 16 February 2013).

[4] Michael Hait, CG, “In the Shadow of Rebellions: Maryland Ridgelys in Slavery and Freedom,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Volume 100 (Dec 2012): 245–266.

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