How One New Associate Prepared for Certification

“Take the process seriously. It’s harder than it looks and takes investment in ongoing genealogical learning, whether you possess a degree or more in another field or not.”

When interviewed for a SpringBoard blog post, new BCG associate Shannon Terwedo offered advice she would give to someone considering applying for certification. Her suggestions are so on-target, they deserve their own post.

Over a period of years before applying to BCG, Shannon had attended the National Institute of Genealogical Research in Washington, D.C., and other week-long seminars and National Genealogical Society conferences. Although not required, they certainly added to her preparation. Many of her hints for successful preparation are much less expensive and require no travel. Some are free.

Here is Shannon’s advice for specific ways to prepare:

• Take the courses offered by the National Genealogical Society, even if they seem too basic. You may be surprised by some of the essentials you’ve missed.

• Attend conferences and training that provide in-depth training on genealogical research, source analysis and writing techniques.

• Attend sessions on BCG certification several times and pay attention.

• Subscribe to the National Genealogical Society Quarterly at minimum, but I think The American Genealogist and The Genealogist are important and instructive too. Read them regularly and flag the articles most applicable to your own research interests.

• Take clients, even if they’re pro bono, and practice client research and reports.

• Write up your own research and practice proof arguments and source citations.

• Read and refer regularly to both of Elizabeth Shown Mills’ reference books: Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2001) and Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, rev. ed. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2009). (Evidence Explained is now available as a 2012 second revised edition.)

• Read Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society, 2013), then read it again.

• After all that, look at the example certification portfolios at conferences.

• Take advantage of online guidance offered by the BCG. The questions you didn’t think to ask will get answered.

Shannon offers this encouragement: “Don’t give up, even if you have to extend beyond a year (or more).” She knows from experience the benefit of persistence, as work and family obligations forced her to extend four times before submitting her (successful) portfolio.

Welcome Shannon Terwedo, CG, of Shingle Springs, California

Shannon Terwedo brings to her genealogy work the problem-solving and organizational skills honed in her career as a healthcare business owner. A background in microbiology sharpened other valued skills: attention to detail, hypothesis-testing, and technical writing. A full-time businesswoman, Shannon also makes time for client projects, although no more than two at a time and with no deadlines. She explains, “Genealogy work is my go-to passion when my healthcare career slides into the regulatory nightmare it can occasionally be.” That passion takes her research into records of the California gold-rush era, the American Midwest and South, the British Isles, and northern Europe. Shannon plans for a full-time profession in genealogy, but only after her retirement from healthcare management.

With a laugh, Shannon comments that while other families returned from their vacations with scenery photos, her pictures show her children in the cemeteries they visited. When juggling career, family, and portfolio sometimes left Shannon ready to abandon certification, her husband encouraged her to keep working at it. He valued how important it was to her. Now that she is a BCG Associate, she is repaying her husband’s support by teaching herself Polish language and history so she can research his Polish ancestry.

Shannon mentions three people who inspired her genealogical pursuits:
• “Abigail Quigley McCarthy, wife of Senator Eugene McCarthy and my 1st cousin once removed answered my phone call back in 1996 to discuss our family history. She was so excited to talk to a family member who was…interested in our family genealogy. She invited me to her Washington, D.C. home and loaned me original, late 19th and early 20th century correspondence between her grandfather and her mother.” Abigail asked if Shannon had genealogy career goals. With enthusiasm and encouragement, she relayed information from a recently certified friend.
• A family history writing course brought Shannon into contact with Will White, PhD, CG. “There was just something about his demeanor that said this guy knows what he’s doing….In his quiet, easy going style, he explained why he valued the expertise of experienced genealogists and he felt it improved his work by being peer reviewed. I remembered thinking that if Will thought the process had value, I should follow his lead.”
• Shannon met Melinde Lutz Byrne in 2007. Melinde was not yet a BCG Associate, and Shannon did not know her reputation. “We just connected and had dinner together. That she was clearly an accomplished and experienced genealogist was evident from our conversation. We talked about certification…our lives and science careers, children, spouses, etc. She happened to mention that she would be coming on as a new editor for the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. I realized I was talking to one of genealogy’s great talents. She had a lasting impression on me as someone whose genealogical scholarship I would hope to aspire to.”

Asked about her most intriguing brick wall, Shannon immediately described her great-great-grandfather, the most distant known ancestor of her southern family. John “Thomas” Richardson was born in South Carolina, migrated to and married in Alabama, then moved to Texas after the Civil War. He died in Bell County, Texas in 1886. If readers have a clue about this Thomas Richardson, contact Shannon at shan1057@hotmail.com, or just give a warm welcome to this new BCG Associate.


Image courtesy of Bob Darling Photography, Placerville, California.

(CG or Certified Genealogist is a service mark of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by Board-certified genealogists after periodic competency evaluation, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.)

New President Announcement and News from BCG Trustees’ Meeting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

17 October 2014

BOARD FOR CERTIFICATION OF GENEALOGISTS DISCUSSES CERTIFICATION, WELCOMES JEANNE LARZALERE BLOOM, CG, AS NEW PRESIDENT

Genealogists seeking board certification will have a clearer idea of portfolio requirements following the October 12 meeting of the trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists in Salt Lake City. The Board also welcomed a new executive committee and two new members. Several trustees volunteered for a newly enlarged marketing committee. Trustee Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG, CGL, made a generous donation to fund a full year of BCG’s new free public instructional webinars.

To emphasize the fact that not all who apply for certification take clients, the fifth required item in an application portfolio will now be called “Research Report Prepared for Another” rather than “Research Report Prepared for a Client.” The item’s requirements remain the same: research and report on a genealogical problem authorized by someone else that does not involve the applicant’s family, showing “analysis of the problem, in-depth and skillful use of a range of sources, and recommendations for further work based on your findings.”

At the end of Sunday’s trustee meeting the presidential gavel passed from Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, to Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG. In her final report as president, Powell commented on many changes, including the publication of revised standards and rubrics, BCG’s increased social-media presence, the new webinar series, as well as the 50th anniversary celebrations. Bloom responded, “On behalf of the associates and the trustees of BCG, I would like to thank Elissa for her capable leadership as BCG’s president these past two years.”

Other members of the new executive committee are Stefani Evans, CG, (vice-president), Michael S. Ramage, J.D., CG (treasurer), Dawne Slater-Putt, CG (secretary), and Russell (member at large). As past president, Powell will also serve on the executive committee in an advisory capacity. Newly re-elected trustees are David McDonald, CG, Evans, and Bloom, joined by newcomers Nancy A. Peters, CG, and Harold Henderson, CG.

Retiring trustees Laura A. DeGrazia, CG, and Thomas W. Jones Ph.D, CG, CGL, were thanked for their long terms of service and for the significant advancements of BCG that occurred under their leadership. DeGrazia served 2005–2014, and as president 2008–2010. Jones served 1997–2007, 2011–2014, and as president 1999–2002.

Sunday’s meeting was preceded by a day of BCG-sponsored lectures offering problem-solving tools from associates Powell, Russell, Evans, and Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, hosted by the Family History Library. The lectures were streamed into two additional rooms when the main meeting room filled.

For questions or more information contact: Nicki Birch, CG, office@BCGcertification.org.

CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.

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Free Webinar Lecture Series

The second webinar sponsored by BCG is on Wednesday, October 15 at 8 pm Eastern. Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL, will present “Kinship Determination: From Generation to Generation.”

To register and receive your unique link to the webinar, please go to http://bcgcertification.org/blog/2014/08/bcg-announces-new-webinar-series. Note that recordings may be made available at a later date.

Look for announcements of future monthly webinars on this blog.

Congratulations to Barbara Mathews, CG, FASG

The Board for Certification of Genealogists extends its heartiest congratulations to Board-certified genealogist Barbara Jean Mathews of Massachusetts on her election as a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists (ASG).

Barbara Jean Mathews, CG, FASG

As noted on the ASG website, “Election as a Fellow of the ASG is dependent on nomination by current Fellows…. The central criterion is the quality of a genealogist’s published work. Emphasis is upon compiled genealogies and published works that demonstrate an ability to use primary source material; to evaluate and analyze data; to properly document evidence; and to reach sound, logical conclusions presented in a clear and proper manner.”

Barbara’s work includes the 2013 publication of The Descendants of Governor Thomas Welles of Connecticut and his Wife, Alice Tomes, Volume 1, 2nd edition (Wethersfield, CT: Welles Family Association, 2013), which has just been selected as the ASG’s 2014 winner of the prestigious Donald Lines Jacobus Award. That award is “presented to a model genealogical work published within the previous five years.” She is also the author of Philo Hodge (1756-1842) of Roxbury, Connecticut (Baltimore, Md. : Gateway Press, 1992) and the editor of The Descendants of Thomas Lamkin of the Northern Neck of Virginia (Boston: Newbury Street Press, 2001).

She has many published articles in The American Genealogist (TAG) and has also written for the National Genealogical Society NewsMagazine, the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly (APGQ), The Connecticut Nutmegger, and The Essex Genealogist. Her book reviews have appeared in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, TAG, the National Genealogy Society Quarterly, and APGQ.

Barbara is a professional genealogist who specializes in the families of colonial Connecticut and Massachusetts who currently serves on the board of the Massachusetts Genealogical Council. She has served as a BCG trustee and officer, and as an officer of the Connecticut Professional Genealogists Council. Her blog, The Demanding Genealogist, explores issues of quality in genealogical work.

Most of all, though, Barbara loves to teach. She lectures at local, regional, and national conferences and has mentored groups in the ProGen Study Groups program.

Barbara joins Board-certified genealogists Melinde Lutz Byrne of Massachusetts, Frederick C. Hart Jr. of Connecticut, Ronald Ames Hill of Idaho, Helen Hinchliff of British Columbia, Canada, Henry B. Hoff of Virginia, Thomas W. Jones of Virginia, Roger D. Joslyn of New York, Elizabeth Shown Mills of Tennessee, Christine Rose of California, William Bart Saxbe Jr. of Massachusetts, Clifford L. Stott of Utah, and Helen S. Ullman of Massachusetts, as well as BCG emeritus associates John Frederick Dorman of Virginia and Helen F. M. Leary of North Carolina, in the ranks of the ASG Fellows.

Our heartiest congratulations to Barbara Jean Mathews, CG, FASG!


CG and Certified Genealogist are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by Board-certified genealogists after periodic competency evaluation, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Introducing Jane Beal, CG

Jane Beal, CG

Jane Beal has become the ninth Missourian to currently hold the credential of Certified Genealogist from the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

Jane’s first genealogical mentor remains her most powerful motivating force: her grandfather Richard Dolbeare “entrusted to a teenager many years ago the family papers and photos, obviously seeing in [her] younger self someone who cares about the family history.”

His enthusiasm and his trust started Jane on a journey that began with her New England ancestors and ultimately led her to pursue her genealogical goals and, in 2014, to becoming a Board-certified genealogist.

A registered nurse with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Nursing, Jane explains that she has worked “in a wide variety of jobs as a nurse,” and continues to work full-time as one “although it is a desk job, not patient care.”

She lives east of Kansas City with her husband of 30 years: “We have a small farm, lots of children and grandchildren.” And, she adds, “All these activities keep me very busy, but the family knows my passion is genealogy.”

Jane started following that passion as a teenager, after getting those precious papers and photos from her grandfather, whom she credits first and foremost as her genealogical hero. Though the time she has had to devote to her passion has varied, over the years she has worked on her own family history, her husband’s, and those of three of her sons-in-law — and that doesn’t include the many others she has helped and the many local projects she’s worked on.

“I take every opportunity I can to attend genealogical conferences, learn the local history, and expand my knowledge base,” she said. “I particularly love doing research in courthouses, and of course the nearby Midwest Genealogy Center [a wonderful place].” But, Jane notes, even though she started as a teenager, she wishes she had started earlier to “focus more on the stories, history and people, rather than just getting a lot of names and dates. I think most people start off that way, I know I did.”

Today, she said, she is “passionate about the stories and history behind the names and dates, to understand what happened and why in their lives.” Her favorite project now is the ‘brick wall’ case, “particularly if they revolve around women whose history has been lost, due to either an early death or lack of a known maiden name. I like to give them back their identity.”

Jane’s advice to those considering certification is to “download and read the BCG Application Guide, outline what projects need to be done for one’s portfolio [maybe an individual has a project they have recently worked on that would fit with some tweaking or could be used with an in-depth effort], and at least start on the bigger parts of the portfolio prior to beginning the ‘clock’.” She added that it’s necessary to “stay on focus during that year, and if at all possible avoid an extension. I think you start to second guess yourself the longer it takes you.”

Besides her grandfather Richard Dolbeare, Jane considered Elizabeth Shown Mills and Thomas Jones as her role models and genealogical heroes. “During my journey to completing my portfolio, I absorbed much knowledge from their presentations [I listened to a lot of CDs from past conferences, and listened over and over again], as well as from their books and articles,” she explained. “I felt they brought me to a higher level and expectation of myself and my work.”

She hopes to have her own genealogy research business in the future, mainly focused in individual clients, and looks forward to contributing articles on genealogy to various publications.


CG or Certified Genealogist is a service mark of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by Board-certified genealogists after periodic competency evaluation, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Please Welcome Cynthia Turk, CG

Cynthia Turk, CG

Cynthia Turk is a northern Ohio powerhouse, a go-to gal for genealogical research in the Cleveland-area counties of Lake, Cuyahoga, and Geauga. Currently president of both the Lake County Genealogical Society and the NorthEast Ohio Computer-Aided Genealogy Society (NEOCAG), Cynthia is also the principal of Geneal Pursuits and a strong volunteer.

Cynthia laughs that she has “an elbow problem” that causes her “hand to just shoot up in the air” when volunteer help is needed. In addition to client work, she is webmaster for four genealogy sites, works as president with the boards of two societies, and indexes for FamilySearch when procrastinating. Over 200,000 records to her credit show a lot of procrastinating!

Her local librarian spurred Cynthia to take clients: “[She] was gentle, kind, and persistent when I started, pointing out, and insisting, that name spellings are not always what you expect, for instance. As I became more knowledgeable, she requested I do genealogy for pay so the library would have an outside referral. And so I began two decades ago.” Cynthia’s client work includes arranging and leading genealogy tours to both local and major genealogy research sites.

Although the certification process offered Cynthia no surprises, she credits her mentor Jean Hoffman, CG, with offering encouragement at times when the task seemed overwhelming. Certified since May, Cynthia joins Jean as the eighth Ohio certificant.

Cynthia can be reached through her website Geneal Pursuits (http://genealpursuits.com) or via email (Cynthia@GenealPursuits.com). She signs her emails aptly, “Genially, Cynthia.” You’ll find her this December at her fourteenth Salt Lake Christmas Tour and other times at Ohio Genealogical Society events. Welcome, Cynthia!


Image courtesy of Richard McPeak of Mentor, Ohio.

(CG or Certified Genealogist is a service mark of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by Board-certified genealogists after periodic competency evaluation, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.)

October 11, 2014, BCG-Sponsored Lectures in Salt Lake City Are Free and Open to All

            Top genealogists Elissa Scalise Powell, Judy G. Russell, Elizabeth Shown Mills, and Stefani Evans will present six lectures at the Family History Library’s Floor B2 classroom in Salt Lake City Saturday, October 11, between 9 am and 4:45 pm. The lectures are free and open to the public, sponsored by the Board for Certification of Genealogists. The board is an independent certifying body and author of the updated 2014 Genealogy Standards.

            Topics and speakers:

            9 – “BCG Certification Seminar,” Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL

            9:45 – “Shootout at the Rhododendron Lodge: Reconstructing Life-Changing Events,” Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

            11 – “From the White Lion to the Emancipation Proclamation – Slavery and the Law before the Civil War,” Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

            1:15 – “Using Evidence Creatively: Spotting Clues in Run-of-the-Mill Records,” Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA

            2:30 – “Oh, The Things You Can Map: Mapping Data, Memory, and Historical Context,” Stefani Evans, CG

            3:45 – “Trousers, Black Domestic, Tacks & Housekeeping Bills: Trivial Details Can Solve Research Problems,” Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA

“Whether you stop in for one lecture or all six, you will learn more about how to apply good methodology to your own family research,” said President Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL. “The Board for Certification of Genealogists strives to foster public confidence in genealogy by promoting an attainable, uniform standard of competence and ethics. Educating all family historians of every level is part of this mission.”

You can see the poster here:
2014 Board for Certification of Genealogists free lectures   

For questions or more information contact: Nicki Birch, CG, office@BCGcertification.org.

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

Please Welcome Christy Stringfield, CG

Christy Stringfield

Christy Stringfield is a full-time fifth grade teacher. She recently returned to her childhood love of genealogy. She remembers being 8 years old and sitting at the kitchen table watching as her Great Aunt filled out an application to the Daughters of the American Revolution. Throughout high school and college she interviewed family members and collected and transcribed artifacts. All that was set aside as her children grew and she started her teaching career. When Christy returned to genealogy, the field had changed and she was able to use computers and online resources.

Already working in a field with strict certification requirements, Christy looked to the Board for Certification of Genealogists as a way to perfect her skills. “I read every professional book I could get my hands on to prepare myself for certification, all the while working on items for my own files that I could use in my portfolio,” Christy remembers. Finally she joined the DAR herself, where she volunteered in genealogical research for the trickier applications, not long thereafter becoming the chapter’s Registrar.

Christy specializes in New England and Mid-Western genealogy and lineage applications. At this time, she only take paid clients who are working on Supplemental applications to the DAR.

Her advice to anyone considering applying to BCG is “Do it! But complete as much as you can -- at least through a first or second draft – before you officially become on-the-clock. I had everything ‘finished’ before I sent in my application. Then I used the advice on the message boards to modify, revise, and rewrite some sections before sending in the final portfolio.”

This teacher’s advice to applicants is to know how they learn best. If they are visual learners, read books, study genealogical journals, and visual genealogical proof maps. For auditory learners, attend seminars, conferences, and lectures. Kinesthetic learners can find mentors, gets hands-on experience in libraries, archives, and courthouses, and learn to write things down and cite them properly.

Looking towards the future, Christy often sets new goals for herself. She is working to establish at least ten new Patriot lines that are not yet in the DAR database, and she is developing presentations for genealogy workshops. She feels that Board-certification will give her more confidence in moving forward and in contributing to the broad genealogical community.


(CG or Certified Genealogist is a service mark of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by Board-certified genealogists after periodic competency evaluation, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.)

 

Welcome to Board-Certified Genealogist Nora Galvin

Claire Ammon, CG, and Fred Hart, CG, FASG, joined Nora Galvin, CG, at the annual meeting of Connecticut Ancestry Society. Photograph © Robert Locke, used with permission.

In April 2014, Nora became Connecticut’s third Board-certified Genealogist. Nora combines her professional work in Connecticut and Irish research and genetic genealogy with activities in local genealogy societies. She is journal editor and past president of Connecticut Ancestry Society, board member of the Connecticut Society of Genealogists, president of the Connecticut Professional Genealogists Council, and editor of the e-zine of the New England Regional Genealogical Conference. In her past career as a biologist, Nora worked in laboratory research for a pharmaceutical company and as a high school biology teacher.

When asked about advice she would give to those considering certification, Nora suggested finding as many varied genealogical experiences as possible. She said,

I worked as a professional for five years before I began to feel I might be ready to start on my portfolio. My own family research taught me about the “known knowns” and the “known unknowns” but it was my client work that taught me about the “unknown unknowns.” (Apologies to Donald Rumsfeld.) I thought I was getting a “feeling for the organism,” the title of a book about biologist Barbara McClintock. It captures the sense of knowledge that I had to develop to be ready to get that portfolio put together.

With tongue in cheek, Nora also advises starting your genealogy career early. She took time to be a high school teacher, a stay-at-home mother, and a research scientist. She started genealogy research about twelve years ago and set up her business soon after, in 2006.

Where does she see her career going now that she is Board-certified? She will have fewer clients but bigger projects and she will be able to devote more time to editing Connecticut Ancestry. Travel to Ireland for research is also in the cards. She admits to being at first skeptical of the hype around autosomal DNA testing, but is now a convert. She enjoys applying her scientific background to genetic genealogy.

Her genealogy heroes are “The people who dig, dig, dig and put together amazing work.” In New England, she admires the work of Robert Charles Anderson on the Great Migration Project, and that of Helen Ullmann, who has transcribed countless almost illegible early records so that others can use them easily. She also admires the family historians who call themselves amateurs but who turn out wonderful narratives documenting their ancestors.

In Connecticut, vital records, town records, and land records are kept by the town clerks. The Connecticut Professional Genealogists Council has worked for decades to provide support and improve communications with the Town Clerks Association. CPGC instigated legislation to provide funds for records preservation at the town level as well as legislation to clearly state genealogical access to vital records. Nora is a member of the Town Clerks and Genealogists Action Committee as well as a member of the consortium of Connecticut genealogical societies. She has testified before legislative committees regarding open records and continues to advocate for preservation and access.


(CG or Certified Genealogist is a service mark of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by Board-certified genealogists after periodic competency evaluation, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.)

Nora in the vault in Manchester Town Hall, admiring a book of records preserved with funds stemming from legislation instigated by Connecticut genealogists. Photograph © Barbara Mathews, used with permission.