Debbie Parker Wayne now a Board-certified genealogical lecturer

Debbie Parker Wayne received the Certified GenealogistSM credential in 2010 and the Certified Genealogical LecturerSM credential in 2013. Debbie is a full-time genealogist experienced in using laws and DNA analysis, as well as more traditional techniques, for genealogical research. She previously worked in the computer industry doing support, training, programming, and Web design. Those skills are especially useful when analyzing a client’s DNA test results, but also help when doing traditional research in this technical age.

When she first attended the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) in 2003, Debbie knew she wanted to do professional-level research, but hadn’t yet decided whether she wanted to become certified or start a research business. Experiences on that trip, her first exposure to the world of professional genealogists, the techniques learned in Elizabeth Shown Mills’s Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis course, and discussions with credentialed genealogists convinced Debbie to work towards this goal. She started with pro bono clients and accepted paying clients as her knowledge increased due to self-study, institutes, and conference sessions.

Debbie’s business includes research clients, DNA clients, speaking engagements, and writing projects. She won two writing awards in 2012 for articles that were based on research done for her BCG portfolio. She was invited to present “Forensic Techniques for Genetic Genealogy” at the Forensic Genealogy Institute (FGI). In 2013 she will be presenting sessions at the NGS and FGS conferences, “Genetic Genealogy for Clients” at IGHR’s Genealogy as a Profession course, and continuing her presentations for FGI and local societies.

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RIP George Ely Russell, Jr.

We are sad to relate that George Ely Russell, Jr., passed away 9 January 2013 at his home in Maryland. In 1967 George became the 52nd person to earn the credential Certified GenealogistSM. He retired in 2010 when he reached 82 years of age.

His obituary reads in part:

Beginning at the age of 17, genealogy was George’s avocation for his entire adult life. He was an elected fellow of the American Society of Genealogists and devoted much of his time to genealogical activities. George founded the Prince Georges County Genealogical Society in 1969 and served as the editor of the National Genealogical [Society] Quarterly from 1971 to 1986…. George was the author of more than 140 genealogical writings, articles and books. He was a contributing editor of The American Genealogist, The Russell Register, Western Maryland Genealogy and The Society of the Ark and the Dove.[1]

Many Board-certified associates remember George fondly. Shirley Wilcox, CG, shares: Continue reading

IGHR Registration Opens Tuesday

BCG has had a long-standing relationship with the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) held for one week in June each year at Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama. As a co-sponsor of IGHR, Board-certified genealogists have taught many of the courses throughout the years and have provided a certification seminar in IGHR’s evening track. The banquet program reserves a place for greetings from BCG which acknowledges this relationship.

Board-certified genealogists coordinating this year’s ten courses held June 9-14 include Warren Bittner, CG; Linda Woodward Geiger, CG, CGL; Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG; J. Mark Lowe, CG; Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG; Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL; Christine Rose, CG, CGL, FASG; Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL; and Richard G. Sayre, CG, CGL.

Course instructors are asked by coordinators to teach topics in their area of expertise. Board-certified genealogists teaching at IGHR this year include Claire Mire Bettag, CG; Alvie Davidson, CG; Michael Hait, CG; Rachel Mills Lennon, CG; Judy G. Russell, CG; Craig Roberts Scott, CG: and Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL.

Registration for the June courses opens on Tuesday, January 22. Because of the extreme popularity of the limited number of seats in each course, registration opening times are staggered throughout the morning. Courses can, and do, sell out within minutes of “the opening bell.” For more information about registration and contents of each course, please see Click on course titles to see the course lecture schedule and instructors.

BCG’s long-standing tradition of encouraging genealogical education is showcased in this institute which has been offering such courses since the 1960s under the auspices of the Samford University Library.

Welcome from the BCG Treasurer

Welcome to BCG’s blog! I serve as treasurer of BCG, probably because in a previous life I worked as a banker and a financial planning analyst. As a nascent genealogist during the 1990s I was working in isolation. There was no social media. I was so “green” that I did not know about the existing opportunities to meet other hard-core genealogists. I thought I was good at genealogy but worked alone, without the benefit of review by peers.

In March 1999 I applied to BCG. By seeking certification, I hoped to find out if my work was good enough for me to be a professional genealogist. If not, I wanted to know which skills I needed to strengthen. During the agonizing process of assembling my portfolio I found I had a great deal to learn, but I eventually mailed what I thought was the most perfect portfolio the world has ever seen. My application was not a slam-dunk and required arbitration. Fortunately, despite all the faults in that “perfect” portfolio, I was granted BCG’s Certified Genealogist credential.  

Jeanne Bloom, CG

I now work as a full-time professional researcher and conduct projects for government agencies, attorneys, authors, newspapers, heir-search firms, professional genealogists, and family researchers. My areas of expertise are Illinois, with a concentration in Cook County research, and heirship searches and forensic genealogy. I am also a lecturer, writer, and editor.

Since 1999 I have continued to grow as a genealogist, acquiring knowledge and skills through applying BCG’s standards. The standards are the invaluable, collected wisdom of those genealogists who came before us. The standards are not solely for BCG associates or for those who desire to be Board-certified. Any genealogist who follows the standards will save time, will make more efficient use of limited financial resources, and will avoid many brick walls.

Welcome from E. C. Member at Large

Welcome to the BCG blog! I am Stefani Evans, a BCG trustee and member at large of the executive committee. I first sought BCG certification because I wanted to know whether my work met the standards established by our field’s leading genealogists. If it didn’t, I wanted to know where I needed to improve. After I was certified in 2005, I continued to revisit the judges’ comments and suggestions to ensure that as I honed my skills I addressed my shortcomings. Recertification every five years offers associates the opportunity to receive new comments from BCG judges on how we may further develop our skills.

Stefani Evans, CG

As a historian, I see genealogy and history as mutually beneficial. Consciously or not, my genealogical background shapes my history projects by guiding my questions, methods, and approaches. Similarly, when I seek answers to the traditional genealogical who, what, when, and where questions, my historical self urges me also to ask why and how.

I do my best work when I keep in mind the standards promoted by BCG, especially the Genealogical Proof Standard. Elissa is right when she says that standards are for everyone, and I encourage all genealogists who aspire to their best to apply for certification. The process of assembling my first portfolio changed me. My priority switched from one of seeking assurance from others to that of upping my game. If the judges deemed my work insufficient, I would have continued to learn and resubmit until it passed muster. Staying current with certification keeps me on my toes. It ensures that I continue to meet standards, grow my knowledge, and improve my craft.

Why Become Certified? Reasons Vary

“Why become certified?” is a question every person who has learned about BCG has asked. To help answer this, several Board-certified genealogists were asked at the 2012 FGS conference in Birmingham, Alabama, to record an audio clip on how they came to certification. The comments are unscripted and spontaneous–and totally inspiring. In the over dozen statements you will probably find a reason or approach that resonates with your own.

You can listen to the first three testimonial audio clips at

Dave McDonald, CG, states, “I first earned certification . . . because I had spent time around colleagues who had been certified and whose work I wanted to emulate.”

Beth Stahr, CG, observes, “In my mind there has always been a connection between librarianship and certification.”

Michael Hait, CG, advises, “I actually applied for certification twice and I had different motivations each time I applied.”

More audio tracks will be released periodically. Check back to this blog (or sign up for automatic email notifications of new blog posts).

If the audio controls are not visible on the webpage below the photographs, you may need a browser plugin or you can click on the MP3 files link to download the files.

Welcome from the Secretary

Greetings! I would like to take my turn to welcome you to BCG’s newly-established blog. My name is Dawne Slater-Putt, CG, and I currently serve as the Board’s recording secretary. I have been Board-certified since 1996. As a reference librarian in The Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, I feel I am in the minority among my fellow associates in that I do not do client research for hire.

Dawne Slater-Putt, CG

My message to those who ask me about my involvement with BCG is that certification is not just for those who want to take clients! In the ranks of BCG associates are researchers, lecturers, authors and publishers, bloggers, librarians, archivists, and others in all kinds of occupations that relate – or do not relate – to genealogy. What we have in common is our commitment to a set of standards for sound genealogical research, analysis, and writing. I sought certification because I wanted to test my skills and stretch them. I have renewed every five years since 1996 to be sure that I do not become complacent. I want my work always to reflect – or even to exceed, because my portfolio certainly was far from perfect – the effort that I put into my original portfolio.

I would encourage everyone who has an interest in certification to explore thoroughly the BCG website and to talk to Board-certified individuals. Certification truly is for anyone who has the interest and desire to attempt it.


Change to Fees

At the May 2012 board meeting BCG’s trustees voted to change the preliminary application fee to $75 as of January 1, 2013, and the final application fee to $300.

It is also BCG’s policy to not change requirements or pricing while a preliminary applicant is on the one-year “clock.” The requirements and final application fee in effect at the time a preliminary application is filed are the ones that apply.

If you are currently a preliminary applicant and need to extend for another year, contact the office and expect a fee of $75 for the extension. As noted, these fees help sustain BCG in its mission to uphold standards in genealogy. The Board’s credential is respected and sought after by clients. It is demanded by government contracts. It has value. Perhaps the most valuable is the self-satisfaction of knowing that your family history work is up to standards, giving it enduring value.

Best wishes for the New Year,

President, BCG