New Skillbuilding Documents and Audio Added to Website

Two new additions have been made to the BCGcertification.org website.

NEW DOCUMENT EXERCISES

Three documents have been posted on the Skillbuilding page so that they may be used to practice transcription and abstraction skills which are part of the requirements for certification. These are basic skills that every genealogist needs in order to read and understand old handwriting. Without being able to read the words and understand the archaic meanings, any analysis or further research may be faulty.

The answers to the documents are also posted, but don’t peek until you have tried the exercises yourself! Thank you, Nancy Peters, CG, and Kathy Sullivan, CG, for creating these examples at http://www.bcgcertification.org/skillbuilders/index.html.

NEW AUDIO TALKS

The last four audio recordings captured at the 2012 FGS conference have been uploaded. The BCG luncheon lecture by Pam Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL, compares genealogy to skiing. Listen to her amusing talk at http://www.bcgcertification.org/certification/why.html and don’t miss her short audio clip at the bottom of the same page where she declares “I think I did it a little backwards though.”

Visit our Application Strategies webpage to hear Michael Hait, CG, and Harold Henderson, CG, as they each talk about their unsuccessful first application to BCG and the lessons they learned from it.

BCG is here to help the public understand standards and promote skillbuilding in all levels of genealogy. We hope these website improvements help further these goals.

Employers and Public Favor Graduates Who Can Communicate

I was reading an online report of a survey done among 1,000 American adults and 260 employers. “Employers and Public Favor Graduates Who Can Communicate” was the revelation from the survey. The article discussed another poll which found “broad support for the idea that students should learn to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems, or what the association described as “a 21st-century liberal education.” Although talking about college students, this isn’t news in the genealogical world. Collaborating and communicating during the research process and the ability to express our findings orally and in writing is how we grow and preserve our family trees.

Without clear communication of our findings through being able to tell where we found the information, and the ability to lay out our reasoning based on the evidence from records, our family histories become ambiguous to the next person who tries to continue the research. This next person may be a cousin, a descendant yet to be born, or ourselves after a span of time.

We don’t have to “reinvent the wheel” when it comes to knowing about standard procedures in data collection, evidence evaluation, compilation, and continuing education. We may read and try to apply the standards in the BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, but how can we assure ourselves that we are doing it well? Applying for certification allows us to ask for three independent evaluations and suggestions for improvements. Evaluated are our genealogical skills, communication skills, evidence evaluation (critical thinking), and problem-solving skills. Sound familiar? These are attributes that the polls, employers and academic community have used to describe successful and well-rounded individuals.

Accomplishing these skills can assure our own self-doubts that we are doing the best family history work we can. This is something we can do for ourselves. Although many people enjoy sharing the news within their circle of friends, no one outside of the BCG office even needs to know that a person has applied. After all, it is how you can “Measure Yourself Against Standards.”

                                       

 

 

President’s Message in OnBoard

OnBoard  has been BCG’s thrice-yearly newsletter since 1995. Currently edited by Will White, CG, each issue has valuable articles about doing good research, as well as news and a spotlight feature. Many of the individual articles are online and past issues are still available for sale.

Anyone may subscribe to OnBoard for $15 per year. Preliminary applicants and BCG associates already receive it as part of their yearly fees. To subscribe see: http://www.bcgcertification.org/catalog/bcgitems.html

You may see select articles at: http://www.bcgcertification.org/skillbuilders/index.html

The September 2013 issue’s “President’s Corner” by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL is reproduced below. Enjoy!

“What does it mean to be professional? The question is often asked in blogs, emails lists, and social gatherings. Does it mean someone who takes clients or someone who works at a certain advanced skill level? BCG, in the 50th year of its age, has long held that genealogical standards help us all do professional-level work that instills public confidence. The standards are not only for paid researchers or for credentialed genealogists, but for all genealogists.

Genealogical standards help us avoid “reinventing the wheel” by providing a framework for defining “good” genealogy. Many people can recognize “bad” genealogy when there are obvious errors such as a mother born after her last child. How do we recognize good genealogy when the errors are not as blatant? How do we know that a record for Silas Harnden is not for his same-named cousin, uncle, or nephew? How do we prove his parents when there is no document that gives their names?

Just as standards apply when driving a car (stopping for a red light or keeping to the right side of the road in North America), genealogical standards bring order and help prevent kinship “accidents,” such as attaching the wrong people to our family tree. The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) guides us and lets us know when we have done a good job. With the GPS we can be more confident that a relationship or identity is “proven.” By following standards we can assure our families, clients, patrons, colleagues, publishers, and all audiences, that what we say has a basis in fact and is reliable. Standards give credibility to our research and its publication.

Standards benefit everyone. Not just those who take clients but also those who don’t. Not just those who help patrons but those who are patrons. Not only those working “just for my family” but those who want to give their family the best. Our families deserve to have correct trees and accurate stories told about them. Every one of us has a family who “hooked” us on genealogy. No matter our level of expertise, we want to do good genealogy. We get angry when others publish bad genealogy, especially about our families!

Using standards as guidelines makes it easier to communicate our research results and family stories. Standards improve the reliability of our conclusions and tell future researchers just where the information came from, how we analyzed it, and whether or not we had all the puzzle pieces. When we communicate our findings, others can join in the process by offering their analyses or unique documents and information based on their research experience. This collaborative effort furthers the family history and makes it stronger.

Genealogical standards are for everyone. There is no excuse, such as “but I’m only doing this for my family” or “standards are just for paid professionals,” just as there is no exception that allows “blue cars [or only cars with my family in them] may go through red lights.” Only with the cooperation of all genealogists, no matter the experience level, can genealogy be collaborative and bring together the missing family Bible and the immigrant ancestor’s only photo. Sharing and communication of reliable findings create a firm foundation on which the family story is preserved for future generations to enjoy and expand upon.”