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.

Of DNA Evidence and Successful Application Tips

President’s Corner by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL

as printed in the September 2014 issue of OnBoard (v. 20, no. 3): 19.

New Tools, New Techniques, Same Standards

This summer has seen much attention to the art and science of using genetic evidence in genealogy. Workshops, institute courses, and genetic genealogy conferences have shared what the field can do for genealogical problem-solving. OnBoard has published recent articles to this effect, and Elizabeth Shown Mills’s article “Testing the FAN Principle Against DNA: Zilphy (Watts) Price Cooksey Cooksey of Georgia and Mississippi” appeared in the NGSQ.(1) It is a new and exciting field of evidence, which each user must understand before effectively using the techniques to break through their own brick walls.

When solving a problem, we consider: Is the evidence consistent with what else we know? Can it be “lying” to us, as in a false positive? Is there enough evidence to make our case? Can we resolve conflicts in the evidence? The elements of the GPS are important for building a reliable proof and DNA evidence is just one part of that proof. It behooves each of us to understand this new marriage of genetics and genealogy, even if we never practice it ourselves.

BCG Wants Applicants to Succeed

There is always a general curiosity about what percentage of certification applicants are successful. The number varies from year to year because the applicants’ portfolios vary from year to year. Certification is not a “numbers game,” but rather it’s about whether or not you understand the Genealogical Proof Standard and can demonstrate that understanding by adhering to the standards. There is no other “secret sauce” ingredient, although following the directions given in the free downloadable BCG Application Guide is key. It is amazing how many applicants don’t follow the advice to “1. Read the directions. 2. Do the work. 3. Read the directions again to make sure the work follows the directions.” This applies to every applicant, even those who think they know what to do based on experience in other fields. Genealogy has its own terminology and standards— make sure you understand and use them.

In a field where “you don’t know what you don’t know,” it is helpful to have a system by which you ask three evaluators to give you independent feedback on how your work measures up against standards. The benchmark is Genealogy Standards.(2) If you read its short seventy-nine pages and find yourself nodding, “yes, I do that, and this other just makes common sense,” then you are more likely to succeed because you have internalized the standards. Making the standards a part of our every-day work habits pervades everything we do, including the work we send to BCG for evaluation. If that is the case then we demonstrate our abilities and meet standards.

If you would like a general overview of what it takes to become certified, or perhaps you know someone who is curious, a good resource is the free webinar that I did for Legacy Family Tree in July. You can see the details and link to the free recording in the BCG SpringBoard blog: http:// bcgcertification.org/blog/2014/07/free-bcg-certification-webinar. In addition, BCG just announced that it is offering its own free webinar series. Details can be found on SpringBoard.

BCG wants applicants to succeed! Whether for a new application or a renewal, we try to make every aspect of the evaluation process as transparent as possible. The rubrics (used by evaluators to rate submissions) are available at http:// www.bcgcertification.org/brochures/ BCGNewAppRubrics2014.pdf. To better prepare your application, use the rubrics and their corresponding standards to evaluate your work samples. It is another “lens” through which to check your submission—and the same one evaluators will be looking through.

To help the public understanding of standards and rubrics, I will be giving a workshop at the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) Professional Management Conference (PMC) on Thursday, 8 January 2015, in Salt Lake City, Utah. “Measuring Yourself Against Standards: A Practical Guide for Improving Your Skills” will have participants working with documents, research reports, and standards, and doing self-evaluation with rubrics. See https:// www.apgen.org/conferences/index.html for more information.

The certification process is like a mirror that reflects an honest picture of where you currently stand on the genealogy education continuum. What you see in that reflection, and what you do about it, are up to you. We hope that if you don’t like the picture at first, you take the evaluators’ comments to heart and seek the needed skills. Then ask again for another evaluation on new material. You may be successful on a subsequent attempt, as one recently certified person did with her third portfolio application. You can bet she is proud of her achievement, but it took perseverance, determination, and skill-building to work through premature applications to come to the point where she could be successful. What else can BCG do to help you become the skilled genealogist you want to be?

1. Elizabeth Shown Mills, “Testing the FAN Principle Against DNA: Zilphy (Watts) Price Cooksey Cooksey of Georgia and Mississippi,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 102 (June 2014):129–52.

2. Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry.com, 2014).