Coming from OnBoard in May 2015

OnBoard: Newsletter of the Board for Certification of Genealogists is scheduled to publish in May 2015. We’re privileged to offer a preview of the content.

“Embrace the Negative: Recognizing and Applying Negative Evidence”

Stefani Evans, CG, shows us how negative evidence applies to a genealogical problem, how it can suggest a hypothesis and help direct research. Standard 40, evidence mining, says that genealogists “give equal attention to direct, indirect, and negative evidence.”[1] If negative evidence as useful seems counterintuitive, Stefani’s article will be enlightening.

“Anatomy of a Failure: What I Learned from My First Portfolio”

Fear of failure is a huge stumbling block for many applicants. Harold Henderson, CG, experienced the “insufficient for certification” evaluation on his first portfolio submission. In time he prepared a new, successful submission. Learn from Harold’s experience as he offers seven suggestions for new applicants.

OnBoard publishes three issues per year. A subscription is included in annual associate fees and for applicants “on the clock.” Subscriptions are also available to the general public for $15.00 a year (currently) through the BCG website, here. Issues back to 1995 can also be ordered online, here.

 [1] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.:, 2014), 24.

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.


NGS 2015 Live Streaming Signup Deadline

Can’t make it to St. Charles for the 2015 NGS Conference? You can still take advantage of ten lectures streamed to you live. They will also be accessible for three months after the conference closes. Several lectures from the BCG Skillbuilding track are included in “Day Two: Methodology Techniques.” The signup deadline is approaching, so be quick if you want access to these lectures.

The live streaming registration deadline is midnight, Wednesday, 29 April.

BCG Webinars Now Available On Demand

We promised we’d let you know. Starting today, you can access BCG webinars on demand from Two are free. All the others are available for 24-hour rental ($2.99 each) or for purchase of unlimited streaming and download ($12.99 each).

Go to the “BCG Webinars” tab at the top of this page for full access to the free webinars and free previews of all.

Ten-Minute Methodology: Identity Proof in a List

We’ve seen in earlier posts what genealogical proofs look like in a narrative and a footnote. A list, bulleted or numbered, is another effective way of presenting the proof that supports a conclusion.

Proofs in list format are clean, concise, and easy to follow. All the data is assembled in one place, and the correlation is obvious.

Standard 53 (can’t escape it!) offers a list as one of the options for a proof summary when the evidence is direct and the conflicts minor. “Proof summaries . . . may appear in a broader context—for example, within an article or case study, a narrative family history or monograph, or a report for a client, court, or personal files.” [1]

Here’s one by Harold Henderson, CG, that appears as part of an article.[2]

The list correlates data from a number of sources to show that Elizabeth Porter of the Midwest was the same person as Elizabeth Bassett from a New York family record. Once Harold establishes Elizabeth’s identity, he continues his argument for her being the daughter of a man whose probate petition didn’t include her, but by law should have.

Each bullet point describes evidence of relationships between Elizabeth and her siblings (all named in a family Bible record) and between her children and extended family. Note 1, mentioned in footnote 7, below, refers to the Lewis Bassett family record as found in his wife’s Revolutionary War widow’s pension file.

The evidence is all direct. There are no conflicts. We can accept that Elizabeth of two different places was the same woman.

For another example of a list-style proof that incorporates explanatory narrative, see Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 61. The same list was first published in Thomas W. Jones, “Misleading Records Debunked: The Surprising Case of George Wellington Edison Jr.,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 100 (June 2012): 141–42.

[1] Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.:, 2014), 32–33.

[2] Harold A. Henderson, “A Missing Heir: Reconnecting Elizabeth (Bassett) Porter to Her Parents, Lewis and Dorcas (Hoxie) Bassett,” The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record 145 (July 2014): 165–84, on pp. 166–67. The article continues in subsequent issues. Reprinted with permission. Members of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society can access the article online or from the NYG&B home page > eLibrary Collections > The Record > Search “vol 145.”

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.


Free BCG Webinar: Jean Wilcox Hibben on Why to Certify

Tuesday, 21 April 2015, Jean Wilcox Hibben, PhD, MA, CG, will present “Certified or Certifiable? Why a Genealogist Would Go Through All that Trouble.”

Jean Wilcox Hibben, PhD, MA, CG

It’s no secret that becoming Board-certified is a great deal of work. There is no guarantee that an applicant will attain that goal on the first (or even second) attempt. So why do genealogists seek certification? What are the benefits of becoming Board-certified? What does it mean to do genealogical work to a higher standard? How can the effort to prepare an application reap rewards (personal and financial)?

The Board for Certification of Genealogists will present a webinar on this subject free to the public on Tuesday, 21 April 2015, at 8pm EDT. Jean Wilcox Hibben, PhD, MA, CG, will offer some answers to these questions and some suggestions for how to prepare before “starting the clock.”

Jean has been involved in family research for over thirty-five years. She is the director of the Corona, California, Family History Center and a director of the Association of Professional Genealogists. She served as lead researcher on the PBS television program Genealogy Roadshow in 2013. Jean is also on the boards of the Genealogical Speakers Guild, the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors, the California State Genealogical Alliance, and the Corona Genealogical Society. She maintains a website at, and has been known to call square dances and play the guitar. A native of the Chicago suburbs and retired college professor, she writes frequently for various genealogy publications and is nationally recognized for her informative and entertaining presentations.

Seating is limited for this free webinar. Register early and sign in early to avoid the disappointment of finding all the seats already taken. Registration by itself does not guarantee a seat; it only assures access to the link to sign in.

To register for Jean Wilcox Hibben, PhD, MA, CG, “Certified or Certifiable? Why a Genealogist Would Go Through All that Trouble,” to be presented on 21 April 2015, at 8pm EDT (7pm CDT, 6pm MDT, 5pm PDT), go to

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.


NGS Conference Seminar: Measuring Yourself Against Standards

“Certification: Measuring Yourself Against Standards” is an interactive forum with three current BCG trustees. If you’ve been curious about what goes into preparation for BCG certification, here’s where you can ask questions and receive input about the process.

Thursday, 14 May 2015, 9:30am-12:00pm, Session T211

Successful candidates for certification often say that their attendance at certification seminars at national conferences was an integral part of preparing for their accomplishment. Yes, the seminars are taped and can be purchased and listened to later.  However, the supportive environment of a live audience with speakers allows participants to ask questions and get answers on the spot. BCG wants candidates to succeed! This double session demystifies the process and requirements by addressing concerns one by one.

The three trustees have a wide range of experiences among them. Two take clients, and one does not. Two had previous careers in the judicial system, and one did not. Two hold BCG’s Certified Genealogical Lecturer credential, and one does not. All became certified to test their work products against standards and learn ways to improve. All are dedicated to helping attendees answer the questions, “Am I ready?” and “Can I do this?” Come explore certification for yourself to better understand what is required to earn the post- nominal title of Certified Genealogist.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL

Michael Ramage, J.D., CG

Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG, CGL

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, Michael Ramage, J.D., CG, and Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG, CGL

CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer 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.