Free BCG Lectures in Salt Lake City, 9 October 2015

The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) will offer a day of free skillbuilding genealogy lectures at the LDS Church History Museum, Salt Lake City, 9 October 2015. 

Renowned genealogists Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, Michael Hait, Thomas W. Jones, Elizabeth Shown Mills, Michael Ramage, and Judy G. Russell will present six one-hour skillbuilding lectures. The annual lectures, co-sponsored by BCG and the Family History Library, are free and open to the public. Anyone in Salt Lake City on that day is welcome to attend. The lectures will be presented live.

Friday, October 9, 2015, Church History Museum Auditorium (on West Temple next to the Family History Library)

9:00 a.m. – “What Is ‘Reasonably Exhaustive Research’?” Michael Hait, CG

10:15 a.m. – “The Art of Negative Space Research: Women,” Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG

11:30 a.m. – “After the Courthouse Burns: Rekindling Family History Through DNA,” Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

12:30 p.m. – One hour break

1:30 p.m. – “Forensic Genealogy Meets the Genealogical Proof Standard,” Michael Ramage, JD, CG

2:45 p.m. – “Margaret’s Baby’s Father and the Lessons He Taught Me (about Illegitimacy, Footloose Males, Burned Counties & More),” Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA

4:00 – “When Does Newfound Evidence Overturn a Proved Conclusion?” Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA

“Whether you attend one skillbuilding lecture or all six, you will learn more about how to apply sound methodology to your genealogical research,” said BCG President Jeanne Larzalere Bloom. “The Board for Certification of Genealogists strives to foster public confidence in genealogy by promoting an attainable, uniform standard of competence and ethics. Education is part of this mission.”

For questions or more information contact 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-certified genealogists after periodic competency evaluation, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.

More BCG Webinars Available On Demand

If you’ve been waiting for recordings of BCG’s most recent webinars, four more are now accessible on demand from Vimeo.com. All are available for twenty-four-hour rental ($2.99 each) or for purchase of unlimited streaming and download ($12.99 each).

The new webinars are

Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG, “The Family Tapestry: Integrating Proof Arguments into the Genealogical Narrative,”

Teresa Steinkamp McMillan, CG, “Truth or Fiction? Unraveling a Family Yarn,”

Shellee A. Morehead, PhD, CG, ”Diamonds in the Rough: Finding and Using Manuscript Collections,” and

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, “The Best Educational Plan for You: Sifting Through the Options.”

Go to the BCG Webinars tab at the top of this page for free previews and links to Vimeo recordings of all.

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.

Ten-Minute Methodology: “Reasonably Exhaustive”—How Do We Know We’re There?

Evaluating what we’ve done

There comes a time when we have to stop researching. Sometimes it’s when we feel we’ve answered our research question. Sometimes we’re unsure, fearing we missed something. We can evaluate our research to see if it’s reasonably exhaustive by asking questions about its breadth and strength.[1]

1. Do the research results answer our question? Have we used them to make a convincing case?

2. Does the research address all potentially relevant available sources? This is where we listen to that small voice that reminds us about that repository or informant we’ve been reluctant to visit or contact. Genealogy Standards asks if it covers “sources competent genealogists would examine to answer the same research question.”[2]

Hmm. How do we know, aside from the big names in the field, who’s a “competent genealogist”? How do we know what sources they would examine to answer our research question? This seems like a very subjective measure. It helps to go back to the last post and look at it with the mindset that competent genealogists wrote the standards. That’s better. Then we can see the lists of factors to consider when selecting our sources and use them as our guide.

3. Does the research cover a wide variety of sources and does it “replace, where possible, relevant authored narratives, derivative records, and information that is secondary or undetermined”?[3] We have to dig deeper and find out where those derivative sources got their facts. We can’t just trust someone who collected and published names a century ago.

4. Have we tested our collected data by analysis and correlation to establish its accuracy and consistency? Put another way, do “at least two sources of independent information items agree directly or indirectly on a research question’s answer”?[4]

5. Does the research provide “at least some primary information and direct, indirect, or negative evidence from at least one original record”?[5] This is the really big question that urges us to seek out the primary information from original sources beyond where the internet can take us.

6. Have all conflicts been resolved? How well?

When we’re ready to stop researching we acknowledge that when we make our conclusion public (in whatever format we choose), there is a possibility that someone somewhere will turn up a source with new evidence. These questions are intended to minimize the likelihood of that happening. We may ask one last overall question:

7. What is the risk of new evidence coming to light that will overturn this conclusion?

What? There’s more research to do?

 


[1] The definition of “reasonably exhaustive research” in Genealogy Standards informs most of these questions. See Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry.com, 2014), Glossary, 74–75. The criteria are treated more fully in Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society, 2013). See especially Chapter 3, “GPS Element 1: Thorough Research,” 23–29. Also Thomas W. Jones, “When Enough Is Enough: How Much Searching is ‘Reasonably Exhaustive’?” Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly 25 (March 2010): 25–33. The author thanks Alison Hare, CG, for invaluable input.

[2] Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry.com, 2014), 74.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

 

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.

Welcome, Lori Cook-Folger, CG!

A photograph of an unknown woman inspired Lori Cook-Folger to pursue genealogy. Although the image was in a photo album, nobody in the family knew the woman’s identity. An inscription on its reverse called out to Lori: “Remember me—tho my face you cannot see.” She set out to honor the woman’s wish and finally identified her as the mother of a great aunt by marriage.

Lori’s mother frequently talked about family as Lori was growing up. “I felt like I knew people that were already dead or I had never seen,” she says. Her father, on the other hand, began telling stories of the past only after Lori was grown. He provided so many details that Lori can drive through the town in which her father was raised and point out specific places of interest. “I don’t know that people pass down the stories anymore,” she adds wistfully. “The little details about life will be lost if we don’t record them.”

Lori Cook-Folger, CG

Eleven years ago Lori and her husband moved to the mountains of North Carolina, but they don’t spend much time there. Her husband’s contracting work as an aerospace electrical engineer often takes them out of state. “Most of the time I am in a hotel somewhere,” she says. Lori does have ancestors from North Carolina, but none from the part of the state in which she now lives. She has not researched much in her local area. Lori and her husband hope to purchase a second home in Charleston, South Carolina, after her husband retires. By then, she hopes to have enough research clients to provide income while still having time to enjoy life.

Attending advanced courses at institutes helped Lori prepare for certification. Her first was Elizabeth Shown Mills’s Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis track at the Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research in Birmingham, Alabama. “I was in awe. Several things she said on the first morning are imbedded in my head.”

Lori learned not only from doing the coursework, but also by absorbing whatever she could from conversations with instructors and classmates. She attended several certification seminars and says that “hearing tips from those already certified” eased her concerns. She credits Clarise Fleck Soper, CG, and Debbie Hooper, CG—both of whom she met through the ProGen Study Group—as being always on call to answer her questions.

While the time involved in preparing the portfolio was more than she expected, Lori feels that others “on the clock” sometimes make the process sound more difficult than it actually is. She urges applicants to read and follow instructions. “If you are truly ready, then all you have to do is follow the directions,” she encourages.

Lori finds great satisfaction in being able to prove a conclusion using the Genealogical Proof Standard. She also enjoys learning about and using DNA evidence in genealogical research. A recent Y-DNA match on her father’s Cook line has created an opening in a long-standing brick wall problem. Lori says that following that lead is one of her current priorities.

As a wife, mother of five, and grandmother to nine, Lori enjoys spending time with her family. For the past two years she, her mother, and a granddaughter have participated in a 216-mile, week-long trail ride ending in Houston. For most of the trip Lori drives the lead car as her mother and granddaughter ride horses, but on the final day she, too, is on horseback.

Although the mystery of the woman in the photo was solved long ago, Lori is still passionate about learning and recording details of the past—both for her own family and the families of others. She may be reached at lcookfolger@gmail.com.

Congratulations and welcome, Lori!

 

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.

 

Free BCG Webinar: Your Genealogical Education Plan

Tuesday, 15 September 2015, at 8:00 p.m. EDT, former BCG president Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, will present “The Best Educational Plan for You: Sifting Through the Options.”

A recording of this webinar is available for a small fee from Vimeo.

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL

September is back-to-school month. What genealogical education will you pursue? Confused by all the possibilities? Trying to make your budget and calendar work with your desires? Which opportunities best suit your learning style and experience level? What scholarships are available? Thanks to standards 82 and 83, we all realize that learning about records, techniques, and new concepts is part of becoming better genealogists. Attend this webinar to learn more about various educational opportunities and to develop an education plan tailored to your own personal goals.

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, is a western-Pennsylvania researcher, lecturer, and co-director of GRIP (Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh). She is the immediate past-president of the Board for Certification of Genealogists; an instructor for Boston University’s Genealogical Research Certificate course; and coordinator of Samford University Library’s IGHR Professional Genealogy course. She taught genealogy courses at local community colleges for fourteen years and has been a regional and national speaker for over twenty years.

To register for Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, “The Best Educational Plan for You: Sifting Through the Options” on 15 September 2015, 8:00 p.m. EDT (7:00 CDT, 6:00 MDT, 5:00 PDT), go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1651627362611248898.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Attendance is limited for this free webinar. Once registered, please sign in early to avoid disappointment.

“We are pleased to offer this informative webinar,” says BCG president Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG. “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 is part of this mission.”

To learn about BCG’s previous webinars, visit http://bcgcertification.org/blog/bcg-webinars.

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.

10-Minute Methodology: What Is “Reasonably Exhaustive” Research?

Let’s look at the searching part of research. As in the last post on research, we’ll see that it’s more involved than just looking.

Genealogy Standards offers this goal of reasonably exhaustive data-collection: “Genealogists attempt to collect all information potentially relevant to the questions they investigate.”[1] Got that? All information. All potentially relevant information. Potentially relevant to the questions under investigation.

Our research question determines what “reasonably exhaustive” research looks like. We start with a problem, most commonly a question of identity or kinship. The individuals, what we want to know about them, the time and place in which they lived, and their life circumstances set the course of our research.

Time and place. Our research subjects lived in specific places in specific time periods. If we don’t know about the place or time period, we have to educate ourselves about history and geography at the least. Relevant considerations include

  • historical boundaries and their changes,
  • migration patterns and routes,
  • what sources are available in the relevant times and places.[2]

Life circumstances also determine the direction of our research. Aside from our subjects’ gender, race, and ethnicity, their life patterns suggest numerous research paths and types of sources. They interacted with legal and governmental entities and religious institutions. They may have served in the military or participated in social clubs. They had financial and trade dealings. They spoke a language and often left traces of their handwriting. They had many or few belongings of different kinds. They were wealthy or poor, free or enslaved. They left a legacy in their descendants’ DNA. Thinking of our subjects as people in families and communities suggests a wide variety of sources to discover and examine. Looking at all these factors in the relevant times and places will potentially lead us to a wide variety of sources that may name or bear on our research subjects.[3]

Quality information. At the outset the list of types of sources to be researched can be quite long. It includes “databases, finding aids, indexes, search engines . . . authored narratives, derivative sources, and documented and undocumented genealogies.”[4] However, we aim, wherever possible, to find the original records alluded to in other works and information provided by informants as close as possible to the events in question.[5] Sometimes this effort draws out our research time and effort considerably, all in the pursuit of “reasonably exhaustive” research.

The idea of testing our hypotheses addresses “reasonably exhaustive” research head-on.[6] Not only do we seek and gather data, but we also compare items to each other. Depending on how they correlate with other information, we accept them as evidence for or against our hypotheses. Some information may conflict, pushing us to research more until we can resolve discrepancies. Reasonably exhaustive research extends beyond searching to the mental effort of evaluating and processing our data to be sure we can test our theories.[7]

If we don’t have enough data to test, we broaden our search. We extend it to include our subject’s family, associates, and neighbors. We then seek out the same types of information indicated above, but for a wider circle of people.[8] This can be very time consuming and result in the accumulation of much data. Within it, however, we may well find the evidence we need to answer our research question.

So how do we know when it’s safe to stop? Watch for the next “10-Minute” post.

 


[1] Standard 19, Data-collection scope, Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry.com, 2014), 16.
[2] Standard 12, Broad context, Genealogy Standards, 12.
[3] Standards 12, Broad context, and 14, Topical breadth, Genealogy Standards, 12, 13.
[4] Standard 13, Source-based content, Genealogy Standards, 12–13.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Standard 17, Extent, Genealogy Standards, 14–15.
[7] Genealogical Proof Standard, bullets three and four, Genealogy Standards, 1–2.
[8] Standard 14, Topical Breadth, Genealogy Standards, 13.

Results of BCG Trustee Election

The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) welcomes five trustees, two new and three re-elected.

Returning for another three-year term as BCG trustees are Alison Hare, CG; Debra S. Mieszala, CG; and Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG, CGL:

  • Hare, of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, has been certified since 1999. She presented a lecture on the 1854 London cholera epidemic at this year’s National Genealogical Society conference.
  • Mieszala, of Libertyville, Illinois, has been certified since 2002, blogs as The Advancing Genealogist, and specializes in forensic genealogy, twentieth-century research, and the Midwest.
  • Russell, of Avenel, New Jersey, has been certified since 2012 blogs as The Legal Genealogist, and speaks at conferences coast to coast. Judy serves as member-at-large on the BCG executive committee this year.

Joining them are two newly elected trustees:

  • Judy Kellar Fox, CG, of Aloha, Oregon, has been certified since 2007, co-edits BCG’s blog Springboard, and specializes in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and German research.
  • Richard G. Sayre, CG, CGL, of Herriman, Utah, has been certified since 2007, serves as BCG booth coordinator, and teaches military records, land records, using maps in genealogy, urban research, and government documents.

All fifteen trustees are Board-certified, and all serve without compensation. Five are elected by certified associates each year. The new trustees’ terms of office will begin at the end of the 10 October 2015 trustees’ meeting in Salt Lake City.

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-certified genealogists after periodic competency evaluation, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.