BCG Announces Use of New Standards Book and Aids

The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) has announced adoption of its new standards manual for use in its evaluation process.

Effective today, new applications for certification will be evaluated against the new Genealogy Standards, a major revision of genealogical standards released by BCG in February. Individuals who have already submitted a preliminary application are exempt from this change unless they elect otherwise or apply for an extension. The newly revised standards will also be used to evaluate the work of existing BCG associates whose renewal applications are due after February 2015.

Eighty-three standards in the new manual establish criteria for all phases of genealogical work, including documentation, research planning, data collection, reasoning from evidence, writing, lecturing and continuing education. The standards reflect the same principles as those originally published in The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual fourteen years ago but are reorganized, updated, expanded and clarified.

As the standards are at heart unchanged, genealogists whose work meets the old standards should meet the new standards as well. The revision, however, means the new standards offer superior guidance as to the qualities necessary for credible genealogical work.

BCG’s announcement is accompanied by release of a new application guide. The new guide makes no changes to the type of work applicants for certification must submit but has been updated to reflect the new standard manual’s renumbering of most standards. The rubrics, an evaluation tool used by BCG’s judges, have been similarly revised.

To help researchers familiarize themselves with the recent changes, BCG has also released two charts that compare the new and old standards. They can be downloaded from the “Skillbuilding” page of BCG’s website at http://www.bcgcertification.org/skillbuilders/index.html.

The new manual is billed as a fiftieth-anniversary edition to celebrate the board’s fifty years of dedication to genealogical excellence. Genealogy Standards, fiftieth-anniversary edition (Nashville, Tennessee: Ancestry, 2014), may be ordered by visiting http://www.bcgcertification.org/catalog/index.htmlThe BCG Application Guide, 2014 edition, and the revised rubrics can be downloaded from the BCG website for free.

BCG, an independent credentialing body, was founded in 1964 to promote standards of competence and ethics among genealogists and to publicly recognize individuals who meet those standards. It certifies genealogists in two categories, a core research category, Certified GenealogistSM, and a teaching category, Certified Genealogical LecturerSM. The standards it has articulated are widely recognized as benchmarks for all genealogists who wish to produce accurate research, not just for those seeking certification.

FROM: Board for Certification of Genealogists
P.O. Box 14291
Washington,DC200044

EMAIL: Office@BCGcertification.org
3 March 2014

Fifty Years of Credentialing: Presentations Available

In the “B. C.” era (Before Credentialing) genealogical fraud was rampant. Two organizations sought to give confidence to the public when hiring researchers and coincidentally were founded in the same year of 1964.

Please join BCG and ICAPGen at an unprecedented joint banquet at the NGS conference in Richmond, Virginia, on Friday, May 9, 2014. The evening’s speaker is David Rencher, AG, CG, FIGRS, FUGA, whose topic is “Celebrating Genealogical Credentials–The Accreditation and Certification Programs Turn 50!” Both organizations want to thank NGS for their recognition of this milestone in genealogical history. NGS registrations are being taken now at http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/. One does not need to be registered for the conference in order to attend the banquet.

BCG began its celebration last year “in the 50th year of its age” with a luncheon talk at FGS in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, by Rev. David McDonald, CG on “No Diamonds, No Cherries: Celebrating a Jubilee” which can be heard on the BCG website.

At a joint banquet in Salt Lake City in October, the American Society of Genealogists and BCG sponsored Judy Russell, J.D., CG, CGL, as the banquet speaker. Her full presentation “We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!” can be viewed on the BCG website. Judy’s presentation is also an article in the NGS Magazine (January–March 2014, volume 40, number 1): 15-19.

When we think of the days of undocumented genealogies being fabricated on purpose or unintentionally, there was no recourse for the public or standards by which to determine the reliability of a pedigree. Now we have credentialing and a newly-edited Genealogy Standards book which helps consumers understand the parameters of good genealogy. We have, indeed, “Come a Long Way, Baby!”

Thoughts on Olympics and Certification

As president of BCG I run into a lot of people who question why they should become board-certified, and then during the process, how to be successful. This reminds me of watching the Olympics, where you may have seen media interviews asking athletes, “Why did you do it?” and “How did you become so successful?” The old adage “because [the mountain, challenge, world record, etc.] was there” may still hold true but many talked about their passion for their sport and the thrill it gave them to be good at it.

So why would one be interested in certification? There are about a dozen two-minute audio clips on “Why Certify?” on the BCG website with added bonuses of learning how these board-certified genealogists prepared for their journey. You can listen to them at http://www.bcgcertification.org/certification/why.html. In addition, on the same webpage is Pam Sayre’s luncheon talk comparing certification to skiing, which is apropos in this post-Olympics time.

Those who decide to submit their preliminary application (http://www.bcgcertification.org/certification/requirements.html) are invited to the virtual group ACTION (Aid to Certification Testing: Interactive Online Networking). A discussion on that list of “what the judges want” prompted a post by a preliminary candidate, Yvette Hoitink of Holland, who gave the following analogy:

“The whole certification process is like figure skating in the Olympics: the athletes know the types of elements to include in their programs, but the organizers are not going to tell them which music to use or teach them how to skate. Regardless, judges know a good program when they see it. A routine only consisting of triple axels isn’t going to win any medals no matter how awesome they are, since you have to show a variety of techniques and skills. But if you do decide to include an axel, you better make sure you land it properly.”

Certification is sought for a variety of reasons, but like Olympians, passion to do things well is a common theme. It is not “what the judges want” that will make your portfolio of work samples successful, but how you demonstrate your understanding of the GPS and standards.

Stay tuned for more about using the newly edited standards book.

Best wishes, Elissa

New Year, New Standards Manual

Happy New Year from BCG! Below is a copy of the President’s Column in the January 2014 issue of OnBoard written by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, President, Board for Certification of Genealogists

At the end of January, Genealogy Standards, fiftieth-anniversary edition, will be published. Pre-publication orders at a 20% discount are now being taken through the BCG “Publications” website page, http://www.bcgcertification.org/catalog/index.html. This 100-page book updates and revises The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, Millennium edition.

Thank you, Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, for editing the new book. Many people were involved over the past several years in the creation of this new edition, including those who participated in a standard-by-standard discussion on the Transitional Genealogists Forum LISTSERV led by Harold Henderson (now CG).[1] I also want to thank Donn Devine, CG, David McDonald, CG, and Michael Ramage, J.D., CG, for their part in the overall process. Additional committee members were Laura DeGrazia, CG, Stefani Evans, CG, Alison Hare, CG, and Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL. A list of others who were involved appears in the book’s Introduction. Thank you all!

You may be wondering why BCG undertook this project and what is different between the two books.  To answer the first question one must realize that the genealogy field is not static. It is a living, developing body of knowledge that continues to be refined, redefined, and re-evaluated. The standards that every practitioner is invited to use need to periodically be refined, redefined, and re-evaluated as well. Standards are the foundation by which we define sound genealogy. Any recipient of genealogy research can understand how thorough or error-prone it is by comparing it with the standards.

For example, new standard 54, “Logical organization,” states, “Proof summaries and arguments present data, discussions, and conclusions in logical sequences to explain or defend a research question’s answer. A logical sequence often is not the order in which the genealogist collected evidence or reached subsidiary conclusions.”[2] If one has a “travelogue” style proof argument, then it does not meet this standard which says the proof needs to be laid out logically, not chronologically. The logical layout is beneficial to the reader to understand the research question, background, process, analysis, and conclusion of the proof argument.

The second question you may have is what the difference is between the 2000 BCG Genealogical Standards Manual and the 2014 Genealogy Standards book (besides 14 years!). Tom Jones wrote “The revision is both longer and shorter. Five appendixes (86 pages) in the 2000 edition show examples of different kinds of genealogical compilations and reports, all fictitious. The 2014 edition replaces that section with a 3-page list of online and print resources for non-fictitious examples. The new edition also contains a 17-page glossary, which the prior edition does not have.

“Not only does the newer edition have fewer pages, they are smaller in size [5.5” x 8.5”]. The font size is not smaller. The new edition’s 83 standards fill 41 pages, where the earlier edition’s 72 standards fill 25 larger pages [8.5” x 11”]. The standards in both editions cover the same principles, but they are reorganized in the new edition, as well as updated to reflect relevant advances in technology and science since 1999. The reorganization includes separating multi-part standards, combining related concepts into one standard (thus minimizing repetition and redundancy), and grouping standards to reflect more clearly the structure of the genealogy discipline’s skill set. Each standard now bears a title/descriptor. The new edition aims for greater clarity, stronger connections to genealogists and their work, and closer ties to the Genealogical Proof Standard. Watch the [BCG] website for charts showing the correspondence between the two editions’ standards numbers.”[3]

I am excited about this updated edition and find it easy to read. I hope you will agree with me and use it often. Standards are for everyone and BCG has shared this work with all practitioners through this book, which also will be offered as an e-book. It is up to each of us to make it a part of our everyday research, writing, and education. If everyone were to do so, even those working on “just my family,” then sound research and correct kinships would become the norm and illogical trees would become less prevalent.

We are the link between past and future. Our ancestors deserve to have their true stories told using sound practices. Future generations will depend and build upon these stories. Do not let them down.



[1] The Rootsweb.com LISTSERV discussion began on 23 January 2010 and progressed through each of the 74 standards, ending on 4 June 2010.

[2] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, fiftieth-anniversary edition (Nashville, Tennessee: Ancestry, 2014): 33.

[3] Angela McGhie, “Tom Jones Compares Editions of Genealogy Standards Manual,” Adventures in Genealogy Education, 12 December 2013 (http://www.genealogyeducation.blogspot.com/search/label/BCG: accessed 13 December 2013): paras. 2–3.

Genealogy Standards Updated in New Manual

In honor of its fiftieth anniversary, the Board for Certification of Genealogists® (“BCG”) has issued Genealogy Standards, a manual for best practices in research and assembly of accurate family histories. This revision completely updates and reorganizes the original 2000 edition of The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual.

 “Accuracy is fundamental to genealogical research,” writes editor Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, in the introduction. “Without it, a family’s history would be fiction. This manual presents the standards family historians use to obtain valid results. These standards apply to all genealogical research, whether shared privately or published.”

The 83 specific standards cover the process of researching family history and the finished products of the research. Based on the five-part Genealogical Proof Standard, the standards cover:

  • documenting (standards 1–8);
  • researching (standards 9–50), including planning, collecting, and reasoning from evidence;
  • writing (standards 51–73), including proofs, assembly, and special products;
  • teaching and lecturing (standards 74–81); and
  • continuing education (standards 82 & 83).

The 100-page book includes appendices: the genealogist’s code, a description of BCG and its work, a list of sources and resources where examples of work that meets standards are regularly published, a glossary, and an evidence-process map distinguishing the three kinds of sources, information, and evidence.

 “We are delighted to provide this new edition, which is meant for all genealogical researchers and practitioners as a way to recognize sound genealogy,” said BCG president Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL. “We appreciate the many hands that helped bring this new edition to fruition and look forward to its widespread usage in the field.”

SAVE 20%! To place a specially-priced, pre-publication order with delivery in the first part of February 2014, visit http://www.bcgcertification.org/catalog/index.html. Regularly priced at $14.95, the pre-publication price is $11.95 before January 27, 2014.

Citation: Board for Certification of Genealogists. Genealogy Standards, 50th-anniversary edition. Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry, 2014. 100 pp., paper, ISBN 978-1-63026-018-7, $14.95.

New York Times Taking Questions on Genealogy

The New York Times announced today (Oct. 30) that they will gather genealogical questions that will be answered next Wednesday, Nov. 6, by Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG. You can see the interesting questions being posted at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/30/booming/taking-questions-on-how-to-research-family-history.html?_r=0. Thank you, Elizabeth, for doing this. We look forward to your answers!

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.”

BCG Activities in Salt Lake City

BCG Celebrates 50th Anniversary

The BCG Trustees have traditionally met in Salt Lake City in October each year. Around that gathering will be a celebration to honor BCG’s 50th anniversary. Now is the time to make plans to join us in Salt Lake City in October if you haven’t already. A banquet and free lectures are all open to the public.

Open to the entire genealogical community is the all-you-can-eat buffet banquet on Saturday, October 12, at 7 p.m. (social hour at 6 p.m.) at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City, Utah. Co-sponsored by ASG, BCG, and FamilySearch, this celebration of 50 years of genealogical standards is very appropriate. Judy Russell, CG, CGL, (aka “The Legal Genealogist”) will be the banquet speaker and promises to have us laughing and reflecting over 50-year history of our field with the following topic:

“We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby” — Standards for the 21st Century
From no formal standards to the Genealogical Proof Standard, the field of genealogy has come a long way in establishing criteria by which excellence can be measured. And we face a long and perhaps even more daunting road ahead as we consider the 21st century challenges posed by technology, DNA and more.

The cost for the banquet is $40 and parking will be free for those who drive. Checks may be made out to “ASG” and sent to the ASG treasurer, Myrtle Hyde, FASG,  3628 Iowa Avenue, Ogden, UT 84403.

A series of free lectures from Board-certified genealogists are being planned for Thursday and Friday, Oct. 10 and 11, 2013, in the Church Museum Auditorium next to the Family History Library, to which the public is invited. More details will become available on the BCG blog as they become known.

SLIG Course: “Credentialing: Accreditation, Certification, or Both?”

BCG and ICAPGen will again offer a joint course at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, January 13-17, 2014. Both organizations’ credentials were founded in 1964, and this is a fitting way to celebrate credentialing while providing detailed requirement and application information. While two of the twenty sessions are jointly given, each organization has nine sessions to present, discuss and utilize exercises in their credentialing process. BCG’s instructors are Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, (co-coordinator with Apryl Cox, AG), F. Warren Bittner, CG, Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, J. Mark Lowe, CG, and Judy G. Russell, CG, CGL. David Rencher, CG, AG will speak on cross-credentialing. For more information including a detailed schedule, see the “Tracks” menu item at http://www.infouga.org/aem.php?eid=8. The course is open to anyone who would like more information on credentialing processes.