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!
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.
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.”
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 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.
Thank you to everyone who attended the Board for Certification of Genealogists events at the recent Federation of Genealogical Society conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana. BCG kicked off the celebration of the “50th year of its age” with a luncheon presentation by David McDonald, CG, who spoke about families—our own, our ancestors’ and our genealogical community family. Family dynamics have influences that provide insight for our research and into past and present interpersonal relationships. Thanks, David, for your insight!
The BCG Certification Seminar at FGS was a forum for the exchange of information and a great question-and-answer platform. A common question is, “How do-able is it to become a Board-certified genealogist?” Statistically, 40 percent of first-time applicants were successful last year. BCG determined that the rate of success improves for applicants who get involved in genealogy educational opportunities, such as attending conferences, institutes and the BCG Certification Seminar. Another success indicator is experience in analyzing evidence and problem solving. Adhering to the Standards delineated in the Genealogical Standards Manual is a must, and being familiar with the evaluation rubrics used for feedback–online at http://www.bcgcertification.org/–also tends to increase success. Along with these tools, successful portfolios displayed at conference exhibit halls in the BCG booths help make for a transparent process.
Are you ready to submit your application? On the genealogy learning continuum line from earliest beginner to most advanced, there is a place where the measure called “Standards” is set. For most people “Standards” always seem to be above our heads, even when we grow past that measure on the learning continuum line. Whether your research, evidence analysis skills and writing meet these Standards is what you are asking BCG to tell you when you submit your portfolio.
Is it possible to achieve? Yes, absolutely, with the requisite experience, attention to detail and appropriate work samples. Does it take time? Yes, your experience, education, and adherence to Standards take time to develop as well as the particular work samples. Will your first portfolio be successful? That depends. All portfolios submitted receive valuable feedback from the three independent evaluators who reviewed your portfolio pointing out specific areas where your work needs additional experience and improvement. Those whose first portfolios are “premature” are in good company. Recently several Board-certified genealogists have told their experiences of being unsuccessful with their first portfolio, but successful with their second attempt, and what a learning experience the process was!
Our greatest hope is that you may be able to join more than 1,600 Board-certified genealogists who have achieved this personal and/or professional milestone over the last fifty years.
For more information, including the evaluation rubrics and a video explanation of the certification process, see www.bcgcertification.org/certification/index.html.
As you may know the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) conference is being held next Wednesday, August 21, through Saturday, August 24, in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. BCG will have a presence in a booth in the exhibit hall, a luncheon on Thursday, and a Certification Seminar on Thursday.
Entrance to the exhibit hall is free (no conference registration necessary). Come to the booth Thursday, Friday or Saturday to look at successful application portfolios and see what it takes to become certified. View several portfolios so you get a “flavor” of how different they can be and yet they follow the same requirements and standards. A booklet of just sample judges’ comments is available. There are several “did not meet,” some marginal and some “meets standards” examples of comments. They are real although identifying information has been taken out. They also do not correspond with any of the portfolios.
The Certification Seminar is Thursday from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (double session) and will discuss all things related to applications, hints and tips, logistics, etc. Many successful applicants have stated that they have gone to these sessions at every opportunity and that hearing it more than once is not repetitive but reinforcing. Also you have different questions as you progress in your genealogical knowledge. There is ample opportunity to ask questions of the panel which includes Elissa Scalise Powell (BCG president), Jeanne Bloom (BCG treasurer), Debbie Mieszala (BCG Trustee), Dave McDonald (BCG Trustee and immediate past-president). I understand that the session will be held in the theater of the Allen County Public Library.
We will take a break between the two sessions from 3 pm to 3:30 pm during which any Preliminary Applicants are welcome to come and meet and greet each other. We will have badge ribbons “On the Clock” (also available from the BCG booth Thursday through Saturday).
BCG’s Luncheon is also on Thursday right before the Certification Seminar. With BCG “in the 50th year of its age” Dave McDonald will speak to us about “No Diamonds, No Cherries: Celebrating a Jubilee.” You never know who you will meet over lunch! Some tickets are available for purchase at registration.
For more information and for a schedule of about 150 lecture sessions, see https://www.fgsconference.org/.
Guest blogger Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, provides the following.
I just received notification from San Antonio that Janey Eaves Joyce passed away last week. The Amarillo Globe-News link below covers her life nicely. Janey was very helpful in the Lone Star Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG).
Janey Eaves Joyce, a Board-certified Genealogist since 2003, passed away on 30 July 2013. Janey helped researchers many times at the Lone Star Chapter of APG Roadshow at the Texas State Genealogical Society Annual Conference. She won the 1st Place TSGS Writing award in 2011 for “The Rev. Moore Bingham (1707-1853) and His Wives, Ann Barber and Lucy Barber: their Ancestors and Descendants” (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txsgs/TXSGS-New/Pages/Grants-Awards-2011.htm) and she won the Grand Prize TSGS Writing Award in 2006 for “Bartlett Eaves.” Also, she recently won first place in 2013 Connecticut Society of Genealogists’ writing contest for her “Moore Bingham” work. There is a story about Janey’s life in the Amarillo Globe-News where she once served as editor: (http://amarillo.com/news/local-news/2013-08-03/ex-agn-editor-janey-joyce-dies).
Many visitors to the BCG booth may recall looking at Janey’s successful portfolio as one of the first ones offered for public review.
She will be missed by the genealogical community in San Antonio, all of Texas, and the community of board-certified and professional genealogists.
Posting by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL
This week is quite busy for those attending the Southern California Jamboree and the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama, and for those attending both!
For those who cannot make these events, please check out the new audio clips at the bottom of http://www.bcgcertification.org/certification/why.html. Thank you, Joan Hunter, CG, Alvie Davidson, CG, and Kathy Hinckley, CG, for telling us about your individual pathway to certification.
It is with pleasure that I can say that BCG will have a presence at both Jamboree and IGHR and be able to have available successful portfolio applications for attendees to browse on a limited basis. At Jamboree, look for the BCG table on Friday, June 7 (only) from noon to 6 pm. There you will meet some of our associates. We thank Stefani Evans, CG, for spearheading this volunteer effort.
In addition look for the Jamboree speakers who are Board-certified including: Jean Hibben, CG, Judy G. Russell, CG, CGL, Craig R. Scott, CG, Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, and Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL. They may be able to answer your certification question or point you in the right direction.
On the Samford University campus, where ten courses will be occurring simultaneously all next week, the BCG portfolio applications will be in the classroom of course 6, “Genealogy as a Profession” in Ralph W. Beeson University Center Annex, room 212. Anyone may come and look at the portfolios in the classroom during break times. IGHR attendees can also attend the Tuesday evening lecture (6 p.m.) on the why and how of getting certified given by Elissa Powell, CG, CGL, and Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL.
With BCG being a sponsor of IGHR for the past several decades, it is no surprise that nine of the eleven course coordinators are Board-certified and that six out of seventeen instructors are also certified. You may see them all at http://www4.samford.edu/schools/ighr/IGHR_faculty.html.
The next national conference is the Federation of Genealogical Societies in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, August 21-25. See www.FGS.org to sign up for the early bird registration before July 1. BCG will have a luncheon, a booth, and two sessions (not overlapping) on how and why to be come certified. Genealogical education is important to achieve if you want to become certified or just learn “cool stuff.”
See you there!
Post by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL
It was with great pleasure that I, along with Warren Bittner, CG, and David McDonald, CG, presented a double-session for the certification seminar. The advantage of the sessions held at every national conference over the one-hour video on the BCG website is that attendees can ask questions. And what good questions they were!
Clarification between certification and a certificate program, and how to go about the various aspects of preparing a portfolio were all discussed. In addition those who are actively “on the clock” and getting their portfolios ready gathered for a photo (see below).
Attendees also heard from current BCG associates about their reasons and various pathways to certification from Michael Hait, CG, Craig Scott, CG, and Dawne Slater-Putt, CG.
The double session was audio recorded by JAMB-Inc.com and will appear for sale on their website under session T211 of the NGS 2013 conference.