The dog that did bark

(Crossposted from The Legal Genealogist)

Ooooops…

The Legal Genealogist (Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL) had an absolute ball last night giving a webinar for the Board for Certification of Genealogists, through Legacy Family Tree Webinars, on negative evidence.

It’s available online right now and for a few days will be free to review; afterwards, it’ll still be available for a small fee.

Now…

It’s true that negative evidence can be a tough topic, because even experienced genealogists can get confused about the exact distinction between direct, indirect and negative evidence in a particular situation.

negativeDirect evidence, of course, is information that appears to answer a research question by itself.1 The example I used was from the 1850 U.S. census of Yancey County, North Carolina, with the research question of “what did Charles Baker do for a living?” The census reports his occupation as High Sheriff.2 That surely gives us the answer, by itself, and so it’s direct evidence.

But if the research question is “where was the Baker family living when Rebecca was born?”, we have a different situation. The census does tell us she was born in North Carolina,3 so surely that’s where her mother was at that moment — but it doesn’t tell us that’s where the family was living at the time. They could have been just passing through, or visiting with relatives or friends.

So we’d need to combine the birthplace with other evidence of residence to answer the question and that — by definition — makes it indirect evidence: a bit of information that has to be combined with other bits to answer the question.4

Negative evidence is another beastie: it’s a “type of evidence arising from an absence of a situation or information in extant records where that information might be expected.”5 In the words of the Sherlock Holmes story, it’s the dog that didn’t bark — when it should have barked — if what we thought was true was in fact true.6

Sometimes we get confused when we search for something — say, a particular person in a census — and we can’t find him, so we think that’s negative evidence. Nope. That’s just a negative search — we don’t have any basis yet for drawing an inference about what it means that we couldn’t find him. Maybe his entry was misindexed. Maybe the census taker skipped over that household. We just don’t know — and we don’t have a basis for speculating.

And sometimes — sigh — we get confused and think that evidence that negatives a proposition — that tends to disprove it — is negative evidence.

As — sigh — I did when one question came up at the end in the Q&A.

The question was whether DNA results could be negative evidence, and, in my answer, the example I used of a case that could be negative evidence… isn’t.

The example I used was a YDNA test. My Shew line from North Carolina against another Shew-Schuh line from Virginia. We had every reason to believe, based on the paper trail, that the Philip who disappeared from the records of Virginia right around the time that my Philip appeared in the records of North Carolina was one and the same Philip.

But YDNA testing thoroughly disproved that working hypothesis. Looking at just the very top level YDNA results — the haplogroup, or which branch of the male human family tree the test takers are sitting on7 — it’s not so: the Virginia line has a haplogroup of R, and my Shew line has a haplogroup of I — and you can’t have two lines descending from the same common male ancestor with two different haplogroups.

That’s not negative evidence.

It does in fact directly answer the research question: “Are the two Shew lines related through the direct paternal line?” The dog did bark — we got an answer to our research question. And the fact that the answer is in the negative (“no, they’re not”) doesn’t change it from direct evidence to negative evidence.

There may be situations where, perhaps, DNA evidence might be put in the negative evidence category. If so, however, it’s not going to be in any case where the DNA test merely disproves a research theory. Any time a test can directly show a relationship (“yes, two people are related”) or debunk a theorized relationship (“no, two people aren’t related, at least not in this way”), it’s direct evidence — even when the answer is no.


SOURCES

1. See Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tennessee : Ancestry, 2014), 66.

2. 1850 U.S. census, Yancey County, North Carolina, population schedule, p. 450(A) (stamped), dwelling 975, family 967, Charles Baker; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Dec 2016); citing National Archive microfilm publication M432, roll 407.

3. Ibid., Rebecca A. E. Baker.

4. See Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, at 70.

5. Ibid., at 71.

6. See A. Conan Doyle, “The Adventure of Silver Blaze,” Strand Magazine (July-December 1892) IV: 645; digital images, Google Books (http://books.google.com : accessed 4 Dec 2016).

7. ISOGG Wiki (http://www.isogg.org/wiki), “Haplogroup,” rev. 4 Oct 2016.

Welcome, LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, CG!

LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson focuses on African American families with roots in the South, primarily the Carolinas, and she gets a great deal of personal satisfaction from helping families with slave ancestors to recover their lost histories. As a result she considers herself a genealogist with a mission: to research, write, and lecture to inspire descendants of African American slaves to document their family histories, and to raise the consciousness of all Americans about the contributions of these ancestors.

LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, CG

To ensure that she had the skills and the knowledge to do this critical and difficult work the right way, she decided to work towards the Certified Genealogist credential, a goal she achieved just a few weeks ago.

LaBrenda is a graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, and holds both a law degree and a Master of Laws degree from New York University. She spent most of her 35-year legal career as a corporate tax attorney, including five years on the staff of the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation of the U.S. Congress.

No newcomer to genealogy, she had authored and privately published three editions of her family history (The Source: The Garrett, Neely, and Sullivan Families) and was the principal writer and editor of two church histories documenting their founding African American families while still in active law practice. But, LaBrenda said, even with her legal training, she made many of the mistakes of a novice genealogist. While her background gave her the needed analytical and writing skills, she didn’t fully realize just how much she had to learn about genealogy until she enrolled in the online certificate in genealogical research program offered by Boston University.

After completing the Boston University program, she immersed herself in genealogy, beginning with ProGen Study Group 13. That’s where she came into contact with her genealogy hero: Sandra MacLean Clunies, CG, who served as the mentor of that group during and even after the group’s 18-month study program. It was Sandy’s encouragement that led LaBrenda to enter the 2013 International Society of Family History Writers and Editors (ISFHWE) Excellence-in-Writing Competition, where she took first place for unpublished material by published authors. Her winning article, “Searching for the Slave Owners of Isaac Garrett: Expanding Research Beyond Online Sources,” was published in the June 2014 issue of the ISFHWE quarterly, Columns.

She also attended the 2012 session of the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR), and joined the GenProof 25 study group to gain a solid grounding in basic genealogical methodology. In addition to formal courses of study, she joined genealogical organizations that offer online tutorials and/or journals or newsletters, and attended national and local conferences where she could ask questions of established experts, and she noted how impressed she was with “how extraordinarily generous members of the community are with their time and knowledge.” She singled out Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, whom she first met through the Boston University program, and noted that the speakers at the annual National Genealogy Society conference were uniformly excellent: “Elizabeth Shown Mills, Judy Russell, Michael Hait, and Reginald Washington have never disappointed.”

She found conferences valuable to network with other genealogists, and learn more about her area of interest. When she started thinking about certification, LaBrenda made sure to attend online and in-person sessions that discussed the BCG requirements. Along the way, she picked up one of the best pieces of advice for anyone looking to achieve certification: “use your own family for the kinship determination project.”

She also turned again to her mentor Sandy Clunies, and it was Sandy’s feedback that proved invaluable in helping decide she was ready to begin the BCG certification process. LaBrenda emphasizes, though, that being ready to do the work and being ready to start the BCG clock can be two different things. While she’d reviewed the projects she wanted to include in her portfolio before filing her preliminary application, she hadn’t done any of the work and found herself pressed for time as the one-year deadline approached. So a key piece of advice for others is not to take that one-year time frame too literally: “It’s better to do as much preparation in advance as you reasonably can,” she said. “Limiting myself to that one year time frame wasn’t realistic, and certainly made the process harder than it needed to be.”

That experience doesn’t change her overall view however: “the certification process itself was worth doing because it sharpened my skills, particularly my facility with the citation forms and numbering system.”

She hopes to use those newly-honed skills to publish scholarly articles and lecture in her area of interest and to prepare to renew her credential in five years.

LaBrenda divides her time between Washington, D.C., where she has lived since 1982, and Laurens, S.C., where she maintains a residence on land that was once part of her Garrett great-grandfather’s farm. She is married to Paul Nelson, an ordained Baptist minister, and is the mother of a daughter who works as a journalist in New York City. In her “spare time,” she serves as a member of the board of trustees of the John Jay College Foundation in New York.

Congratulations and welcome, LaBrenda!


Photo courtesy of Raza-Ry Photography.

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.

Website and Branding for the Twenty-First Century

Request for Proposals

The Board for Certification of Genealogists® today issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the redesign of its website and branding for the twenty-first century.

Noting that the existing website is dated in both looks and functionality, the Board is seeking a complete makeover.

The purpose of the redesign is to better serve the needs of website users, including

• persons considering Board certification who are looking for information on the certification process and judging system, and the like

• BCG’s associates, trustees, and judges

• the general public interested in genealogical standards and/or in hiring a qualified genealogist to conduct research.

The desired web design must be fully mobile-ready and offer modern content management tools. It may, if appropriate, build on an existing content management system, such as Joomla or WordPress. Graphical elements, including logo and font choices, will be updated at the same time to foster consistent branding across all media (print and web). Other key elements include but are not limited to

• intuitive navigation;

• clean and focused design;

• optimization with SEO best practices;

• social media integration (share buttons, follow buttons, etc.);

• updated associates’ directory with automatic email and phone links.

Web designers and other interested parties may download a copy of the RFP from Google Drive or DropBox. Questions about the RFP may be directed to bcg.rfp@gmail.com.

The deadline for submissions is December 1, 2015. The desired launch date of the redesigned site is as soon as possible but no later than June 1, 2016.

Certification Workshop at NGS 2015

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2015 NGS Family History Conference, is pleased to offer an overview of this certification workshop, presented Thursday, 14 May 2015:

T211: Certification: Measuring Yourself Against Standards, presented by Michael S. Ramage, JD, CG, Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, and Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

Why certify?

How to certify?

What are the components of a portfolio?

What characterizes a successful applicant?

What are the common mistakes made by unsuccessful applicants?

Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

These are among the questions addressed by trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists in its workshop “Certification: Measuring Yourself Against Standards,” conducted at the 2015 National Genealogical Society conference in St. Charles, Missouri.

Michael S. Ramage, JD, CG

Trustee and Board Treasurer Michael S. Ramage, JD, CG, Trustee and Executive Committee member-at-large Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL, and Trustee and Past President Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, reviewed the certification process in depth for a packed room at the St. Charles Convention Center.

Attendees had the opportunity to ask questions about all of the required elements of the portfolio, the application process, and the judging rubrics.

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL

They also were among the first to learn of two changes in the application process, adopted by the Board of Trustees at its meeting last week:

First, the resume requirement will be updated, effective when the 2016 application guide is published, to require new applicants to “List the genealogy-related activities that helped you prepare for certification and in a sentence or two discuss how each activity helped you improve your (a) attainment of genealogical standards, (b) knowledge of genealogically-useful materials and contexts, (c) skills in reconstructing unknown or forgotten relationships, families, people, groups, and events, and (d) abilities to present your findings to others. Your discussion should cover formal and informal development activities in which you engaged. {Standards 82–83}.” This requirement, which will be evaluated by judges in the portfolio review process, is designed to ensure that applicants focus on the wide variety of educational opportunities available to assist in preparing for success as a genealogical researcher.

Second, and again effective when the 2016 application guide is published, new applications will be capped at 150 pages in length. This change will bring both electronically-submitted and hard-copy portfolios onto an identical footing, with both forms limited to 150 pages. (Double-sided printing is allowed, but each printed page counts: seventy-five pieces of paper printed on both sides equals 150 pages.) It will also serve to reinforce the guidance given to applicants that excellence is not inconsistent with brevity.

The two-hour, two-session workshop was recorded, and the audio tape will be available shortly for purchase through Jamb Tapes, Inc.

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, Melissa Johnson, CG

Melissa Johnson’s fascination with the genealogical resources of Newark, New Jersey, is hardly surprising: she is the first Johnson in her line not to have been born in Newark since 1666.

Melissa Johnson, CG

A descendant of many of New Jersey’s first settlers, including those from Newark and Elizabethtown, she has documented her family’s immigration into America from the 1500s on her father’s side all the way through to the twentieth century on her mother’s side. She became interested in genealogy when she was about nine years old after her Johnson grandfather showed an interest.

She never looked back and, today, Melissa Johnson is one of the newest—and one of the youngest—Board-certified genealogists, having received the credential in January.

A graduate of Susquehanna University who has worked in public and government relations, the lifelong New Jersey resident said she sought certification for many reasons. More than anything else, she said, “I wanted to know that I was working to standards.”

“The process that BCG laid out made sense to me, and I knew I’d learn a lot from putting together a portfolio,” she said. “I also thought it was important, as a younger genealogist, to have a credential that would make people take me and my work more seriously.”

Melissa noted that the best preparation she had for certification was writing a journal article and working with journal editors. “I got to see what I did well and where I needed more work,” she explained.

She recommended that those thinking about certification look at portfolios at conferences and institutes where they are available for review. “When you look at the portfolios in detail, you realize that you can do this level of work, too.” She also highly recommends studying journal articles, such as those published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ).

The best part of the portfolio process for Melissa was writing the kinship determination project. “If I could write those types of works all day long, I would.” If she had it to do over again, she would have submitted her portfolio earlier. “I really was ready,” she said. “I just put it off too long.”

Just named as editor of the brand-new NGS Monthly, a digital newsletter of the National Genealogical Society, Melissa is also the Reviews Editor for the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly (APGQ) and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Genealogical Society of New Jersey and the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History.

Her genealogical work focuses primarily on researching New Jersey and New York City families from the colonial period to the present. She also assists clients with writing and editing projects, and works on forensic genealogy cases. She hopes to be able to spend more time writing journal articles and teaching genealogy at institutes, conferences, and other venues. She can be reached through her website at www.johnsongenealogyservices.com.

Welcome, Melissa!


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.

BCG at FGS-RootsTech 2015

The Board for Certification of Genealogists will be well represented this week at the combined 2015 Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference and RootsTech in Salt Lake City, Utah.

BCG will have a booth in the vendor hall, coordinated by Richard G. Sayre, CG, CGL, where information about certification and standards will be available, and where those considering certification can review portfolios.

It will also be presenting a two-hour workshop on Friday, February 13, starting at 1 p.m., on “Certification: Measuring Yourself Against Standards.” It will be moderated and presented by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, and Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL.

The BCG-sponsored luncheon on Friday, just before the workshop, will feature J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA, speaking on “What Did You Do When You Were A Kid? or Strategies for Gathering Family Stories.”

And Board-certified genealogists will take to the podium in large numbers. Scheduled presentations by associates include the following:

Wednesday, February 11

The Policy and Procedure Manual: Preventing “I Didn’t Know That”
by C. Ann Staley, CG, CGL

The Ethical Genealogist
by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

Seven Sure-Fire Ways to Involve Elroy Jetson (& others) in Your Genealogical Society
by J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA

Organizing and Carrying Out a Society Project
by C. Ann Staley, CG, CGL

Thursday, February 12

Getting the Most Out of Genealogical Evidence
by Thomas Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS

Hatched, Matched, and Dispatched: Vital Record Research
by C. Ann Staley, CG, CGL

Searching for Our Ministers and Clergy
by Patricia Walls Stamm, CG, CGL

How Old Did He Have to Be…?
by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

Researching Your War of 1812 Ancestor
by Craig R. Scott, MA, CG, FUGA

Biblical Breakthrough! How I Came to Love the NGS Online Bible Collection
by Diane Florence Gravel, CG

Tales Grandma Didn’t Tell
by Warren Bittner, MS, CG

Civil War Medical Records
by Craig R. Scott, MA, CG, FUGA

Problem Solving with Probate
by Thomas Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS

The War Ended But Not The Records!
by Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA

Making a Federal Case Out of It
by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

Obtaining 20th Century Military Records from St. Louis Personnel Records Center
by Patricia Walls Stamm, CG, CGL

Friday, February 13

Impossible Immigrant! Exhausting Research to Find an Ancestor’s Origins
by Warren Bittner, CG

Gentlemen Judges: The Justices of the Peace
by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

Federal Records Relating to Rivers and Canals
by Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL

New Standards or Old? Guidelines for Effective Research and Family Histories
by Thomas Jones PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS

Our River Ancestors and the Records They Left Behind
by Patricia Walls Stamm, CG, CGL

Writing a Prize-Winning Family History
by Thomas Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS

Railroads Beyond the Mississippi: History and Records
by Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA

The Compiled Military Service Record
by Craig R. Scott, MA, CG, FUGA

Finding the Migration Record and Stories of the Dust Bowl Disaster and Western Movement
by J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA

Saturday, February 14

Comparing Records With Vintage Tools and High Tech Resources
by J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA

Meyer’s Gazetteer: Gateway to Germany
by Warren Bittner, CG

Manuscripts and More
by Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL

Martha Benschura: Enemy Alien
by Judy G. Russell, JD, 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.

Welcome, Malissa Ruffner

Malissa Ruffner, CG

Computer programmer. Lawyer. Educator. Reference librarian. And, now, Board-certified genealogist.

Clearly, Malissa Ruffner is, in her own words, “not shy about career shifts.”

Raised in Pennsylvania, Malissa received her bachelor of arts degree from Goucher College, and started her first career as a computer programmer for a large insurance company. After she received her law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law, she was a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, and worked on landmark cases dealing with public education funding and racial segregation.

At the same time, Malissa worked with parents in and outside of the public school system to establish an elementary school based on experiential learning. She became its first full-time director in 1998.

Malissa followed that with a master of library science degree from the University of Maryland, working as an independent contractor serving individual and institutional clients in the areas of libraries, archives, education, and research. Later, she worked in Special Collections at the University of Maryland, and as an email reference coordinator for the Internet Public Library.

And, behind it all, was her love of family and genealogy. Mother of two and now grandmother of a soon-to-be-two-year-old, Jane, Malissa collected family documents, researched at repositories around Maryland and Washington, D.C., and added genealogy to the list of things she wanted to do “someday.”

Her father’s death in 2008 brought “someday” front and center. “I enrolled in an introductory workshop in March of 2009,” she explained, “and by the time I attended New England Historic Genealogical Society’s ‘Come Home to New England’ program in June, I was already contemplating a career shift.”

Malissa took on a project for a friend to see if researching for others was as enjoyable as investigating her own family, and found it was “just as much fun.” She completed the ProGen program (as part of ProGen 5), and, in 2010, attended the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University, and the National Institute for Genealogical Research at the National Archives.

“Full immersion had begun,” she said. She followed up by getting involved with the Maryland Genealogical Society, where she is currently in her second term as an at-large board member.

Malissa’s advice to those considering certification is to “make it a high priority and tackle it in pieces. I stayed home from conferences and institutes and shied away from new commitments for a period of time. That was hard. Some applicants wait until the requirements are nearly complete before starting the clock, but I took the other path. Even though I needed an extension, the goal of submitting a successful portfolio remained at the top of my list.”

She noted that there are pros and cons to having come to genealogy later in life. “The fact that I haven’t been able to share my discoveries (both delightful and shocking) with my parents breaks my heart a little,” she noted. “On the other hand, my earlier experiences have been invaluable, and I haven’t had to worry about neglecting young children—only grown ones!”

She added that she is “in awe of genealogists who labored without the technological tools we enjoy today. Imagine typing your letter of inquiry to a distant family member or library and waiting weeks for a reply. We have so much at our fingertips: increasing availability of original records, vast opportunities for collaboration, and now DNA. And there are still good reasons to visit libraries, archives, courthouses, and cemeteries. It doesn’t get any better.”

“I am lucky to have found the perfect niche at last, in a field that is so rewarding on every level,” Malissa said. “Everyone I have met in the last five years—from genealogy ‘rock stars’ to local researchers with decades of experience—has encouraged and welcomed this new kid on the block. In particular, I want to thank Claire Bettag, CG, for keeping me afloat with her encouragement and friendship.”

Malissa and her husband, John Odell, live in Baltimore, as do their two daughters, their daughters’ husbands, and their granddaughter, Jane.

by Judy G. Russell, 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.

Welcome Alice Hoyt Veen, CG

Alice Hoyt Veen, CG

An Iowa native and the sixth generation of her family to call Iowa home, Alice Hoyt Veen has become the second Iowan Board-certified genealogist of the 21st century.

A graduate of Iowa State University, Alice has been a dedicated genealogist for more than thirty years. She is a volunteer researcher for the Mahaska County Commission for the Preservation of Pioneer Cemeteries and has researched, cataloged and archived historical artifacts for Forest Park Museum in Dallas County. A past board member of the Iowa Genealogical Society, Alice has served as the society’s eNews and bimonthly newsletter editor and continues to contribute articles for publication.

In 2009 Alice began providing professional genealogical and historical research services through her business, Prairie Roots Research, specializing in Iowa and Midwestern research, with special emphasis on military research and Midwestern connections to American colonial roots.

Her answer when people ask her what she does: “I tell them I ‘reconstruct forgotten lives.’ Nothing is more satisfying than the knowledge that a life, long lost to time, can be rediscovered and understood. Every life has purpose and significance. My goal is to honor those disappeared lives by recreating, preserving and sharing their memories.”

Her advice to those seeking certification is to broaden their education by attending genealogical institutes and to expand their experience by completing projects for others that provide challenges beyond the researcher’s usual comfort zone. She adds that if she could do one thing differently herself, she would take her own advice and “more deeply explore colonial and early American records and spend more time accessing resources in eastern states.”

Alice notes that her inspiration as a genealogist comes from her father, Keith D. Hoyt: “He provided not only the link to a rich family heritage, but his personal character demonstrated those qualities I most admire and desire to emulate: humility, a strong work ethic, dedication to family, and perseverance in the face of adversity. His unquenchable thirst for knowledge extended to every possible subject and he challenged me to always strive for a higher purpose. It is a legacy I cherish and have tried to pass on to my own children.”

She can be reached through her website Prairie Roots Research (http://www.prairierootsresearch.com) or via email (alice@prairierootsresearch.com).


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.

November’s BCG Webinar: Probate!

The Board for Certification of Genealogists proudly announces the next in its series of webinars.

Michael Hait, CG

On Monday, November 17, Michael Hait, CG, will present “‘Of Sound Mind and Body’: Using Probate Records in Your Research.”

Created as part of the BCG Skillbuilding Track at the 2014 National Genealogical Society conference, this lecture discusses the process associated with the administration of testate and intestate estates and the records created as a result. Consulting these records is ordinarily an essential part of the reasonably exhaustive research necessary to meet the Genealogical Proof Standard. Example documents illustrate the various and detailed information that probate records can hold about our ancestors, their daily lives, and family relationships.

Open to all genealogists who want to improve their skills, this live webinar will begin at 8 p.m. Eastern (7 p.m. Central, 6 p.m. Mountain, 5 p.m. Pacific).

To register and receive your unique link to the webinar, please go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5876550263529763585.

Note that recordings may be made available online at a later date.

Look for announcements of future monthly webinars on this blog.


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 U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

BCG helps explain Chicago’s poorest burials

The Chicago Tribune yesterday turned to Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, a Board-certified genealogist and newly-elected President of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, for help in explaining the significance of a newly-released database of burials at the Cook County Cemetery at Dunning, Chicago, Illinois, a potters field serving poor and indigent residents.

Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG

As a Chicago specialist and the only Board-certified genealogist in the city, Bloom has often had to explain to people that the cemetery is largely unmarked — and she put the situation into historical context in her comments to the Chicago Tribune.

“People will often ask me, ‘Where’s the grave?’ And I have to explain to them the history of the institution and why the people were buried there,” she said. “It’s difficult for someone with a 2014 mindset and values to understand that thought process of the people 100 to 150 years ago.”

The database, located online at http://www.cookcountycemetery.com, was compiled by Barry Fleig, former cemetery chairman of the Chicago Genealogical Society, who said the project — which took more than five years — is a work in progress, with the goal of documenting as many of the nearly 40,000 burials at the city’s pauper’s field as possible.

The Board for Certification of Genealogists (bcgcertification.org) is an independent, national and internationally recognized certifying body. It strives to foster public confidence in genealogy as a respected branch of history by promoting an attainable, uniform standard of competence and ethics among genealogical practitioners, and by publicly recognizing persons who meet that standard.


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 U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.