Welcome, Fuller “Sonny” Jones, CG

BCG’s newest associate came to genealogy twenty years ago after “growing up” with the U.S. space program. A veteran of more than 150 space vehicle launches, Fuller “Sonny” Jones is a retired National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) engineer whose career spanned more than four decades. Born in Alabama, he graduated from Auburn University with a degree in mechanical engineering. In 1958 (pre-NASA) he started work at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in Huntsville. This was the Werner von Braun team that launched the first American satellite, Explorer 1.

Fuller “Sonny” Jones, CG

Later Fuller’s desire to become more directly involved in the space program led him to Cape Canaveral. He participated in the development of the Atlas-Centaur and the early planetary exploration launches. In 1979 he moved to the Space Shuttle Program and later was the shuttle main engine lead engineer. Preparation of propulsion systems analysis reports and launch summaries honed his writing skills. The painstaking requirements of pre-launch checkout developed the attention to detail necessary in genealogical research and documentation.

Regarding genealogy Fuller says, “There is no telling when the genealogy bug will bite. It may happen when reading a family history, looking at old photographs, or visiting old graveyards.  There may be periods of ‘remission,’ but the bug can bite again at any time, and there is no cure.” Fuller’s interest in genealogy actually started about 1960 when his mother-in-law showed him the history of her Holden family from the early 1600s in England. He did not realize that the genealogy bug was present. Later, during the documentation of his wife’s Holden line for her application to the Daughters of the American Revolution, the genealogy bug bit deep.

Although interested in genealogy for many years, Fuller’s career did not allow much time for genealogical research. After he retired in 1995 from shuttle launch operations, Fuller joined the local genealogical society and started studying research methodology. The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) led to the realization that a “brick wall” could be overcome using well-documented indirect evidence.  Intensive study of the GPS requirements raised his research skills to the next level. Tom Jones and Elizabeth Shown Mills are his genealogical heroes, and he credits them with providing the inspiration to continuously improve and to attempt certification.

Fuller believes in the “boots on the ground” approach of on-site research. Such work at rural courthouses provided two breakthroughs in the research of his maternal Matthews family.  His fourth great-grandfather Rev. Willis D. Matthews died in Alexander City, Tallapoosa County, Alabama, in 1864, and family stories hinted at a will. The search began at the county courthouse in nearby Dadeville. After hours of searching through the old courthouse basement archives, Fuller asked one of the older workers for help. She came back after about ten minutes carrying an old leather wallet with the original handwritten will naming all of his children! There was no will book or index. Without the personal search and request, this invaluable document could not have been found.

Two 1930s “genealogies” of his Matthews family included many erroneous conclusions. The most egregious asserted that Fuller’s fifth great-grandfather James Matthews (father of the above Willis) died in 1810 and also reflected a change of four children’s birth dates accordingly. There were some good clues, however. One stated that James died in Pendleton District (now Anderson County), South Carolina. A research trip to the Anderson County courthouse solved the James Matthews problem. Fuller found an 1828 reference to James’s wife, Nancy Matthews. This led to a document proving that her husband died in late 1827, not 1810, while in the process of selling his land. Because James died before the sale was finalized, widow Nancy was forced to complete the sale. The resulting document, found on microfilm in the Anderson County Library, identified all the living sons and sons-in-law. Later research identified the correct birth dates of the four children born during the “lost” years of 1810–1827. Again, a research visit to the courthouse was essential for success.

A member of the National Genealogical Society, Fuller is also a long-time member and past president of the Brevard [Florida] Genealogical Society. After finding several Revolutionary War ancestors, Fuller joined Sons of the American Revolution (SAR). This led to his current passion of helping other men with their research to join the SAR.  He does this without compensation as his way of contributing to the organization.

Fuller found that poor quality documentation was prevalent in many SAR applications. He was instrumental in correcting some of this at the national level by recommending the use of the GPS and stricter documentation requirements. These improvements have now been implemented. Providing improved documentation for SAR applications was Fuller’s primary reason for seeking certification. Plus, certification was on his “Bucket List,” and now it is crossed off!

Many congratulations, Fuller, and all the best as you pursue the next item on your list!

Marie Varrelman Melchiori, Certified Genealogist Emeritus

BCG offers Emeritus status to a certified person who has had a long and distinguished career with BCG and who is retired or semi-retired. In 2015 the Board of Trustees voted to offer this designation to Marie Varrelman Melchiori.

Forty years ago Marie Varrelman Melchiori found her great-grandfather’s Civil War discharge paper. It set her on a quest for more information that resulted in a career in genealogical research, service to organizations in the field, and honors that include her election this year as a Certified Genealogist Emeritus.

Learning of her great-grandfather’s service in the 131st New York Infantry led Marie to acquire his Civil War pension file. The National Archives (NARA) in Washington, DC, was a reasonable commute from her home. She became familiar with its Civil War records holdings as she worked on her own ancestor and later for clients who were dealers and collectors of Civil War memorabilia. Marie explains that they had “letters, guns, swords, drums, etc. that belonged to a soldier. It was a pleasure to find the person who carried the item, usually a plain, ordinary soldier who would not have been mentioned in a history book.” Because of her research, this soldier’s name now became known. “The same was true of the vague ancestor whose name might appear on a family tree. Now he became a person who fought in battles that everyone had heard about.”

Marie Varrelman Melchiori, CG Emeritus[1]

In 1980 Marie’s successful application to BCG earned her the Certified Genealogical Record Searcher (CGRS) status. Her email address (MVMcgrs) still reflects that designation. The initials remained the same when the category changed in 1993 to Certified Genealogical Record Specialist, which best describes Marie’s work. “My specialty was Civil War records at NARA. This specialty expanded to include NARA military records for all wars and NARA researching in general.”

Marie began lecturing nationally in 1986 and earned the Certified Genealogical Lecturer (CGL) credential in 1995. She had heard many lecturers talk about what great things could be found in basic military records, but they said very little about how to access the records. Marie covered what most lectures missed: the important NARA finding aids. Her handouts were in outline format and contained record group number, entry or microfilm publication number, and title. She also included the all-important source citations. In later years she added mention of records that had been digitized, the company that digitized them, and the idiosyncrasies of the digitizing process. These outlines became shopping lists that could be taken to NARA in person or online. All the necessary information was there for ordering records.[2]

When BCG consolidated the CGRS and Certified Genealogist categories, Marie’s designation became CG. She felt, she says, “like the family who never moved, but the county lines changed around them. I am very much record-oriented and feel that it is important to have people who know their local records so well that they are the ‘go-to person’ for a particular area or subject. NARA doesn’t have many specialists left. Most are generalists.” She hopes BCG will continue to value the specialists.

Image technology has changed dramatically in the years since Marie first started working with NARA records. She describes the differences:

Huge census copies made on the old machine at NARA can now be made on smaller paper and with better quality. I have recopied my great-grandfather’s Civil War pension file each time NARA purchased a new copy machine. The information never changed, but the quality of the copy did. Now many of the NARA series are digitized, a big improvement over scratched microfilm. This also allows researchers to search records at home, at midnight and on holidays.

When I started lecturing, examples were presented as overheads or transparencies, and now they are slides made in PowerPoint (PP). Since my transparencies were straight from the document or the microfilm, there wasn’t much that could be done about the quality. As assistant director of the National Institute on Genealogical Research I had the chance to read reviews of the first PP presentations given. For several years the comments were more about the bells and whistles of the presentation than the material content. When the focus changed back to content I went to computer presentations. PowerPoint slides can be tweaked, and the documents used may be from a cleaner, digitized version. A lot of what is taken for granted now was at one time cutting edge.

Marie’s forty years of genealogical research, thirty-five of client work, and many years of lecturing accompanied service to genealogy organizations, too. She was assistant director of NIGR from 1987 to 2002. A member of the Association for Professional Genealogists (APG) since 1983, she served as its vice president from 1991–93 and trustee from 1994–99. In 1999 she was awarded the Grahame T. Smallwood Jr. Award of Merit in recognition of her personal commitment and outstanding service to APG. She counts as a proud moment being elected by her peers to the BCG Board of Trustees, where she served from 2002–2006.

Marie comments, “Thank you, BCG, for an association that spanned thirty-five years and helped me meet so many really great people. I have enjoyed being certified and feel it is a natural progression when someone wants to become a professional. It’s time to stop client research and get back to my own family. Thank you to the Board for granting me Emeritus status.”

On behalf of BCG and the genealogical community, thank you, Marie, for sharing your time, your energy, and your expertise to help us all grow. Congratulations!

[1]Photo courtesy of Ryan Morrill Photography.

[2] Recordings of Marie’s lectures for National Genealogical Society and Federation of Genealogical Societies conferences from 2012 and earlier can be accessed from Jamb Tapes, Inc. Her outlines were published for conference attendees in each year’s syllabus, possibly available now in genealogy libraries.

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.

Gale Williams Bamman, Certified Genealogist Emeritus

In May 2015 Gale Williams Bamman of Cross Plains, Tennessee, was granted BCG’s honorary designation Certified Genealogist Emeritus, in recognition of more than forty years of noteworthy involvement with BCG. First certified in 1972 as Genealogical Record Searcher (GRS), Gale earned three additional BCG credentials: Certified American Lineage Specialist in 1977, Certified Genealogist in 1982, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer in 1995. She served as BCG trustee and president. At the time of receiving Certified Genealogist Emeritus, she was the longest actively-credentialed associate.

Gale Williams Bamman, Certified Genealogist Emeritus

When Gale began taking clients for research, she was hesitant to call herself a professional genealogist. “I didn’t consider that a title I could just assume. I felt I needed approval from some authority, and the fairly newly-organized Board for Certification of Genealogists (1964) seemed the perfect avenue for that,” she said. “The instructions I received in 1972 were daunting, because of my general lack of education in the field and my being somewhat self-taught. . . . There was no BCG application guide, no seminars or local speakers, and no national conferences. How-to guides were some years down the pike, other than Gilbert Doane’s Searching for Your Ancestors, first published in 1960, and which I’d consumed.”

Her application for GRS was approved. Receiving word of her success, Gale said, “was one of my happiest moments; and it proved to be a momentous move upward in my career. . . .  I could then say I was a professional, but I’d add—as I continue to do today—that I still had much to learn. I should here state what is obvious: that no one today could pass BCG’s certification requirements based on the limited knowledge I had in 1972; and with the myriad forms of instruction and study available now, it would be counter-productive, anyway, to limit oneself to basically one’s own experiences in genealogical research.”

Gale has seen the field grow and change over the years. She is excited about FamilySearch’s initiative to digitize and index their holdings, and is gratified to see the increasing recognition of genealogy’s importance to fields such as history, medicine, and genetics. On the other hand, she is concerned about some of the information found online—trees without proper documentation or proofs, and the transitory nature of some websites and records.

Like the field in general, BCG continues to evolve. “Over the forty-plus years that I have held BCG credentials,” Gale remarked, “BCG’s influence has grown significantly, and the certification process has received extensive deliberation and refining. More-specific requirements and stronger qualifications are increasingly required. None of the eight application and renewal portfolios I submitted were easy to prepare. Each required careful consideration as to which of my client reports or journal articles would best reflect my knowledge and abilities as a researcher. I mailed each and every one with sweaty palms and fluttering heartbeat.”

Associates facing their first renewal often question how best to prepare. Gale advises, “It’s very important that you address all points discussed by your judges as ones needing improvement or correction, and demonstrate in your submissions as to how you’ve improved. During the five years prior to your renewal, continue your studies and attendance at seminars and conferences, or avail yourself of tapes from those. Consider attending a genealogical institute. Conferences and seminars are ideal for networking and for learning about myriad topics; but there’s much to be absorbed, to the point that sometimes attendees can return home with a certain amount of information-overload. Institutes offer structured classes that can help you retain what you learn.”

Gale suggests that those contemplating an initial application for certification “have sufficient research background and education so that you understand the application’s requirements. If you don’t grasp what is required of you, it will be quite difficult to present submissions that will meet with the judges’ approval.”  She suggests genealogists hold off filing preliminary applications until they feel they are ready “or are very close.” Gale continues, “Sample, but actual, BCG portfolios are available at national conferences, where you can study approved submissions. You can have an edge up if you avail yourselves of those. And, by all means, study Genealogy Standards, by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (2014); Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace  (Third Edition, 2015), by Elizabeth Shown Mills; and Mastering Genealogical Proof (2013), by Tom Jones—to name the top guide books—until the principles in those  become second-nature to you.”

Now retired from professional research, Gale has taken on a project as a fundraiser for the Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society: an in-depth book on the history of Nashville, Tennessee’s earliest charitable organizations. “I’ve always enjoyed learning more about social and historical aspects— something clients expected me to know about each of their locations. I couldn’t spend their time learning that, but had to apply myself to learning, when and as I could,” she revealed. Gale’s desire to keep learning—after spending more than four decades gaining knowledge and improving her skills—is only one of the things that set her apart.

On behalf of BCG and the genealogical community, thank you, Gale, for sharing your time, your energy, your expertise, and your viewpoints to help the rest of us grow.

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. Certified Genealogist Emeritus is also a service mark of BCG, offered to Board-certified genealogists who have had long and distinguished careers with BCG and who are retired from research for clients and from the profession of genealogy for more than incidental monetary gain. The board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Darcie Hind Posz, CG, wins ASG Scholar Award

BCG associate Darcie Hind Posz is “over the moon” on winning the 2015 American Society of Genealogists (ASG) Scholar Award. She has reason to be. The ASG is a prestigious group of leading published genealogical scholars. Fellows, elected for life, number only fifty and are identified by the post-nominal FASG. The ASG “serves the discipline of genealogy by embodying and promoting the highest standards of genealogical scholarship.”[1] To this end it publishes a leading journal, The Genealogist, and confers the annual Donald Lines Jacobus Award and the ASG Scholar Award.

Darcie Hind Posz, CG

As an applicant for the ASG Scholar Award Darcie submitted an unpublished manuscript that was evaluated by three Fellows. She describes her winning entry as “a four generation study of two families from Hiroshima Prefecture in Japan, their migration to the Big Island of Hawaii, and then the return of a few of them to Japan. It discusses the class system, Japanese law, the 1873 mandatory conscription act, plantation contacts with Hawaii, records-creation laws (in the Empire of Japan, the Kingdom of Hawaii, and the United States), dual citizenship of Japanese immigrants, and WWII Japanese internment.”

To encourage advanced education in genealogy, the ASG grants a prize of $1000. It is to be used for study at one of the major U.S. academic genealogical programs: the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR); the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR) in Washington, D.C.; the Certificate Program in Genealogical Research at Boston University; the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG); or the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP).

Darcie plans to attend the advanced land-analysis and platting course at IGHR. “Regardless of geography, my ancestors kept living in state-land states,” she said, “and I need to learn how to study and plat with patience and understanding. This also moves me closer to the project I mentioned when I first became certified, which is to do the land and community study on Waipio Valley [the Big Island of Hawaii] on foot.”

Darcie has submitted her award-winning piece for publication in a major journal. We’ll be watching for it! Many congratulations, Darcie.

[1] American Society of Genealogists (http://fasg.org/ : accessed 23 October 2015).


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.

BCG Education Fund Announces New Trustee

Trish Hackett Nicola, CG

The trustees of the BCG Education Fund announce that Patricia “Trish” Hackett Nicola, CG, of Seattle, Washington, will join the board as a trustee. Trish is an accomplished genealogist specializing in nineteenth- and twentieth-century family history research and historical research in Washington State. Since 2001 she has volunteered with the National Archives-Seattle Branch, which holds the Chinese Exclusion Act case files. Her blog, Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files, shows the types of information that can be found and how researchers can access it. Trish has a Bachelor of Science in accounting from the University of Colorado and is a retired CPA. She has a Master of Science degree in library service and worked as a reference librarian before becoming a full-time professional genealogist. The skills Trish honed as a CPA, librarian, and archive volunteer will benefit the BCG Education Fund. BCG Education Fund trustee Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, said, “We are fortunate to welcome a colleague of her caliber, and we look forward to working with her.”

Trish replaces  Kathy Gunter Sullivan, CG, resigning in her eighth year of service with the BCG Education Fund. Kathy led the trustees in creating the Education Fund’s substantial presence in genealogical education.

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, Michael J. Leclerc, CG

Michael J. Leclerc has been involved in the field of genealogy for better than two decades. He worked for seventeen years at the New England Historic Genealogical Society before moving to his present position as Mocavo’s Chief Genealogist. Amassing decades of practice was the best thing he did to prepare for certification, according to Michael, who says he believes that “one needs a certain level of experience to be best prepared for the process.”

Born and raised in New England, Michael has called the city of Boston his home for more than twenty-five years. Both his paternal and maternal ancestors are French Canadian. His grandparents and great-grandparents immigrated to New England.

Michael J. Leclerc, CG

Michael’s greatest passions are music and genealogy. As a member of the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, he has had the opportunity to travel in America, Europe, and the Middle East. His work in genealogy has taken him throughout North America, the Caribbean, and England. “I’ve always been interested in history,” he exclaims. “Genealogy is one way of bringing history down to the personal level. It allows me to look at history from a different angle. Also, I’ve always been a bit of a mystery buff, and genealogy is just an endless series of mysteries. Every time you find one answer, you create two new mysteries.”

Two such mysteries comprise Michael’s most stubborn brick-wall problems. One involves his research on a young man in his own family who was carried captive from New England to Quebec during the Colonial Wars. The other stems from his research on Benjamin Franklin’s family. Michael has been frustrated in attempts to identify the given name of one of Franklin’s nieces. He explains that the niece “does not have a first name in her birth record. In a letter written by the niece’s sister to Benjamin, she makes reference to the unnamed niece and that niece’s son, a ship captain in Wales. And the estate of Benjamin Franklin gives me the niece’s married surname: ‘Games.’ Unfortunately, I have no first names for the niece, her husband, or her son. And this little area of Wales is ground zero for that name.”

Teaching others about genealogy is one of Michael’s favorite genealogy-related activities. “Seeing the lights go on in someone’s eyes when they finally figure out a concept that they can apply to their own work and break down their brick walls is so much fun,” he reveals. He also enjoys writing, and he stresses that “having . . . work published is the best way to be certain that it will be there for future researchers to find.” Michael appreciates opportunities to explore new ground—different time periods, locations, and ethnic backgrounds that let him “start all over and learn from scratch.”

Michael submitted his portfolio after having extended the clock several times. He confesses that if he were starting again, he would have submitted his preliminary application only after having the major components of the portfolio complete or nearly complete. He found the client report challenging, as he has not conducted research for clients in some time, but the most difficult aspect of the application process for Michael was editing his own work. Being forced to work on his portfolio alone, he says, “illustrated . . . how collaborative I am in my work.”

Michael says he “draws inspiration from people,” including genealogists Gary Boyd Roberts, Paula Stuart-Warren, Jim Warren, Cyndi Ingle, Henry B. Hoff, and Patricia Law Hatcher. He counts Donald Lines Jacobus, John Insley Coddington, and the Holmans, genealogists who “did so much in the twentieth century to introduce quality research and standards to the field,” among his genealogical heroes.

He also draws strength from the words of others. Michael’s college band director taught him a Teddy Roosevelt quote that is still a source of encouragement:

 “It is not the critic who counts; nor the one who points out how the strong person stumbled, or where the doer of a deed could have done better. The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the field . . . Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

In the coming years Michael hopes to continue writing and teaching about genealogy, adding “. . . if I am doing this while moving between homes in Boston, midtown Manhattan, and London with a fantastic husband, I wouldn’t object!”

“I like to think that between music and genealogy, I am leaving the world a bit better off than before I was here,” he said. “Life is too short. We need to do our best, reach, stretch, and soar. Don’t let people knock down our dreams and ideas. As Helen Keller said ‘Life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing.’ ”

Michael may be reached at michael@genprof.net.

Welcome, Michael!

CG and Certified Genealogist 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.

Patti Hobbs, CG, New BCG Education Fund Trustee

One of our new BCG associates has recently joined the Board of Trustees of the BCG Education Fund. This non-profit charitable trust furthers BCG’s standards-based education goals. It funds lectures and workshops and provides incentives for study and scholarly research.

Patti Hobbs, CG

The trustees of the BCG Education Fund announce that Patricia “Patti” Lee Hobbs, CG, of Clever, Missouri, joins the board as a trustee. Patti is an accomplished genealogist specializing in DNA analysis and working with original records. She is particularly interested in genealogical education, as evidenced by her longtime position as Local History and Genealogy reference associate at the Springfield-Greene County Library District, where she has taught classes on genetic genealogy and traditional research methodology. This summer she will teach in the genetic genealogy course at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh.

Patti’s teaching and library experience, her skill as a webmaster for the ProGen Study Group, and her leadership roles with the Ozarks Genealogical Society all will benefit the BCG Education Fund going forward. We are fortunate to welcome a colleague of her caliber, and we look forward to working with her.

by Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL
on behalf of the BCG Education Fund Trustees

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, Barbara Ball, CG

Earlier this month, BCG granted the designation of Certified Genealogist to Barbara Ball of Tucson, Arizona. SpringBoard invites readers to meet Barbara through this interview with editor Judy Kellar Fox, CG.

Who are you, Barbara?

Daughter of a psychologist and a Presbyterian minister, I was born in Montana and moved to Arizona as a toddler.  I’m a Westerner.  I was a tomboy, a motocross racer, and a bookish nerd.  I played the flute, marched in the band, rode horses, and read every book I could get.  I walked barefoot in the desert, loved the summer rains, and became a passionate nature and animal lover.

Barbara Ball, CG

As an adult, I’ve been a bookkeeper, medical transcriptionist, code writer, scientist, cartographer, genealogist, and lifetime student.  I have three university degrees.  I’m a wife, mother, and grandmother.  I still play the flute, do needlework, sew, quilt, play bridge, garden, do jigsaw puzzles, draw, read, and swim.

Tell us about how your academic career has informed your genealogical work.

I was a GIS (geographic information systems) analyst, mapping endangered species habitat.  I loved this work, which involved geographic location of plants and animals, analysis of historic maps, production of current maps, and spatial analysis of patterns found in migration and habitation.  Maps are so crucial to genealogists, and I suppose I will always strive to find a niche in the world of genealogy that involves incorporating more geography and demographics into our work. Oh, I could write a book.  Maybe I will.

You have already published an article about GIS for genealogists, right?

Yes, “Geographic Information Systems for Genealogists,” Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly (APGQ) 32 (June 2014), 78–81. Another is forthcoming in the June 2015 issue of APGQ.

Why do you pursue genealogical research?

Originally it was a fun hobby when I lost my university job.  After I completed the Boston University Online Certificate in Genealogical Research, I realized genealogy could be another career.  Now I see it as I did my academic work—a field of research that is just beginning to develop into a potential academic discipline on its own merits.  While I don’t know exactly how that might happen, I find it a fascinating possibility.  The field is rigorous enough to satisfy my need for academic/scientific discipline, not only in the research process, but also in the logically supported approach to solving a problem or reaching a conclusion.  The hypothesis-research-conclusions process appeals to me.  The field is wide enough to encompass those who just want to click on the leaf as well as those who want to engage in intellectual stretching.

How did you prepare for certification?

Education.  I went through the National Genealogical Society [NGS] American Genealogy: Home Study Course, then the Boston University course, then a ProGen Study Group.  I’ve attended the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy Advanced Evidence Practicum course every year it has been offered, and that has been extremely valuable.

About four months before my due date, I listened to a seminar by Judy Russell, J.D., CG, CGL, about writing the Kinship Determination Project [KDP].  She was adamant that you should never do a KDP without access to onsite research.  I was so unhinged that I immediately scheduled a last-minute and rather expensive trip to Ohio, where I spent four days in the basement of a county courthouse that I had been in already twice before!

Who are your genealogical heroes?

My personal heroes would be Angela McGhie and Kimberly Powell.  These two ladies are busy with their own work and their own lives, yet they always have time to offer support, encouragement, and a smile. They make the profession human. I can’t forget Harold Henderson, Michael Hait, and Melinde Lutz Byrne.  Thank you.

Generically speaking, as a former academic, I have a great deal of respect for those genealogists who have retired from their academic careers and brought that rigorous discipline into the genealogy field.

What is your most satisfying genealogical work?

I love building up a picture of a family system.  While producing the KDP required for my portfolio seemed akin to writing a master’s thesis, it was one of the most interesting things I’ve done.  I love solving a riddle, but more satisfying is just the continual process of describing a family and how their dynamics resulted in a particular descendant, whether it be a family member of mine or a client.

What’s your most frustrating work?

I have two ancestors from Ireland that drive me batty.  I also have a fellow named Ball that seemed to have dropped out of the sky.  My most interesting brick wall involves the members of a very tangled family in England. I have letters from them in my archives, and a whole book of unlabeled photos that I’m sure would help me straighten them out!

How do you see yourself in five years, Barbara?

My husband’s retirement hobby is photography, so I see us taking many trips to areas where I can do research and he can wander around any nearby wildlife areas taking pictures.  I would like to do more client work, and I really enjoy helping my friends with their family research. I hope to be able to move further into the professional realm of genealogy. I would like to do more mapping and spatial analysis projects, demonstrating the value of these tools, as well as writing articles that will be educational for other genealogists.

Congratulations on becoming a BCG associate, Barbara. Welcome!

 Barbara Ball, CG, can be reached at barb@copestoneresources.com and http://www.copestoneresources.com.

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.

BCG’s Newest Certified Genealogical Lecturer

David Ouimette is a busy man. As head of FamilySearch’s Content Strategy Team, he travels the globe analyzing and evaluating records of genealogical interest and determining where they fall in terms of acquisition priority. As father of eight children ranging in age from eighteen to twenty-eight, he balances his professional and personal lives to make time for playing Irish music on the harp, hammered dulcimer, and tin whistle; going bowling and golfing with his sons; and doing family history with his wife, Deanna. David is an author, lecturer, coordinator of the “Finding Immigrant Origins” track at Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, and a family historian who values standards. He regularly sets aside time to learn and to practice his skills in genealogical research, analysis, and writing.

First certified in February 2010, earlier this year David submitted his renewal portfolio—and, at the same time, he applied for the designation of Certified Genealogical Lecturer (CGL). On 1 June 2015 he received word that judges approved both applications.

Congratulations to David Ouimette, CG, CGL, on his accomplishments!

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.


Two Changes to BCG Applications Effective 2016

The Board for Certification of Genealogists has authorized two significant changes in the certification process for new applicants. These changes will go into effect in 2016, when the new Application Guide is published. Briefly, for the first time (1) new applicants will be evaluated on their genealogically-related educational activities, and (2) new applications will be limited to 150 pages.

Evaluation of educational activities pertaining to genealogy

Genealogy standards 82 and 83 state that genealogists regularly engage in formal and informal development activities for four reasons: to better meet the standards, to learn more about useful materials, to enhance skills in reconstructing relationships and events, and to better present their findings to others.[1] Years of data also show that applicants with more genealogy education are more likely to produce successful portfolios for certification.

Accordingly, as is currently the case, applicants will be required to briefly describe the genealogy-related activities that help prepare them for certification. However, as is not currently the case, this section will now be evaluated. Genealogical-education activities will meet the evaluation criteria if they show that the applicant “has engaged in a variety of development activities aimed at improving genealogical standards attainment.”

This change adds one rubric to the evaluations of portfolios. The new rubric emphasizes the need for ongoing genealogy education. Failure to meet one specific rubric does not disqualify an application. Other questions currently asked in the resume will be eliminated.

Maximum portfolio length, 150 pages

The second change will reduce the size limit for new portfolios to a maximum of 150 pages total. The current limits were established when BCG had more requirements for certification than now. The new size limit provides ample room for applicants to demonstrate their abilities.

“These changes are part of BCG’s ongoing analyzing, evaluating, and refining the certification process,” said BCG president Jeanne Larzalere Bloom. “We hope that these two changes will streamline the process, make it more manageable for applicants, and encourage applicants to engage in a variety of genealogical-development activities before assembling a portfolio.”

For questions or more information, please visit http://www.bcgcertification.org  or contact Nicki Birch, CG, at office@BCGcertification.org.

[1] Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry.com, 2014), 43–44.

by Harold Henderson, CG

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.