Patricia O’Brien Shawker, CG (1956-2015)

Patricia E. Shawker, CG, FMGS
(Photo printed with permission)

The genealogical community is mourning the loss of Patricia O’Brien Shawker, CG, FMGS, who died on January 16, 2015, after a battle with cancer. She is being remembered for her expertise, generosity, ready smile, and remarkably broad career. Her specialties were Maryland research, federal records, lineage applications, and methodology. She was widely known as the director of the National Institute of Genealogical Research for the past seven years, guiding hundreds of attendees during their first research endeavors at the National Archives (NARA) in Washington, D.C.

Patty was actively involved at every societal level. Her undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Maryland made her a valued organizational volunteer. Certified by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) since 1999, she was a trustee of the BCG Education Fund and its treasurer. She was the treasurer of the National Genealogical Society (NGS) from 2003 until 2006. She served on the board of the Maryland Genealogical Society for several years, including one term as treasurer. She became the registrar of the Prince George’s County Genealogical Society in 1998, a position she still held at her death. She had been a volunteer staff aid at NARA since 2005 and served as a mentor for the ProGen 6 study group.

Patty lectured nationally, including at NGS conferences, and continued to present locally. She wrote Research in Maryland of the NGS Research in the States series, authored several guides published in the Maryland Genealogical Society Journal, and was a longtime contributing editor to The PGCGS Bulletin.  She received the Jane Roush McCafferty, CG, Award of Excellence from the Prince George’s County Genealogical Society in 2009. In May of 2014, she was named a Fellow of the Maryland Genealogical Society for her outstanding scholarship, contributions to MGS, and the genealogical community.

She is survived by her husband, Dr. Thomas Shawker (with whom she shared a passion for genealogy), her mother, four siblings, and six nieces and nephews. Expressions of sympathy can be sent to 7014 Megan Lane, Greenbelt, MD 20770-3014.

by Malissa Ruffner, JD, MLS, 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.

Welcome, Patricia Lee Hobbs, CG

Patricia Lee “Patti” Hobbs

Patti Hobbs, native Californian, inadvertently made a reverse, west-to-east migration by settling in the Missouri Ozarks in 1990. After the move she discovered that her grandfather was born ninety miles west of her current home, and his mother was from territorial Missouri stock, bringing her back to her own roots.

Patti is the genealogy face of the Springfield-Greene County (Missouri) Library District. Since 2009 she has been a genealogist reference associate for the Local History and Genealogy Department. She loves this position that suits her inclination to teach and her passion for genealogy.

Her twenty-five-year career homeschooling her six children prepared Patti well for genealogical research and readying her BCG portfolio. She became more logical, especially in her presentations. Too, she had to teach herself a lot, and at a high level, to be prepared to teach her students. She knows that “you can learn almost anything if you have the experts giving the standards, and you have the tools for learning.” For Patti those tools included at least ten sessions at the Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research, the National Institute on Genealogical Research, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, and the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh.

From preparing her children’s lessons, this biology major developed a love of history and the stories of people in historical context. “It has been thrilling to me to see how the everyday people fit into the grand historical themes. [They] are the fabric of our society, and we should be proud of that.”

Patti found great satisfaction in preparing her kinship-determination project. She had two goals: to start in the 1700s and to include her family watchmakers. The story begins with a Massachusetts woman whose father was a Revolutionary War patriot and continues through Patti’s great-grandfather, whose son, taught by his father, was well known for his watch craft during World War II. Patti wants to continue this type of writing where “little details come together that [may not be] so obvious. Writing biographical material with historical context creates a synergy that can otherwise be lost.”

Patti continues, “I love discovering ‘lost’ family, especially those who had no children and therefore have no descendants looking for them. I want to be their advocate and tell their tales. But even with ancestors who aren’t lost, there are lost stories in their lives. Teasing those things out of the details of the records is immensely rewarding.”

This consummate teacher describes two types of library patrons: those who want simply to compile a family tree and those who are ready and willing to research in records. Addressing their frustration with not finding the one record that “proves” an identity, Patti explains, “If a jillion people haven’t found it yet, it’s because no one has muddled around in the records.” She’s just the person to help do that because she has a great attitude about brick walls. “I have difficulty calling anything a brick wall. I usually figure that I just haven’t looked hard enough yet.”

Looking hard can bring up surprises. While researching her great-grandfather watchmaker, Patti found online and was able to purchase his own watch with his name and the town he was working in engraved on it.

Looking to the future, Patti expects to spend the next five years continuing teaching through her local genealogical society and writing articles for publication. She can be reached at research@quotidiangenealogy.com, or she may be spotted at the next genealogical institute. All the best, Patti, and welcome!


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.

Welcome Sherry Lindsay, CG

Sherry Lindsay, CG

BCG’s newest associate is also one of its youngest at certification. Sherry Lindsay was just shy of thirty when she received the email congratulating her on her achievement. The response to her portfolio was so long in coming, she had convinced herself she had not passed and that she would consider the application a great learning experience. After much finger-crossing and wondering if she understood the standards correctly, the email came as a surprise.

A major in Family History from Brigham Young University prepared Sherry well for her genealogy career, as well as for certification. Her coursework included family, local, and social history research in southern states, the Midwest, and Ireland, and work in Latin handwriting and documents. For the past five years Sherry has worked for AncestryProGenealogists (formerly ProGenealogists) and is currently part of their European team, comprised of about fifteen genealogists. This professional work has improved her research skills, and she gives credit to great mentors in her workplace.

Sherry loves solving the problems people have been puzzling over for years. She enjoys facilitating the reunion of adoptees and others who have lost contact with their biological families. She has also been involved in the fast-paced, collaborative, deadline-driven work for “Who Do You Think You Are?”

Sherry shares how she helps her family members learn about ancestry: “I’m a big proponent of my nieces and nephews being able to name their ‘eight greats,’ and I’ve been impressed with how early they start to understand how a family fits together. My obsession with helping people learn the names of their ‘eight greats’ actually started with my husband. When I learned that he actually had memories of some of his great-grandparents, I was really surprised. Then when I tried to find out which grandparents they were, we both realized that he had no clue. One grandma he just referred to as the ‘Raisin Grandma’ because she distributed raisins to the kids. I memorized his eight great-grandparents and then helped him to learn their names too. Now when his parents tell stories of their own grandparents, he can put specific names with the stories and know where they fit on the family tree.”

Two little boys complete Sherry’s family, and the older one, age four, is beginning to learn where his “Grandma Great” (Sherry’s husband’s grandmother) belongs in his family tree. Besides teaching her family how it connects together, Sherry keeps an online tree at Ancestry.com, commenting, “I hope they don’t lose their servers.” She is not tied to paper files and notebooks.

A love of camping, hiking, and canoeing keeps Sherry and her family outdoors in summer. She and her husband spent a year in New Zealand. The joke is that while he prepared his degree, she majored in vacation. Together they traveled around the beautiful south island, camping at Great Barrier Island and gathering shellfish.

Sherry can be reached at sherry.lindsay@gmail.com. She is so young that it is possible she could renew her certification eight or nine times. As her sons grow older, she looks forward to attending genealogy conferences and teaching at them. Welcome, Sherry, and may your association with BCG be long and fruitful.


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.

Welcome Sara Anne Scribner, CG

Sara Anne Scribner, CG

by Melinda Daffin Henningfield, CG

Sara Anne Scribner finds genealogy to be an emotional endeavor, and some original documents she found moved her to tears. One tearful read included content descriptions “of unclaimed packages sent to Confederate prisoners of war at Point Lookout.”

Genealogy is not Sara’s first career. She graduated from Vassar College with a degree in drama. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Sara continued her education with an MS in Library Science from Simmons College in Boston. She worked as a library director in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and San Jose, California, and held other executive positions at San Jose. In the midst of this busy life, Sara found time to graduate with a BFA in drawing from the California College of the Arts in Oakland.

Sara uses all of her education in her daily life. Loving a good story, she writes and produces plays (several of which involve genealogy) and also acts in her local community theater. In 2010 she produced a play that explored a family and its reaction to unexpected DNA results. “The advertising read ‘DNA doesn’t lie, but sometimes Southern ladies do.’”

Sara chose her home in Bainbridge Island, Washington, partly because of its vibrant artistic community. She has continued her career as a librarian for the last thirteen years, answering patrons’ questions and teaching research strategies to the public at both a community college and a public library. She enjoys exploring new genealogical methodologies and research localities. Tenaciously seeking answers, she loves to move from low-hanging fruit to more challenging research.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Sara’s genealogical hero. “We could not conduct genealogy as we do today without their [the LDS Church’s] programs, most free or low-cost[:] . . . their international microfilming program, Family History Centers, educational programs (like the FamilySearch Wiki or free online courses), and the one-of-a-kind Family History Library.” Sara is inspired by and values the many genealogical “heavyweights” she has studied with at institutes and conferences.

Going through the certification process improved Sara’s genealogical work. She realized she was an inconsistent record-keeper. As she prepared her portfolio, she developed a process that improved her record-keeping skills and her method of working through a genealogical research problem. Sara loves “a good laugh, and where research is concerned there are plenty of those, especially in the ‘now I know better’ category.”

Sara’s advice for those thinking about certification includes getting as much education as you can afford and getting acquainted with others involved in genealogy. Having genealogy friends to laugh with helps. She also advises frequently revisiting the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) requirements, genealogical methodology books, and conference notes. Finally, take your time in preparing your portfolio, even if you require an extension.

In the next five years, Sara hopes to open a genealogy research business and credits her experience in a ProGen Study Group for providing business guidance. She is working towards identifying the parents of her ancestor, Eliza (Williamson) Fisher, her most elusive female ancestor.

Welcome, Sara!


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.

Welcome Jean Atkinson Andrews, CG

Jean Atkinson Andrews, CG

Jean Atkinson Andrews may be familiar as a regional director on the National Genealogical Society (NGS) board and as its outgoing treasurer. She is South Carolina’s second BCG associate. She confesses, though, to having (paraphrasing Garrison Keillor) “a certain smug satisfaction in being a Midwesterner,” raised in the soybean country of central Illinois.

Jean and her husband retired from Ohio to South Carolina eight years ago. Growing up in the North, she knew the Civil War from the Union perspective. Recently she has begun working with Redcliffe, a South Carolina state historic plantation, to trace descendants of the African American slaves who worked and lived there. The project has given Jean a perspective from the “other” side and an appreciation for the passion African Americans and non-slaveholder whites brought to defending their way of life.

Describing herself as “rather bookish,” Jean tells of a teenage summer spent reading the local newspaper obituaries at her public library. In just one month she traced her Atkinson roots back to England. She now dismisses that effort with a laugh and knows her roots extend from Illinois back to Indiana, and perhaps to Maryland via Kentucky.

Jean’s training in accounting, an MBA in finance, and a career in the automotive industry prepared her to track, analyze, and justify large volumes of data. On retirement she put those skill to work researching her husband’s difficult and interesting Ohio line.

About four years ago Jean began seriously pursuing certification, which has changed her work “exponentially” for the better. Besides the “usual suspects,” Elizabeth Shown Mills and Tom Jones, Jean appreciates “timely prodding” toward certification from her BCG-associate-mentors Shirley Langdon Wilcox, Barbara Vines Little, and Nancy Peters. Jean would make the NGS Quarterly articles by “outstanding South Carolina genealogist GeLee Corley Hendrix required reading for anyone interested in Palmetto state research.”

Jean especially values the rubrics in preparing her successful portfolio. She explains, “After finishing each segment of the portfolio, I would critique it against the appropriate rubric and each of the relevant standards. Once I felt I had done my best work, I put it aside and did not return to it.” She advises prospective applicants, “Focus on producing your best work and not on being perfect.”

Jean loves writing and has published in the NGS Magazine and the Ohio Genealogy News. She has submitted her first scholarly article for publication in a leading genealogical journal. It treats a brick wall solved with, among other things, the serendipitous discovery of scraps of receipts in an Ohio probate file.

Jean can be reached at aandreje@gmail.com and through the BCG website. Welcome, Jean!


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.

Welcome, Jaclyn Wertis, CG

Jaclyn Wertis, CG, of Tulsa Oklahoma

Without really intending to, Jaclyn Wertis has become an American Indian research specialist. She thought she would pursue Midwest research, compile lineages for DAR applicants, and trace immigrant ancestors. However, a post-retirement move to Tulsa, Oklahoma, changed her focus. Jaclyn lives close to the Cherokee Heritage Center and Native American genealogical resources not available online. Now over half her clients are searching for their Native American ancestors. Some are already on the rolls but don’t know about their forebears. Others know of Native ancestry only through DNA testing or family lore. Jaclyn enjoys this work that has a clear goal and a limited scope.

Jaclyn moved to Tulsa from California after retirement from a twenty-year career in public service administration. Most recently she worked for the Community Development Department of the City of Riverside, California. Her MBA and certification as a Project Management Professional prepared her well for her BCG application. She explains, “The tools and techniques and quality focus used in managing projects in the business world have translated easily into my genealogical work.” Jaclyn had been lecturing informally on genealogy, advising other researchers, and helping prospective DAR members when she began to do client work. At that point she knew it was time to become Board-certified.

Jaclyn found the BCG certification seminar at national conferences particularly helpful. In addition to reading the new Genealogy Standards, Tom Jones’s Mastering Genealogical Proof, and Elizabeth Shown Mills’s Evidence Explained, she also took online NGS courses. Her advice to prospective applicants is, “Put together a proof argument, proof summary, or proof statement for every relationship until it becomes a natural and instinctive process.”

Jaclyn has a strong orientation toward giving back through her genealogy work, both to her family and the community. Her future goals include the following:
• speaking to secondary school history classes “to help young people understand that history is more than just names and dates”
• volunteering at homes for troubled teens and after-school centers, as she knows from personal experience that “if our children have a sense of belonging to something larger than themselves, they will develop a sense of pride and self-worth that will help them make better life decisions”
• publishing “Tales My Mother Told Me and Other Family Stories,” a compilation drawn from conversations with parents, grandparents, and others
• transcribing her great-grandfather’s Civil War diary and her aunt’s three journals
• serving as DAR Registrar for her local chapter beginning in 2017
• teaching beginning genealogy at senior centers, for her church’s educational program, and for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Jaclyn Wertis is Oklahoma’s only BCG associate, our link to the foothills of the Ozarks. She can be reached at jackie.wertis@yahoo.com. Welcome, Jaclyn!


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 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.

Congratulations to Barbara Mathews, CG, FASG

The Board for Certification of Genealogists extends its heartiest congratulations to Board-certified genealogist Barbara Jean Mathews of Massachusetts on her election as a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists (ASG).

Barbara Jean Mathews, CG, FASG

As noted on the ASG website, “Election as a Fellow of the ASG is dependent on nomination by current Fellows…. The central criterion is the quality of a genealogist’s published work. Emphasis is upon compiled genealogies and published works that demonstrate an ability to use primary source material; to evaluate and analyze data; to properly document evidence; and to reach sound, logical conclusions presented in a clear and proper manner.”

Barbara’s work includes the 2013 publication of The Descendants of Governor Thomas Welles of Connecticut and his Wife, Alice Tomes, Volume 1, 2nd edition (Wethersfield, CT: Welles Family Association, 2013), which has just been selected as the ASG’s 2014 winner of the prestigious Donald Lines Jacobus Award. That award is “presented to a model genealogical work published within the previous five years.” She is also the author of Philo Hodge (1756-1842) of Roxbury, Connecticut (Baltimore, Md. : Gateway Press, 1992) and the editor of The Descendants of Thomas Lamkin of the Northern Neck of Virginia (Boston: Newbury Street Press, 2001).

She has many published articles in The American Genealogist (TAG) and has also written for the National Genealogical Society NewsMagazine, the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly (APGQ), The Connecticut Nutmegger, and The Essex Genealogist. Her book reviews have appeared in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, TAG, the National Genealogy Society Quarterly, and APGQ.

Barbara is a professional genealogist who specializes in the families of colonial Connecticut and Massachusetts who currently serves on the board of the Massachusetts Genealogical Council. She has served as a BCG trustee and officer, and as an officer of the Connecticut Professional Genealogists Council. Her blog, The Demanding Genealogist, explores issues of quality in genealogical work.

Most of all, though, Barbara loves to teach. She lectures at local, regional, and national conferences and has mentored groups in the ProGen Study Groups program.

Barbara joins Board-certified genealogists Melinde Lutz Byrne of Massachusetts, Frederick C. Hart Jr. of Connecticut, Ronald Ames Hill of Idaho, Helen Hinchliff of British Columbia, Canada, Henry B. Hoff of Virginia, Thomas W. Jones of Virginia, Roger D. Joslyn of New York, Elizabeth Shown Mills of Tennessee, Christine Rose of California, William Bart Saxbe Jr. of Massachusetts, Clifford L. Stott of Utah, and Helen S. Ullman of Massachusetts, as well as BCG emeritus associates John Frederick Dorman of Virginia and Helen F. M. Leary of North Carolina, in the ranks of the ASG Fellows.

Our heartiest congratulations to Barbara Jean Mathews, CG, FASG!


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.

Introducing Jane Beal, CG

Jane Beal, CG

Jane Beal has become the ninth Missourian to currently hold the credential of Certified Genealogist from the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

Jane’s first genealogical mentor remains her most powerful motivating force: her grandfather Richard Dolbeare “entrusted to a teenager many years ago the family papers and photos, obviously seeing in [her] younger self someone who cares about the family history.”

His enthusiasm and his trust started Jane on a journey that began with her New England ancestors and ultimately led her to pursue her genealogical goals and, in 2014, to becoming a Board-certified genealogist.

A registered nurse with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Nursing, Jane explains that she has worked “in a wide variety of jobs as a nurse,” and continues to work full-time as one “although it is a desk job, not patient care.”

She lives east of Kansas City with her husband of 30 years: “We have a small farm, lots of children and grandchildren.” And, she adds, “All these activities keep me very busy, but the family knows my passion is genealogy.”

Jane started following that passion as a teenager, after getting those precious papers and photos from her grandfather, whom she credits first and foremost as her genealogical hero. Though the time she has had to devote to her passion has varied, over the years she has worked on her own family history, her husband’s, and those of three of her sons-in-law — and that doesn’t include the many others she has helped and the many local projects she’s worked on.

“I take every opportunity I can to attend genealogical conferences, learn the local history, and expand my knowledge base,” she said. “I particularly love doing research in courthouses, and of course the nearby Midwest Genealogy Center [a wonderful place].” But, Jane notes, even though she started as a teenager, she wishes she had started earlier to “focus more on the stories, history and people, rather than just getting a lot of names and dates. I think most people start off that way, I know I did.”

Today, she said, she is “passionate about the stories and history behind the names and dates, to understand what happened and why in their lives.” Her favorite project now is the ‘brick wall’ case, “particularly if they revolve around women whose history has been lost, due to either an early death or lack of a known maiden name. I like to give them back their identity.”

Jane’s advice to those considering certification is to “download and read the BCG Application Guide, outline what projects need to be done for one’s portfolio [maybe an individual has a project they have recently worked on that would fit with some tweaking or could be used with an in-depth effort], and at least start on the bigger parts of the portfolio prior to beginning the ‘clock’.” She added that it’s necessary to “stay on focus during that year, and if at all possible avoid an extension. I think you start to second guess yourself the longer it takes you.”

Besides her grandfather Richard Dolbeare, Jane considered Elizabeth Shown Mills and Thomas Jones as her role models and genealogical heroes. “During my journey to completing my portfolio, I absorbed much knowledge from their presentations [I listened to a lot of CDs from past conferences, and listened over and over again], as well as from their books and articles,” she explained. “I felt they brought me to a higher level and expectation of myself and my work.”

She hopes to have her own genealogy research business in the future, mainly focused in individual clients, and looks forward to contributing articles on genealogy to various publications.


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.

Welcome to Board-Certified Genealogist Nora Galvin

Claire Ammon, CG, and Fred Hart, CG, FASG, joined Nora Galvin, CG, at the annual meeting of Connecticut Ancestry Society. Photograph © Robert Locke, used with permission.

In April 2014, Nora became Connecticut’s third Board-certified Genealogist. Nora combines her professional work in Connecticut and Irish research and genetic genealogy with activities in local genealogy societies. She is journal editor and past president of Connecticut Ancestry Society, board member of the Connecticut Society of Genealogists, president of the Connecticut Professional Genealogists Council, and editor of the e-zine of the New England Regional Genealogical Conference. In her past career as a biologist, Nora worked in laboratory research for a pharmaceutical company and as a high school biology teacher.

When asked about advice she would give to those considering certification, Nora suggested finding as many varied genealogical experiences as possible. She said,

I worked as a professional for five years before I began to feel I might be ready to start on my portfolio. My own family research taught me about the “known knowns” and the “known unknowns” but it was my client work that taught me about the “unknown unknowns.” (Apologies to Donald Rumsfeld.) I thought I was getting a “feeling for the organism,” the title of a book about biologist Barbara McClintock. It captures the sense of knowledge that I had to develop to be ready to get that portfolio put together.

With tongue in cheek, Nora also advises starting your genealogy career early. She took time to be a high school teacher, a stay-at-home mother, and a research scientist. She started genealogy research about twelve years ago and set up her business soon after, in 2006.

Where does she see her career going now that she is Board-certified? She will have fewer clients but bigger projects and she will be able to devote more time to editing Connecticut Ancestry. Travel to Ireland for research is also in the cards. She admits to being at first skeptical of the hype around autosomal DNA testing, but is now a convert. She enjoys applying her scientific background to genetic genealogy.

Her genealogy heroes are “The people who dig, dig, dig and put together amazing work.” In New England, she admires the work of Robert Charles Anderson on the Great Migration Project, and that of Helen Ullmann, who has transcribed countless almost illegible early records so that others can use them easily. She also admires the family historians who call themselves amateurs but who turn out wonderful narratives documenting their ancestors.

In Connecticut, vital records, town records, and land records are kept by the town clerks. The Connecticut Professional Genealogists Council has worked for decades to provide support and improve communications with the Town Clerks Association. CPGC instigated legislation to provide funds for records preservation at the town level as well as legislation to clearly state genealogical access to vital records. Nora is a member of the Town Clerks and Genealogists Action Committee as well as a member of the consortium of Connecticut genealogical societies. She has testified before legislative committees regarding open records and continues to advocate for preservation and access.


(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.)

Nora in the vault in Manchester Town Hall, admiring a book of records preserved with funds stemming from legislation instigated by Connecticut genealogists. Photograph © Barbara Mathews, used with permission.