Introducing: Sharon Hoyt, CG

Sharon Hoyt, who received her Certified Genealogist credential earlier this year, is a genealogy researcher and lecturer from California’s Silicon Valley.

Sharon Hoyt, CG

She became interested in genealogy after her husband’s research on his Mayflower ancestors made her curious about her own family origins. What began as a hobby quickly became a passion, and in 2002, she traded a career as an information architect managing intranet content and search tools for large technology companies to focus on genealogy research.

As a native Californian whose family has lived in the state since the 1880s, she enjoys helping clients trace their ancestors’ paths to the Golden State. Her areas of interest include New England, New York, and the Midwest, with a particular focus on Civil War research. In addition to her client research, she serves as a consultant to Ancestry.com. She is a member of APG, NGS, NEHGS, and the Southern California Genealogical Society.

Sharon’s key advice to those thinking about certification is this: “Don’t be afraid to apply – the application process is a great learning experience!”

She notes that her own preparation was broad-based, but in addition to seminars, webinars, conferences and institutes (NIGR and SLIG), she found the graded NGS American Genealogy Home Study Course particularly helpful in preparing her application. “The experience of working through lessons on my own and receiving written feedback was very similar to the BCG certification process.”

Sharon credits her cousin, Pauline Love, who was 92 years young when they met, as her genealogy muse: “The stories she shared made our ancestors’ lives real to me, and her endless curiosity and excitement about family history encouraged me to seek out new sources to answer her many questions. She inspired me to dig deeper to find the stories behind the basic facts.”

Her genealogical heroes? “The thousands of people who volunteer their time to collect, preserve, index, and share records to help others find their families. I’ve learned so much from volunteers in local genealogical and historical societies, and appreciate their willingness to share their time and expertise.”

And, she adds, “I’m grateful to my husband for introducing me to a dream career, and for his patience and willingness to visit archives, libraries, and cemeteries on every vacation trip.”


(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.)

Introducing: Karlene Howell Ferguson, CG

Colorado’s Karlene Howell Ferguson, who received her Certified GenealogistSM credential in early 2014, describes herself as a “life-long history student who always tries to put the person of interest in historical context.”

Karlene Howell Ferguson, CG

She began doing family research roughly 10 years ago: “I did not start until I retired from a career in public human resources management, so I have been trying to make up for lost time.”

Her genealogical education includes attending the National Genealogical Society conference every other year, and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy in the off year. She has also attended the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, and the NEHGS research week in Washington, D.C. and the research week in Orange County, New York. She is currently participating in Gen Proof 29 (the course built around Thomas W. Jones’ new Mastering Genealogical Proof) and is looking forward to the NEHGS trip to Albany, New York, in July.

Karlene’s advice to those considering certification is that “preparing the portfolio is very, very time consuming. In order to make the most of your application year, try to have as many of the decisions (e.g. kinship project, case study, client report) made prior to your preliminary application.” If she had one thing to do over in her own preparation, it would be to “spend more time learning from others. Attending institutes, conferences and research weeks are very educational, but you need the chance to reflect on actual written products, your own and others.”

She adds that while she learned a tremendous amount about family research in preparing her application portfolio, she realized in that process that she had “just scratched the surface. So much to learn; so little time.”

Her heroes in her quest for certification include Carol Darrow, CG, “who taught many of the classes at the Denver Public Library that got me started on the right track”; “all of the county clerks, court clerks and local librarians who graciously took the time to help me find the records I was seeking”; and her husband, Jerry, “who has been totally supportive of my family research even though he is not very interested in it. He is, however, the best person to help with a cemetery search!”

Some of Karlene’s genealogical goals for the next five years are:

• “to write the story of my Swedish immigrant family, who came to the U.S. in 1921. My plan is to self-publish so that the written story will be available to cousins.”

• “to learn about DNA so that I can add that tool to my family research tools.”

• “to determine a way to share my family stories with other researchers, so they do not have to repeat my mistakes.”

We’re pleased to have this opportunity to introduce Karlene to the BCG community!


(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.)

Our Newest Associate: Cheryl Brown Abernathy, CG

Cheryl Brown Abernathy

Cheryl Brown Abernathy of Fredericksburg, Ohio, became a Board-certified genealogist on 9 April 2014. She is the owner of The Past Lane where her professional work focuses on Wayne County, Ohio, and nine nearby counties. She does in-depth research, records look-up, and lineage society applications. Living in the north central Ohio region to which her ancestors migrated more than a century ago has given her the skills and experience she uses in her business. She volunteers as chair of the Settlers and Builders of Ohio, one of the lineage societies of the Ohio Genealogical Society.

Cheryl’s top genealogy hero is her grandmother, Mary Belle (Wear) Martin, who developed and nourished her interest in genealogy. In her family genealogy website, in its coverage of Mary Belle, Cheryl provides a great example of melding facts and source citations. Today her friends Donna Gruber and Elissa Scalise Powell give her encouragement.

For Cheryl, preparation for the submission of her BCG portfolio including attending an impressive selection of institute courses:

  • Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University
    • Course Two, Intermediate Genealogy & Historical Studies – 2009
    • Course Four, Advanced Methodology & Evidence Analysis – 2011
  • Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) at La Roche College
    • Beneath the Home Page, Problem–Solving with Online Repositories – 2012
    • Advanced Land Research: Locating, Analyzing, Mapping – 2013

Her advice to others interested in becoming Board-certified is that they “take all the coursework you can, whether it’s a ProGen study group, IGHR, GRIP, SLIG, Boston University or any of the numerous opportunities available.” Asked if she would do anything differently, Cheryl said that she’d start attending institutes earlier in her career. In five years, she sees herself as still learning, researching, and honing her skills.

Welcome, Cheryl!

Introducing: Eric Siess

Associate Eric Siess of Rancho Palos Verdes is a member of the BCG Class of 2013, having received his Certified GenealogistSM credential last year.

Eric Siess

Eric has 30 years of personal and professional experience in family history research, lecturing and teaching. His lectures throughout Southern California include emigration records, the GPS, German immigration, Civil War genealogy, lineage society applications, the 1940 census, and tips for better genealogy. He has successfully helped many clients find their European ancestors and has determined his own lineage into 17th century Alsace and Sweden.

Eric taught beginning and intermediate Genealogy at the South Bay Adult school for several years and one of his courses, “Solving the Ultimate Puzzle: Family History” was the 2011 LiveWell class for Intellectual Health. He has a Ph.D. in Engineering, is the President of the South Bay Cities Genealogical Society and is a member of NGS, APG and the Ohio Genealogical Society.

Eric’s advice to those considering certification is: “Commit yourself to preparing your portfolio starting now – you have everything to gain and you will grow immensely by doing so. Don’t create time pressure for yourself though, apply for certification when your portfolio is ready (I didn’t say perfect!).”

His genealogical heroes?

Elizabeth Shown Mills, who through her writing, taught me not to fear source citations; Thomas Jones, whose ability to find and communicate the simplest logical essence is inspirational; and the late John T. Humphrey who became an instant hero the first time I heard him speak in Ohio.

And one thing he’s still working on is efficiency. “Maybe some people have it innately,” he notes. “I’m learning those skills from my colleagues.”

His five-year plan includes transitioning from his first career to that of a full-time genealogical researcher and speaker.

We’re pleased to have this opportunity to introduce Eric to the BCG community!

Welcome to New Board-Certified Genealogist Clarise Soper

Clarise Soper

Clarise Soper of Heidelberg, Mississippi, became a Board-certified genealogist on 21 February 2014. She is an expert in Mississippi genealogy and loves working on families from the Civil War era.

A graduate of ProGen 14, Clarise says, “The program is invaluable because of the unbiased, constructive critiques you receive from fellow group members and guidance from the mentor—a Board-certified genealogist.” She recommends ProGen study to those who are thinking about becoming certified. Clarise is giving back to this study organization; she is now the Coordinator for ProGen 22.

Her genealogical heroes are Marcia Rice, her sister Beverly Rice, and Michael Grant Hait, Jr., CGSM, all of whom pushed her to think more analytically. It was Marcia she met first, in the food line. Clarise remembers lively discussions, nearly debates, with all three at the Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research. Clarise also appreciates the support and coaching she got from Linda Woodward Geiger, CGSM, CGLSM, the Mentor for ProGen 14.

At the current time Clarise mixes both volunteer and paid work in genealogy. If there was one thing she would change, she would find more time for pro bono speaking engagements for the rural genealogical societies in Mississippi.

Clarise’s advice to those considering certification is this:

I probably hold the record for being “on the clock” the longest. I extended each time to keep my personal goal in the forefront while my life centered on being caregiver to my Mother who had Alzheimer’s. That five-year journey taught me patience and perseverance, attributes that helped me complete my portfolio. Don’t give up when life gets in the way of your dream!

 

 

Class of 2013: Melinda Daffin Henningfield

Melinda Daffin Henningfield

Among those earning the credential of Certified GenealogistSM in 2013 is Melinda Daffin Henningfield of Oregon, a retired nurse practitioner, who holds a B.A. in history education and B.S. and M.S. degrees in nursing.

Melinda began her interest in genealogy at an early age. Her mother and grandmother regaled her almost daily with family lore. Armed with tall tales, a mourning pin from the 1700s, and an undocumented, undated, and anonymous pedigree chart outlining her Daffin ancestors to William the Conqueror, Melinda began her studies in genealogy.

After the National Genealogical Society’s Home Study Course, ProGen 13, the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR), the British Institute, and numerous courses at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) and the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR), Melinda is slowly unraveling her family legends and separating fact from fiction. And, she adds, “The process of preparing a portfolio is a learning experience that exceeds any I have had.”

Melinda’s advice for those thinking about pursuing certification is straightforward: “Explore the website of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. The website contains everything needed for those thinking about certification.”

Her genealogical heroes include three former presidents of the Board for Certification of Genealogists: lecturer-educators Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, and Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, who were among those she heard at her first NGS conference in 2008, and “have dedicated much of their lives to teaching others lessons they have learned about genealogy and genealogical methods,” and Connie Miller Lenzen, CG, who was the “list Mom” for Melinda’s NGS Home Study Course and who “has taught … through her example the importance of giving back to the genealogical community.”

Asked where she sees herself in five years, Melinda says she hopes to be puzzling over her Confederado ancestors and their life in Brazil.

We’re pleased to have this opportunity to introduce Melinda to the BCG community!

New Board-Certified Genealogist: Darcie M. Hind Posz, Washington, D.C.

Darcie M. Hind Posz

Darcie M. Hind Posz of Washington, D.C. has earned the credential of Certified GenealogistSM.

The newest member of the Class of 2013, Darcie has been a professional genealogist for more than nine years. She is President of the National Capital Area Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists and will be Region 4, Northeast, Board Director for the Association of Professional Genealogists in 2014.

Her research emphases include Chicago and Hawaiian/Polynesian genealogy and urban ancestors. Her writing has appeared in the APG Quarterly, FGS FORUM and NGS Magazine and portions of her research are housed at Columbia University. She is the NGSQ Study Group Coordinator and in the past served as the chair of the Federation of Genealogical Societies Outreach Committee.

She resides in Washington, D.C., and can be reached at darcieposz@hotmail.com.

Darcie’s achievement came on her second attempt at certification and she credits both perseverance and continuing education for her success. Asked if she had advice for those seeking certification, Darcie suggested “elaborate outlines to make sure that all of the criteria stated in the instructions, rubrics and the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) will be met.”

Her genealogical heroes include Elizabeth Shown Mills (“her methodology and studies on multicultural subjects have inspired me for years”), Thomas W. Jones (his new book Mastering Genealogical Proof and teaching style “made understanding and applying the GPS attainable”), and Eugene A. Stratton and Neil D. Thompson (“my lineage heroes”; “Stratton’s comment about DNA in Psychic Roots is what inspires me to do what I do,” while Thompson’s work “feeds the royal lineage junkie within me”).

She hopes, when seeking recertification in five years, to be in the Waipio Valley beginning her dream of a land study done on foot.

Let’s all extend a warm welcome to Darcie!

Please Welcome Rebecca Koford as a Board-certified Genealogist

Rebecca Whitman Koford of Mt. Airy, Maryland, earned the credential of Certified GenealogistSM this month. Genealogy has been her passion since childhood. She has been working professionally as a genealogist since 2004.

Rebecca’s commitment to education includes completion of the NGS Home Study Course, NIGR, ProGen Online Study Group 4, and Advanced Methodology at SLIG. She lectures and teaches about family history research. Until she moved to Mt. Airy in 2010, she was Assistant Director of the Family History Center and an Instructor in genealogy for Howard Community College, both in Columbia, Maryland.

She is now the Director of Genealogy for Reel Tributes, a company that creates films on family histories. Her professional work includes Maryland and lineage research. Currently she is focused on lecturing about, and spreading the word on, the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions project sponsored by FGS at www.preservethepensions.org.  She can often be found at the Maryland or Pennsylvania State Archives.  She is grateful for the support of her three wonderful teenagers and very patient husband.

 

New Board-Certified Genealogist: Debbie Hooper of Delaware

The last day of 2012 saw the initial certification of the last Board-certified genealogist of 2012: Debbie Hooper of Delmarva Genealogy Associates, http://www.delmarvagenealogy.com/. Debbie is a full-time professional genealogist specializing in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.

 As a young mother, I was fortunate enough to inherit a needlework sampler from my grandmother. I was certain that the sampler came from someone in my family’s past. Although the name of the stitcher was not known by any of my grandmother’s surviving relatives, I was sure that the sampler was created by a former family member.

That sampler began my genealogical quest. More than twenty years later, that same sampler hangs proudly on my living room wall directly over an antique table that also belonged to my grandmother. I found the family member who stitched that sampler not long after beginning my search. But one thing led to another, and the searching further and further back into my family’s history has not yet ended.[1]

As a professional genealogist, Debbie assists others in finding their family’s past with a full set of services, including research, writing, and publishing. She is committed to quality genealogical work and shows that commitment through her published resources, blog, and society affiliations.

Let’s welcome her as our newest associate!

 

 

 



[1] Debbie Hooper, About page, Delmarva Genealogical Research, 2012; http://www.delmarvagenealogy.com/about/ : viewed 30 Jan 2013.