Welcome, Angela McGhie, CG!

Angela McGhie is a familiar name to many for her commitment to excellence in genealogical education. Now we welcome her as a new BCG associate!

Angela P. McGhie, CG

Angela credits her parents’ family history interests and her grandmother’s Swedish and Danish research for an early introduction to the world of genealogy.  As a college student, Angela interviewed both grandmothers and combined photographs with collected stories to present her family’s history. She has been a dedicated genealogist ever since and for the past fifteen years has focused on in-depth research and education.

Moving into the professional field, Angela recognized the need for formalized training to hone her skills. She began attending genealogical seminars and conferences, and completed the National Genealogical Society (NGS) American Genealogy Home Study Course. In 2007 Angela joined the NGS Quarterly (NGSQ) Study Group; she joined the first Professional Genealogy (ProGen) Study Group in 2008.[1] Within six months she became its administrator, writing assignments and recruiting mentors to work with participants. The ProGen Study Group has grown to 328 alumni and over 110 current students. This success is due in large part to Angela’s tireless efforts.

More recently Angela completed a study of Tom Jones’ Mastering Genealogical Proof,[2] then initiated a study group based on the book; to date, forty-five groups have completed the program. She helped design and coordinates the “Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum” course for the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG); students work to solve genealogical problems and sharpen their evidence analysis skills.

Certification was a logical step for Angela: “I decided that if I was going to be a professional genealogist I should have my work evaluated to show that I met standards.”

Angela prepared for certification through a combination of education and practical experience. She attended courses at genealogical institutes, including Tom Jones’ “Advanced Genealogical Methods” at SLIG and Elizabeth Shown Mills’ “Advanced Methodology” at the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR).

Whether researching her own ancestors or those of her clients, Angela found it exciting and challenging to apply the methods she studied, as each case required unique records and methods to solve. Once the methodology became an inherent part of her research process, Angela knew she was ready to complete and submit her portfolio.

Her most challenging project was her portfolio case study. Angela had searched for the parents of her third great-grandfather for about eight years. She performed what she felt was “reasonably exhaustive research,” then “exhaustive research.” The mystery was solved through discovery of her ancestor’s Canadian brother. Angela overcame conflicting information and researched in four countries to reveal their mother’s identity: an invaluable learning experience.

Angela’s advice to aspiring BCG associates? Get a solid education by taking advantage of the many opportunities available. Study the standards and the rubrics until you really understand them. Practice writing research plans, research reports, and proof arguments or case studies. Once you feel comfortable, prepare your portfolio.

Angela appreciates the many mentors who provided education, guidance and encouragement, including Elizabeth Shown Mills, Tom Jones, Claire Bettag, Craig Scott, Rick Sayre, Pam Sayre, Elissa Powell, and every mentor that has participated in the ProGen Study Program.

What’s next for Angela? She says “I love teaching and lecturing and have focused my career in this area for the last few years. I have been blessed with opportunities to teach at the genealogy institutes, and am very grateful as I am passionate about education. I want to continue my focus in this area, but will probably begin taking clients again.” Her blog, Adventures in Genealogy Education, journals Angela’s educational priorities and experiences.

Angela lives in Laurel, Maryland, with her husband and three children. She can be reached at mcghiefamilyhistory@gmail.com . Congratulations, Angela!

 

 

 


[1] The groups work through Elizabeth Shown Mills, ed., Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2001).

[2] Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013).

Welcome, Nancy G. Wehner, CG!

Nancy Wehner brings to her genealogy work a scientist’s mindset and experience. With a Ph.D. in immunology, her career took her to the pharmaceutical industry as a toxicologist. Safety testing for new drugs going into human clinical trials required the same kinds of data analysis, integration, and writing seen in the best genealogical research. Nancy shares her story:

I have always loved solving puzzles and the whole process of gathering information and interpreting it to that end. That love has led me to be a scientist professionally and a genealogist personally. My initial childhood interest in genealogy was spurred by my grandfather’s large, extended family. (We took over the county fairground for the yearly reunion.) His sister Nettie’s hand-typed folio showed all the existing members of the family and how they all related to each other. I used Nettie’s folio as a starting point for my own research. I ultimately set as my goals tracing my husband’s and my ancestral lines to the immigrant ancestors and then bringing forward the descendants of each of those immigrants.

Nancy G. Wehner, CG


To accomplish this goal Nancy begins her research in Iowa (her starting point) and Ohio (her husband’s) and reaches back to Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Germany, and Denmark. Now that completing her portfolio has freed up some time, she hopes also to pursue three new genealogical goals. One is a project to save and make old diaries available online through scans and transcriptions. Along with her paternal grandmother’s diary and many others, Nancy has collected the journal of an educated Jamaican-born daughter of a washerwoman that gives insight into the World War I era in Brooklyn.

Another project, inspired by Nancy’s experience in toxicology, would investigate the possible causes of an unusually high GI tract cancer rate in part of her husband’s family. She asks, “Was it just this family? Was it a local issue? Why?” Her scientist’s mind is also intrigued by the prospect of making a detailed evaluation of patterns of births, deaths and marriages in her huge database of descendants.

The National Genealogical Society’s American Genealogy: Home Study Course provided part of Nancy’s preparation for certification. She now serves as an NGS grader and looks forward to teaching and mentoring other genealogists.

Reading good genealogy articles was a huge help, but Nancy counts taking the plunge and writing articles as her best portfolio preparation.  She comments, “The one I did for New York Genealogical and Biographical Record was really great, as both the peer review process and the editor’s help did much to sharpen my skills in critically laying out and proofreading what I wrote.”[1]

Nancy’s advice to someone considering applying for certification is, “Make sure you are really ready for the challenge in terms of time to devote to the process and the skills to meet the requirements. Only time and practice give you the skills. Reading books, articles, and attending lectures helps, but only DOING will get you there.”

Picture Nancy in a wooden dory traveling down forty-five major (and many minor) rapids on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon this spring! This active woman enjoys hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing, as well as gardening and embroidery. Her immediate family includes her husband, two grown children, and cats Frizzle, Xani, and Luxe.

Nancy currently resides in Fremont in California’s East San Francisco Bay Area. Oddly, although it’s a populous region, Board-certified genealogists are rare there. She would welcome a visit with others who share her passion. (BCG associates may have noticed her recent greeting on the BCG List.) Nancy can be reached at ngwehner@gmail.com. Congratulations, Nancy!



[1] Nancy Niles Wehner, “The Steubner Letters, Brooklyn, New York: Tragedy in a German Immigrant Family,” The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, 145 (October 2014): 259–70.

The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.

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.

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!

Welcome, Judith A. Herbert, CG

Judith A. Herbert joins BCG associates from mid-coast Maine. Her client work focuses on New York and New England, her areas of greatest expertise. Her roots run deep in the region, both from colonial ancestors and later immigrants. It wasn’t until her grandparents’ generation that folks left New York, and they only went as far as New Jersey.

Judith A. Herbert, CG

For much of her early genealogy life Judith focused on her own family, the New Yorkers, New Englanders, and some Irish, English, and German progenitors. She worked for years as a volunteer at a Family History Center, where she was able to network with and learn from professional and non-professional genealogists alike. She states that attendance at genealogy seminars has provided some of her best learning experiences, emphasizing that no matter how many times she attends lectures on a particular topic she always comes away with new knowledge.

Judith tells how letter writing helped her find a Leinster ancestor who left Ireland in the late 1860s. Having identified the area where she suspected her ancestor lived, she sent out about twenty-five handwritten letters, hoping for a response. After a couple months, she received a letter, announcing, “I’m the one you didn’t write to.” Word of mouth put her in touch with cousins who, almost one hundred fifty years later, still occupy the ancestral land.

When asked about her genealogical heroes, Judith names no names but gives a shout out to those in the past who pursued research with far fewer tools than we have at our disposal today. She states, “I remember the days when there was no ‘online’ anything having to do with family history. Those of us who began when microfilm and microfiche were the bleeding edge of genealogy technology even had a leg up on the early researchers. I am awed by those who did what they did using only handwritten letters and personal visits to repositories.”

Other heroes are more modern. She honors “those who have codified the way in which professional genealogical research and writing is executed. Standards and best-practice methodology are necessary in every discipline. The alternative is for everyone to do their own thing, making it challenging for peers and future users of our work to validate it and confidently pick up where we left off, or, disprove it and make necessary corrections.”

Preparing for certification immersed her totally in the standards and best-practice methodology. She was ready for this with a strong background as an information technology senior project manager/analyst. “As such, one has to live and breathe planning, process methodology, analysis, risk mitigation, quality assurance, and meeting client expectations. I managed high-risk and high profile projects in which the stakes were high, in the health care and government sectors. Properly executed genealogical research and writing require the same skill set.”

While researching online in pajamas has its fans, Judith loves on-site research and the sense of connection with the past and ancestors that comes from finding original signatures or discovering and touching old documents. She also claims to be one who shouts “Bingo!” in a repository when she feels she’s proven a relationship.

Although Judith believes that, “There are no brick walls. There are only delayed answers,” the father of her ancestor Harvey B. has eluded discovery for a very long time. When she was eight she first learned about Harvey from her great-grandmother. Since then she has “given up” on looking for his father about five times. Always persistent, however, Judith is planning another research trip to continue the search before the year is out.

When asked how Judith sees herself in five years, she responds, tongue in cheek, “thin, wealthy, popular, and circling the globe whenever the mood takes me.” She adds, more seriously, that she hopes “that I am even better at what I do, that I’ve continued to make my clients happy, and that I have served the field of genealogy well.” A worthy goal!

Judith may be reached at jherbert@genealogyprof.com and http://genealogyprof.com/.

Welcome, Judith! We’re there to encourage you as you reach for your goal.

Welcome, Lori Cook-Folger, CG!

A photograph of an unknown woman inspired Lori Cook-Folger to pursue genealogy. Although the image was in a photo album, nobody in the family knew the woman’s identity. An inscription on its reverse called out to Lori: “Remember me—tho my face you cannot see.” She set out to honor the woman’s wish and finally identified her as the mother of a great aunt by marriage.

Lori’s mother frequently talked about family as Lori was growing up. “I felt like I knew people that were already dead or I had never seen,” she says. Her father, on the other hand, began telling stories of the past only after Lori was grown. He provided so many details that Lori can drive through the town in which her father was raised and point out specific places of interest. “I don’t know that people pass down the stories anymore,” she adds wistfully. “The little details about life will be lost if we don’t record them.”

Lori Cook-Folger, CG

Eleven years ago Lori and her husband moved to the mountains of North Carolina, but they don’t spend much time there. Her husband’s contracting work as an aerospace electrical engineer often takes them out of state. “Most of the time I am in a hotel somewhere,” she says. Lori does have ancestors from North Carolina, but none from the part of the state in which she now lives. She has not researched much in her local area. Lori and her husband hope to purchase a second home in Charleston, South Carolina, after her husband retires. By then, she hopes to have enough research clients to provide income while still having time to enjoy life.

Attending advanced courses at institutes helped Lori prepare for certification. Her first was Elizabeth Shown Mills’s Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis track at the Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research in Birmingham, Alabama. “I was in awe. Several things she said on the first morning are imbedded in my head.”

Lori learned not only from doing the coursework, but also by absorbing whatever she could from conversations with instructors and classmates. She attended several certification seminars and says that “hearing tips from those already certified” eased her concerns. She credits Clarise Fleck Soper, CG, and Debbie Hooper, CG—both of whom she met through the ProGen Study Group—as being always on call to answer her questions.

While the time involved in preparing the portfolio was more than she expected, Lori feels that others “on the clock” sometimes make the process sound more difficult than it actually is. She urges applicants to read and follow instructions. “If you are truly ready, then all you have to do is follow the directions,” she encourages.

Lori finds great satisfaction in being able to prove a conclusion using the Genealogical Proof Standard. She also enjoys learning about and using DNA evidence in genealogical research. A recent Y-DNA match on her father’s Cook line has created an opening in a long-standing brick wall problem. Lori says that following that lead is one of her current priorities.

As a wife, mother of five, and grandmother to nine, Lori enjoys spending time with her family. For the past two years she, her mother, and a granddaughter have participated in a 216-mile, week-long trail ride ending in Houston. For most of the trip Lori drives the lead car as her mother and granddaughter ride horses, but on the final day she, too, is on horseback.

Although the mystery of the woman in the photo was solved long ago, Lori is still passionate about learning and recording details of the past—both for her own family and the families of others. She may be reached at lcookfolger@gmail.com.

Congratulations and welcome, Lori!

 

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.

Welcome, Amanda Gonzalez, CG

Amanda Gonzalez’s family is firmly rooted in the Delmarva (Delaware-Maryland-Virginia) area. All her ancestors but one were from colonial Pennsylvania and the Delmarva Peninsula. She first became interested in genealogy when her great-grandmother explained about membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution. Amanda followed in her footsteps, joining at age eighteen. A lifelong love of history translated into a degree in history from the University of Delaware. Then followed work for the New Castle [Delaware] Court House Museum and the Hagley Museum, where she offered tours and researched for exhibits. Employment at the New Castle County Library system and the Palomar College Library in San Marcos, California, increased her awareness of the multitude of research resources available and how to access them. Amanda also worked briefly for Genealogists.com.

Amanda Gonzalez, CG

Through bookstore/publisher Colonial Roots’s Facebook page, Amanda met former publisher F. Edward Wright, who engaged her to transcribe court orders. This resulted in two publications, Westmoreland County, Virginia, Court Orders 1726–1729 and Westmoreland County, Virginia, Court Orders 1729–1731.[1] She expects to continue the series with one or two more publications.

Amanda’s personal genealogical research takes her on two different paths. Her own colonial family challenges her with a puzzle of mis-attributed paternity. A Y-DNA tester from her maiden name line, Warren, most closely matches West-surnamed testers. She hopes to narrow down, through documentary research and more DNA testing, when and where the West-Warren link occurred.

On the other hand, the Gonzalez surname strongly suggests Hispanic roots, and in fact Amanda’s husband’s family is Mexican American. Preparing to trace their ancestry means Amanda will be learning more Spanish and studying colonial Spanish handwriting.

Amanda based her portfolio preparation on a thorough knowledge of three books, Genealogy Standards, Evidence Explained, and Professional Genealogy.[2] She read, re-read, and did more re-reading of the standards and the portfolio requirements. Seminars, conferences, and Facebook pages sponsored by local genealogical societies filled in blanks. She took her time, paid attention to every detail, and became more critical in her research process.

Amanda’s father accompanied her on research trips to archives and cemeteries. Before his passing he gifted her the fee for BCG certification, keen to support her interest and career path. With certification under her belt Amanda now feels ready to take clients and looks forward to a thriving genealogical service business. She can be reached at adgulf@cs.com. Welcome, Amanda!


[1] Amanda Gonzalez, Westmoreland County, Virginia, Court Orders 1726–1729 (Millsboro, Del.: Colonial Roots, 2013). Amanda Gonzalez, Westmoreland County, Virginia, Court Orders 1729–1731 (Millsboro, Del.: Colonial Roots, 2013).

[2] Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry.com, 2014). Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 2nd edition (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2009). Elizabeth Shown Mills, ed., Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2001).

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.

Welcome, Ginger Goodell, CG

Welcome to Ginger Goodell, CG, of San Luis Obispo, California, our newest BCG associate and the first from her lovely area, about midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Far from other associates and metropolitan genealogical events, Ginger takes advantage of the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy and the Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR) in Samford.

Ginger Goodell, CG

A few years ago while in the IGHR Advanced Methodology class, Ginger found herself answering questions from Elizabeth Shown Mills about whether she had thought about certification. Receiving the 2012 Walter Lee Sheppard Jr. Prize jump-started the process, giving Ginger eighteen months to complete her portfolio.[1] She advises those considering certification, “Do it!” She also recommends beginning the work samples before applying. That would have saved her from having to apply for extended time to feel she was completely ready. She notes, though, “had I extended [yet] again, I believe I would have found still more to do, dragging out the process another six months or more.” Sometimes it’s hard to know when to stop.

Ginger’s love of reading and learning and her background in English and history saw her through a career teaching first- through fourth-graders. She took up oil painting as an adult, commenting, “It was people I wanted to paint, not buildings or flowers, but people. And now, even though I’m not using a brush and palette to [create] a person’s likeness on canvas, I’m doing it with words, words that are backed up by careful research.”

A passion for writing fiction and family stories took hold of her. “I attempted to fictionalize the story of my grandmother who lost one husband in Scotland to a coal mine accident, only to lose the next two husbands to coal mine accidents in America.” Frustrated with feeling disloyal to the memory of her grandmother with a fictional account, she turned instead to the “true story,” and never returned to fiction.

Among the valued people in Ginger’s life are a husband, children, and grandchildren. For them and for posterity she documents her family history. Ginger is looking forward to further exploring her Cherokee ancestry. She explains, “Unlike those who heard stories of their Cherokee princess ancestor, I have four direct-line ancestors who are on the Dawes rolls. . . . None were princesses.”

A friend from the San Luis Obispo County Genealogical Society, Cafi Cohen, encouraged Ginger to attend institutes and serves still as a mentor to her through the Implementing Professional Standards Special Interest Group. Ginger joins Cafi as a volunteer at the society. She wants to begin speaking at society meetings and in time may “take [her] show on the road.” One day we may have the pleasure of seeing her on the national stage. Ginger can be reached at gingergoodell@yahoo.com, or you might run into her at one of the institutes, still learning, still working to become a better genealogist.


[1] The prize is awarded to top-performing students in the IGHR Advanced Methodology class. It provides a stipend to cover preliminary and final application fees for BCG certification. See “Walter Lee Sheppard, Jr. Prize Encourages New Board Applicants,” OnBoard: Newsletter of the Board for Certification of Genealogists 18 (January 2012): 2.


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.