Skillbuilding, NGS 2017: Miller’s “The Genealogical Proof Summary”

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2017 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 12 May 2017.

F341, Gail Jackson Miller, CG, “The Genealogical Proof Summary: What It Is and Is Not”

Reviewed by Jean Atkinson Andrews, CG

LiveStream Description: Learn to logically organize and present your evidence to meet current standards. Improve and simplify this important step in the research process.

How many of us have randomly collected everything on an ancestor, only to find later that much of it did not apply, or that we had answers to our questions in our already collected information? Many researchers resist writing proof documents because they believe it takes too much time away from collecting stuff.

Gail Jackson Miller, CG

Gail Jackson Miller, CG

Gail Jackson Miller’s lecture might change your mind, as she shows how and why learning, using, and following the GPS method can save time, money, and improve your research results. Throughout the lecture, Miller presents simple, practical ways to bring the benefits of the GPS method into your work.

Our understanding of the past and the soundness of our conclusions increases as we obtain and analyze evidence from quality sources. GPS is a method to help understand past events and people, and writing is a critical requirement of this method.

All research fields have standards for writing and publishing findings. In today’s online world, “sharing” equals “publishing.”  Miller cautions that if it’s not good research, don’t share it! As we all know, once it is online, it NEVER goes away.

Miller explains that there is no “one size fits all” proof document. Proof documents lie along a continuum from simple statements to complex arguments. The evidence and research question to be answered decide the type of proof required. She makes it clear that the methodology for writing proof documents is useful throughout a research project. Writing as you go is the most effective and efficient method of assembling and analyzing evidence. It saves time, but most of us have learned this the hard way, when we had to go back and recreate our work or start over when we couldn’t figure out what we were doing when we left off!

“You cannot write a good Proof Summary without a good start” asserts Miller. If you have not analyzed what you already know, developed a specific research question, and placed what you know and want to know into the context of the location, laws, and customs of the period you cannot write a valid Proof Summary.

Sound hard? Gail advises that you begin the Proof Summary at the beginning of the research. As you collect and analyze the data, and write down your evidence, you are already writing your Proof Summary! Several examples, from simple to more complex, illustrate how the GPS was successfully applied to solve actual genealogical problems.

Miller reminds us that successful problem solving is the same in all research fields. Following a structured process will save time and result in more successful outcomes. Omitting or short cutting steps is a recipe for time loss or failure. Start cutting through your own brick walls with GPS tools!

Information on purchasing this lecture can be found at Playback Now www.playbackngs.com.

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.

 

 

Skillbuilding, NGS 2017: Russell’s “The Law and the Reasonably Exhaustive (Re)Search”

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2017 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 10 May 2017.

W121, Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL, “The Law and the Reasonably Exhaustive (Re)Search”

Reviewed by Scott M. Wilds, CG

Judy’s talk demonstrated the need to understand prevailing law in order to meet the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS).  Though the title refers specifically to one of the standards–Reasonably Exhaustive Research—many of the points made apply to Analysis and Correlation as well.

Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

The GPS requirement for “Reasonably Exhaustive Research,” rather than the old “Reasonably Exhaustive Search,” demands, among other things, the need to understand and interpret documents, rather than just to collect “facts.”  In attempting to answer a specific, well-focused question, document interpretation—figuring out what the record tells us—requires us to be analysts who understand the legal context that led to the creation of the record. That legal context informs the information item’s meaning in providing evidence to answer our research question, and will inform further research.

Analysis and Correlation of evidence is the third requirement of the GPS.  The law drove the reason for the creation of documents, and the form that documents take. It is essential to understand the legal requirements and reasoning behind the creation and rationale for documents that we may find as researchers many years later. Documents only make sense in the context of the law.

In addition to  reviewing the kinds of law that may apply in various American contexts – English common law, civil law, statutory law, canon law—Judy provided concrete examples of how understanding the applicable law is necessary to be able to interpret a document.  Challenging documents that seem to make no sense can be comprehended when the relevant law is researched and understood.

Judy provided concrete resources for finding federal and state laws that are needed to properly interpret records.  In addition, both the federal government and state legislatures passed laws to benefit private parties that in themselves may provide information and evidence in meeting the GPS.

Purchasers of this lecture should expect an interesting and fast-paced look at the way that the law intersects with the GPS. Interesting case examples as well as concrete resources to find relevant laws add additional value. Whether you are just starting to grapple with understanding and applying the GPS, or are more seasoned in its application, you’ll find much of great value in this session.  If you are “on the clock” and dealing with submitting a portfolio, this session may make you re-think something in your portfolio, be it in the document work, proof argument in the case study, or in explaining the actions and context of the family you’re writing about in the KDP.

A recording of this lecture may be ordered from Playback Now www.playbackngs.com.

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.

Skillbuilding, NGS 2017: Dunn’s “Estimating Ancestral Birth Dates”

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2017 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 13 May 2017.

S401, Vic Dunn, CG, “How Old Was Grandpa? Estimating Ancestral Birth Dates”

 Reviewed by Nicki Peak Birch, CG.

Those who were willing to attend Victor Dunn’s 8 a.m. lecture on the last day of the NGS Conference were treated to an interesting and informative talk. Dunn discussed how to estimate ages during the era before vital records were readily available. He focused on record types and life cycles with frequent examples to emphasize his points.

Vic Dunn, CG

Vic Dunn, CG

Dunn’s discussion of record types ranged from the pre-1850 censuses to tax lists, court records, deeds, wills, and more. He showed how to use a series of the pre-1850 censuses to determine a birth range. He reconstructed a family with ten children, of whom only one son was named in the father’s will, just by using census records.

Dunn noted that he was most familiar with Virginia law and recommended becoming familiar with the law of the state being researched. In Virginia, someone as young as fourteen could be a witness, become an executor at seventeen, and write a will or sell land at twenty-one.

Dunn explained that life cycles also help to estimate ages. Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, published in 1989 by David Hackett Fischer, gives the average age at marriage for men and women in the four groups of people studied. This allows the researcher to estimate an age for an ancestor if the year of his/her marriage is known. Women’s fertility is also fairly standard, ranging from age fifteen to forty-five, with two or three years between births.

Recommended!

A recording of this lecture may be ordered from Playback Now www.playbackngs.com.

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.

 

 

 

Skillbuilding, NGS 2017: Peters’s “Proving Identity and Kinship Using the GPS”

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2017 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 11 May 2017.

T201, Nancy A. Peters, CG, “Proving Identity and Kinship Using the GPS: Finding a Freedman’s Family”

Reviewed by Scott M. Wilds, CG

What do you get when you combine the challenges of resolving issues of identity and conflicting evidence with a fascinating case study and lessons in the GPS?  A practically perfect talk by Nancy Peters, that’s what.

Nancy A. Peters, CG

Nancy A. Peters, CG

Nancy addressed several elements of the GPS – reasonably exhaustive research, analysis and correlation, resolving conflicting information—in solving a challenging research question, the identity and origin in slavery of a freedman in Abbeville County, South Carolina.  Students of African-American genealogy and southern families in general will be mesmerized by the case itself, but all genealogists will gain from Nancy’s research planning and execution, and application of the GPS to reach a credible conclusion.

Nancy showed how expanding research beyond the low hanging fruit of federal population schedules produced evidence critical to resolving questions of identity and relationship.  South Carolina genealogists will appreciate and be reminded about the utility of state censuses and militia lists, as well as more obscure records like crop lien documents, found only in the county courthouse.  The correlation of names across multiple record sets led to the sorting out of various men with the same name.  Anyone who has tried to determine whether two people with the same name are actually one or two individuals, will benefit from seeing Nancy’s use of a table with cross tabs for record source and date, name, and identity elements.

This case study benefitted from Nancy’s deep understanding of the historical context for her subject, including, among other things, the possibility of multiple names for African Americans in the Reconstruction era, and the difference in records generated by men taking on crop liens for rent versus those to provide supplies for land they owned.  Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man told us that “you gotta know the territory,” and Nancy showed us why it matters.

This presentation also reminds us that using the GPS can prevent us from taking the wrong path in our research.  While reasonably exhaustive research will take us far from our computers, researching and understanding original records found at state and county archives and the courthouse will save us from making too hasty conclusions and errors.   This presentation is highly recommended to all who are looking for an actual case study that demonstrates “how it’s done” and is an entertaining, well-told, and satisfying research story as well.

A recording of this lecture may be ordered from Playback Now www.playbackngs.com.

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.

Skillbuilding, NGS 2017: Scribner’s “Using Maps in Genealogical Research”

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2017 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 13 May 2017.

S451, Sara Anne Scribner, CG, “The Lay of the Land: Using Maps in Genealogical Research”

Reviewed by Patricia Lee Hobbs, CG

Sara Scribner, CG, presented “Lay of the Land: Using Maps in Genealogical Research” at the last session of the NGS conference. Sara ably defined and described various map types and demonstrated how problems can be solved using maps.

Sara Anne Scribner, CG

Sara Anne Scribner, CG

In their quest for the bare-bones vital data, genealogists often ignore historical context provided by maps. Sara reminded them that genealogy standards require broad-context research including consideration of historical boundaries, migration routes, and sources for relevant times and places. Gazetteers, emigrants’ guides, landowner, and other types of maps are among the sources that provide this content. Topographical and soil maps can help us understand why our ancestors might have lived where they did and defined the type of agriculture conducted. Surveyors’ maps may name neighbors who might turn out to be relatives.

Sara described common map elements and explained common problems. We may not realize that maps may have been created with an inherent bias or agenda. Examples of maps from a variety of online repositories were displayed. One of the most interesting was an emigrant guide which gave stops along a common migration trail with distances and travel times.

Sara Scribner’s session is an important lesson that reasonably exhaustive research is incomplete if we neglect this important resource.

A recording of this lecture may be previewed and ordered from Playback Now www.playbackngs.com.

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.

Skillbuilding, NGS 2017: Ouimette’s “Silent Border Crossings”

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2017 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 11 May 2017.

T251, David Ouimette, CG, CGL, “Silent Border Crossings: Tracing the Elusive Immigrant Who Left Only Breadcrumbs for Clues”

Reviewed by Harold Henderson, CG

In the BCG Skillbuilding Track presentation “Silent Border Crossings,” David Ouimette, CG, told two stories in one compact lecture: his own evolution from “looking for the perfect record” that would tell him exactly what he wanted to know, and his improved research process in identifying an elusive immigrant over the Vermont-Canadian border. Here are some of the keys:

David Ouimette, CG, CGL

David Ouimette, CG, CGL

  • He looked at whole families, not isolated individuals.
  • He looked closely at “evidence I’d had in hand for years.”
  • He looked at the broad cultural and historical context of the Lake Champlain basin.
  • He looked at the record creators. One relevant priest was an Irishman who knew no French, and who spelled them so creatively that some entries could not be deciphered at all.
  • He correlated census and church records along with knowledge of workaday English and French versions of the same name.

The result was a strong case for the identity of the desired head of household. But without looking at the big picture, and without studying the details, nothing would have been discovered.

This talk has appeal beyond the particular border areas where it is set, and Ouimette’s soft-spoken style may be especially good at inspiring those who want to do good research, but who have not quite “clicked” with other lectures about standards.

A recording of this lecture may be ordered from Playback Now www.playbackngs.com.

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.

 

 

Skillbuilding, NGS 2017: Hait’s “Analyzing Deeds Deeply”

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2017 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 12 May 2017.

F301, Michael Hait, CG, CGL, “One Dollar and Natural Love and Affection: Analyzing Deeds Deeply”

Reviewed by Jean Atkinson Andrews, CG

LiveStream Description: This lecture goes beyond the obvious to explore the rich variety of evidence that deeds, mortgages, and other instruments offer regarding relationships and identity.

Michael Hait’s lectures include a rich mix of information for beginners and intermediate genealogists and tips for the advanced. “Analyzing Deeds Deeply” delivers on all counts.

Michael Hait, CG, CGL

Michael Hait, CG, CGL

For the less experienced, Michael outlines the usual segments found in a deed using an 1837 example from Pitts County, North Carolina. Walking through each segment, he expands upon the obvious to offer more advanced tips on the nuances of conveyance language and how the word “thence” can be a useful marker in understanding tract descriptions.

An overview of the two major types of land survey systems is covered: Metes & Bounds (State Land) and Rectangular Survey (Federal Land) along with an emphasis on finding the neighbors of your ancestor within each system. The concept of dower was discussed along with a brief summary of the general land patent process.

Not disregarding or glossing over the legal language, sometimes referred to as boilerplate, was a point of emphasis. This is a valuable reminder to those of us who look at many deeds and “already know” what it will say. Surprises do indeed sometimes lurk in the bottom language of a deed and the document that looks like a sale of land at the top may be something else based on the language at the bottom.

The last segment of the session discussed several examples of use of land records in proving identity and implying kinship. Not to be missed are Michael’s excellent use of tables and his creative and unique “waterfall table” which he used to understand a complex descendancy of land from the original patentees to descendants over a hundred years later, and which became the basis of a published journal article.[1]

This is a lecture that could be viewed several times with new insights gained each time and applied profitably to any research involving deeds.

Information on purchasing this lecture can be found at Playback Now http://www.playbackngs.com.

[1] Michael Hait, CG, “The Parents of Thomas Burgan of Baltimore County, Maryland,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly, V. 101, March 2013, pp. 19–34.

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.

Skillbuilding, NGS 2017: Bloom’s “Past Conflict Repatriation”

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2017 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 11 May 2017.

T241, Jean Larzalere Bloom, CG, “Past Conflict Repatriation: The Role of Genealogists and Methodology in Fulfilling Our Nation’s Promise”

Reviewed by Catherine Desmarais, CG

“This is what I was put on earth to do.” Jeanne Bloom’s passion for her work was evident as she presented “Past Conflict Repatriation: The Role of Genealogists and Methodology in Fulfilling Our Nation’s Promise.”

Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG

Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG

Jeanne began by sharing the values with which the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), the agency that oversees the US military repatriation efforts, approaches their work.  They conduct their mission, to “provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation,” with compassion, integrity, teamwork, respect, and innovation. She told the audience how each value impacts the work she does as a Certified Genealogist® for the US Army.

Respect and compassion are core values for Jeanne. Part of her job is to call the soldier’s family members she locates. She frames each call with respect and compassion for whatever reaction she may encounter. A few relatives want to keep the past in the past, while others are still torn up by the loss that occurred more than seventy years ago.  Jeanne stressed that she cannot impose her feelings on the family member she speaks to. Rather, she respects the full range of emotions.

Jeanne next explained the genealogist’s role in the Army repatriation cases. DPAA requires that each case referred for genealogy research must involve a credentialed (Board-certified or Accredited) genealogist. Starting with very little information in the soldier’s file, the task is to locate the two closest next-of-kin as well as eligible family DNA donors. For each case Jeanne is given a little over thirty research hours, and generally up to 90 days, to achieve this. The target DNA donors include three mitochondrial DNA donors, one yDNA donor, and, when available, a close family autosomal DNA donor. Often Jeanne finds close relatives, such as a soldier’s sibling, child, or niece/nephew. Other times she may have to go out to distant cousins to find a DNA donor. In an extreme case she researched a family back to 1730 to find a line to trace forward to the present day to locate a yDNA donor.

With 400 to 500 cases completed over thirteen years at a 95% success rate, Jeanne has learned a few tricks of the trade.  She shared a few with her audience, including descriptions of the types of resources she’s found particularly helpful, as well as some of her favorite strategies. She told stories that illustrated the lengths she’s gone to in order to find the families of “her boys,” including help from a VFW bartender and the grandson of the soldier’s brother’s stepchildren. Creativity and detective doggedness are a must for this work.

“No One Left Behind” is a sacred vow of the US Military. Jeanne Bloom is doing her part to make that happen.

A recording of this lecture may be ordered from Playback Now www.playbackngs.com.

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.

BCG Education Fund 2017 Helen F.M. Leary Distinguished Lecture

The BCG Education Fund announces Judy G. Russell, CG, CGL, as the featured speaker for the 2017 Helen F.M. Leary Distinguished Lecture Series.

Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL, will speak at the National Genealogical Society (NGS) 2017 Conference, Raleigh, North Carolina, and at the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) 2017 National Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her topic at the National Genealogical Society Conference is “Rainbows and Kaleidoscopes: Inclusion as a Professional and Personal Genealogical Standard.” The lecture considers how we, as professional and personal genealogists, can enrich our family histories, our client bases, and our collaborations with fellow researchers by adopting inclusion as a genealogical standard. Her topic at the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference builds from the NGS lecture. “Rainbows and Kaleidoscopes: Inclusion as a Society and Corporate Genealogical Standard” explores how genealogical societies and companies can better grow their memberships, serve their constituencies, and increase their revenues by adopting inclusion as a genealogical standard.

Judy Russell, JD, CG, CGL

Judy Russell, JD, CG, CGL

Judy G. Russell is a genealogist with a law degree. She writes, teaches and lectures on a wide variety of genealogical topics, ranging from using court records in family history to understanding DNA testing. A Colorado native with roots deep in the American south on her mother’s side and entirely in Germany on her father’s side, she is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the National Genealogical Society and numerous state and regional genealogical societies. She has written for the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and National Genealogical Society Magazine, among other publications. She is on the faculty of the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research in Alabama, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, and the Genealogical Institute on Federal Records. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists® and holds credentials as a Certified Genealogist® and Certified Genealogical Lecturer℠. Her blog – chosen as one of the American Bar Association’s top 100 in 2013, 2014 and 2015 – appears at The Legal Genealogist website (http://www.legalgenealogist.com).

The Helen F.M. Leary Distinguished Lecture Series, initiated in 2007, honors Helen F.M. Leary of North Carolina, Certified Genealogist Emeritus and a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists, known for her richly informative and entertaining lectures on methodology, law, writing, and the art of lecturing.

The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) Education Fund, founded in 2000 as an independent non-profit charitable trust, advances the educational aims of the Board for Certification of Genealogists® by funding learning programs consistent with standards promulgated by the Board and by providing incentives for study and scholarly research in accordance with the Board’s standards. For more information, see BCG Education Fund (http://bcgcertification.org/educationfund/index.html).

BCG Education Fund Trustees:

J.H. Fonkert, CG
Patricia Lee Hobbs, CG
Patricia Hackett Nicola, CG
Angela Packer McGhie, CG
Alice Hoyt Veen, CG

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.

BCG Education Fund Putting Skills to Work 2017 Workshop

The BCG Education Fund announces speakers and topics for the 2017 Putting Skills to Work workshop, scheduled for Tuesday, 9 May 2017, prior to the NGS 2017 Family History Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The workshops are designed to help all researchers perform more efficient and effective research, solve difficult problems, and present well-reasoned conclusions. Morning and afternoon sessions provide a full day of instruction that includes practical, hands-on exercises. The 2017 workshops will be presented by Nancy A. Peters, CG, and Sara Scribner, CG.

Nancy A. Peters, CG

Nancy A. Peters, CG

Nancy A. Peters, CG, will lead the session “Make Your Case: Correlating Evidence to Solve Genealogical Problems.” Are you facing what seems like a brick wall in your research? Solutions to complex kinship and identity problems require skill in working with direct, indirect, and negative evidence. This session provides practical methods and hands-on experience in correlating evidence to recognize patterns, connections, and inconsistencies that will help you make your case. Prerequisite: working knowledge of core record types—census, probate, land, and vital records—which are used in classroom exercises.

 

Sara Scribner, CG

Sara Scribner, CG

Sara A. Scribner, CG, will lead the session “Make Your Case: Constructing and Writing Proof Discussions.” You solved your brick wall problem. But can you prove your case in writing to the toughest critic? This session deconstructs creating a convincing proof. Session participants learn to resolve conflicting evidence and construct proof discussions ranging from the self-evident to the complex. The session covers logic used in genealogical proof, and useful structures for writing a proof. Hands-on practice includes dissecting proofs written by published authors, and creating a practice proof for a personal genealogical problem. Prerequisites: Come prepared to practice writing up a personal genealogical problem. Also, thoughtfully read a few articles from The American Genealogist, The Genealogist, The National Genealogical Society Quarterly, The New England Historical and Genealogical Society Register, or The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record.

The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) Education Fund, founded in 2000 as an independent non-profit charitable trust, advances the educational aims of the Board for Certification of Genealogists® by funding learning programs consistent with standards promulgated by the Board and by providing incentives for study and scholarly research in accordance with the Board’s standards. For more information, see BCG Education Fund (http://bcgcertification.org/educationfund/index.html).

The registration fee of $110 includes lunch, hands‐on exercises, syllabus, handouts and active class participation. NGS Conference registration is not required. Workshop registration is provided through the NGS Conference registration site at http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/.

BCG Education Fund Trustees:

J.H. Fonkert, CG
Patricia Lee Hobbs, CG
Patricia Hackett Nicola, CG
Angela Packer McGhie, CG
Alice Hoyt Veen, CG