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

Skillbuilding, NGS 2016: Koford’s Brick-Wall Sledgehammer

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2016 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 7 May 2016.

S451, Rebecca Whitman Koford, CG, “How I Built My Own Brick Wall and the Sledgehammer of Experience”

Reviewed by Angela McGhie, CG

Rebecca Koford’s fun presentation entertained and educated, a challenge for the late Saturday afternoon session. Her positive approach suggested ways that attendees could expand their knowledge and overcome brick walls.

Rebecca Koford, CG
Photo Courtesy Scott Stewart Photography

Rebecca shared fourteen points that keep us from solving difficult problems. She illustrated each with a story and a suggestion how to overcome the issue. As an example, researching only on the internet is point number seven. Rebecca used the comparison of a microwave and a stove. The microwave is fast and efficient, but it is not for cooking everything. Sometimes we need an oven or a stove to properly cook the food we want to eat. We do not want our family tree to be the equivalent of a TV microwave dinner when we could have a Thanksgiving feast!

When discussing the Genealogical Proof Standard, Rebecca observed that the acronym GPS could also stand for “Genealogical Problem Solver.” Those who consistently follow the five steps of the GPS are more successful in solving tough genealogical questions.

Rebecca ended her session by suggesting that we use writing as a method for solving our brick walls. She wants us to write about our research like we have been telling others about it orally. We can write it out just as if we were explaining it to another genealogist. Many times by putting our work on paper we see it differently or see the holes and can solve our own problem.

Rebecca’s personable style, fun sense of humor, and illustrative stories made this presentation an enjoyable end to an enjoyable conference.

 

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A recording of this lecture may be previewed and ordered from PlaybackNow.

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 2016: Mathews on Evidence Evaluation

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2016 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 5 May 2016.

T201, Barbara Jean Mathews, CG, “Evidence: Let’s Get All Sherlock”

Reviewed by Angela McGhie, CG

Barbara Mathews began her presentation by posing the question, “How do we know if we have proof?” When working with research questions and records in genealogy, we can’t hold the proof in our hands or photograph it, so how do we know if we are coming to the right conclusions? She then shared a simple example. Barbara had a death record, and she searched for other records that may be in agreement with it to provide support for her hypothesis. One by one she discussed the documents she found, describing each one’s characteristics and evaluating their reliability. It seemed natural to look at the details of each record.

Barbara Mathews, CG
Photo courtesy of Scott Stewart Photography

From this introduction Barbara made a comfortable transition to the terminology for evaluating evidence. She described and gave examples of the different types of sources (original, derivative and authored narratives). She continued with examples of information (primary, secondary and indeterminable) located in the records, and then finished with the types of evidence (direct, indirect and negative). Barbara related each of these concepts to the actual records and research question in her example, so the terminology was understandable and not intimidating at all.

To further illustrate the concepts and terminology, Barbara shared a second example, this one about Charles and Anna Anderson. She thought the marriage records of Anna’s children might help find Anna’s maiden name. However the six marriage records provided three different maiden names, confusing the situation. Barbara created this chart showing the information from the marriage records and two records created at the time of Anna’s death. This conflicting information actually helped her locate the correct information. Through thorough research and understanding Scandinavian naming patterns, she was able to explain the differences in the maiden names and show that there was truth in each record.

Barbara’s chart showing information suggesting Anna’s maiden name

Barbara’s two examples teach effectively how to evaluate records for reliability. She successfully demonstrated how to analyze each record, and she made the evidence evaluation terminology seem logical. To hear the details of the Barbara’s examples about coming to the right conclusions you can order the recording from PlaybackNow.

 

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A recording of this lecture may be previewed and ordered from PlaybackNow.

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 2016: Giroux on Evidence Summaries

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2016 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 7 May 2016.

S441, Amy Larner Giroux, CG, “Does the Data Fit? Using Evidence Summaries to Assist Your Analysis”

Reviewed by Melissa Johnson, CG

Amy Larner Giroux began her lecture by introducing the concept of a focused research question. She then discussed four genealogical terms—sources, information, evidence, and proof. This key information set the groundwork for the evidence summaries she discussed throughout the lecture.

Amy Larner Giroux, PhD, CG, CGL
Photo courtesy of Judy Fox

Amy offered insight into how she looks at the information she’s already discovered, figures out how the pieces fit (or don’t fit) together, and determines what the next steps should be in terms of research and analysis. She focused on several key tools—timelines, mind maps, spreadsheets, and organized Word documents—and how they help her visualize information and evidence in complex cases.

Using several examples, Amy demonstrated how she uses these tools to connect pieces of information, identify relationships, and figure out which puzzle pieces are missing. She engaged the audience with the humorous tale of the “alleged marked attention paid by Dr. Mangold to Mrs. Brambach,” and walked us through the evidence summaries that helped her arrive at her conclusion and form her narrative.

This lecture offered new ideas on how genealogists can look at the information they’ve already discovered, especially in cases that rely on indirect evidence and aren’t easy to piece together.

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A recording of this lecture may be previewed and ordered from PlaybackNow.

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 2016: Dunn on Convincing Proof Arguments

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2016 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 7 May 2016.

S421, Victor S. Dunn, CG, “I Rest My Case: Constructing a Convincing Proof Argument”

Reviewed by Melissa Johnson, CG

It shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that Vic Dunn’s lecture on proof arguments began with an overview of the five elements of the Genealogical Proof Standard. Understandably, he placed particular emphasis on the fifth element, a “soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion.” He stated firmly, “it must be in writing.”

Victor S. Dunn, CG
Courtesy of Scott Stewart Photography

Dunn walked the audience through the various types of proof discussions—proof statements, proof summaries, and proof arguments—and showed us examples of each from his own writing. He emphasized that proof discussions can be written for various reasons—as part of a larger work, for our own research files, as a client report, or for publication.

Dunn tackled a difficult task, instructing the audience how to construct and write proof arguments, the most complex of proof discussions. He emphasized to writers that proof arguments aren’t necessarily going to be constructed in the order that the research was done. He also pointed out one of the benefits of writing proof arguments: we often find holes in our logic and learn that we have more research to do.

Proof arguments are separated into several sections—the introduction, the body of the argument, and the conclusion—and Dunn offered a framework for how to approach each one. The beginning introduces the research subject, provides basic information about the person, and states any challenges or complexities involved in the research. The main body of the work lays out the argument, analyzes and correlates evidence, and resolves any conflicts. This section can include text, charts, timelines, maps and tables to communicate key information to the reader. The summary provides an overview of the main points, and sometimes explains the methodology used to solve the problem.

This informative lecture ended with several tips for effective genealogical writing: use the active voice, eliminate excess wording, use topic sentences, organize with headings and subheadings, discuss documents in the present tense, and proofread your work. For genealogists learning to write proof arguments, he recommends reading articles from the top five scholarly genealogical journals: National Genealogical Society Quarterly, The American Genealogist, The Genealogist, the New England Historic Genealogical Register, and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record.

Anyone looking to increase their understanding of genealogical proof and sharpen their writing skills would benefit from hearing Dunn’s lecture.

 

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A recording of this lecture may be previewed and ordered from PlaybackNow.

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 2016: Hait on the Logic of Source Citation

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2016 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 7 May 2016.

S411, Michael Hait, “Citing Your Writing:  Models for Documenting Your Genealogy”

Reviewed by Darrell Jackson, CG

Although he stated that there is more than one way to do citations and that citations do not have to be perfect, the main point of Michael Hait’s lecture was that if we think of the way we learned in school to cite books, we will have a simple (or at least simpler) model for citing sources in genealogical writing.

Michael Hait, CG
Courtesy of Scott Stewart Photography

After briefly noting the way to cite sources in a bibliography, Hait explained what he called “the logic of citation” as it applies to footnotes and endnotes.

The book citation model consists of four elements:
1. Author or creator of the book
2. Title of the book
3. Publisher, place, and date of publication
4. Location of the information, usually a page number

Application of this model to a typical genealogical citation, that is, of a document or record of some kind, requires two major modifications. First, most documents are unpublished, so item three may not be relevant. Second, because the document is not published and therefore not readily available in libraries in many locations, it is necessary to include access information in the citation. Access information usually cites an archive or public office (for example, a recorder of deeds).

Another guide for the construction of a citation is to think of a citation as a sentence and to follow the rules for capitalization and punctuation that apply to sentences. This is particularly true of the use of the semi-colon. It is used, as in a sentence, to separate parts of the citation.

Using the citation and model and sentence construction guidelines, Hait went through several examples of how to construct citations. The examples included citations of vital certificates, patent record books, census records, and items in a manuscript file such as a deposition in a court case.

The most complicated citations are those pertaining to a digital image accessed in an online database. These should include the URL and what the online database itself is citing. As illustrated by Hait, such citations involve repetition of some information.

The lecture gave a good understanding of the logic of citation. It was perhaps an overstatement to say that application of this logic is simple.

 

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A recording of this lecture may be previewed and ordered from PlaybackNow.

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 2016: Evans on Negative and Indirect Evidence

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2016 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 6 May 2016.

F351, Stefani Evans, CG, “Doughnut Holes and Family Skeletons: Meeting the GPS through Negative and Indirect Evidence”

Reviewed by Nancy A. Peters, CG

At the start of her lecture, Stefani asked tongue-in-cheek, “Who doesn’t love a corrupt governor?” She went on to describe how the Matteson family story has all the elements of an antebellum soap opera—westward migration, political corruption, fraud, bribery, witness tampering, and the villain fleeing the country.

Stefani Evans, CG
Photo courtesy of Adrianna Ko

On the serious side, Stefani faced one of the more troublesome, yet common, genealogical problems—no direct evidence connects an early nineteenth-century female to her birth family. Nancy Matteson was not named in her putative father’s will or estate file. Was she or wasn’t she his daughter? Confronted with records created in two states, family skeletons, and doughnut holes in the evidence, Stefani explained how she relied on the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) to solve the puzzle of Nancy’s parentage.

An essential element in the solution was the “hypothesis-based problem solving approach” used to identify the problem, develop positive and negative hypotheses, and test them using the GPS. At first, the evidence seemed inconclusive. However, deeper analysis of the negative and indirect evidence taken from a Bible, obituaries, gravestones, newspapers, and land transactions; an understanding of cultural context; and rigorous application of the GPS yielded a reliable conclusion.

Any family historian who faces negative and indirect evidence could benefit from hearing about Stefani’s approach to solving the Matteson family mystery.

 

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A recording of this lecture may be previewed and ordered from PlaybackNow.

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 2016: J. Miller on Reasonably Exhaustive Research, a Case Study

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2016 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 6 May 2016.

F341, Julie Miller, CG, FNGS, “Eddie Wenck:  The Case of a Little Lost Boy”

Reviewed by Karen Stanbary, CG

Little Eddie Wenck died of “congestion of the brain” before he reached his third birthday. Julie Miller, in her quest to fully document the life events of her grandfather’s siblings, uncovered Eddie’s death register entry and church burial record, both naming “Four Mile Cemetery” as the place of interment. Yet, there is no “Four Mile Cemetery” in the community where Eddie and his family lived. There is no mention of said cemetery in the county histories. The closest Four Mile Cemetery was a twelve-mile journey from the Wenck home.

Julie Miller, CG, FNGS
Courtesy of Karen Stanbary

Eddie called to Julie to uncover the truth. She methodically studied city directories, church directories, county histories, diocesan histories, land records, maps, and newspapers. She identified early roads and even the location of a tavern where Irish mourners might gather after a burial. She analyzed assigned priests and each man’s handwriting in the church registers for both the Irish and the German Catholic churches in Eddie’s community. When the microfilm images did not seem quite right, she sought the original volumes. When denied access, she politely persisted, climbing the hierarchy within the church to gain access. She studied the provenance of the records.

It was as if Eddie accompanied her in this journey, compelling her to not give up until she could fully document his short life. In the process Julie (and Eddie) discovered and corrected significant errors in the burials of Newport, Kentucky, including naming many who lie in unmarked graves, now long forgotten.

This lecture is a fantastic example of source appraisal and analysis, an essential component of reasonably exhaustive research.

 

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A recording of this lecture may be previewed and ordered from PlaybackNow.

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 2016: Jones on DNA and Brick Walls

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2016 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 6 May 2016.

F321, Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA, “Systematically Using Autosomal DNA Test Results to Help Break Through Genealogical Brick Walls”

Reviewed by Melinda Daffin Henningfield, CG

Dr. Thomas W. Jones suggests autosomal DNA (atDNA) as another puzzle piece in helping family historians identify their ancestors. DNA should be employed along with traditional genealogical methods. He emphasizes that using DNA does not relieve the genealogist from adhering to the Genealogical Proof Standard.[1]

Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA
Courtesy of Scott Stewart Photography

Most genealogists are not geneticists and may be baffled at how to begin using atDNA in their research. Utilizing a case study, Jones provides a framework to assist in employing this tool.[2] He steps through traditional research that brought him to specific and unanswered questions of identity. These were recognized as questions that might be answered using DNA. He discusses challenges in using DNA as a tool and outlines specific steps that can be followed to use it effectively.

Identifying ancestors for whom few traditional records exist is a constant challenge for family historians. Genealogists can now employ atDNA as an additional tool for identifying ancestors, but the large number of results makes it confusing to many. Jones gives a blueprint which clarifies how to begin this process. This lecture will assist beginning-to-advanced genealogists wanting to use this tool. The use of atDNA, accompanied by skillful use of traditional genealogical methods, can help family historians identify those elusive ancestors and break down those brick walls.

 


[1] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry.com, imprint of Turner Publishing, 2014), 1–3.
[2] Thomas W. Jones, “Too Few Sources to Solve a Family Mystery? Some Greenfields in Central and Western New York,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 103 (June 2015): 85–103.

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A recording of this lecture may be previewed and ordered from PlaybackNow.

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.