Skillbuilding: Bloom on The Art of Negative-Space Research: Women

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2015 NGS Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this skillbuilding lecture, presented Saturday, 16 May 2015:

S451: Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG, “The Art of Negative-Space Research: Women,” reviewed by Debbie Mieszala, CG.

Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG, is equal parts determination and enthusiasm as she guides her audience through a case study entitled “Three Graves under a Few Small Trees” within her BCG Skillbuilding presentation, “The Art of Negative-Space Research: Women.” Bloom’s interest in a trio of eighteenth-century burials was not dampened by the fact that they now lie under a parking lot. Inscriptions and remarks about the gravestones were documented over a century ago.

BCG President Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG

With the humor required to fortify a genealogist through the most complex of research problems, Bloom explains the methodology she used to determine how the man and two women lying under the tarmac were connected. No record for either woman names her parents. Spelling and name variations added complexity to the research. Facing an unfortunately-common dearth of female-specific records, Bloom began by identifying and researching the men in the women’s lives—using the negative space around the women to form images of their identities. Others sharing their surnames were researched at length, and a community of family and associates provided valuable evidence.

As the “spaghetti family” strands are unwound, primarily through extensive work in probate and wills, Bloom paints a vivid picture of a family emerging from hiding. “It really does take getting down to the documents, looking at them and reading them,” she declares. Extensive document analysis and correlation were crucial to the problem’s solution. Bloom’s research strategy allowed her to identify parents for the two women, put a name to a previously unidentified child, and connect the trio of family members forgotten under a parking lot.

Bloom advises that “Just because researching women can be challenging, it shouldn’t be ignored.” Her problem and solution format inspire genealogists to look more closely at the elusive women who represent one half of our ancestry.

“The Art of Negative-Space Research: Women,” session S451, was recorded by Jamb Tapes, Inc.

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.

Certification Workshop at NGS 2015

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2015 NGS Family History Conference, is pleased to offer an overview of this certification workshop, presented Thursday, 14 May 2015:

T211: Certification: Measuring Yourself Against Standards, presented by Michael S. Ramage, JD, CG, Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, and Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

Why certify?

How to certify?

What are the components of a portfolio?

What characterizes a successful applicant?

What are the common mistakes made by unsuccessful applicants?

Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

These are among the questions addressed by trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists in its workshop “Certification: Measuring Yourself Against Standards,” conducted at the 2015 National Genealogical Society conference in St. Charles, Missouri.

Michael S. Ramage, JD, CG

Trustee and Board Treasurer Michael S. Ramage, JD, CG, Trustee and Executive Committee member-at-large Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL, and Trustee and Past President Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, reviewed the certification process in depth for a packed room at the St. Charles Convention Center.

Attendees had the opportunity to ask questions about all of the required elements of the portfolio, the application process, and the judging rubrics.

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL

They also were among the first to learn of two changes in the application process, adopted by the Board of Trustees at its meeting last week:

First, the resume requirement will be updated, effective when the 2016 application guide is published, to require new applicants to “List the genealogy-related activities that helped you prepare for certification and in a sentence or two discuss how each activity helped you improve your (a) attainment of genealogical standards, (b) knowledge of genealogically-useful materials and contexts, (c) skills in reconstructing unknown or forgotten relationships, families, people, groups, and events, and (d) abilities to present your findings to others. Your discussion should cover formal and informal development activities in which you engaged. {Standards 82–83}.” This requirement, which will be evaluated by judges in the portfolio review process, is designed to ensure that applicants focus on the wide variety of educational opportunities available to assist in preparing for success as a genealogical researcher.

Second, and again effective when the 2016 application guide is published, new applications will be capped at 150 pages in length. This change will bring both electronically-submitted and hard-copy portfolios onto an identical footing, with both forms limited to 150 pages. (Double-sided printing is allowed, but each printed page counts: seventy-five pieces of paper printed on both sides equals 150 pages.) It will also serve to reinforce the guidance given to applicants that excellence is not inconsistent with brevity.

The two-hour, two-session workshop was recorded, and the audio tape will be available shortly for purchase through Jamb Tapes, Inc.

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.

Skillbuilding: Dunn on Indirect Evidence

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2015 NGS Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this Skillbuilding lecture, presented Saturday, 16 May 2015:

S442: Victor S. “Vic” Dunn, CG, “Beating the Odds: Using Indirect Evidence in Problem Solving,” reviewed by Teresa Steinkamp McMillin, CG

Vic Dunn, CG

Vic Dunn’s informative lecture focuses on using indirect evidence to solve genealogical problems. Evidence, “a tentative answer to a research question,” may be accurate or incorrect and it may be direct or indirect. Direct evidence is information that states the answer to a research question, while indirect evidence must be combined with at least one other piece of information to answer the question at hand. Vic reminds us that negative evidence—the absence of what we expect to see under a given set of circumstances—may be important in solving a genealogical problem. For example, if a man is not listed in a certain tax list, it might indicate that he moved away from the area.

Vic walks through five examples of problems that were solved using indirect evidence. The examples include cases where relationship linkages were used and cases where relationship linkages were not available. In the latter, research focuses on the subject’s associates. Vic also presents an example where direct evidence is available, but was obtained from questionable derivative sources.

The talk concludes with a reminder that to correctly solve a problem, all relevant evidence must be correlated; source citations must be complete and accurate; conflicting evidence must be resolved; and a sound conclusion must be written. These are the last four criteria of the Genealogical Proof Standard. The first is to conduct a reasonably exhaustive search, and it appears that Vic has done just that in his examples. Thank you, Vic, for this instructive presentation.

A recording of this lecture may be purchased through Jamb Tapes, Inc.

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.

Skillbuilding: Hait on Reasonably Exhaustive Research

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2015 NGS Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this Skillbuilding lecture, presented Friday, 15 May 2015:

F351: Michael Hait, CG, “What Is a ‘Reasonably Exhaustive Search’?” reviewed by Nancy A. Peters, CG

Michael Hait, CG

Michael Hait, CG, began his lecture by reminding us that any single record can mislead or contain errors. Many genealogical researchers have heard about the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) and its role in preventing us from coming to wrong conclusions and chasing the wrong ancestors. Michael briefly reviewed the five elements of the GPS, the first of which tells us that “reasonably exhaustive research” is a prerequisite for sound conclusions. Yet some researchers might ask: What is reasonable? How do you conduct reasonably exhaustive research? In his lecture Michael answered those questions and showed an example.

In a humorous way, he first told us what is not the answer to the first question. He promptly discredited the myth that three is “the magic number” of sources needed to ensure an accurate conclusion. Michael then gave us some practical guidance for how to go about meeting this important first element of the GPS.

Michael gave another wise piece of advice—expand your horizons—and followed it with an example of what that means and why it’s important to our research. He illustrated his points with a case study example using direct, indirect, and negative evidence, which was taken from his own research and writing on the Hait family.

Any family historian who is serious about producing accurate work and determining sound kinship connections will find this lecture full of useful ideas and guidance.

If you missed this lecture at the 2015 NGS Conference, a recording is available from Jamb Tapes, Inc. In addition, Michael will repeat his talk for the upcoming BCG Lecture Series on 9 October 2015 at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. This series of six lectures sponsored by BCG is free and open to the public. No prior registration is necessary.

 

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.

Skillbuilding: Bettag on Historical Resources for Petitions to Congress

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2015 NGS Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this Skillbuilding lecture, presented Friday, 15 May 2015:

F348: Claire Bettag, CG, FUGA, “Petitions, Memorials, and Remonstrances in Early America,” reviewed by Amy Larner Giroux, Ph.D., CG, CGL

Claire Bettag, CG, FUGA

Claire Bettag’s informative lecture entitled “Petitions, Memorials, and Remonstrances in Early America: Good Genealogical Sources” covers historical resources concerning petitions to Congress. Her examples focus on the First Federal Congress of the United States, which ran from 1789 to 1791.

More than 600 petitions were processed in this particular congressional session. Claire explains that there were two main reasons for citizens to petition Congress: to request redress for grievances and for monetary or property loss (“petitions” or “memorials”) and to request that Congress not take certain actions (“remonstrances” or “addresses”).

Claire covers online and offline published sources. She stresses that published sources, such as the U.S. Serial Set, are derivative resources and should be used as a step towards locating the original records. Her selected examples and extensive knowledge of the subject make it clear that there is a wealth of historical and genealogical data available in these records. They include not only document transcriptions, but also analytical essays on context. Claire uses an example of “Dependent Survivors of Deceased Soldiers” listed in Revolutionary War claims that identify widows and children. Another example is a record related to a twice-married Revolutionary War widow, which lists birth and death years for both husbands, the widow’s birth and death information, and both marriage dates.

It is very helpful to hear about the background of petitioning, which is rooted in English history and the Magna Carta. Petitioning in the United States continued through the nineteenth century and Claire’s explanation of how the process became the basis of today’s lobbying efforts is intriguing. Both the names of the petitioners and the historical context found in these records make them an excellent resource for researchers.

A recording of this lecture may be ordered from Jamb Tapes, Inc.

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.

Skillbuilding: McDonald on Transcribing and Abstracting

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2015 NGS Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this skillbuilding lecture, presented Thursday, 14 May 2015:

T-201: Rev. Dr. David McDonald, CG, “Transcription, Abstraction, & the Records,” reviewed by Cari A. Taplin, CG

Rev. Dr. David McDonald, CG

One of the cornerstones of the BCG application process is commonly known as the “document work,” which entails transcribing, abstracting, and analyzing an original document. A lecture on such a topic could be a boring endeavor instructing students on the rules and directives of completing the task. However, Dave’s lecture style is far from boring, and the topic is presented as an interactive session, full of audience participation, questions, and plenty of humor.

Dave walks the audience through a thorough analysis of an original document demonstrating a wide range of considerations genealogists must examine. These include ink blots, dots, checkmarks, double underlines, various paper and pen types, and even occasionally cat paw prints! From transcription and abstraction, to analysis and research planning, the entire process is demonstrated, dispelling some of its mystery.

This excellent lecture, presented as part of the BCG Skillbuilding Track, is beneficial for all genealogists. The skillful presentation is especially helpful for those pursuing certification. The lecture can be purchased through Jamb Tapes, Inc.

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.

Skillbuilding: Hare on Building Better Citations

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2015 NGS Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this Skillbuilding lecture, presented Thursday, 14 May 2015:

T241: Alison Hare, CG, “Building Better Citations,” reviewed by Michael Ramage, J.D., CG

Alison Hare, CG, presented a most insightful session on the art of constructing citations.

The emphasis of this talk is reference notes, as they are oft used in genealogy. From creation of notes to the placement of citations in writings, it is covered here. She starts out with an image of an ancient Inukshuk, which Alison shows us is analogous to the use of citations: the columns should have the strength to hold up the manuscript.

After going through the must-have books (Genealogy Standards, Evidence Explained, and Mastering Genealogical Proof), Alison provides useful “basic principles” in a very clear, concise manner. She presents the parts and common elements of citations, and provides visuals that add to the learning experience. For example, her slide “Internet citations: the core” breaks down the subject matter to its most understandable elements.

All of the major aspects of citations are covered in this talk. A discussion on source quality gets to the proper methods to express the reliability of various sources.

Editorial tools, common elements, convention and logic, layers, consistency, and precision: they are all covered here. Thank you, Alison.

A recording of this lecture may be ordered from Jamb Tapes, Inc.

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.

Skillbuilding: Russell on Living with Legal Lingo

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2015 NGS Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this skillbuilding lecture, presented Thursday, 14 May 2015:

T251: Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG, CGL, “Living with Legal Lingo,” reviewed by B. Darrell Jackson, Ph.D., CG

In her usual engaging style, Judy Russell brings to life the necessity of understanding arcane and unfamiliar technical terms in order to properly interpret legal records encountered in genealogical research. Using eighteenth- and nineteenth-century documents involving Daniel Boone and members of his family, she highlights such terms as “indenture on the inquisition,” “escheator,” “coroner,” and “fieri facias,” to illustrate this necessity.

The process of interpreting legal records that Russell recommends is to become familiar with the context of the record, to discover the laws in effect at the time and in the place of the record, and to determine the meaning of the technical terms by use of appropriate reference works. On the latter, she is specific, beginning with Black’s Law Dictionary (no later than the 4th edition), John Bouvier’s earlier law dictionary (1839), and Giles Jacob’s even earlier dictionary (1729). These and other reference works are described and evaluated. The Georgetown Law Library is given the highest accolade as a comprehensive online source of legal reference works.

It is unlikely that anyone will come away from the lecture without being fully aware of the legal lingo that will be encountered in certain kinds of records, of how that lingo needs to be accurately understood, and of how to go about doing so. The use of Black’s, already a part of my repertoire, will now be supplemented by the other sources described in this informative and practical presentation.

A recording of this lecture may be ordered from Jamb Tapes, Inc.

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.

Skillbuilding: Little on Lesser-Known Documents

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2015 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this Skillbuilding lecture, presented Wednesday, 13 May 2015.

W121: Barbara Vines Little, CG, FNGS, FVGS, “But I’ve Looked Everywhere!”
Reviewed by Darcie Hind Posz, CG

Barbara Vines Little, CG, FNGS, FVGS

We create a lot of our own brick walls by making assumptions. We consult the usual sources, such as censuses, vital records, and wills. Each supplies information that may apply to what we are researching. Censuses document family members, ages, relationships, and places of residence and birth. Vital records furnish ages for civil and military service. Wills can sprout numerous other records that grow into new information. Barbara Vines Little’s lecture makes researchers think beyond what is originally known, to branch out from that point. The records and resources described give listeners a list of items to obtain, consult, and apply to their own research questions. Little provides examples for each type of record discussed.

What if we have looked everywhere and evidence either does not exist or does not answer what we want to know? We can find alternate sources by following an event, document, or person. An event may not be reported in a particular record, but Little offers several workarounds. For example, a deed may identify a tract or owner. Tracking people on adjacent lands may turn up additional records for all.

Consider the unusual, and read other people’s research. Check what they looked at, what they found, and whether you could apply the approach to your research. Collect state, regional, and local histories while looking for unique records, and check out the sources used by the authors of those histories.

Remember that documents can show up in random places, either far from where they were created or nearby but hidden. When located, these documents can be abstracted or transcribed for others to use.

Re-evaluate your conclusions. Why did you decide they were so?

Little recommends broad research. This approach’s effectiveness is demonstrated in lectures and complex case studies, such as those in the NGS Quarterly. There is no silver bullet when it comes to solving genealogical puzzles, but this lecture provides tangible examples that make us ponder the common problems and brick walls we face with our own ancestors.

A recording of this lecture may be ordered from Jamb Tapes, Inc.

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.