Numbering Contest Winners!

Congratulations to Terri Wheeler and Joshua Hodge, first and second prizewinners in SpringBoard’s Numbering Modern Family Contest! Both are preliminary applicants and took time from their portfolio work to practice numbering. Terri has chosen the FamilyTreeDNA Y-DNA test and Joshua the Ancestry test.

Here’s how SpringBoard numbers the cast of Modern Family.

Important elements to note are

  • Individual numbers beginning with Jay (1). Note that Manny (5) follows Joe (4), even though he is older, because he is not a biological son of Jay Pritchett.1 Alternatively, the groups of stepchildren and biological children may be listed in chronological order.2 Manny would then be number 4 and Joe number 5, as in Alternative numbering below, after Generation Two.
  • Generation numbers. Note especially Manny (generation 2, but of a different surname) and Lily (generation 1 of her biological line with this surname).3
  • Child list numbers. Note especially that Manny and Lily do not have child list numbers, as they are not biological descendants of the lineage in question.4

Generation One

Generation Two

Alternative numbering of Jay’s youngest children


1 Joan Ferris Curran, Madilyn Coen Crane, and John H. Wray, Numbering Your Genealogy: Basic Systems, Complex Families, and International Kin, ed. Elizabeth Shown Mills, rev. ed. (Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society, 2008), 19, bullet 1.

2 Numbering Your Genealogy, 22, Figure 7, 11. Muriel Mercer example.

3 For Manny, see Numbering Your Genealogy, 19, bullet 3. For Lily, see p. 20, bullet 5.

4 Numbering Your Genealogy, 18, bullet 3, also pp. 19, bullet 4, and 20, bullet 4.

5 “Jay Pritchett,” Wikia: Modern Family Wiki (http://modernfamily.wikia.com/wiki/Jay_Pritchett). All web pages were accessed 15 July 2016.

8 “Claire Dunphy,” (http://modernfamily.wikia.com/wiki/Claire_Dunphy); other information states her birth in 1973 or 1974, which is inconsistent with her being two years older than her brother Mitchell.

13 “Manny Delgado,” (http://modernfamily.wikia.com/wiki/Manny_Delgado).  See also “Javier Delgado,” (http://modernfamily.wikia.com/wiki/Javier_Delgado).

 

Congratulations, Yvonne Mashburn Schmidt, CG!

New associate Yvonne Mashburn Schmidt lives in Cartersville in northwest Georgia. This is where she grew up and now does family research. All of her direct family lines are from the South, and many of them were early Georgians. Her professional research encompasses Georgia and includes African American and Native American families with Georgian roots.

Yvonne states that goal-setting is not one of her strong attributes, but it would be hard to find evidence of this. Her path to certification was carefully planned and executed. After finishing Boston University’s Genealogical Research Program, she knew she was not yet ready to apply for certification. She studied The BCG Application Guide, Genealogy Standards, Evidence Explained, and journal articles. Having identified the specific skills she needed to improve, Yvonne looked for advanced courses taught by some of the best genealogists in our field. She found many of those courses online (e.g. BCG webinars and the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research), which proves that one need not spend a fortune to acquire the knowledge and skills for certification. The time between her decision to seek certification and her actual portfolio submission was three years. This was a woman with a plan!

Yvonne Mashburn Schmidt, CG

Yvonne recognizes that there can be an emotional block for people thinking about applying for certification. The possibility of failure was a difficult challenge for her. She carefully considered the consequences of failure and accepted that possibility. She then committed herself to doing everything she could to prepare herself to succeed. She advises others who are considering applying for certification to identify problem areas in their work and target educational opportunities to correct or improve them.

Guided by group mentoring with her heroes Elizabeth Shown Mills and Judy Russell, Yvonne pursued advanced research skills. A particular post by Mills on the BCG Facebook page became a reminder for Yvonne of what she needed to do with her portfolio. The post lists common reasons that portfolios are not successful.

Thomas MacEntee assisted her when Yvonne became the target of cyber-bullying involving an unfounded attack on her family research. The incident influenced Yvonne’s desire for certification and contributed to her appreciation for ethical behavior in genealogy.

Completing the portfolio has made Yvonne a better researcher. She believes that her research prior to the certification process was shallow. Now she knows how to dig deeper. In the next five years, she hopes to target educational opportunities to strengthen the weak areas identified in her portfolio, work toward becoming a better presenter and obtaining her CGL, and promote ethical genealogical behavior in as many ways as she can. Sound familiar? Yvonne has a plan!

Yvonne can be reached at georgiagenealogist@hotmail.com. Congratulations, Yvonne!

by Karlene Ferguson, 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.

Contest Deadline Friday, and Odds of Winning Are Good!

The Modern Family Numbering contest closes Friday at midnight EDT, so get your entry in today! You need not watch Modern Family to enter. Not even once. The links below take you to all the information you need. Look at what you could win:

A DNA test courtesy of AncestryDNA

or a 37-marker Y-DNA test courtesy of FamilyTreeDNA

or a copy of Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones, courtesy of the National Genealogical Society.

ABC’s TV series Modern Family features a blended family like those we encounter in real life. SpringBoard challenges readers to number a genealogy of Modern Family’s characters as if they were a real family. The first-place winner may choose among the three prizes above. The second- and third-place winners will choose from the remaining two prizes.

Characters Alex, Manny, Luke, Cameron, Lily, Mitchell, Phil, Haley (Not pictured: Jay, Gloria, Joe, Claire)
By Roderick Eime (Flickr) (CC BY 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0]), via Wikimedia Commons

Rules:

  1. Contest is open to all persons eighteen years and older. You need not be Board-certified to enter or win. Trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists are not eligible to win.
  2. Contest will run from 1 June 2016 to midnight 1 July 2016, Eastern Daylight Time. Email your entry in a stable format to NumberingContest@gmail.com. Include your full name and mailing address.
  3. Void where prohibited.
  4. Watching Modern Family is not required. Online resources are offered below. No purchase is necessary.
  5. Entries must follow the NGS Quarterly System as demonstrated in Numbering Your Genealogy (Joan Ferris Curran, Madilyn Coen Crane, and John H. Wray, Numbering Your Genealogy: Basic Systems, Complex Families, and International Kin, ed. Elizabeth Shown Mills, rev. ed. [Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society, 2008]). This system is also used for the examples in the SpringBoard numbering posts (links below) and in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.
  6. Jay Pritchett is the starting point person, individual number 1.
  7. All regularly appearing characters in Modern Family must be included.
  8. Entries must include genealogical sketches comprised, where appropriate, of a character’s
  • name
  • individual number
  • generation number
  • birth-order number
  • parenthetical summary of descent
  • birth and marriage information (with missing or unknown information indicated by ellipses [ . . . ])
  • spouse information
  • child list
  1. Extensive biographical information is discouraged.
  2. Accuracy of numbering relationships will determine the winner. Accuracy of formatting, interest of presentation, and earliest date of receipt of entry will break ties.
  3. Decision of the judges is final.

Resources:

SpringBoard: News and Notes

Board for Certification of Genealogists

P.O. Box 14291

Washington, DC 20044

Elizabeth Shown Mills: How Long Do You Have to Practice Genealogy Before Becoming Certified?

When Elizabeth Shown Mills speaks, we listen. She graciously offers us advice and encouragement through BCG’s Facebook group. In case you’re not yet a member of that group or you missed this post, SpringBoard reprints here Elizabeth’s advice about how long you have to practice genealogy before becoming certified.1

When a new associate is announced, we here at BCG often hear this question: How long has she/he been a genealogist?

Here’s the inside skinny: “How long” doesn’t matter. What matters is whether we have learned the discipline of genealogy and how successfully we apply our knowledge to solving research problems. Contrary to the TV ads that do a wonderful job of bringing in new people, research is not a matter of searching for names in data bases and plugging together random findings to create families. “The name’s the same” does not mean the person is.

Correctly identifying people and assembling them into family groups require an analytical mindset, thorough research, and disciplined research habits. It requires thoughtful correlation and analysis of evidence and a commitment to genealogical principles and standards—not those of some other field in which we originally trained. Across the years, we’ve seen some individuals produce NGSQ-quality research within two years of being bitten by ancestral curiosity. We’ve seen a few certify almost as quickly. And we’ve seen too many portfolios that demonstrate scant awareness of genealogical standards, methods, or principles even though their preparers have been “doing genealogy” for twenty or thirty years.

If you’ve followed the BCG Facebook page for long, you’ve undoubtedly picked up on three things: (1) Educational prep helps. (2) That education can be virtually free or cost a fortune. (3) Success rate does not depend upon how much our education costs us.

Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA

____________________________

1 Elizabeth Shown Mills, “The Board for Certification of Genealogists®,” Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/101216820578/: accessed 21 June 2016), posting 24 May 2016.

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.

 

Click for more information.

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.

Congratulations, Mary O’Brien Vidlak, CG!

Congratulations to Mary O’Brien Vidlak, CG, of Williamsburg, Virginia! A native of New York, Mary serves as Governor-at-Large and Corresponding Secretary of the Virginia Genealogical Society and is a past chairperson of the program committee for the Genealogical Research Institute of Virginia. She is the news coordinator for ProGen Study Group 15. Mary’s certification reflects a longtime interest in genealogy and history. She shares her journey with us:

Mary O’Brien Vidlak, CG

I was born in Queens, New York, and spent most of my life in Westchester County, a suburb north of the city. The suburbs never felt like home to me; there is a lack of history and roots because everything is new and always changing. Ten years ago my husband and I moved to Williamsburg, Virginia, because we love American history and feel a sense of home in this historic area. I had been working in human resources and planned to continue to do that in Virginia. However the position I wanted didn’t work out, and while I continued to look for a job in my field I took advantage of my time off to explore the areas of Virginia that had been the homes of generations of my maternal ancestors. This literally changed my life. I had always been curious about my ancestors and asked questions, but no one in my family—on either side—really had a strong interest or much specific knowledge. As is the case for most of us, the more I discovered the more I wanted to know.

I quickly realized there was a great deal of information that had no indication of the source. Based on past educational and work experience I knew I wanted to find professional organizations that could teach me how to figure this all out. I joined the National Genealogical Society (NGS) and started with their census course before moving on to the graded version of American Genealogy. In addition to the course material, I read all the recommended material. One of the graders suggested I consider certification, which led to my decision to participate in a ProGen Study Group to increase my knowledge and skill level. I also attended every local, state and national conference I could. My first national conference—NGS in Charleston—was amazing. I recognized how much there was to learn and how frequently incredibly knowledgeable individuals were board-certified genealogists.

Somewhere along the way I created my “strategic plan” and added institutes to my education. I began to pursue genealogy relatively late in life and found the courses themselves and the environment around them an excellent way to ensure I was learning the best practices of the discipline. I was fortunate to be in the final course Barbara Vines Little coordinated at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR): Virginia Land and Military Conflicts; also, oddly enough, to be in the final Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis course that Elizabeth Shown Mills coordinated at IGHR. I have attended the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) every year but one since its inception, where among other courses I was enrolled in Determining Kinship Reliably with the GPS and Advanced Research Methods, both coordinated by Tom Jones. I also attended the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR) where I found material I used in my portfolio. I got to Salt Lake City for the first time when I attended the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) in January 2016—after submitting my portfolio. My education will continue this summer when I am back at GRIP!

In many ways my past work and educational experiences have contributed to my success. I was an English Education major at Fairfield University; I ran a small business when my children were young; I worked in human resources at a Fortune 500 company and did a lot of writing and speaking as well as analyzing and correlating information. I enjoy learning new things—and in genealogy I am always learning new things. I also like the challenge of taking research and writing it up in an organized, logical and persuasive way. And genealogy affirms the core belief of my life: every individual is unique, important and valuable, and every life has a story.

One extremely valuable tool I used in educating myself was to purchase CDs from conferences and listen repeatedly to the lectures given by many experts. At times I feel as though I must know them since they spend a huge amount of time driving around with me! As I was working on my portfolio I listened many times to two lectures given at different conferences about preparing your portfolio. Each time I listened I heard something different that helped me with my work.

In addition to the greats of our profession, I have been inspired by people whom I met as classmates, in particular Jean Andrews, CG, and Nancy A. Peters, CG, who sent me encouraging emails and reminded me how much I wanted certification and how great it would feel when I got an email from the BCG Executive Director telling me my portfolio had been approved. I also have to thank Barbara Vines Little whom I ran into at the Library of Virginia one day when she told me to “just send it in!” Outside of genealogy, my husband Michael provided endless encouragement, and my father—who knows almost nothing about his family—fostered my interest in history, which led to my passion for genealogy.

Two suggestions I have for potential applicants—don’t make certification a new year’s resolution so that your deadline is December 31st unless you want to spend your holidays working on your portfolio, and remember that “done is better than perfect!”

Mary is a full time genealogist. She plans to expand her client work and continue to lecture.  She also intends to write and publish her own family research. Mary can be reached at movidlak@cox.net

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: Morehead on Finding an Ancestor’s Hometown

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.

S401, Shellee A. Morehead, PhD, CG, “Clusters and Chains for Genealogical Success”

Reviewed by Jean Atkinson Andrews, CG

Shellee lectured on using extended family groups and migration patterns to identify family relationships. She provided information that applies to every ethnicity, location, and time period. Explaining cluster genealogy as the tracking of whole families, Shellee presented a broad list of potential relationships and urged the audience to expand rather than limit their scope. Beyond family and extended family, she suggested considering shopkeepers, midwives, and people from the same town or parish. People who associated together prior to immigration would often be found in similar relationships in the new country or location.

Shellee Morehead, PhD, CG
Photo Courtesy of Jean Andrews, CG

“Birds of passage” are people who came to the United States then later returned to their homeland one or more times to bring others to America. Young men, often unmarried, were frequently the initial pioneers. Other family members followed. Constructing timelines helps identify these people; tracking their movements can show chains of subsequent migration and prevent errors of identity.

Shellee’s case study example used Italian immigrant Michele Lautieri, believed born about 1882 in a town whose records ended in 1865. His parents were unknown. Shellee analyzed passenger and census list details and triaged multiple passenger lists to reveal patterns of movement based on Michele’s relationships. Studying movements, associations, and knowing related family such as siblings is necessary to separate families of similar names. Naming patterns and the custom of reusing names when older children die young are significant and can provide hints to hometowns and family groups.

Although Shellee’s case study example used an Italian immigrant, the methods she demonstrated apply to any time and place where migration took place.

 

Click for more information.

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.

Coming from OnBoard, May 2016

OnBoard: Newsletter of the Board for Certification of Genealogists is scheduled to publish in May 2016. We’re pleased to offer a preview of some of its content.

“When Does Newfound Evidence Overturn a Proved Conclusion?”

Most serious genealogists are aware of the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) and its five elements that guide us to reliable conclusions in matters of kinship and identity. Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, explains a paradox inherent in the GPS—a conclusion can meet the GPS and yet allow “documents left unexamined.” What happens if we later find new evidence relevant to our research?

“Reporting Research in Progress”

Whether working on simple or complex genealogical problems, research reports are fundamental tools that help us to keep track of and organize our findings. Michael Grant Hait Jr., CG, shows us how following genealogy standards for reporting is critical to overall research continuity and success.

OnBoard publishes three issues per year. A subscription is included in annual associate fees and is provided to applicants “on the clock.” Subscriptions are also available to the general public for $15.00 per year (currently) through the BCG website, here. Issues back to 1995 can also be ordered online, here.

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.

Associates in Action

Welcome to Associates in Action! This monthly feature highlights BCG associates’ news, activities, and accomplishments. Contact  Alice Hoyt Veen to include your special news in an upcoming post.

Activities & Projects

Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, MFA, CG, will teach two courses: Genealogy & Family History Writing and Tracing Immigrant Origins for the summer semester of Salt Lake Community College’s online Certificate in Genealogy Research and Writing program. Classes begin 16 May 2016. A lower tuition fee is offered to out-of-state students who do not need college credit. To enroll or for more information, go to http://www.slcccontinuinged.com/program/genealogy.

Awards & Achievements

Kathy Gunter Sullivan, CG, received the Elaine Spires Smith Family History Writing Award at the annual meeting of the Indiana Genealogical Society on Saturday, 16 April 2016. The $500 award, sponsored by the Society, honors an outstanding article published in the Indiana Genealogist. Kathy’s article, “Eliza Jane Henry of Putnam County, Indiana: Documenting Her Heritage,” has been published in the Indiana Genealogist 26 (December 2015): 5–32.

Publications

Paul Friday, CG, Vital Record Manuscripts at the State Historical Societies in New England (N.p: the author, 2016). This new book serves as a finding aid for New England vital records and includes a partial inventory of vital record manuscripts (church records, minister records, town vital records, tax lists, employment records, petitions, subscriptions, passenger lists, etc.) for all time periods at the six state historical societies in New England. Each record in the book includes the call number, manuscript collection name, box number, and (usually) the folder number (everything required to locate the record). Roughly forty-five percent of the items in the book do not appear in any of the societies’ catalogs; they are present in the manuscript finding aids only. Paul’s book is available at Amazon.com.

Skillbuilding, NGS 2016: Miller on Research Plans

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 4 May 2016.

W151, Gail Jackson Miller, CG, “Developing a Successful and Efficient Research Plan”

Reviewed by J. Mark Lowe, CG, CGL, FUGA

Gail began her approach to research planning by comparing all research to a brick wall. The solution to every project, like a brick wall, varies, as the potential answer may not be apparent. Because the bricks along a wall may contain some answers, researchers collect groups of family trees rather than attempting a research project. Gail suggested that we look at the wall as constructed from puzzle pieces instead of bricks. This requires a closer focus, thorough analysis, and planning.

Gail Jackson Miller, CG
Courtesy Scott Stewart Photography

Gail described how we often repeat bad behaviors that are rewarded. The excitement we feel as new researchers when we find any information promotes the bad habits of collecting family trees and avoiding background study and general planning. We may be found randomly wandering in libraries or online looking for related material.
The process for family research is identical to client research, Gail explained. Both have time constraints. They both begin with a question and focus on a hypothesis that can be researched. She stated that successful problem solving is the same in all research fields. She reminded us of the steps included in a plan and stated that skipping this process will result in failure.

Our plans should be focused, while identifying the names, location, and time period of the research. Preliminary knowledge is required before beginning the research. This includes knowing the physical location of needed records, available record groups, area traditions, and more. This points us toward what we want to know, where we should look first, and determining what we already know.

Using a fictional family, Gail presented basic information about a potential ancestor. She provided a general question, and a list of known facts. She added the need to formulate the question as a testable hypothesis. Potential questions addressed the possible inheritance of the farm, the fact that the family owned a farm, and a question about the crops and livestock raised. She organized the family records chronologically and examined them for missing information. She also stressed that those records should contain complete citations on properly labeled documents that are organized in a systematic method.

Gail reminded us that too often the similarity between professional researchers and family researchers is poor planning. Most poor planning is caused by inadequate knowledge about what records were created in a particular place and time, why they were created, and where they are now.

A more complex family question including two marriage records illustrated the same ideas. Gail also shared a sloppy plan and approach to research. She then showed us why this style would cause problems and prevent answers. Great examples and authentic details defined the problems created when our organizational skills fade, and showed how clear directional efforts lead to success.

As she led us through this study, Gail reminded us that we must be persistent in our efforts and repeat the good skills we develop in research planning and execution.
Click for more information.

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.