Skillbuilding: Miller on the Anatomy of a Military Pension

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2015 NGS Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this skillbuilding lecture, presented Wednesday, 13 May 2015:

W141: Julie Miller, CG, “Anatomy of a Military Pension,” reviewed by Darcie Hind Posz, CG

Julie Miller is organized and methodical. Her lecture on evaluating a military pension file takes the listener step by step through the process of acquiring the file, then arranging, processing, organizing, and analyzing its contents. She tells us how to acquire a copy of the file and helps us to understand what information is in the pension file.

Miller provides tips, such as how arranging the documents chronologically and separating the pensioner’s file from the widow’s file can organize the data. She reminds us to place a citation *somewhere* on the document, to number each document (in brackets) at the beginning of the citation, and to cite each document (in addition to the general citation).

Miller guides us to create an inventory, an itemized list of documents. She provides a great inventory template in the NGS Conference Syllabus. (The template would also be pretty amazing for large probate packets and court records, and I plan to use it for that purpose in the future.) This wonderful spreadsheet in expanded format is available for free at her website.

The next steps of the review process are to

  • read each document several times, including the boilerplate, until the purpose of each is understood,
  • transcribe each record (because transcribing is the “foundation of thorough analysis” and will help us catch nuances),
  • create an abstract.

As we analyze and evaluate, we consider each document’s purpose, the source type, and the reliability of the information it provides. If we are working on a specific research question, we consider what evidence the information offers. Additional resources we might review include pension acts and laws.

The subject examples are well illustrated and described for both in-person attendees and audio recordings. This lecture is available from Jamb Tapes, Inc. It enhances learning about transcribing and abstracting records.

 

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.

BCG’s Facebook Group—1000 and Counting

The Board for Certification of Genealogists Facebook Group recently added its 1000th member! Friends include more than 1000 individuals who are board-certified genealogists or who are pursuing or interested in the process of certification. We think it’s wonderful that so many genealogists would strive to have their work—whether for pay, pro bono, or for themselves—meet the standards of our field.

The Facebook group was recently reorganized to be a more active site. Its purpose is to be a platform where BCG associates and those who are interested in or considering the process of certification can interact, ask questions, and share news pertinent to the organization and the field. BCG’s blog, SpringBoard, has a place for comments, but BCG wanted to provide an additional forum with even more give-and-take. While those “on-the-clock” have the ACTION email list, there was no place for interaction between BCG associates and interested individuals who have not yet submitted their preliminary applications. The Facebook group is now that place.

Because it is an informal forum, comments by associates and non-associates on BCG’s Facebook page do not necessarily reflect the official views of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. If you are not yet a member of BCG’s Facebook group, you can ask to be added here.

by Dawne L. Slater, CG, BCG Facebook Group Administrator


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.

Coming from OnBoard in May 2015

OnBoard: Newsletter of the Board for Certification of Genealogists is scheduled to publish in May 2015. We’re privileged to offer a preview of the content.

“Embrace the Negative: Recognizing and Applying Negative Evidence”

Stefani Evans, CG, shows us how negative evidence applies to a genealogical problem, how it can suggest a hypothesis and help direct research. Standard 40, evidence mining, says that genealogists “give equal attention to direct, indirect, and negative evidence.”[1] If negative evidence as useful seems counterintuitive, Stefani’s article will be enlightening.

“Anatomy of a Failure: What I Learned from My First Portfolio”

Fear of failure is a huge stumbling block for many applicants. Harold Henderson, CG, experienced the “insufficient for certification” evaluation on his first portfolio submission. In time he prepared a new, successful submission. Learn from Harold’s experience as he offers seven suggestions for new applicants.

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

 [1] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry.com, 2014), 24.


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.

 

NGS 2015 Live Streaming Signup Deadline


Can’t make it to St. Charles for the 2015 NGS Conference? You can still take advantage of ten lectures streamed to you live. They will also be accessible for three months after the conference closes. Several lectures from the BCG Skillbuilding track are included in “Day Two: Methodology Techniques.” The signup deadline is approaching, so be quick if you want access to these lectures.

The live streaming registration deadline is midnight, Wednesday, 29 April.

BCG Webinars Now Available On Demand

We promised we’d let you know. Starting today, you can access BCG webinars on demand from Vimeo.com. Two are free. All the others are available for 24-hour rental ($2.99 each) or for purchase of unlimited streaming and download ($12.99 each).

Go to the “BCG Webinars” tab at the top of this page for full access to the free webinars and free previews of all.

Ten-Minute Methodology: Identity Proof in a List

We’ve seen in earlier posts what genealogical proofs look like in a narrative and a footnote. A list, bulleted or numbered, is another effective way of presenting the proof that supports a conclusion.

Proofs in list format are clean, concise, and easy to follow. All the data is assembled in one place, and the correlation is obvious.

Standard 53 (can’t escape it!) offers a list as one of the options for a proof summary when the evidence is direct and the conflicts minor. “Proof summaries . . . may appear in a broader context—for example, within an article or case study, a narrative family history or monograph, or a report for a client, court, or personal files.” [1]

Here’s one by Harold Henderson, CG, that appears as part of an article.[2]

The list correlates data from a number of sources to show that Elizabeth Porter of the Midwest was the same person as Elizabeth Bassett from a New York family record. Once Harold establishes Elizabeth’s identity, he continues his argument for her being the daughter of a man whose probate petition didn’t include her, but by law should have.

Each bullet point describes evidence of relationships between Elizabeth and her siblings (all named in a family Bible record) and between her children and extended family. Note 1, mentioned in footnote 7, below, refers to the Lewis Bassett family record as found in his wife’s Revolutionary War widow’s pension file.

The evidence is all direct. There are no conflicts. We can accept that Elizabeth of two different places was the same woman.

For another example of a list-style proof that incorporates explanatory narrative, see Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 61. The same list was first published in Thomas W. Jones, “Misleading Records Debunked: The Surprising Case of George Wellington Edison Jr.,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 100 (June 2012): 141–42.


[1] Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry.com, 2014), 32–33.

[2] Harold A. Henderson, “A Missing Heir: Reconnecting Elizabeth (Bassett) Porter to Her Parents, Lewis and Dorcas (Hoxie) Bassett,” The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record 145 (July 2014): 165–84, on pp. 166–67. The article continues in subsequent issues. Reprinted with permission. Members of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society can access the article online or from the NYG&B home page > eLibrary Collections > The Record > Search “vol 145.”


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.

 

Free BCG Webinar: Jean Wilcox Hibben on Why to Certify

Tuesday, 21 April 2015, Jean Wilcox Hibben, PhD, MA, CG, will present “Certified or Certifiable? Why a Genealogist Would Go Through All that Trouble.”

Jean Wilcox Hibben, PhD, MA, CG

It’s no secret that becoming Board-certified is a great deal of work. There is no guarantee that an applicant will attain that goal on the first (or even second) attempt. So why do genealogists seek certification? What are the benefits of becoming Board-certified? What does it mean to do genealogical work to a higher standard? How can the effort to prepare an application reap rewards (personal and financial)?

The Board for Certification of Genealogists will present a webinar on this subject free to the public on Tuesday, 21 April 2015, at 8pm EDT. Jean Wilcox Hibben, PhD, MA, CG, will offer some answers to these questions and some suggestions for how to prepare before “starting the clock.”

Jean has been involved in family research for over thirty-five years. She is the director of the Corona, California, Family History Center and a director of the Association of Professional Genealogists. She served as lead researcher on the PBS television program Genealogy Roadshow in 2013. Jean is also on the boards of the Genealogical Speakers Guild, the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors, the California State Genealogical Alliance, and the Corona Genealogical Society. She maintains a website at www.circlemending.org, and has been known to call square dances and play the guitar. A native of the Chicago suburbs and retired college professor, she writes frequently for various genealogy publications and is nationally recognized for her informative and entertaining presentations.

Seating is limited for this free webinar. Register early and sign in early to avoid the disappointment of finding all the seats already taken. Registration by itself does not guarantee a seat; it only assures access to the link to sign in.

To register for Jean Wilcox Hibben, PhD, MA, CG, “Certified or Certifiable? Why a Genealogist Would Go Through All that Trouble,” to be presented on 21 April 2015, at 8pm EDT (7pm CDT, 6pm MDT, 5pm PDT), go to 
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1789799687151712001.


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.

 

NGS Conference Seminar: Measuring Yourself Against Standards

“Certification: Measuring Yourself Against Standards” is an interactive forum with three current BCG trustees. If you’ve been curious about what goes into preparation for BCG certification, here’s where you can ask questions and receive input about the process.

Thursday, 14 May 2015, 9:30am-12:00pm, Session T211

Successful candidates for certification often say that their attendance at certification seminars at national conferences was an integral part of preparing for their accomplishment. Yes, the seminars are taped and can be purchased and listened to later.  However, the supportive environment of a live audience with speakers allows participants to ask questions and get answers on the spot. BCG wants candidates to succeed! This double session demystifies the process and requirements by addressing concerns one by one.

The three trustees have a wide range of experiences among them. Two take clients, and one does not. Two had previous careers in the judicial system, and one did not. Two hold BCG’s Certified Genealogical Lecturer credential, and one does not. All became certified to test their work products against standards and learn ways to improve. All are dedicated to helping attendees answer the questions, “Am I ready?” and “Can I do this?” Come explore certification for yourself to better understand what is required to earn the post- nominal title of Certified Genealogist.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL

Michael Ramage, J.D., CG

Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG, CGL

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, Michael Ramage, J.D., CG, and Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG, CGL

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.