Free BCG Webinar: Baker on Finding Your Early 1800s US Ancestors Online

The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) will present “Finding Your Early 1800s US Ancestors Online,” a webinar by James M. Baker, PhD, CG, free to the public at 8:00 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, 19 April 2016.

This presentation describes strategies to find early 1800s United States data. A case study illustrates the use of different record types to trace families backward in time from Illinois through Indiana, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Key online sources include newspapers, historical books, property records, marriage records, military records, and city directories.

James M. Baker has been an active genealogist for the past fifteen years. He earned a PhD in sociology and social psychology from the University of Utah. In 2011, he became a board-certified genealogist. He specializes in German, Midwestern US, and early American genealogy research.

President Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG, says “The Board for Certification of Genealogists is proud to offer this new webinar as part of an ongoing series that supports our mission to provide education for family historians. This webinar will address questions regarding the genealogy standards for research. By promoting a uniform standard of competence and ethics the BCG endeavors to foster public confidence in genealogy.”

There is no charge, but space is limited. Register for James M. Baker, PhD, CG, “Finding Your Early 1800s US Ancestors Online,” on 19 April 2016 at 8:00 p.m. EDT (7:00 CDT, 6:00 MDT, 5:00 PDT).

Register early and sign in early to claim your space. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. For more information contact office@bcgcertification.org.

Learn about BCG’s previous webinars at SpringBoard‘s webinar page.

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.

Welcome, Nancy G. Wehner, CG!

Nancy Wehner brings to her genealogy work a scientist’s mindset and experience. With a Ph.D. in immunology, her career took her to the pharmaceutical industry as a toxicologist. Safety testing for new drugs going into human clinical trials required the same kinds of data analysis, integration, and writing seen in the best genealogical research. Nancy shares her story:

I have always loved solving puzzles and the whole process of gathering information and interpreting it to that end. That love has led me to be a scientist professionally and a genealogist personally. My initial childhood interest in genealogy was spurred by my grandfather’s large, extended family. (We took over the county fairground for the yearly reunion.) His sister Nettie’s hand-typed folio showed all the existing members of the family and how they all related to each other. I used Nettie’s folio as a starting point for my own research. I ultimately set as my goals tracing my husband’s and my ancestral lines to the immigrant ancestors and then bringing forward the descendants of each of those immigrants.

Nancy G. Wehner, CG


To accomplish this goal Nancy begins her research in Iowa (her starting point) and Ohio (her husband’s) and reaches back to Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Germany, and Denmark. Now that completing her portfolio has freed up some time, she hopes also to pursue three new genealogical goals. One is a project to save and make old diaries available online through scans and transcriptions. Along with her paternal grandmother’s diary and many others, Nancy has collected the journal of an educated Jamaican-born daughter of a washerwoman that gives insight into the World War I era in Brooklyn.

Another project, inspired by Nancy’s experience in toxicology, would investigate the possible causes of an unusually high GI tract cancer rate in part of her husband’s family. She asks, “Was it just this family? Was it a local issue? Why?” Her scientist’s mind is also intrigued by the prospect of making a detailed evaluation of patterns of births, deaths and marriages in her huge database of descendants.

The National Genealogical Society’s American Genealogy: Home Study Course provided part of Nancy’s preparation for certification. She now serves as an NGS grader and looks forward to teaching and mentoring other genealogists.

Reading good genealogy articles was a huge help, but Nancy counts taking the plunge and writing articles as her best portfolio preparation.  She comments, “The one I did for New York Genealogical and Biographical Record was really great, as both the peer review process and the editor’s help did much to sharpen my skills in critically laying out and proofreading what I wrote.”[1]

Nancy’s advice to someone considering applying for certification is, “Make sure you are really ready for the challenge in terms of time to devote to the process and the skills to meet the requirements. Only time and practice give you the skills. Reading books, articles, and attending lectures helps, but only DOING will get you there.”

Picture Nancy in a wooden dory traveling down forty-five major (and many minor) rapids on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon this spring! This active woman enjoys hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing, as well as gardening and embroidery. Her immediate family includes her husband, two grown children, and cats Frizzle, Xani, and Luxe.

Nancy currently resides in Fremont in California’s East San Francisco Bay Area. Oddly, although it’s a populous region, Board-certified genealogists are rare there. She would welcome a visit with others who share her passion. (BCG associates may have noticed her recent greeting on the BCG List.) Nancy can be reached at ngwehner@gmail.com. Congratulations, Nancy!



[1] Nancy Niles Wehner, “The Steubner Letters, Brooklyn, New York: Tragedy in a German Immigrant Family,” The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, 145 (October 2014): 259–70.

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.

Numbering a Genealogy 1: Immigration

Meet the Walkers: William, Margaret, their children, and grandchildren. In several posts we will use this family to explore issues encountered when numbering a genealogy, one of the relationship-formatting options of Standard 65, Genealogical formats.[1] This first post will show how to number the Walker family abroad and after immigration to the United States. Successive posts will show how to number adoptive children, those of unknown paternity, and children of successive spouses.

In all cases our authority on numbering is 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). Posts assume readers are familiar with writing a genealogical sketch that covers basic vital information.[2] The examples are highly abbreviated and omit source citations to save space.

Part of the genealogical sketch, the parenthetical summary of descent, outlines each descendant’s ancestry. It appears after the descendant’s name in the first line of the biographical sketch, for example, “8.  Margaret Maitland2 Walker (Thomas Watta-1, WilliamA, ThomasB) was born . . .”

We will be focusing on three numbers. All can be seen in the entries for William and his family below.

  • Individual numbers are arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) that uniquely identify each descendant in the genealogy. They begin with the first person in the genealogy, the progenitor (William Walker here), and continue sequentially with his children in birth order.[3] The sequence continues with the children of Generation Two and succeeding generations. Each person has a unique number. Spouses do not receive an individual number, as they belong to the genealogy of another surname.
  • Generation numbers are superscript numbers or letters in italic font (1, 2, A, B, a, b) that designate a person’s generation. They appear after the first names of 1) each individual and 2) each person in the parenthetical summary of descent.[4] Whether to use letters or numbers depends on where the person was born. In the simplest terms, letters of the alphabet designate foreign-born people, and numbers designate those who immigrated to or were born in the American colonies or the United States.[5] Capital letters indicate those who stayed in the home country, beginning with A, the parent of the immigrant(s), and increasing with each more distant ancestor. Lowercase letters indicate successive generations of foreign-born descendants, beginning with a.[6]
  • Birth-order numbers are lower case roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv) that indicate placement of children in a family. They are assigned sequentially to all children of the couple in question. William and Margaret had four children, numbered i–iv.

Generation One

 William has an individual number (1) and an italic superscript (A) for his generation. His father also has a generation number in William’s parenthetical summary of descent.

Individual number and generation “numbers”

Did you notice how we worked with the numbering system and the Numbering Your Genealogy examples to justify WilliamA’s individual and generation numbers? We didn’t make them up. There’s a reason for each one. Let’s see how the numbering plays out for William’s children.

Each of William and Margaret’s children has both an individual number and a birth-order number. While the individual numbers place them in the context of the whole genealogy, the birth-order numbers refer only to this particular family.

After WilliamA’s death, all of his children immigrated to the U.S. with their mother. Those children take a two-part generation number, a-1: a, because they are children of a parent who did not immigrate and 1, because they themselves did immigrate.[7]

The generation number of eldest son Thomas Watt, a-1, is implied for younger brothers William Henry and John James.[8] However, their youngest brother Edward died in England before the immigration. He is simply generation a, the child of A, William. His generation number tells us at a glance (by the lack of a number 1) that he did not immigrate with the others.[9]

Individual numbers, birth-order numbers, and generation numbers

That’s a skeleton of William Walker’s biological family. What it doesn’t show is that Margaret gave birth to a daughter Margaret Ann a year or so after William’s death. She, too, bears the Walker surname, so how does she fit in this genealogy? Next time we’ll look at Margaret Ann, and the complexity of children of unknown parentage.

How does the Walkers’ numbering compare to your family’s? What questions does it raise?

 


[1] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, 50th Anniversary ed. (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry Imprint, Turner Publishing, 2014), 36–37.

[2] For examples, see issues of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly that include winning submissions of the NGS Family History Writing Contest (usually December). For guidance on writing a genealogical sketch see Carmen J. Finley, Creating a Winning Family History: Including a Guide to the NGS Family History Writing Contest, rev. ed. (Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society, 2010), 31, section (1).

[3] Numbering Your Genealogy, 9.

[4] Numbering Your Genealogy, 10.

[5] Numbering Your Genealogy, 10, paragraph 1.

[6] Numbering Your Genealogy, 27, “Solution.”

[7] Numbering Your Genealogy, 27, bullets 1 and 2.

[8] Numbering Your Genealogy, 10, paragraph 1.

[9] Numbering Your Genealogy, 27, bullet 3.

Welcome, Cheryl Storton, CG

When introducing herself, Cheryl Storton is happy to tell about her home, Arroyo Grande, on a beautiful stretch of California midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Leaving her Iowa roots behind, Cheryl settled permanently in the state one of her ancestors had visited briefly during the Gold Rush. Cheryl found gold in a teaching job at Lompoc Junior High. That got her to California. The weather and lifestyle kept her there. Cheryl is married to Tim Storton and has a son Shawn and eight stepchildren.

While Cheryl’s jobs as a teacher, waitress, bar tender, process server, and accessories vendor, all contributed to her life skills, it’s the business she ran with friend Cafi Cohen that informed her genealogical work. For seven years they operated Bridge to Yesterday, offering client research and creating beautiful family albums with photos, text, and documentation. The work took her into areas of research where her own family had not and expanded her familiarity with records. Cheryl and Cafi closed their business in 2014, and Cheryl began work in earnest on preparing her portfolio.

Cheryl Storton, CG


With encouragement from Cafi, she began attending a number of institutes and joined ProGen. Cheryl took her assignments seriously, which improved her transcriptions, abstractions, proof arguments, and client reports. She found that religiously reading the National Genealogical Society Quarterly improved her writing and source citations. Through the preparation for certification she has gained confidence in her genealogical skills and feels comfortable with source citations to the point of enjoying them most of the time. And she no longer hates to write, but it is still not an easy process for her.

The kinship-determination project provided a satisfying writing opportunity. The last generation included her grandfather, whom she knew personally. Researching him gave her a more complete picture of him. She learned that while many people struggled during the Depression, his story was amazingly different. He always had various jobs including managing a snow fence factory. His daughter had the best shoes, and even saw an orthodontist. Cheryl advises other applicants to write the kinship-determination project about their own families, as they will be spending a lot of time on the research and getting to know the people well.

Cheryl describes herself as very social, so not being able to talk to anyone about the contents of her portfolio was difficult. When asked what advice she would give to someone considering applying for certification, she said, “Focus, focus, focus. What that meant for me was: no Facebook time, no heavy research on family lines, no time for reading and posting to mailing lists, no new clients. Also, I tried to keep to a daily schedule for research and writing. I recommend frequent breaks to exercise and clear your head.”

What will she do now that she is board-certified? Cheryl’s husband, a former sheriff, is researching the sheriffs of San Luis Obispo County with the hope of writing a book. Cheryl’s skills come into play helping with genealogical research and writing biographical sketches. She also looks forward to doing some of that heavy research on her family lines and cleaning up her database and office. That may include work on her third great-grandmother Hannah, born in Pennsylvania in 1805, whose parents and death date and place are still elusive. Another goal is to speak at national genealogical events as a certified genealogical lecturer.

Cheryl has been program director for her local genealogical organization, the San Luis Obispo County Genealogical Society. She also participates in their groups on DNA, genealogical writing, and professional standards, and she’s now their second BCG associate. And she can finally talk about her portfolio. If you run into her at SLIG next year, be sure to say hello and enjoy a visit.  Cheryl can be reached at cherylstorton@gmail.com. Congratulations, Cheryl!

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 Webinar Update

Barbara Vines Little’s February 2016 BCG webinar, “The Importance of Context in Record Analysis,” is now accessible on demand from Vimeo. It is available for twenty-four-hour rental ($2.99) or for purchase of unlimited streaming and download ($12.99).

Go to the BCG Webinars tab at the top of this page for free previews and links to Vimeo recordings of all BCG webinars.

BCG Webinars are generally presented the third Tuesday of the month. Watch SpringBoard and Facebook for notices about two weeks before each webinar.

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.

Free BCG Webinar: Fonkert on Merging and Separating Identities

Tuesday, 15 March 2016 at 8:00 p.m. EDT, J. H. (Jay) Fonkert, CG, will present “Genealogical Fingerprints: Merging and Separating Identities in Family History Research.”

A recording of this webinar is available for a small fee from Vimeo.

J. H. (Jay) Fonkert, CG

Merging or separating identities is a core genealogical problem. Sometimes we find a person of the same name in several different places over time. Other times, we find two easily confounded people in the same place and time. A series of short case studies illustrates the importance of certain identity.

Jay Fonkert, CG, is a Minnesota-based genealogy researcher, educator, and writer who focuses on nineteenth-century Midwest research. His favorite research target is the Fawkner family of Kentucky and Indiana. He is a trustee of the BCG Education Fund, a past director of the Association of Professional Genealogists, and a past president of the Minnesota Genealogical Society. Jay was an instructor at the Salt Lake Institute for Genealogy from 2013 to 2015 and has published more than sixty research and teaching articles in the Minnesota Genealogist, The Septs, Family Chronicle, NGS Magazine and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

“We are pleased to offer this informative webinar,” said BCG president Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG. “The Board for Certification of Genealogists strives to foster public confidence in genealogy by promoting an attainable, uniform standard of competence and ethics. Educating all family historians is part of this mission.”

There is no charge, but space is limited. Register for J. H. (Jay) Fonkert, “Genealogical Fingerprints: Merging and Separating Identities in Family History Research” at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8778406650793309953.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. For more information contact office@BCGcertification.org.

Learn about BCG’s previous webinars at http://bcgcertification.org/blog/bcg-webinars.

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 Workshop: Spreadsheets, Transcriptions & Abstractions

Invaluable genealogical tools, spreadsheets, transcriptions, and abstractions will be the focus of this year’s BCG Education Fund Putting Skills to Work workshop. The day-long educational event will take place in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, the day before the NGS conference, 3 May 2016, from 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. The workshop is designed to improve foundational skills for genealogists striving to develop excellent genealogical practices. 

Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG, will lead the session “Spreadsheets 201: Manipulating Data to Dismantle Brick Walls.” Students will use spreadsheets to reveal otherwise hidden patterns that can resolve problems of kinship and identity. Prerequisite: knowledge of basic spreadsheet skills. 

David McDonald, DMin, CG, will lead the session “Reach for the Power Tools: Transcriptions & Abstractions.” Students will work with various documents to transcribe, abstract, and analyze the material, with an eye toward developing effective research plans. 

The $110 registration fee includes lunch, two in-depth presentations, hands-on exercises, syllabi, handouts, and active class participation. NGS Conference registration is not required. Sessions typically book to capacity before the NGS Conference registration deadline. See the full workshop description at this blog post by Debbie Parker Wayne, CG. 

Register through the NGS Conference registration site. If you’ve already registered for the conference, just login and add the Putting Skills to Work workshop. If you haven’t registered yet, now is the time to do it! 
 

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.

Diverse Communities: Researching Spiritualist Ancestors

Researching Spiritualist Ancestors

Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, MFA, CG

Think only genealogists talk to the dead? Not so. Some ancestors did, too. Perhaps you’ve heard stories that a family member, often a woman, had “the gift” or “second sight.” This person might have been a Spiritualist. Spiritualism thrived from the late 1840s until just after World War II. “By 1854, followers, according to the spiritualists’ own estimates, numbered from 1 to 2 million Americans.”[1] The core of this lesser-known but still active worldwide religion is that life (consciousness) survives physical death and that communication with the spirit realm is possible. Considering this is such a unique religion, let’s take a brief look at its history and philosophy before we explore how to determine whether an ancestor was a Spiritualist and where we might locate records.[2]

Modern Spiritualism was born in March 1848 when teenage sisters Maggie and Kate Fox of Hydesville, New York, claimed to have communicated with the dead through raps they heard on the walls of their parents’ home. The alleged spirit identified himself as a peddler who stated he’d been murdered in the house and buried in the cellar. The sisters worked out an alphabet with the spirit and translated the raps into words. Neighbors witnessing the Fox phenomena spread the word. This testimony by multiple observers is referred to as “physical mediumship.”[3] Fifty-six years later, in 1904, schoolchildren playing in the abandoned Fox house discovered human remains behind a crumbling cellar wall. Controversy erupted over the veracity of the sisters’ claims and the bones’ origins, but that didn’t lessen the impact of the discovery.[4]

At the same time the Fox sisters were unknowingly sparking a religious movement, the first Women’s Rights Convention was held in July 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York. Both movements provided women with a public voice, since most mediums were and still are women. Learning to communicate with the dead offered a new profession that could provide single and widowed women financial stability. Working in front of audiences of thousands gave them a public platform to deliver messages from the departed and to speak about women’s issues.[5]

The popularity of Spiritualism grew steadily, especially following major conflicts and epidemics—the Civil War, World War I, the influenza epidemic of 1918, and World War II. Those who had lost loved ones sought the evidence that all religions preached but didn’t demonstrate, that there is life after death. The movement spread in America and abroad through Spiritualist mediums who became itinerant representatives of the religion, touring and giving demonstrations of survival to large crowds. These “message services” offered evidence of deceased loved ones and lectures on Spiritualism. Predictably, fraudulent mediums capitalized on such opportunities. This caused legitimate mediums to establish Spiritualist communities that provided development classes, ordained ministers, and tested and authenticated mediums. The first such community was the Lily Dale Spiritualist Assembly in Lily Dale, New York, in 1879.[6]

Spiritualism grew solely through converts and attracted both Christians and non-Christians, especially Universalists and Unitarians. The list of some famous people who were Spiritualists or “friends” of Spiritualism includes Elizabeth Barrett Browning, William Butler Yeats and Maude Gonne, James Fenimore Cooper, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Edison, Horace Greeley, Victor Hugo, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Daniel Webster, and Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln.[7]

Spiritualism has never had a charismatic leader, and while it offers guiding principles, there is no single, inspired religious text. Mediumship is fundamental to this religion, but not all Spiritualists are mediums, and not all mediums are Spiritualists. Spiritualist mediums today mostly practice “mental mediumship,”[8] that is, telepathic communication with a spirit person who provides evidence of consciousness survival, such as distinctive personality, memories, likes/dislikes, health conditions, the cause of passing, and other life facts.

But Spiritualism involves more than talking to dead people. Through the Spiritualist principles, it teaches personal responsibility for thoughts, actions, and deeds; that humans are souls occupying a body; that life is not short, but eternal; that those who have transitioned to the other side are conscious and want to communicate; that a spark of divinity resides within everyone; and that the door to reformation is never closed. Spiritualists take nothing on faith or belief. The religion is based on survival evidence and knowledge of the afterlife. This knowledge comes from direct communication with those who are there.[9]

Though the popularity of this religion declined after World War II, many Spiritualist churches and camps in the United States and abroad continue to flourish today, offering hope and healing through the science and demonstrations of consciousness survival.[10]

 Identifying Spiritualist Ancestors

  • Oral history is a good starting place. Clues are aunts or grandmothers remembered as having “the gift,” “second sight,” “visitations,” or who were said to be “a little off. 
  • Look for women active in women’s rights movements, as they might also have been Spiritualists. Their obituaries might list clubs or organizations known for activism.
  • On headstones, watch for wording such as “Entered Summerland” (a term some Spiritualists use for heaven), epitaphs such as “There is no death,” or a “transition” date rather than a death date.

Finding Records

Because Spiritualism has lacked uniformity, records and recordkeeping vary, but Spiritualist churches typically perform admissions to fellowship, naming services, marriages, and funerals.

  • Check city directories for Spiritualist churches and camps in the areas where ancestors resided. Also, look for ancestors advertising services as mediums or clairvoyants.
  • Newspapers may report on visiting mediums, gatherings, and conventions, giving names of local churches and sponsors.
  • Review Ann Braude’s “News from the Spirit World: A Checklist of American Spiritualist Periodicals, 1848-1900,” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society 99 (October 1989): 339–462; pdf edition, American Antiquarian Society (http://www.americanantiquarian.org/proceedings/44539462.pdf).

Additional Resources

Further Reading

1. Braude, Ann. Radical Spirits:Spiritualism and Women’s Rights in Nineteenth-Century America. 2nd edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.

2. Carroll, Bret E. Spiritualism in Antebellum America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997.

3. [Lewis, E. E.]. A Report of the Mysterious Noises Heard in the House of Mr. John D. Fox. 1848. Digital reprint. Psypioneer: An Electronic Newsletter from London 1 (April 2005). http://www.woodlandway.org/PDF/Leslie_Price_PP12.pdf.

4. Radford, Dwight A. “From Séances to Ouija Boards: Tracing Your Spiritualist Ancestor.” National Genealogical Society. NewsMagazine (June/July 2004): 24–31.

5. Weisberg, Barbara. Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism. New York: HarperOne, 2005.


[1] Nancy Rubin Stuart, “The Fox Sisters: Spiritualism’s Unlikely Founders,” American History (August 2005); image copy, HistoryNet (http://www.historynet.com/the-fox-sisters-spiritualisms-unlikely-founders.htm). All URLs are current to 10 February 2016.

[2] The bulk of this article is distilled from numerous sources. The links at “Spiritualism,” The Spiritualists’ National Union (http://www.snu.org.uk/spiritualism/spiritualism.html) provide an overview of the history, principles, philosophy, religion, science, and pioneers of Spiritualism as practiced by Spiritualists in the United Kingdom. For American Spiritualist history, see the links under Spiritualism at the National Spiritualist Association of Churches (https://www.nsac.org/default.html). See also Stuart, “The Fox Sisters: Spiritualism’s Unlikely Founders.” For an in-depth history of Spiritualism, see Barbara Weisberg, Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism (New York: HarperOne, 2005), and Todd Jay Leonard, PhD, Talking to the Other Side: A History of Modern Spiritualism and Mediumship; A Study of the Religion, Science, Philosophy, and Mediums That Encompass This American-Made Religion (Lincoln, Neb.: iUniverse, 2005). The definitive classic works on the history and philosophy of Spiritualism are Emma Hardinge Britten, Modern American Spiritualism: A Twenty Years’ Record of the Communion between Earth and the World of Spirits (New York: the author, 1870), and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The History of Spiritualism, 2 vols. (London, Cassell and Co., 1926).  Britten and Doyle, vol. 1, are available at Internet Archive, Britten at https://archive.org/details/modernamericans01britgoog and Doyle, vol. 1, at https://archive.org/details/historyofspiritu015638mbp. A transcription of Doyle, vol. 2, is at Project Gutenberg Australia (http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks03/0301061.txt).

[3] For the various types of mediumship, see “Spiritualism and Science,” The Spiritualists’ National Union (http://www.snu.org.uk/spiritualism/science).

[4] For the history of the “Hydesville Rappings,” see not only the sources cited in note 2, but also [E. E. Lewis], A Report of the Mysterious Noises Heard in the House of Mr. John D. Fox (1848); digital reprint, Psypioneer: An Electronic Newsletter from London 1 (April 2005): following 133 (http://www.woodlandway.org/PDF/Leslie_Price_PP12.pdf).

[5] For the connection between Spiritualism and the women’s rights movement, see Anne Braude, Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women’s Rights in Nineteenth-Century America, 2nd ed. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001), and Barbara Goldsmith, Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull (New York: HarperPerennial, 1998).

[6] For a history of the Lily Dale Spiritualist Assembly, see Christine Wicker, Lily Dale: The True Story of the Town that Talks to the Dead (New York: HarperCollins, 2003).

[7] See the various histories cited in note 2, as well as “Great Spiritualists and Friends,” Spritualist Resources (http://www.spiritualistresources.com/cgi-bin/great/index.pl).

[8] “Spiritualism and Science.”

[9] For additional information on the principles and philosophy of Spiritualism, see H. Gordon Burroughs, Becoming A Spiritualist (Baltimore: Port City Press, 1962), and Carole Austin and David Hopkins, The Philosophy of Spiritualism (Stansted, Eng.: Spiritualists’ National Union, 2007).

[10] For more on the numerous, on-going scientific studies of consciousness surivival, see Gary E. Schwartz, PhD, The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life After Death (New York: Atria Books, 2003); Amit Goswami, PhD, Physics of the Soul: The Quantum Book of Living, Dying, Reincarnation, and Immortality, 2nd ed. (Charlottesville, Va.: Hampton Roads Publishing Co., 2013); David Fontana, Is There an Afterlife? A Comprehensive Overview of the Evidence (Ropley, Hants, UK: O-Books, 2005); and the peer-reviewed papers at Windbridge Institute for Applied Resarch in Human Potential (http://www.windbridge.org/publications/#papers).

 

Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, MFA, CG, specializes in editing and writing family histories. Along with You Can Write Your Family History and Carmack’s Guide to Copyright & Contacts, she is the author of two forthcoming books: Tell It Short: A Guide to Writing Your Family History in Brief and Inheriting the Gordon Hips, a collection of humorous essays. Sharon is on the adjunct faculty of Salt Lake Community College’s online Certificate in Genealogy Research and Writing program. She is also a member of the Spiritualists’ National Union, International branch. Sharon can be reached through her websites, www.NonfictionHelp.com or www.SharonCarmack.com.

 

The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.

Certified Genealogist®—What Does it Mean?

BCG has received official registration of “Certified Genealogist” as a certification mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This is great news, but what does it mean, and why was it needed? Why should we care?

What does this mean?
The certification mark indicates a relationship between the Board for Certification of Genealogists and the person who uses the mark. Its use shows that the genealogist’s work has been peer-reviewed in light of BCG standards for quality and ethics and met the criteria for certification by the Board for Certification of Genealogists. BCG indicates this relationship with the designation Certified Genealogist, now rightfully using the federal registration symbol, Certified Genealogist®. BCG is the legal owner of the mark “Certified Genealogist.”

CG, Certified Genealogical Lecturer, and CGL remain BCG service marks (SM). Registration covers the phrase “Certified Genealogist” and gives this certification mark fuller legal protection. BCG can bring a federal lawsuit against infringers and recover actual and statutory damages along with attorneys’ fees. Registration also gives BCG a mechanism for stopping cybersquatters from registering “certified genealogist” as a domain name, as has been attempted at least twice.

Why does BCG need this?
Despite its former designation as a service mark, the expression “certified genealogist” has been used (often incorrectly) as a general expression. It is not proper usage to say, when referring to BCG certification, “She’s a Certified Genealogist” or “Oh, he finally got his CG.” We sometimes hear these assertions, usually in reference to BCG. Other non-BCG associates and organizations occasionally use “certified genealogist,” hinting that they are somehow approved by or affiliated with BCG. The goal of registering “Certified Genealogist” as a certification mark with the USPTO was to discourage inappropriate use of BCG’s certification mark and protect the status of those who are affiliated with BCG.

Some students of genealogical programs that result in the award of certificates may erroneously refer to themselves as “certified genealogists.” Professional fields and academic programs draw a clear distinction between educational (training) certificate programs and professional certification. One is a function of the educational process. This applies to certificates of achievement (awarded by such programs as ProGen Study Group and Boston University’s Online Certificate in Genealogical Research) and certificates of attendance at institutes. Successful graduates of such programs may state that they have earned a certificate, not certification.

Professional certification, as by BCG, is a third-party assessment of skills and knowledge independent of the educational process. Education does not automatically confer certification.

What does this change?
Using the registered certification mark Certified Genealogist in a general way undermines the significance of registration, which rests on BCG’s claim that the expression and initials are not generic. Rather, they indicate a specific relationship between the user and the Board for Certification of Genealogists®.

So how should we refer to those we’ve been calling “certified genealogists” and “CGs”? Although it may seem cumbersome, it’s accurate and protective of BCG’s status to refer, for example, to a “board-certified genealogist,” a “BCG-certified associate,” or a “board certificant.”

It is appropriate in written communications to use the registered certification and service marks as credentials with a genealogist’s name:

Jane Doe, Certified Genealogist® or Jane Doe, CGSM
I am Certified Genealogist® Jane Doe.

When we correctly use the registered certification mark and avoid using the term “certified genealogist” in a descriptive or general way, we give the BCG credential all the power and significance it merits. “Certified Genealogist®” is BCG’s acknowledgement of its associates’ achievement in working to genealogy standards. Now the force of law stands behind it. Working to standards deserves such protection. Let’s use our words accurately and respect BCG’s certification mark registration.

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 Free Webinar: Little on Context in Record Analysis

Tuesday, 16 February 2016, at 8:00 p.m. EST, Barbara Vines Little, CG, FNGS, FVGS, will present “The Importance of Context in Record Analysis.”

A recording of this webinar is available for a small fee from Vimeo.

Source citations provide context for the information we gather. Was the death date from a tombstone, a newspaper obituary, a county history, a Bible record, or a death certificate? The best citations tell us that the tombstone was contemporary with the death, the Bible record was entered in the same hand and the same ink, the county history was written a hundred and fifty years later, and the death certificate was signed by an attending physician. The details provide background context that helps us evaluate the validity of the information and suggests other avenues for research. But this information only scratches the surface. A full evaluation of any record’s context requires that we explore the complete content of the document. We want to know the reason for the document’s existence; the social, legal, and geographical context behind its creation; and what ancillary documents were produced both before and after its creation.

Barbara Vines Little, CG, FNGS, FVGS,

Barbara Vines Little, CG, FNGS, FVGS, is a professional genealogist whose primary interests are Virginia research and brick wall problems. A former president of both the National Genealogical Society (NGS) and the Virginia Genealogical Society, she coordinated the Virginia track for Samford University’s Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research from 2007–2012. She has served as editor of the Magazine of Virginia Genealogy since 1996. Winner of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly Award for excellence in 2001, she has also written for the NGS Magazine, OnBoard: Newsletter of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, and the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly. She currently edits NGS’s Research in the States series and authored the West Virginia volume. She has published three volumes of Virginia court records and edited others for publication. She has lectured for the past twenty-five years on research methodology, Virginia and West Virginia resources, and writing and publishing.

To register for Barbara Vines Little, “The Importance of Context in Record Analysis” on 16 February 2016, 8:00 p.m. EST (7:00 CST, 6:00 MST, 5:00 PST), go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3474700108047285762.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Attendance is limited for this free webinar. Once registered, please sign in early to avoid disappointment.

President Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG, says, “The Board for Certification of Genealogists is proud to offer this new webinar as part of an ongoing series that supports our mission to provide education for family historians. This webinar will address questions regarding the genealogy standards for research. By promoting a uniform standard of competence and ethics the BCG endeavors to foster public confidence in genealogy.”

Please visit SpringBoard‘s webinar page to learn about BCG’s previous webinars.

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.