ACTION: Mutual Support for Those Assembling Application Portfolios

Image courtesy of Microsoft Office

BCG established a mutual support network for applicants, called ACTION. Here is how our Certification FAQ describes this list:

BCG invites preliminary applicants to subscribe to an email mentoring group called ACTION (Aids to Certification Testing: Interactive Online Networking). This list does not provide educational preparation; it will not teach applicants about sources, citations, analysis, or any other aspect of research. It does, however, provide a supportive forum where applicants can meet other applicants, and BCG trustees and members of BCG’s Outreach Committee are available to answer questions about the certification process and requirements.

What is it like? Don’t forget that all current Board-certified genealogists have already gone through the process of assembling a portfolio and can relate to the emotional and intellectual issues involved. Several have volunteered to participate in ACTION.

In an ACTION conversation on May 15th of this year.  BCG President Elissa Scalise Powell wrote at 8:04 pm, “So how does … our sense of perfection affect our portfolio process? Does it affect the work sample selections? Does it affect the inability to submit until we find that one last perfect record or case?”

Then at 8:36 pm, Patti Hobbs came back with a story to which we all can relate.

I, too, since I started the clock, am just trying to finish up stuff I’ve been working on for many years. I returned to a courthouse I’d visited about 8 years ago because I hadn’t developed my system for photographing book covers that I now have implemented, and I didn’t have exact titles to use for citations. I also made a trip to Wisconsin just to look for a tombstone that was not on Find-A-Grave and no cemetery book exists outside of the town where the cemetery is located. And the library will not do look-ups because of staffing problems. But without it, I had no proof of one person’s death. Thank goodness she actually had a tombstone!

My first issue was deciding which family to use for my KDP. I worked on two, and then decided not to use either. All totally different. One was a Pennsylvania family, one was a Virginia to Indiana to Iowa family, and the one I settled on is a New England to New York to the Midwest and to-many-parts west.

Then since I had not done “client” work, I did several projects, two of which were very time-consuming, for other people to find a good client case to use. (I do not lack for people to help with their genealogy since I work in a library.)  I rejected using cases I had not solved even though I know that’s permissible.  And even now I don’t think the one I’ve chosen is necessarily the best I could do because I’d prefer to do something more challenging. But as it is no one “out there” had the answer, and I found the answer. Although by the time I submit my portfolio relatives of the now-deceased “client” (pro-bono) may get it out there.

Then I spent a very long time tracking collaterals for the KDP, and probably doing much more than is necessary for the portfolio. But in that process, I found that I really enjoyed doing that. I felt that what I learned from fleshing out all the collaterals, who did not move en masse to the same areas, was very interesting for learning about migration. So I have more biographical detail on the collaterals than is needed. I also did an extra generation because there’s a facet that is in the first generation I wanted included, and there’s a facet to the fourth generation I wanted included. I also wanted the KDP to be enjoyable and informative for other family and not necessarily just those in my direct line.

For me, I had too many other things in my life that were more important in the grand scheme of things than submitting my portfolio for me to make it a priority. That has now changed. And a big motivator for me is I really want to get to work on some other families that are just dangling around waiting to be written up.

Thank you, Patti, for sharing your process for choosing portfolio elements.

To all our readers, once you are on-the-clock, you can participate in ACTION. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Introducing: Sharon Hoyt, CG

Sharon Hoyt, who received her Certified Genealogist credential earlier this year, is a genealogy researcher and lecturer from California’s Silicon Valley.

Sharon Hoyt, CG

She became interested in genealogy after her husband’s research on his Mayflower ancestors made her curious about her own family origins. What began as a hobby quickly became a passion, and in 2002, she traded a career as an information architect managing intranet content and search tools for large technology companies to focus on genealogy research.

As a native Californian whose family has lived in the state since the 1880s, she enjoys helping clients trace their ancestors’ paths to the Golden State. Her areas of interest include New England, New York, and the Midwest, with a particular focus on Civil War research. In addition to her client research, she serves as a consultant to Ancestry.com. She is a member of APG, NGS, NEHGS, and the Southern California Genealogical Society.

Sharon’s key advice to those thinking about certification is this: “Don’t be afraid to apply – the application process is a great learning experience!”

She notes that her own preparation was broad-based, but in addition to seminars, webinars, conferences and institutes (NIGR and SLIG), she found the graded NGS American Genealogy Home Study Course particularly helpful in preparing her application. “The experience of working through lessons on my own and receiving written feedback was very similar to the BCG certification process.”

Sharon credits her cousin, Pauline Love, who was 92 years young when they met, as her genealogy muse: “The stories she shared made our ancestors’ lives real to me, and her endless curiosity and excitement about family history encouraged me to seek out new sources to answer her many questions. She inspired me to dig deeper to find the stories behind the basic facts.”

Her genealogical heroes? “The thousands of people who volunteer their time to collect, preserve, index, and share records to help others find their families. I’ve learned so much from volunteers in local genealogical and historical societies, and appreciate their willingness to share their time and expertise.”

And, she adds, “I’m grateful to my husband for introducing me to a dream career, and for his patience and willingness to visit archives, libraries, and cemeteries on every vacation trip.”


(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.)

Introducing: Karlene Howell Ferguson, CG

Colorado’s Karlene Howell Ferguson, who received her Certified GenealogistSM credential in early 2014, describes herself as a “life-long history student who always tries to put the person of interest in historical context.”

Karlene Howell Ferguson, CG

She began doing family research roughly 10 years ago: “I did not start until I retired from a career in public human resources management, so I have been trying to make up for lost time.”

Her genealogical education includes attending the National Genealogical Society conference every other year, and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy in the off year. She has also attended the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, and the NEHGS research week in Washington, D.C. and the research week in Orange County, New York. She is currently participating in Gen Proof 29 (the course built around Thomas W. Jones’ new Mastering Genealogical Proof) and is looking forward to the NEHGS trip to Albany, New York, in July.

Karlene’s advice to those considering certification is that “preparing the portfolio is very, very time consuming. In order to make the most of your application year, try to have as many of the decisions (e.g. kinship project, case study, client report) made prior to your preliminary application.” If she had one thing to do over in her own preparation, it would be to “spend more time learning from others. Attending institutes, conferences and research weeks are very educational, but you need the chance to reflect on actual written products, your own and others.”

She adds that while she learned a tremendous amount about family research in preparing her application portfolio, she realized in that process that she had “just scratched the surface. So much to learn; so little time.”

Her heroes in her quest for certification include Carol Darrow, CG, “who taught many of the classes at the Denver Public Library that got me started on the right track”; “all of the county clerks, court clerks and local librarians who graciously took the time to help me find the records I was seeking”; and her husband, Jerry, “who has been totally supportive of my family research even though he is not very interested in it. He is, however, the best person to help with a cemetery search!”

Some of Karlene’s genealogical goals for the next five years are:

• “to write the story of my Swedish immigrant family, who came to the U.S. in 1921. My plan is to self-publish so that the written story will be available to cousins.”

• “to learn about DNA so that I can add that tool to my family research tools.”

• “to determine a way to share my family stories with other researchers, so they do not have to repeat my mistakes.”

We’re pleased to have this opportunity to introduce Karlene to the BCG community!


(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.)

Victor S. Dunn, CG, wins 2014 Mosher Award Competition

 

Vic Dunn, CG

Victor S. Dunn was announced as the 2014 Mosher Award winner at the luncheon of the Board for Certification of Genealogists in Richmond at the National Genealogical Society Conference.

Vic Dunn’s successful entry in the Mosher Award for Colonial Virginia Research competition is a proposal for indexing obscure or difficult unpublished Virginia resources. Dunn is creating a database entitled the Virginia Business Records and Manuscript Index, which will be hosted by the Virginia Genealogical Society at their website (http://www.vgs.org/). The projected launch date is May 2014.

Indexed business records will include merchant journals, ledgers, daybooks, and memorandums, along with account books and documents kept by individual farmers, plantation managers, physicians, and attorneys. A number of these records survive for the colonial period as early as the first half of the eighteenth century, including locations in a number of eastern Virginia burned counties. When possible, the database will include links to online resources.

Vic is a board-certified genealogist and a full-time professional researcher. He coordinates the Virginia track at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University in Alabama and publishes frequently in major genealogical publications, including the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, NGS Magazine, BCG OnBoard, Magazine of Virginia Genealogy, and Virginia Genealogical Society Newsletter. Vic currently serves as a governor of the Virginia Genealogical Society. He is a past trustee of the Board for Certification of Genealogists and past treasurer and board member of the National Genealogical Society.

The annual $500 Mosher Award competition is administered by the BCG Education Fund. For more information about Education Fund programs, visit (http://www.bcgcertification.org/educationfund/index.html).

 

BCG Activities at NGS in Richmond, Virginia, Part II

The festivities and activities continue at the National Genealogical Society conference in the States in Richmond, Virginia. The BCG Skillbuilding sessions that were audio-taped on Thursday, May 8, were: “When the Trail Turns Cold: New Strategies for Old Problems” presented by Diane Florence Gravel, CG; “BCG Certification Seminar: Measuring Yourself Against Standards” (2 sequential sessions) presented by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL, and Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL; “Using Evidence Creatively: Spotting Clues in Run-of-the-Mill Records” by Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL; “Finding Thomas’s Father” by Pam Stone Eagleson, CG.

The BCG Skillbuilding track has five session on Friday, May 9: “Indexes and Databases” presented by Dawne Slater-Putt, MLS, CG; “Disputes and Unhappy Differences: Surprises in Land Records” by Sharon Tate Moody, CG; “‘Of Sound Mind and Healthy Body’: Using Probate Records in Your Research” by Michael Hait, CG; “The Seanachie: Linking Life and the Law Through Storytelling” by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL; “Black Sheep Ancestors and Their Records” by C. Ann Staley, CG, CGL.

Tom Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, will conduct a book signing at the NGS booth Friday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tom is the author of Mastering Genealogical Proof published 2013 by NGS.

A very special celebration of fifty years of credentialing will be celebrated Friday evening at the NGS banquet. Both BCG’s CG and ICAPGen’s AG credentials are 50 years old, having been instituted in 1964. The speaker, very appropriately credentialed by both organizations, is David Rencher, AG, CG on “Celebrating Genealogy Credentials–The Accreditation and Certification Programs Turn 50!” This is the culmination of a year-long semi-centennial celebration which also included a banquet presentation in October in Salt Lake City presented by Judy Russell, JD, CG, CGL and available on the BCG website at http://www.bcgcertification.org/aboutbcg/audio/RussellJ.html.

Saturday’s Skillbuilding lectures finish the week with: “Using and Evaluating Family Lore: She Married  Distant Cousin in Virginia” presented by Jay Fonkert, CG; “Rich, Poor, and All the Rest: Why Class Matters to Genealogists” by Stefani Evans, CG; “Organizing Your Research without Losing Your Mind” by Julie Miller, CG; “Working with Documents: The Importance of Context in Record Analysis” by Barbara Vines Little, CG; “Murder and Mayhem on the River: The Life of the Harpes” by Gail Jackson Miller, CG.

Many of these lectures were audio-taped and will be placed for sale on www.JAMB-INC.com where other conference lectures may be purchased.

BCG Activities at NGS in Richmond, Virginia

On Wednesday, May 7, 2014, the BCG Skillbuilding Track at the National Genealogical Society Conference in the States will have three presentations. At 11 a.m. is “Problems and Pitfalls of a Reasonably Shallow Search” presented by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL. At 2:30 p.m. is “New Standards or Old: Guidelines for Effective Research and Family Histories” by Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL. At 4 p.m. is “Mining the Destination Data” by David E. Rencher, AG, CG.

The BCG booth in the exhibit hall (next to Maia’s Books) has portfolios for the curious to look through as well as a notebook of typical evaluators’ comments. Stop by the booth to look at them there.

Be sure to stop by the booth to pick up a gold card before buying recommended books at Maia’s Bookstore. BCG appreciates the referral as you pick up your copy of the new Genealogy Standards book and others.

On Thursday, look for the Certification Seminar at 9:30 a.m. and continuing through the 11 a.m. lecture session. Come and get your questions answered! The BCG luncheon follows directly afterward and should be a rewarding time together taking a look at BCG’s past 50 years through the eyes of past-presidents Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, Kay Haviland Freilich, CG, CGL, and Laura DeGrazia, CG.

The Skillbuilding track continues each day and is co-sponsored by BCG to help educate attendees on necessary skills. For those who cannot get to the sessions, look for them to be recorded for sale by JAMB-inc.com.

Our Newest Associate: Cheryl Brown Abernathy, CG

Cheryl Brown Abernathy

Cheryl Brown Abernathy of Fredericksburg, Ohio, became a Board-certified genealogist on 9 April 2014. She is the owner of The Past Lane where her professional work focuses on Wayne County, Ohio, and nine nearby counties. She does in-depth research, records look-up, and lineage society applications. Living in the north central Ohio region to which her ancestors migrated more than a century ago has given her the skills and experience she uses in her business. She volunteers as chair of the Settlers and Builders of Ohio, one of the lineage societies of the Ohio Genealogical Society.

Cheryl’s top genealogy hero is her grandmother, Mary Belle (Wear) Martin, who developed and nourished her interest in genealogy. In her family genealogy website, in its coverage of Mary Belle, Cheryl provides a great example of melding facts and source citations. Today her friends Donna Gruber and Elissa Scalise Powell give her encouragement.

For Cheryl, preparation for the submission of her BCG portfolio including attending an impressive selection of institute courses:

  • Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University
    • Course Two, Intermediate Genealogy & Historical Studies – 2009
    • Course Four, Advanced Methodology & Evidence Analysis – 2011
  • Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) at La Roche College
    • Beneath the Home Page, Problem–Solving with Online Repositories – 2012
    • Advanced Land Research: Locating, Analyzing, Mapping – 2013

Her advice to others interested in becoming Board-certified is that they “take all the coursework you can, whether it’s a ProGen study group, IGHR, GRIP, SLIG, Boston University or any of the numerous opportunities available.” Asked if she would do anything differently, Cheryl said that she’d start attending institutes earlier in her career. In five years, she sees herself as still learning, researching, and honing her skills.

Welcome, Cheryl!

Introducing: Eric Siess

Associate Eric Siess of Rancho Palos Verdes is a member of the BCG Class of 2013, having received his Certified GenealogistSM credential last year.

Eric Siess

Eric has 30 years of personal and professional experience in family history research, lecturing and teaching. His lectures throughout Southern California include emigration records, the GPS, German immigration, Civil War genealogy, lineage society applications, the 1940 census, and tips for better genealogy. He has successfully helped many clients find their European ancestors and has determined his own lineage into 17th century Alsace and Sweden.

Eric taught beginning and intermediate Genealogy at the South Bay Adult school for several years and one of his courses, “Solving the Ultimate Puzzle: Family History” was the 2011 LiveWell class for Intellectual Health. He has a Ph.D. in Engineering, is the President of the South Bay Cities Genealogical Society and is a member of NGS, APG and the Ohio Genealogical Society.

Eric’s advice to those considering certification is: “Commit yourself to preparing your portfolio starting now – you have everything to gain and you will grow immensely by doing so. Don’t create time pressure for yourself though, apply for certification when your portfolio is ready (I didn’t say perfect!).”

His genealogical heroes?

Elizabeth Shown Mills, who through her writing, taught me not to fear source citations; Thomas Jones, whose ability to find and communicate the simplest logical essence is inspirational; and the late John T. Humphrey who became an instant hero the first time I heard him speak in Ohio.

And one thing he’s still working on is efficiency. “Maybe some people have it innately,” he notes. “I’m learning those skills from my colleagues.”

His five-year plan includes transitioning from his first career to that of a full-time genealogical researcher and speaker.

We’re pleased to have this opportunity to introduce Eric to the BCG community!

Welcome to New Board-Certified Genealogist Clarise Soper

Clarise Soper

Clarise Soper of Heidelberg, Mississippi, became a Board-certified genealogist on 21 February 2014. She is an expert in Mississippi genealogy and loves working on families from the Civil War era.

A graduate of ProGen 14, Clarise says, “The program is invaluable because of the unbiased, constructive critiques you receive from fellow group members and guidance from the mentor—a Board-certified genealogist.” She recommends ProGen study to those who are thinking about becoming certified. Clarise is giving back to this study organization; she is now the Coordinator for ProGen 22.

Her genealogical heroes are Marcia Rice, her sister Beverly Rice, and Michael Grant Hait, Jr., CGSM, all of whom pushed her to think more analytically. It was Marcia she met first, in the food line. Clarise remembers lively discussions, nearly debates, with all three at the Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research. Clarise also appreciates the support and coaching she got from Linda Woodward Geiger, CGSM, CGLSM, the Mentor for ProGen 14.

At the current time Clarise mixes both volunteer and paid work in genealogy. If there was one thing she would change, she would find more time for pro bono speaking engagements for the rural genealogical societies in Mississippi.

Clarise’s advice to those considering certification is this:

I probably hold the record for being “on the clock” the longest. I extended each time to keep my personal goal in the forefront while my life centered on being caregiver to my Mother who had Alzheimer’s. That five-year journey taught me patience and perseverance, attributes that helped me complete my portfolio. Don’t give up when life gets in the way of your dream!

 

 

RPAC Report, April 2014: Access Changes to the SSDI – Update 2

Photograph courtesy of Microsoft Office.

Submitted by Barbara J. Mathews, CGSM, BCG’s Representative to the Records Preservation and Access Committee:

Implementation of Access Restrictions to the SSDI/DMF

The 2013 Ryan-Murray bipartisan budget compromise was signed by President Obama on 26 December 2013. Section 203 of that bill implemented restrictions on access to the Death Master File. The thinking was that the Social Security Death Index (the SSDI is about 60% of the full DMF) was used by crooks to commit IRS tax fraud. Closing it would lower the amount of fraud, saving the government money. The money value associated with fraud reduction became an offset in the budget deal.

Confusion abounded after the bipartisan budget compromise passed. Although there was a 90-day extension for the development of regulations, one congressman thought that the Commerce Department was violating the law by allowing continued access. Although the bill stated explicitly that the fees for certifying access to recent death information could only cover the expense in implementing it, commentators thought that the fees would make it a “money-raiser.” Other analysts pointed out that tax fraud involving the dead constituted only 1.8% of all tax fraud and that nothing was being done about the other 98.2% of fraud.

Section 203 mandates that deaths are redacted from the SSDI until the end of the third calendar year following the death. The Commerce Department was directed to develop within 90 days a certification process for those people who need to gain access during those first three years. That task was delegated to the National Technical Information Services department — the same department that sells access to the Death Master File.

NTIS held an information meeting 4 March 2014 that was attended by about four dozen entities. The attendees represented the interests of life insurance companies, medical researchers, fallen soldier repatriation efforts, state attorneys general, genealogists, and the financial industry. Oral presentations are archived in two batches (Batch 1 contains prepared presentations, beginning with the one by Fred Moss of RPAC, and Batch 2 continues those presentations using a court reporting system [with many transcription errors] as well as presentations from the floor that answered questions asked by the NTIS staff). Follow-up written testimony was accepted until 18 March 2014 and is also archived.

The NTIS regulations are in Interim Final Rule status. They have been published in the Federal Register. To gain access, a researcher must first apply for certification and then subscribe. BCG associate Dee Dee King, CGSM, was an early NTIS Certified Person and subscriber. She describes her experiences here.

At this time, we expect access to deaths that occurred prior to 26 March 2014 to continue as before. We expect that deaths added to the DMF after the implementation of the new regulations will be restricted. Deaths in 2014 will not be posted to the SSDI until the end of 2017.

Genealogists originally gained access to the Social Security Death Index through the Freedom of Information Act. Section 203 removed FOIA protection but the long-term repercussions of that are still unclear.

Update 1: added more accurate description of differences between Batch 1 and Batch 2, courtesy of Fred Moss.

Update 2: added a link to Dee Dee King’s article on the NTIS certification process.

As BCG’s official representative to the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC), Barbara advocates for the concerns of Board-certified genealogists, and participates in RPAC’s monthly conference call. RPAC is a joint committee organized by the National Genealogical Society, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. Each of these three societies has a vote on the committee. Non-voting representatives are sent by several national groups: American Society of Genealogists, Association of Professional Genealogists, BCG, and ICAPGen. In addition, non-voting representatives attend from two corporations, Ancestry, and ProQuest. Communication is fostered by an email list, monthly telephone conference calls, and the RPAC blog.