Welcome, Angela McGhie, CG!

Angela McGhie is a familiar name to many for her commitment to excellence in genealogical education. Now we welcome her as a new BCG associate!

Angela P. McGhie, CG

Angela credits her parents’ family history interests and her grandmother’s Swedish and Danish research for an early introduction to the world of genealogy.  As a college student, Angela interviewed both grandmothers and combined photographs with collected stories to present her family’s history. She has been a dedicated genealogist ever since and for the past fifteen years has focused on in-depth research and education.

Moving into the professional field, Angela recognized the need for formalized training to hone her skills. She began attending genealogical seminars and conferences, and completed the National Genealogical Society (NGS) American Genealogy Home Study Course. In 2007 Angela joined the NGS Quarterly (NGSQ) Study Group; she joined the first Professional Genealogy (ProGen) Study Group in 2008.[1] Within six months she became its administrator, writing assignments and recruiting mentors to work with participants. The ProGen Study Group has grown to 328 alumni and over 110 current students. This success is due in large part to Angela’s tireless efforts.

More recently Angela completed a study of Tom Jones’ Mastering Genealogical Proof,[2] then initiated a study group based on the book; to date, forty-five groups have completed the program. She helped design and coordinates the “Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum” course for the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG); students work to solve genealogical problems and sharpen their evidence analysis skills.

Certification was a logical step for Angela: “I decided that if I was going to be a professional genealogist I should have my work evaluated to show that I met standards.”

Angela prepared for certification through a combination of education and practical experience. She attended courses at genealogical institutes, including Tom Jones’ “Advanced Genealogical Methods” at SLIG and Elizabeth Shown Mills’ “Advanced Methodology” at the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR).

Whether researching her own ancestors or those of her clients, Angela found it exciting and challenging to apply the methods she studied, as each case required unique records and methods to solve. Once the methodology became an inherent part of her research process, Angela knew she was ready to complete and submit her portfolio.

Her most challenging project was her portfolio case study. Angela had searched for the parents of her third great-grandfather for about eight years. She performed what she felt was “reasonably exhaustive research,” then “exhaustive research.” The mystery was solved through discovery of her ancestor’s Canadian brother. Angela overcame conflicting information and researched in four countries to reveal their mother’s identity: an invaluable learning experience.

Angela’s advice to aspiring BCG associates? Get a solid education by taking advantage of the many opportunities available. Study the standards and the rubrics until you really understand them. Practice writing research plans, research reports, and proof arguments or case studies. Once you feel comfortable, prepare your portfolio.

Angela appreciates the many mentors who provided education, guidance and encouragement, including Elizabeth Shown Mills, Tom Jones, Claire Bettag, Craig Scott, Rick Sayre, Pam Sayre, Elissa Powell, and every mentor that has participated in the ProGen Study Program.

What’s next for Angela? She says “I love teaching and lecturing and have focused my career in this area for the last few years. I have been blessed with opportunities to teach at the genealogy institutes, and am very grateful as I am passionate about education. I want to continue my focus in this area, but will probably begin taking clients again.” Her blog, Adventures in Genealogy Education, journals Angela’s educational priorities and experiences.

Angela lives in Laurel, Maryland, with her husband and three children. She can be reached at mcghiefamilyhistory@gmail.com . Congratulations, Angela!

 

 

 


[1] The groups work through Elizabeth Shown Mills, ed., Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2001).

[2] Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013).

Welcome, Barbara Ball, CG

Earlier this month, BCG granted the designation of Certified Genealogist to Barbara Ball of Tucson, Arizona. SpringBoard invites readers to meet Barbara through this interview with editor Judy Kellar Fox, CG.

Who are you, Barbara?

Daughter of a psychologist and a Presbyterian minister, I was born in Montana and moved to Arizona as a toddler.  I’m a Westerner.  I was a tomboy, a motocross racer, and a bookish nerd.  I played the flute, marched in the band, rode horses, and read every book I could get.  I walked barefoot in the desert, loved the summer rains, and became a passionate nature and animal lover.

Barbara Ball, CG

As an adult, I’ve been a bookkeeper, medical transcriptionist, code writer, scientist, cartographer, genealogist, and lifetime student.  I have three university degrees.  I’m a wife, mother, and grandmother.  I still play the flute, do needlework, sew, quilt, play bridge, garden, do jigsaw puzzles, draw, read, and swim.

Tell us about how your academic career has informed your genealogical work.

I was a GIS (geographic information systems) analyst, mapping endangered species habitat.  I loved this work, which involved geographic location of plants and animals, analysis of historic maps, production of current maps, and spatial analysis of patterns found in migration and habitation.  Maps are so crucial to genealogists, and I suppose I will always strive to find a niche in the world of genealogy that involves incorporating more geography and demographics into our work. Oh, I could write a book.  Maybe I will.

You have already published an article about GIS for genealogists, right?

Yes, “Geographic Information Systems for Genealogists,” Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly (APGQ) 32 (June 2014), 78–81. Another is forthcoming in the June 2015 issue of APGQ.

Why do you pursue genealogical research?

Originally it was a fun hobby when I lost my university job.  After I completed the Boston University Online Certificate in Genealogical Research, I realized genealogy could be another career.  Now I see it as I did my academic work—a field of research that is just beginning to develop into a potential academic discipline on its own merits.  While I don’t know exactly how that might happen, I find it a fascinating possibility.  The field is rigorous enough to satisfy my need for academic/scientific discipline, not only in the research process, but also in the logically supported approach to solving a problem or reaching a conclusion.  The hypothesis-research-conclusions process appeals to me.  The field is wide enough to encompass those who just want to click on the leaf as well as those who want to engage in intellectual stretching.

How did you prepare for certification?

Education.  I went through the National Genealogical Society [NGS] American Genealogy: Home Study Course, then the Boston University course, then a ProGen Study Group.  I’ve attended the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy Advanced Evidence Practicum course every year it has been offered, and that has been extremely valuable.

About four months before my due date, I listened to a seminar by Judy Russell, J.D., CG, CGL, about writing the Kinship Determination Project [KDP].  She was adamant that you should never do a KDP without access to onsite research.  I was so unhinged that I immediately scheduled a last-minute and rather expensive trip to Ohio, where I spent four days in the basement of a county courthouse that I had been in already twice before!

Who are your genealogical heroes?

My personal heroes would be Angela McGhie and Kimberly Powell.  These two ladies are busy with their own work and their own lives, yet they always have time to offer support, encouragement, and a smile. They make the profession human. I can’t forget Harold Henderson, Michael Hait, and Melinde Lutz Byrne.  Thank you.

Generically speaking, as a former academic, I have a great deal of respect for those genealogists who have retired from their academic careers and brought that rigorous discipline into the genealogy field.

What is your most satisfying genealogical work?

I love building up a picture of a family system.  While producing the KDP required for my portfolio seemed akin to writing a master’s thesis, it was one of the most interesting things I’ve done.  I love solving a riddle, but more satisfying is just the continual process of describing a family and how their dynamics resulted in a particular descendant, whether it be a family member of mine or a client.

What’s your most frustrating work?

I have two ancestors from Ireland that drive me batty.  I also have a fellow named Ball that seemed to have dropped out of the sky.  My most interesting brick wall involves the members of a very tangled family in England. I have letters from them in my archives, and a whole book of unlabeled photos that I’m sure would help me straighten them out!

How do you see yourself in five years, Barbara?

My husband’s retirement hobby is photography, so I see us taking many trips to areas where I can do research and he can wander around any nearby wildlife areas taking pictures.  I would like to do more client work, and I really enjoy helping my friends with their family research. I hope to be able to move further into the professional realm of genealogy. I would like to do more mapping and spatial analysis projects, demonstrating the value of these tools, as well as writing articles that will be educational for other genealogists.

Congratulations on becoming a BCG associate, Barbara. Welcome!

 Barbara Ball, CG, can be reached at barb@copestoneresources.com and http://www.copestoneresources.com.

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.