Coming Soon from OnBoard, May 2017

OnBoard: Newsletter of the Board for Certification of Genealogists is scheduled to publish in May 2017. We’re pleased to offer a preview of some of its content.

OnBoard May 2017 masthead

“A Look at BCG’s Evaluation System”

Have you wondered about BCG’s process for judging portfolios? Alison Hare, CG, satisfies our curiosity and takes us behind the scenes with a tour of how BCG’s evaluation system works. She provides a perspective on its fifty-year history and development.

“Genealogy Standards Prevent Bias and Presentism”

Drawing from Genealogy Standards,[1] Darcie Hind Posz, CG, explains how our field’s standards and methods are not ethnocentric. They apply equally to all cultures and demographics. Darcie gives examples of recent, non-traditional, published studies that solve kinship problems. Through adherence to standards, genealogists can provide unbiased perspectives on and learn from difficult and controversial periods in history.

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

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

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

Associates in Action

Associates in Action highlights BCG associates’ news, activities, and accomplishments. Contact Alice Hoyt Veen to include your news in an upcoming post.

Awards & Achievements

The Board for Certification of Genealogists congratulates the following associates on their successful credential renewals:

Claire Ammon, CG, Lincoln, Massachusetts; initial certification
6 February 2012.

Claire Bettag, CG, Washington, District of Columbia; initial certification 1 January 1997.

Christina Sachs Humphreys, CG, Tucson, Arizona; initial certification
22 May 2006.

Darlene Hunter, CG, Woodbridge, Virginia; initial certification
3 December 1991.

Roger Joslyn, CG, New York, New York; initial certification
17 April 1981.

Barbara Mathews, CG, Lexington, Massachusetts; initial certification
12 July 1996.

Susan Kay Michael, CG, Monroe, North Carolina; initial certification
18 August 2011.

Terry Moore, CG, Raleigh, North Carolina; initial certification
9 July 2006.

Dawne Slater, CG, Farmington, Utah; initial certification 4 July 1996.

Valerie Ann Gard Stern, CG, Sussex, New Jersey; initial certification
5 August 2011.

Beth Taylor, CG, of FamilySearch in Utah; initial certification
1 October 2010.


Yvette Hoitink, CG, “Griete Smit’s Parentage: Proof in the Absence of Vital Records,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 104 (December 2016): 245 – 56.

Darcie Hind Posz, CG, “Ditch the Niche: Going Nomad May Work For You,” Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly 31 (December 2016): 181 – 84.

Darcie Hind Posz, CG, “Tanaka (田中) and Ishihara (石原) Families of Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan and Papaaloa, Hilo, Hawaii,” The American Genealogist 88:3 (July 2016): 175 – 81.

Associates in Action

Associates in Action highlights BCG associates’ news, activities, and accomplishments. Contact Alice Hoyt Veen to include your news in an upcoming post.

Activities & Projects

Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, and Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL, are presenting as part of Family Tree University’s Virtual Genealogy Conference in September. This is a valuable educational opportunity you can enjoy from your own home on your own schedule!

Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL, will present the BCG Education Fund Helen F.M. Leary Distinguished Lecture at the National Genealogical Society (NGS) 2017 Conference, Raleigh, North Carolina, and at the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) 2017 National Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her topic at the NGS Conference is “Rainbows and Kaleidoscopes: Inclusion as a Professional and Personal Genealogical Standard” and will consider how, as professional and personal genealogists, we can enrich our family histories, client bases, and collaborations with fellow researchers by adopting inclusion as a genealogical standard. Her topic at the FGS Conference at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, continues the focus with “Rainbows and Kaleidoscopes: Inclusion as a Society and Corporate Genealogical Standard” and will consider how genealogical societies and companies can better grow their memberships, serve their constituencies, and increase their revenues by adopting inclusion as a genealogical standard.

Nancy A. Peters, CG, and Sara A. Scribner, CG, will present the BCG Education Fund Putting Skills to Work workshop at the National Genealogical Society (NGS) 2017 Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Nancy A. Peters, CG, will lead the session “Make Your Case: Correlating Evidence to Solve Genealogical Problems.” Are you facing what seems like a brick wall in your research? Solutions to complex kinship and identity problems require skill in working with direct, indirect, and negative evidence. This session provides practical methods and hands-on experience in correlating evidence to recognize patterns, connections, and inconsistencies that will help you make your case.

Sara A. Scribner, CG, will lead the session “Make Your Case: Constructing and Writing Proof Discussions.” You solved your brick wall problem. But can you prove your case in writing to the toughest critic? This session deconstructs creating a convincing proof. Session participants learn how to resolve conflicting evidence and construct proof discussions from the self-evident to the complex. The session covers logic used in genealogical proof, and useful structures for the written part. Hands-on practice includes dissecting proofs written by published authors, and creating a practice proof for a personal genealogical problem.


Darcie Hind Posz, CG, has published two new articles: “Tanaka (田中) and Ishihara (石原) Families of Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan and Papaaloa, Hilo, Hawaii,” The American Genealogist 88:2 (April 2016): 81-94; and “The Todd Family of Lawrence, Massachusetts: A Study of Thelma Todd’s Immigrant Parentage,” MASSOG: A Genealogical Magazine for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 40 (August 2016): 96-100.

Beyond the “Failed” BCG Portfolio

An insufficient portfolio means failure only if the applicant quits. Darcie Hind Posz, CG, submitted three portfolios before becoming board-certified. Each of her submissions represented a great investment of time and money. An evaluation of “insufficient” could have left her stunned, disappointed, or angry. She didn’t quit or appeal the decision. Instead she learned from the judges’ comments and tried again. Darcie had the courage to choose the harder pathnot once, but twice. She describes her journey for SpringBoard readers.

Three Portfolio Submissions, Two Failed, One Successful

By Darcie Hind Posz, CG

I submitted my first certification portfolio prematurely.  I was not ready, and my reasons for seeking certification were immature. I wanted to silence those who discriminated against me because of my youth. (I had heard, “Do you know what a census is?” one too many times.) I soon found out that my youth did not actually give me an edge. I had perused The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, but had not studied or understood it.[1] I had only two genealogy books (on cemetery research) in my collection. I had not read any quarterly journals and had only attended a local genealogy conference. Because I did not know any better, I thought I was ready and submitted a clunky first portfolio. My kinship-determination project showcased only my ability to find direct evidence in vital records, obituaries and census records.

Darcie Hind Posz, CG

As that portfolio was traveling via postal mail to Washington, D.C., my husband and I were moving to that same city for my new job. City living is expensive. When my portfolio was deemed so far off the mark that it was returned unevaluated along with my check, I was elated just to have the money. I put certification on the back burner.

After that experience I knew I had deficiencies, so I attended lectures . . . but only those that reinforced what I already thought or knew because I did not want to feel challenged. I had subscriptions to quarterlies, but I only flipped through them. I developed a skill for over-researching to find that one piece of direct evidence that answers all questions. I did not understand indirect and negative evidence, let alone how to apply them to genealogical problems. I noticed that direct evidence only got me so far, but I ignored that feeling and went back on the clock.

Around the time that I submitted my second portfolio, I switched departments at work to a position where I reviewed lineages on an hourly basis. Comparing myself to nearly twenty other genealogists in that department, I quickly realized why I may not have been ready for certification. While these genealogists were verifying lineages, establishing proof, and resolving conflicts daily, I had only done lookups. I did not study the standards, I did not study the rubrics, and I did not read Evidence Explained.[2] I only used it as a reference for citations. After months of waiting to hear back from the BCG judges, I received notice that my portfolio had failed, but this time I had the gold mine: the judges’ comments, critiques based on the standards and the rubrics, and all the specific reasons for my failure.

I like to know boundaries, parameters, standards, routes, and rules so that I can assess how I have approached things, what did and didn’t work, and what to change the next time around. With both failed attempts at certification, I realized that I was putting about a third of my energy into it. I wanted a clear and obvious path, a “direct evidence” approach, as if certification could be achieved by pursuing this education or reading/studying that quarterly. Trying to copy what made other people successful prevented me from figuring out what worked for me. I was applying that approach to my career as well as my genealogical research. I needed to learn about indirect and negative evidence and standards so that I could apply them to my genealogical life.

After learning that my second portfolio had failed, I allowed myself to wallow in self-pity for two hours. I realized that it was important to get the proper education and to understand and apply the standards, so I started to weigh my education options. I signed up for a ProGen Study Group and the NGSQ Study Group.[3] I purchased the National Genealogical Society Home Study Course (currently American Genealogical Studies). I began attending lectures that I did not understand, that were over my head and made me feel uncomfortable. I read NGSQ during my lunch breaks. I made my own audio recordings of the BCG standards and the first two chapters of Evidence Explained and listened to them while walking or working. The standards became second nature, and I began to see them simply as best practices genealogists apply to their work, but with a number assigned to them.

My turning points were a workshop Tom Jones presented to my local chapter of the Association for Professional Genealogists; the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) Advanced Evidence Practicum; and the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis course by Elizabeth Shown Mills. I have known for years that classroom settings are a weak spot for me, so I had avoided institutes. The workshop presented the materials ahead of time, so I was able to work towards the answer in a controlled environment. It was gratifying to arrive at the correct conclusions by meeting the challenge to understand and apply the Genealogical Proof Standard. The SLIG Advanced Evidence Practicum hit on the same weak spot, and although I was uncomfortable the entire week, I was able to take the work home, take it apart and learn how it was put together in the first place. The Advanced Methodology course reinforced that I do not work well in classrooms, but I still learned on a deeper level. All of these courses provided binders that I consult to this day.

Darcie Hind Posz, CG

By varying educational formats I was able to focus on learning every day rather than waiting for an institute. I ordered audiotapes of genealogy lectures that were advanced and theory driven, and I listened to them daily. Beefing up my education became a priority. What I learned I put into practice in my day job. I worked at it on lunch breaks, evenings, and weekends. I had the rubrics on a bulletin board in front of me when I researched so I automatically checked to see if my work met the standards. The magical day when I realized I finally got analysis and correlation, I knew I was ready to go back on the clock again.

Once I was outside of my comfort zone and no longer insulated, I was able to figure out how I learn. Smart learning is a priority for me. It lasts longer than a course. Knowing how I process and retain information underlies how I research, how I analyze and correlate data, and how I write. Learning that was as important as certification. I knew I wanted to apply again one more time before I was thirty-five years old. Finally ready and with education under my belt, four months before my thirty-fifth birthday I became a  board-certified genealogist.


[1] Board for Certification of Genealogists, The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual (Orem, Utah: Ancestry Publishing, an imprint of, 2000). This publication has been superseded by Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.:, an imprint of Turner Publishing, 2014).
[2] Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd ed. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2015).
[3] ProGen Study Group is based on Elizabeth Shown Mills, ed., Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2001). NGSQ Study Group discusses articles from the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. Follow the links above for more information on each.

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.

Darcie Hind Posz, CG, wins ASG Scholar Award

BCG associate Darcie Hind Posz is “over the moon” on winning the 2015 American Society of Genealogists (ASG) Scholar Award. She has reason to be. The ASG is a prestigious group of leading published genealogical scholars. Fellows, elected for life, number only fifty and are identified by the post-nominal FASG. The ASG “serves the discipline of genealogy by embodying and promoting the highest standards of genealogical scholarship.”[1] To this end it publishes a leading journal, The Genealogist, and confers the annual Donald Lines Jacobus Award and the ASG Scholar Award.

Darcie Hind Posz, CG

As an applicant for the ASG Scholar Award Darcie submitted an unpublished manuscript that was evaluated by three Fellows. She describes her winning entry as “a four generation study of two families from Hiroshima Prefecture in Japan, their migration to the Big Island of Hawaii, and then the return of a few of them to Japan. It discusses the class system, Japanese law, the 1873 mandatory conscription act, plantation contacts with Hawaii, records-creation laws (in the Empire of Japan, the Kingdom of Hawaii, and the United States), dual citizenship of Japanese immigrants, and WWII Japanese internment.”

To encourage advanced education in genealogy, the ASG grants a prize of $1000. It is to be used for study at one of the major U.S. academic genealogical programs: the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR); the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR) in Washington, D.C.; the Certificate Program in Genealogical Research at Boston University; the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG); or the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP).

Darcie plans to attend the advanced land-analysis and platting course at IGHR. “Regardless of geography, my ancestors kept living in state-land states,” she said, “and I need to learn how to study and plat with patience and understanding. This also moves me closer to the project I mentioned when I first became certified, which is to do the land and community study on Waipio Valley [the Big Island of Hawaii] on foot.”

Darcie has submitted her award-winning piece for publication in a major journal. We’ll be watching for it! Many congratulations, Darcie.

[1] American Society of Genealogists ( : accessed 23 October 2015).


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.