Fifty Years of Credentialing: Presentations Available

In the “B. C.” era (Before Credentialing) genealogical fraud was rampant. Two organizations sought to give confidence to the public when hiring researchers and coincidentally were founded in the same year of 1964.

Please join BCG and ICAPGen at an unprecedented joint banquet at the NGS conference in Richmond, Virginia, on Friday, May 9, 2014. The evening’s speaker is David Rencher, AG, CG, FIGRS, FUGA, whose topic is “Celebrating Genealogical Credentials–The Accreditation and Certification Programs Turn 50!” Both organizations want to thank NGS for their recognition of this milestone in genealogical history. NGS registrations are being taken now at http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/. One does not need to be registered for the conference in order to attend the banquet.

BCG began its celebration last year “in the 50th year of its age” with a luncheon talk at FGS in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, by Rev. David McDonald, CG on “No Diamonds, No Cherries: Celebrating a Jubilee” which can be heard on the BCG website.

At a joint banquet in Salt Lake City in October, the American Society of Genealogists and BCG sponsored Judy Russell, J.D., CG, CGL, as the banquet speaker. Her full presentation “We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!” can be viewed on the BCG website. Judy’s presentation is also an article in the NGS Magazine (January–March 2014, volume 40, number 1): 15-19.

When we think of the days of undocumented genealogies being fabricated on purpose or unintentionally, there was no recourse for the public or standards by which to determine the reliability of a pedigree. Now we have credentialing and a newly-edited Genealogy Standards book which helps consumers understand the parameters of good genealogy. We have, indeed, “Come a Long Way, Baby!”

Early Bird Registration Ends October 31st for SLIG 2014 – Course 5 – Credentialing: Accreditation, Certification, or Both?

Last weekend in Salt Lake City we kicked-off celebrations of the 50th anniversaries of two credentials, those administered by the Board for Certification of Genealogists® and the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional GenealogistsSM. The banquet in Salt Lake City heard speaker Judy G. Russell, JD, CGSM, CGLSM, discuss the instigating factors for the establishment of credentials as well as the developments in those organizations over the last 50 years.

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL

To continue the celebration in the “50th year of our age,” a track on accreditation and certification is included in SLIG 2014. Apryl Cox, AG®, Co-Chair of the Testing Committee of ICAPgen, and Elissa Scalise Powell, CGSM, CGLSM, President of BCG, will coordinate Course 5 in the upcoming Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, 13-17 January 2014. Course 5 is “Credentialing: Accreditation, Certification, or Both?”

Apryl Cox, AG    

The two called on great speakers to present topics in the week’s worth of classes. Their instructors include David Rencher, AG, CG; F. Warren Bittner, CG; Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL; Kelly Summers, AG; Linda Gulbrandsen, AG; Ray Clifford, AG; Raymon Naisbitt, AG; Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL; and Mark Lowe CG. Classes will cover the histories of the two organizations, their application processes, and how the applications are judged. Practical exercises will be part of the workshop experience. In the concluding lecture, David Rencher will ask, “How Many Credentials Should I Have?”

Early-bird registration ends of October 31st for the Utah Genealogical Society’s 2014 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. There are still a few seats left in Course 5. For more information, click here.

RPAC Report, April and May 2013

© 2013 by the National Genealogical Society, Inc. Used by permission of the National Genealogical Society and the photographer, Scott Stewart.

Report from Barbara Mathews, CGSM, BCG’s RPAC Representative:

The Records Preservation and Access Committee had a busy two months since my last report. The committee has been actively engaged at both the federal and state levels responding to pressure on our ability to access records. Currently at the federal level, RPAC is dealing with Senate and House subcommittee hearings on bills to restrict access to the SSDI. In addition, several states have seen legislation to stringently restrict vital records access. Those states have reported their efforts to RPAC and in some cases asked for support.

RPAC’s telephone conference calls in early April and early May focused on state-level pressures to close vital records. RPAC issued letters of support to state legislative committees in both Oregon and Connecticut. Jan Alpert also took over the responsibilities of RPAC Chair from David Rencher, AG, CG.

At the National Genealogical Society’s 2013 conference, Jan Alpert, Jan Meisels Allen, and Fred Moss presented “RPAC Strategies in a Changing Environment: Fraud Protection v. Access.” The group presented a clear picture of the pressures currently faced by those seeking records access. As the photo above shows, there were empty seats. Not all genealogists recognize the need to work for records preservation and access. The few who do are willing to work hard to ensure access for all.

You can download the PowerPoint slides from this presentation by clicking on “RPAC NGS 2013 Las Vegas.” Jan Meisels Allen put together a PowerPoint slide show to explain how to monitor your own state’s legislative activity — just click on “Toolkit for State Liaisons–Jan Meisels Allen.” In addition, Jan Alpert updated the RPAC brochure; a printable copy is available here.

Federal Legislative Activity.

On Tuesday, 16 April 2013, the U.S. Senate’s Finance Committee had a hearing titled “Tax Fraud and Tax ID Theft: Moving Forward with Solutions.” The committee is chaired by Max Baucus (D-MT); Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is the ranking member. Written statements and added oral testimony showed that the IRS has made real progress in intercepting and investigating and prosecuting fraudulent returns. To view the full video of the hearing and statements by Baucus, Hatch, and the four witnesses go to the hearing website here.

On the whole, RPAC considered the hearing to be a step forward in federal understanding of the real issues involved in tax fraud. This includes the fact that the SSDI is used to prevent fraud rather than to instigate it. The blog posting, available here, describes the reasons for optimism as “[T]he IRS should eventually be able to statistically confirm that that vulnerability targeting the deceased has been closed.”

RPAC submitted written testimony that they support short-term (2 or 3 year) closure only if the following three categories are considered for access:

  • Persons working with coroners, medical examiners, DOD
  • Persons doing work on missing heirs, probate, mineral rights
  • Persons supporting medical work

Jan Alpert reminded us that the last week in May is a scheduled recess for both houses of the U.S. Congress. She said that would be an excellent time to approach people in their local offices. Consider getting a small group of people together, including the president of the statewide genealogical society, a member of APG, and an accredited or Board-certified genealogist. Schedule a meeting with your legislator and convey the message that we care about access to the SSDI.

Local Concerns

The unapproved 2011 Model Act and Regulations discussed in the March RPAC report: , have led to the introduction of legislation in many states. Several states are coping with closure legislation this Spring.

  • Texas
  • Oregon
  • Connecticut

The Texas legislature is considering a bill that introduces the long records closure periods of the unapproved 2011 Model Act and Regulations. Members of the Texas genealogy community advocated for access in legislative hearings. See the report of the Texas State Genealogy Society here.

Oregon genealogists worked with other interested parties to eliminate restrictive closure clauses in HB 2093 during hearings April 10th before the Oregon House’s Health Care Committee and  May 9th before Oregon Senate’s Healthcare and Human Services Committee. The RPAC blog posting about the process is very informative.

Connecticut’s General Assembly considered bills generated out of concern for the tragedy in Newtown on December 14th. The gun control legislation instigated by that tragedy already passed. The town clerk of Newtown, however, has induced local legislators to introduce legislation to close death records. Currently all death and marriage records are open. Two new laws were reported out of committee favorably and await votes in the General Assembly’s House. The state medical examiner spoke passionately about the need to keep death records of children open; see the Hartford Courant coverage here. RPAC submitted a letter asking for this legislation to be reconsidered.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns about records access or preservation.

BCG Skillbuilding at NGS 2013: David Rencher on “Treasures in the Records of the U.S. Congress”

Please welcome guest blogger Nancy A. Peters, CGSM

The story began with a letter from a U.S. Senator to his great-grandmother Charlotte Jensen. The search for meaning and historical context took David Rencher on a genealogical treasure hunt through the records of the U.S. Congress. Charlotte and her husband, Peter Jensen, settled in Northern Arizona in the 1880s and struggled to cultivate the land and eke out a living for their family. What David found was a heart-breaking tale of how their tiny community was abruptly removed from their land and the reasons behind the action. David uncovered details of his family’s life found nowhere else.

In his usual clear, authoritative, and entertaining lecture style, David provided tips on how to access the records of the U.S. Congress and strategies for finding people, including those with common surnames. He showed examples of information you might find such as details of birth, marriage, and death, occupations, and names of heirs. In his Jensen family case study he explained how ten bills for relief spanning more than a decade led him to other sources within the National Archives.

If you think that your ancestors wouldn’t be included in these records because they lived ordinary, mundane lives, listening to David will convince you otherwise. Genealogists are always looking for new sources of information about their ancestors. Senate and Congressional records can satisfy that craving with a wealth of genealogically rich material.

This session has been taped. During the conference you can buy it from the JAMB-INC booth in the main conference hall. After the conference, it will be available online at http://www.jamb-inc.com/category/genealogy. This is session F341 under the heading 2013 NGS Conference/Las Vegas, NV.

Nancy A. Peters, CGSM, is a full-time genealogist specializing in South Carolina and English research. She also volunteers as a collection care assistant at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History in Columbia.