BCG Webinars for 2017

The Board for Certification of Genealogists is proud to announce its webinar line-up for 2017. All webinars will be broadcast by Legacy Webinars, and held on the third Tuesday of the month at 8pm Eastern. The webinar schedule is as follows:

– 17 January – Michael Leclerc, CG, “Writing up your Research”
– 21 February – Karen Stanbary, CG, “Weaving DNA Test Results into a
Proof Argument”
– 21 March – Rebecca Koford, CG, “Are You My Grandpa? Men of the Same
– 18 April – Rick Sayre, CG, CGL, “The Genealogy in Government Documents”
– 16 May – Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, “MAXY DNA: Correlating mt-at-X-Y DNA
with the GPS”
– 20 June – Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, “Beating the Bushes: Using the
GPS to Find Jacob Bush’s Father”
– 18 July – Angela Packer McGhie, CG, “Analyzing Documents Sparks Ideas
for Further Research”
– 15 August – LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, CG, “Analyzing Probate Records of
Slaveholders to Identify Enslaved Ancestors”
– 19 September – Tom Jones, PhD, CG, CGL,”When Does Newfound Evidence
Overturn a Proved Conclusion?”
– 17 October, David Ouimette, CG, CGL,“Databases, Search Engines, and the
Genealogical Proof Standard”
– 21 November – Malissa Ruffner, JD, CG, “Research in Federal Records:
Some Assembly Required”
– 19 December – Judy Russell, JD, CG, CGL, “The Law and the Reasonably
Exhaustive (Re)Search”

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

To register for any of these webinars, please visit our page at Legacy Family Tree Webinars:

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

View BCG’s past Legacy webinars at and For more information on BCG’s education opportunities, please visit:

Cari A. Taplin, CG

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 Trustee News

Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, is stepping down after four years of volunteer service with the BCG Education Fund. While serving as a trustee Debbie organized an online repository for the Fund so all trustees have immediate access to the same set of documents and helped create checklists and timelines to guide future trustees.

Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL

Debbie specializes in genetic genealogy. She writes a column on using DNA analysis for genealogical research for NGS Magazine, and she developed an online course, Continuing Genealogical Studies: Autosomal DNA, for the National Genealogical Society. Debbie saw the need for more in-depth genetic training for genealogists and developed the first week-long course to be offered in the U.S. at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP). She also coordinated courses at the Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) and teaches DNA and traditional research topics at national and regional conferences and the Forensic Genealogy Institute.

Alice Hoyt Veen, CG

The BCG Education Fund Board of Trustees welcomes new trustee Alice Hoyt Veen, CG,of Bouton, Iowa. Alice is a sixth-generation Iowan and life-long genealogist who became Board-certified in 2014. She specializes in Midwestern and territorial records with an emphasis on military history and Midwestern connections to American colonial roots.

Alice’s special interest in genealogical education makes her a natural fit for a BCG Education Fund trustee. She has taught classes on Iowa and territorial records, traditional records, and research methodology. She serves on the education committee of the Iowa Genealogical Society and writes a column for the society’s newsletter. Alice believes genealogists at every level benefit from excellence in education and looks forward to working towards that goal.

All the best to both as they pursue new challenges.

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.

Genetic Genealogy Education

We can’t stick our heads in the sand any more when it comes to learning about using DNA testing in genealogical research. Millions of people are taking DNA tests, and many (ourselves included) will need help understanding test results. Additionally, we must at least consider genetic genealogy as part of our reasonably exhaustive research. Not all projects require DNA testing, but some will benefit from it, and others will be difficult to pursue without it. We can’t ignore the value of genetic testing as a research tool. Let’s learn how to use it!

In informing ourselves about DNA testing we also meet continuing education standards. The two knowledge and skill development standards apply to genetic genealogy as well as to document-based work.

82. Development goals. Genealogists improve and update their (a) attainment of genealogical standards, (b) knowledge of genealogically useful materials and contexts, (c) skills in reconstructing unknown or forgotten relationships, families, people, groups, and events, and (d) abilities to present their findings to others.[1]

83. Regular engagement. Genealogists engage in formal or informal development activities, or both, on an ongoing basis:

  • Formal development activities include attending conference, seminar, and workshop presentations … participating in classroom-based or online courses of study; and engaging in virtual or in-person structured study groups, webinars, and similar venues.
  • Informal development activities include conducting genealogical research of increasing difficulty, consulting with advanced practitioners, [etc.].[2]

Here are many options for both self-directed and guided genetic genealogy education. A huge thank-you to Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JD, for assembling and providing the second part of this post. Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, and Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, also made helpful contributions.

There are two main ways to learn about DNA; self-education and organized courses or institutes. In the “early days” of genetic genealogy, the only option was self-education. Today there are numerous options for professionals to learn about genetic genealogy.

Genetic Genealogy Self-Education

1. The single best way to learn about genetic genealogy is the hands-on approach: test yourself and numerous family members, and then explore the results using the tools at the vendor(s)’ website.

2. Books and articles are a good way to gain a basic understanding of the fundamentals of genetic genealogy.

Association of Professional Genealogists. Quarterly., 23–24 (DNA) and 30 (Genetic Genealogy). A regular feature begun in March 2014 follows good pieces published earlier.

Aulicino, Emily D. Genetic Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond. Bloomington, Ind.: AuthorHouse, 2013.

“Chromosomes and Inheritance.” University of Utah. Learn.Genetics: Genetic Science Learning Center.

Dowell, David R. NextGen Genealogy: The DNA Connection. Santa Barbara, California: Libraries Unlimited, 2014.

Fitzpatrick, Colleen, and Andrew Yeiser. DNA and Genealogy. Fountain Valley, California: Rice Book Press, 2005.

Hill, Richard. Guide to DNA Testing: How to Identify Ancestors and Confirm Relationships through DNA Testing. 2009. Kindle edition.

Kennett, Debbie. DNA and Social Networking: A Guide to Genealogy in the Twenty-First Century. Gloucestershire, UK: The History Press, 2011.

National Genealogical Society Magazine. (members only). See Oct-Dec 2011 (Judy G. Russell), Oct-Dec 2013, Apr-Jun2014, and regularly beginning July-Sept 2014 (Debbie Parker Wayne).

Smolenyak, Megan Smolenyak, and Ann Turner. Trace Your Roots with DNA. Emmaus, Penn.: Rodale Press, 2004. Discusses Y-DNA and mtDNA; published before widespread atDNA testing, but useful general introduction to genetic testing.

Wayne, Debbie Parker. This site lists print and online educational publications by Debbie and others she recommends.

3. Blogs, forums, and mailing lists help us stay on top of the newest developments. Often news is shared the very same day it is available. Here is an essential list of blogs, forums, and mailing lists for the professional genetic genealogist.

Essential Blogs:

23andMe. The 23andMe Blog.

AncestryDNA. Articles About AncestryDNA.

Aulicino, Emily. DNA—Genealem’s Genetic Genealogy.

Bartlett, Jim. Segment-ology.

Bettinger, Blaine. The Genetic Genealogist.

Christmas, Shannon. Through the Trees.

Cooper, Kitty. Kitty Cooper’s Blog: Musings on Genealogy, Genetics, and Gardening.

Dowell, David R. Dr D Digs Up Ancestors.

Estes, Roberta. DNAeXplained—Genetic Genealogy. This post discusses genetic genealogy educational opportunities:

Moore, CeCe. Your Genetic Genealogist.

Owston, Jim. The Lineal Arboretum.

Russell, Judy G. The Legal Genealogist.

Wayne, Debbie Parker. Deb’s Delvings in Genealogy.

Some Essential Forums and Mailing Lists:

“DNAAdoption.” Yahoo! Groups.

“DNA Detectives.” Facebook. The group is closed, with membership by application.

DNA: GENEALOGY—DNA mailing list.

“DNA-NEWBIE.” Yahoo! Groups.

“International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG).” Facebook. The group is closed, with membership by application.

International Society of Genetic Genealogy [ISOGG] Wiki. This is an essential resource. Although this Wikipedia-style source of information is curated by volunteers, it contains some of the most sophisticated and detailed analysis of genetic genealogy. The following pages, for example, are among those absolutely essential for every genetic genealogist:

Genetic Genealogy Educational Courses and Institutes

1. Instructor-led courses and institutes include but are not limited to the following. Some of the advanced courses and tools courses have prerequisites.

DNAAdoption. While its main focus is providing DNA information for adoptees, it offers several online courses for genealogists as well.

Family Tree University. FTU offers beginning Genetic Genealogy 101 and Genetic Genealogy 201 courses.

Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP). In the summer of 2016, GRIP is offering two weeklong courses, “Practical Genetic Genealogy” and “Advanced Genetic Genealogy.”

Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR). In the summer of 2016, IGHR is offering a weeklong “Genetic Genealogy Tools & Techniques” course.

Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG). In January 2016 SLIG is offering two weeklong courses, “Beginning Genetic Genealogy” and “Advanced DNA Analysis Techniques for Genealogical Research.”

Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research. VIGR offers several levels of genetic genealogy courses online. Most are recorded and can be accessed after the live air dates at “(Finally!) Understanding Autosomal DNA” is available now. New courses are added periodically.

2. Lectures and webinars

DNA is a now a very popular topic at every major genealogy conference in the United States, with some conferences offering one or more DNA-focused days. Here are nationally recognized speakers and presentations.

Bettinger, Blaine.

Bush, Angie.

“FamilyTreeDNA.” YouTube FamilyTreeDNA webinars have been archived at this free site.

Gleeson, Maurice.

Moore, CeCe. ; resources:

Russell, Judy.

Southard, Diahan.

Wayne, Debbie Parker.


[1] Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Turner Publishing, 2014), 43.

[2] Ibid., 43–44.

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.

Respecting the Privacy of DNA Test Takers

We, all of us who take a genetic test or sponsor or manage a test for someone else, have a responsibility to do what we can to protect our privacy and that of our testers. We must familiarize ourselves with what genetic genealogy tests entail, the uses to which test results may be put, and the testing companies’ privacy safeguards. We must obtain permission from our testers for the testing and for the use of test results. We must respect testers’ restrictions on usage and publication of their results. Several respected groups have set standards that guide us.

The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) Code of Ethics addresses the issue.

  • We agree to keep confidential personal or genealogical information unless we have written consent.[1] DNA test results are treated like all genealogical information.
  • We agree not to publish or circulate research or reports to which others have a proprietary right unless we have written consent.[2] This includes reports from DNA testing companies. The reports belong to the testers.

BCG has published genealogy standards that also apply to DNA test results:

  • Standard 22: “Genealogists ethically, lawfully, prudently, and respectfully use others’ information and products, whether the material is digitized, oral, published, unpublished, written, or in any other form.”[3]
  • Standard 34: “Genealogists may use agents . . . to find, obtain, and provide information potentially relevant to a research question.” Genetic testing companies fall under the category of agents.[4]

The National Genealogical Society (NGS) “Standards for Sharing Information with Others” expand on these guidelines.[5]

In January 2015 the Genetic Genealogy Standards Committee of scientists and genealogists published guidelines based on BCG and NGS standards that specifically address DNA testing for genealogy. Nine standards, excerpted here, directly or indirectly address the issue of privacy.[6] We are both “the tester” and the “genealogists.”

  • “Testing With Consent. Genealogists only obtain DNA for testing after receiving consent, written or oral, from the tester. . . .
  • “Raw Data. Genealogists believe that testers have an inalienable right to their own DNA test results and raw data, even if someone other than the tester purchased the DNA test.
  • “DNA Storage. Genealogists are aware of the DNA storage options offered by testing companies, and consider the implications of storing versus not storing DNA samples for future testing. . . .
  • “Terms of Service. Genealogists review and understand the terms and conditions to which the tester consents when purchasing a DNA test. [See the links to testing companies’ terms of service below.]
  • “Privacy. Genealogists only test with companies that respect and protect the privacy of testers. However, genealogists understand that complete anonymity of DNA tests results can never be guaranteed.
  • “Access by Third Parties. Genealogists understand that once DNA test results are made publicly available, they can be freely accessed, copied, and analyzed by a third party without permission. . . .
  • “Sharing Results. Genealogists respect all limitations on reviewing and sharing DNA test results imposed at the request of the tester. . . .
  • “Scholarship. When lecturing or writing about genetic genealogy, genealogists respect the privacy of others. Genealogists privatize or redact the names of living genetic matches from presentations unless the genetic matches have given prior permission or made their results publicly available. Genealogists share DNA test results of living individuals in a work of scholarship only if the tester has given permission or has previously made those results publicly available. . . .
  • “Health Information. Genealogists understand that DNA tests may have medical implications.”

There’s no doubt that following these standards requires extra effort on our part. We need to inform ourselves. We need to communicate with our testers and educate them. We need to explain their rights and the potential limitations on their privacy. We need to solicit their consent before the tests are taken and before we share any results.

In scrupulously applying standards of privacy to all the information we gather, we become more trustworthy genealogists.

Testing Companies’ Terms of Service

23andMe: “Terms of Service.” 23andMe.

AncestryDNA: “AncestryDNA Terms and Conditions.” AncestryDNA. Revised 30 September 2014.

FamilyTreeDNA: “Legal Issues—Privacy Policy, Terms of Service and Refunds.” FamilyTreeDNA.

Further reading about Genetic Genealogy Standards

Bettinger, Blaine T., PhD, JD. “Genetic Genealogy Standards.” Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly (June 2015): 105–7.

Russell, Judy, JD, CG, CGL. “The Ethics of DNA Testing.” OnBoard: Newsletter of the Board for Certification of Genealogists 21 (January 2015): 1–2, 7.

Wayne, Debbie Parker, CG, CGL. “Genetic Genealogy Standards.” NGS Magazine 41 (April–June 2015): 58–61.

The author gratefully acknowledges input from Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JD; Laura Murphy DeGrazia, CG; Stefani Evans, CG; Alison Hare, CG; Judy G. Russell, CG, CGL; and Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL.


[1] Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.:, 2014), 46.

[2] Ibid., 47–48.

[3] Ibid., 16.

[4] Ibid., 21.

[5] “Standards for Sharing Information with Others,” National Genealogical Society ( : accessed 7 October 2015).

[6] The Genetic Genealogy Standards Committee, Genetic Genealogy Standards  ( : accessed 7 October 2015), Standards 2–10.

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.

BCG Education Fund Announces New Trustee

Trish Hackett Nicola, CG

The trustees of the BCG Education Fund announce that Patricia “Trish” Hackett Nicola, CG, of Seattle, Washington, will join the board as a trustee. Trish is an accomplished genealogist specializing in nineteenth- and twentieth-century family history research and historical research in Washington State. Since 2001 she has volunteered with the National Archives-Seattle Branch, which holds the Chinese Exclusion Act case files. Her blog, Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files, shows the types of information that can be found and how researchers can access it. Trish has a Bachelor of Science in accounting from the University of Colorado and is a retired CPA. She has a Master of Science degree in library service and worked as a reference librarian before becoming a full-time professional genealogist. The skills Trish honed as a CPA, librarian, and archive volunteer will benefit the BCG Education Fund. BCG Education Fund trustee Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, said, “We are fortunate to welcome a colleague of her caliber, and we look forward to working with her.”

Trish replaces  Kathy Gunter Sullivan, CG, resigning in her eighth year of service with the BCG Education Fund. Kathy led the trustees in creating the Education Fund’s substantial presence in genealogical education.

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.