Congratulations, Yvonne Mashburn Schmidt, CG!

New associate Yvonne Mashburn Schmidt lives in Cartersville in northwest Georgia. This is where she grew up and now does family research. All of her direct family lines are from the South, and many of them were early Georgians. Her professional research encompasses Georgia and includes African American and Native American families with Georgian roots.

Yvonne states that goal-setting is not one of her strong attributes, but it would be hard to find evidence of this. Her path to certification was carefully planned and executed. After finishing Boston University’s Genealogical Research Program, she knew she was not yet ready to apply for certification. She studied The BCG Application Guide, Genealogy Standards, Evidence Explained, and journal articles. Having identified the specific skills she needed to improve, Yvonne looked for advanced courses taught by some of the best genealogists in our field. She found many of those courses online (e.g. BCG webinars and the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research), which proves that one need not spend a fortune to acquire the knowledge and skills for certification. The time between her decision to seek certification and her actual portfolio submission was three years. This was a woman with a plan!

Yvonne Mashburn Schmidt, CG

Yvonne recognizes that there can be an emotional block for people thinking about applying for certification. The possibility of failure was a difficult challenge for her. She carefully considered the consequences of failure and accepted that possibility. She then committed herself to doing everything she could to prepare herself to succeed. She advises others who are considering applying for certification to identify problem areas in their work and target educational opportunities to correct or improve them.

Guided by group mentoring with her heroes Elizabeth Shown Mills and Judy Russell, Yvonne pursued advanced research skills. A particular post by Mills on the BCG Facebook page became a reminder for Yvonne of what she needed to do with her portfolio. The post lists common reasons that portfolios are not successful.

Thomas MacEntee assisted her when Yvonne became the target of cyber-bullying involving an unfounded attack on her family research. The incident influenced Yvonne’s desire for certification and contributed to her appreciation for ethical behavior in genealogy.

Completing the portfolio has made Yvonne a better researcher. She believes that her research prior to the certification process was shallow. Now she knows how to dig deeper. In the next five years, she hopes to target educational opportunities to strengthen the weak areas identified in her portfolio, work toward becoming a better presenter and obtaining her CGL, and promote ethical genealogical behavior in as many ways as she can. Sound familiar? Yvonne has a plan!

Yvonne can be reached at Congratulations, Yvonne!

by Karlene Ferguson, 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.

Elizabeth Shown Mills: How Long Do You Have to Practice Genealogy Before Becoming Certified?

When Elizabeth Shown Mills speaks, we listen. She graciously offers us advice and encouragement through BCG’s Facebook group. In case you’re not yet a member of that group or you missed this post, SpringBoard reprints here Elizabeth’s advice about how long you have to practice genealogy before becoming certified.1

When a new associate is announced, we here at BCG often hear this question: How long has she/he been a genealogist?

Here’s the inside skinny: “How long” doesn’t matter. What matters is whether we have learned the discipline of genealogy and how successfully we apply our knowledge to solving research problems. Contrary to the TV ads that do a wonderful job of bringing in new people, research is not a matter of searching for names in data bases and plugging together random findings to create families. “The name’s the same” does not mean the person is.

Correctly identifying people and assembling them into family groups require an analytical mindset, thorough research, and disciplined research habits. It requires thoughtful correlation and analysis of evidence and a commitment to genealogical principles and standards—not those of some other field in which we originally trained. Across the years, we’ve seen some individuals produce NGSQ-quality research within two years of being bitten by ancestral curiosity. We’ve seen a few certify almost as quickly. And we’ve seen too many portfolios that demonstrate scant awareness of genealogical standards, methods, or principles even though their preparers have been “doing genealogy” for twenty or thirty years.

If you’ve followed the BCG Facebook page for long, you’ve undoubtedly picked up on three things: (1) Educational prep helps. (2) That education can be virtually free or cost a fortune. (3) Success rate does not depend upon how much our education costs us.

Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA


1 Elizabeth Shown Mills, “The Board for Certification of Genealogists®,” Facebook ( accessed 21 June 2016), posting 24 May 2016.

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.

Skillbuilding, NGS 2016: Mills on Research Problems

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2016 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 5 May 2016.

T251, Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA, “Dissection & Analysis of Research Problems”

Reviewed by Sara Scribner, CG

Elizabeth Shown Mills began her lecture referring to the title of Thomas MacEntee’s blog Genealogy Do-Over. Re-doing work when we are stymied requires changing our thinking and seeing information in a new light. With her low-key, humorous delivery, clear analysis, elegant slides, and helpful forms, Mills laid out a ten-step process to solve a problem by re-thinking it.

Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA

Each step requires an activity, and Mills provided eight worksheets to help carry out that activity. Step 1 suggests we fully understand every aspect of our ancestor’s lives leaving nothing out. “Context is Key.”[1]

Most steps involve reformatting our thinking or beginning a new practice. Step 2, “Review the Known Facts,” requires finding a way to interrupt what Mills called our “auto-pilot.”[2] Interrupting automatic thinking displays our research in a new way and leads to new insights. Other steps mandate analyzing prior conclusions and arguing with ourselves to be sure we haven’t missed something.

After working nine of the ten steps, researchers should have in hand a series of targeted worksheets full of new insights, research areas, and premises to investigate. Step Ten suggests preparing a Master Plan to conduct that research.

Mills closed with a call to action: “Seek out new ground no one else has plowed. Are you a researcher or a recycler?”[3] The ten steps and eight worksheets provide the format, skills and guidance for anyone who is serious about being a serious researcher.

[1] Elizabeth Shown Mills, “Dissection and Analysis of Research Problems: (Ten Steps to a Solution)©,” National Genealogical Society Conference, 2016, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.


Click for more information.

A recording of this lecture may be previewed and ordered from PlaybackNow.

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.

SpringBoard Brings you Skillbuilding from NGS 2016

SpringBoard is an official blogger of the NGS 2016 Family History Conference to be held 4–7 May in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and we’re poised to bring you the BCG from the conference.

The Board for Certification of Genealogists will again co-sponsor the Skillbuilding Track. In sixteen lectures over four days BCG associates will educate all levels of genealogists about resources and methodologies to make our research the best it can be.

For those who are unable to attend the conference or who have too many lectures to attend at the same time, SpringBoard’s guest bloggers will present summaries of all BCG Skillbuilding lectures. Watch for them beginning a couple days after the conference begins. All the Skillbuilding lectures will be recorded and available for purchase through PlaybackNow, which will also offer two-minute teasers of each lecture recorded. Watch the SpringBoard posts for links to the individual recordings.

Three of BCG’s Skillbuilding lectures will be streamed live Friday, 6 May, as part of Day Two: Methods for Success:

Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA, “Reasonably Exhaustive Research: The First Criteria for Genealogical Proof

Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA, “Systematically Using Autosomal DNA Test Results to Help Break Through Genealogical Brick Walls

Stefani Evans, CG, “Doughnut Holes and Family Skeletons: Meeting the GPS Through Negative and Indirect Evidence”

The live streaming will include five more lectures by BCG associates. So there are many ways to learn from this conference even if you can’t be there. SpringBoard will keep you posted.

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.

Ten-Minute Methodology: Documentation and the Research Report

Some genealogists have been confused about whether to include source citations in research report introductions and summaries. SpringBoard is pleased to offer clarification of this question by the expert on genealogical source citations, Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA.

Documentation and the Research Report
Elizabeth Shown Mills, Certified Genealogist®, CGL

It’s a fact of life. In a world governed by laws and standards, rules for one aspect of life often collide with rules for another. So it seems with the research report by which we genealogists chronicle each block of research we do.

A research report has one basic goal: to provide written documentation of the research process we executed, the findings we developed, and the conclusions we reached. As a work product, a research report is expected to achieve an appropriate balance of both writing skills and documentation skills. Each of these two skills is governed by one fundamental concept.

For documentation, the basic rule is this:

Each “fact” or assertion we make, if it is not “common knowledge,” should be supported by credible evidence. That evidence will be presented in one of two ways:

  • For simple, direct evidence, that “fact” or assertion can be supported by a simple source citation.
  • For more-complicated evidence, our conclusion must be supported by a proof argument or a proof summary.[1]

For expository writing, the basic rule drilled in us since middle school is this:

Introduce your subject, then

  • say what you’re going to say,
  • say it,
  • then say what you’ve said.

A good research report will embody both concepts. However, report writers sometimes perceive a conflict.  As a step toward understanding the issue, let’s outline the two types of work products.

An essay based on a research topic has three main parts:

  1. INTRODUCTION, where we
    1. Give readers the most-basic information needed to understand the subject.
    2. Tell the reader what our research will prove.
  2. BODY OF PAPER, where we
    1. Present our findings and analyses that, all together, make the case for what we said we would prove.
    2. Support each “fact” or assertion with a citation to a credible source.
  3. CONCLUSION, where we
    1. Reiterate our main points.
    2. Issue a call-to-action if appropriate.

A report based on a segment of research also has three main parts:

  1. INTRODUCTION, which consists of
    1. Background: the who, what, when, and where that we will be researching—i.e., the essentials about the problem that readers need to know.
    2. Executive Summary: an easy-to-find and quick-to-grasp overview of the results of the research—positive and negative; often presented as a bulleted list of conclusions.
    1. Present an item-by-item account of what we have searched, what we did or did not find, whatever significant problem or anomalies we encountered, and the conclusions we have drawn from this body of evidence.
    2. Support each abstract or transcript with a citation to the record; document each contextual “fact” we add from general study; and provide a proof argument for all conclusions we reached from indirect, complex, or conflicting evidence. We may or may not attach image copies of records, with citations on each image and a cross-reference in the report.
  3. CONCLUSION, where we
    1. Reiterate our main points.
    2. Make suggestions for future research based upon our latest findings and conclusions.

Both types of writing have the same essential needs. Both follow the same pattern. It’s a pattern we see in a variety of educational venues, from journal articles that often begin with extracts or abstracts, to textbook chapters and conference syllabi that often begin with bulleted lists of key points.

The perception of conflict arises when we overthink the documentation rule and assume it must override the basic rule for expository writing. The result is a new assumption with a logistical impossibility:

If every statement of fact must have a citation of source, then every fact asserted in the introductory background and executive summary must also carry documentation.

Logistical Impossibility:
Given that the purpose of the background and the summation is to provide an easily digestible recap of main points—and given that research conclusions are based on the whole body of evidence—then providing citations for any assertion in the introduction is possible only when a point is based on simple direct evidence.[2] Even then, in the background or the summation, the totality of the citations could easily overwhelm what is supposed to be a simple recap at the start of the report.

When our summary points are based on extensive and complex evidence, “documentation” of each point would often require a lengthy discussion of how that conclusion was reached. That discourse and all the citations necessary to support it would strip the introduction of its core function: a quick summation of the main points the paper will develop.

As genealogists who strive to meet all standards, do we violate the documentation rule when we summarize background facts or briefly recap conclusions in our introduction?

No.  Standard 2, the one most relevant, instructs us to attach citations for

  • each statement … that is someone else’s observation, deduction, or opinion;
  • each fact that is not common knowledge;
  • each image the genealogist shows of someone else’s creation; and
  • each conclusion the genealogist establishes.[3]

Standard 2 does not state that each fact or conclusion must repeat its citation or its supporting proof argument each time the point is mentioned.

In sum:
Each part of our research report has a specific function. The presentation of documented evidence is the function of the body of the report—the section typically labeled “Research & Findings.” The function of the introduction is to provide a directory or a road map of what’s to come, so our readers will not be lost in the maze of evidence that the body of the report presents.[4]


[1] Summarized from Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, 50th Anniversary Edition (Nashville and New York: Ancestry Imprint, Turner Publishing, 2014), Standards 1–3, 53.

[2] For example, in the introduction, the set of “facts” we assert for a problem person might be simply cited to the client’s file or letter or to a prior report.

[3] Genealogy Standards, p. 6, Standard 2: Specificity.

[4] For additional guidance on the creation of research reports, see Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 20: Research Reports for Research Success,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( : posted 23 May 2015).

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.

Welcome, LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, CG!

LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson focuses on African American families with roots in the South, primarily the Carolinas, and she gets a great deal of personal satisfaction from helping families with slave ancestors to recover their lost histories. As a result she considers herself a genealogist with a mission: to research, write, and lecture to inspire descendants of African American slaves to document their family histories, and to raise the consciousness of all Americans about the contributions of these ancestors.

LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, CG

To ensure that she had the skills and the knowledge to do this critical and difficult work the right way, she decided to work towards the Certified Genealogist credential, a goal she achieved just a few weeks ago.

LaBrenda is a graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, and holds both a law degree and a Master of Laws degree from New York University. She spent most of her 35-year legal career as a corporate tax attorney, including five years on the staff of the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation of the U.S. Congress.

No newcomer to genealogy, she had authored and privately published three editions of her family history (The Source: The Garrett, Neely, and Sullivan Families) and was the principal writer and editor of two church histories documenting their founding African American families while still in active law practice. But, LaBrenda said, even with her legal training, she made many of the mistakes of a novice genealogist. While her background gave her the needed analytical and writing skills, she didn’t fully realize just how much she had to learn about genealogy until she enrolled in the online certificate in genealogical research program offered by Boston University.

After completing the Boston University program, she immersed herself in genealogy, beginning with ProGen Study Group 13. That’s where she came into contact with her genealogy hero: Sandra MacLean Clunies, CG, who served as the mentor of that group during and even after the group’s 18-month study program. It was Sandy’s encouragement that led LaBrenda to enter the 2013 International Society of Family History Writers and Editors (ISFHWE) Excellence-in-Writing Competition, where she took first place for unpublished material by published authors. Her winning article, “Searching for the Slave Owners of Isaac Garrett: Expanding Research Beyond Online Sources,” was published in the June 2014 issue of the ISFHWE quarterly, Columns.

She also attended the 2012 session of the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR), and joined the GenProof 25 study group to gain a solid grounding in basic genealogical methodology. In addition to formal courses of study, she joined genealogical organizations that offer online tutorials and/or journals or newsletters, and attended national and local conferences where she could ask questions of established experts, and she noted how impressed she was with “how extraordinarily generous members of the community are with their time and knowledge.” She singled out Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, whom she first met through the Boston University program, and noted that the speakers at the annual National Genealogy Society conference were uniformly excellent: “Elizabeth Shown Mills, Judy Russell, Michael Hait, and Reginald Washington have never disappointed.”

She found conferences valuable to network with other genealogists, and learn more about her area of interest. When she started thinking about certification, LaBrenda made sure to attend online and in-person sessions that discussed the BCG requirements. Along the way, she picked up one of the best pieces of advice for anyone looking to achieve certification: “use your own family for the kinship determination project.”

She also turned again to her mentor Sandy Clunies, and it was Sandy’s feedback that proved invaluable in helping decide she was ready to begin the BCG certification process. LaBrenda emphasizes, though, that being ready to do the work and being ready to start the BCG clock can be two different things. While she’d reviewed the projects she wanted to include in her portfolio before filing her preliminary application, she hadn’t done any of the work and found herself pressed for time as the one-year deadline approached. So a key piece of advice for others is not to take that one-year time frame too literally: “It’s better to do as much preparation in advance as you reasonably can,” she said. “Limiting myself to that one year time frame wasn’t realistic, and certainly made the process harder than it needed to be.”

That experience doesn’t change her overall view however: “the certification process itself was worth doing because it sharpened my skills, particularly my facility with the citation forms and numbering system.”

She hopes to use those newly-honed skills to publish scholarly articles and lecture in her area of interest and to prepare to renew her credential in five years.

LaBrenda divides her time between Washington, D.C., where she has lived since 1982, and Laurens, S.C., where she maintains a residence on land that was once part of her Garrett great-grandfather’s farm. She is married to Paul Nelson, an ordained Baptist minister, and is the mother of a daughter who works as a journalist in New York City. In her “spare time,” she serves as a member of the board of trustees of the John Jay College Foundation in New York.

Congratulations and welcome, LaBrenda!

Photo courtesy of Raza-Ry Photography.

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.

News from October 2015 BCG Trustees Meeting

The trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) met in Salt Lake City on 10 October 2015. Three new trustees joined the Board: Paul Graham, CG, Judy Kellar Fox, CG, and Richard G. Sayre, CG, CGL. Two trustees retired from the board: Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, and Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL. Both have served as president of BCG and provided distinguished service to the Board and the community at large for many years.

BCG officers for 2015–2016 are Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG, president; Stefani Evans, CG, vice president; David McDonald, D.Min., CG, secretary; Michael S. Ramage, JD, CG, treasurer; Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL, and Richard G. Sayre, members-at-large.

BCG is in the process of redesigning its website. Judy G. Russell issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) on 26 October 2015. The RFP is for a redesign and update of the BCG website and overall BCG graphics for branding purposes.

The BCG trustees honored thirty-year associate Miriam Weiner with Emeritus status. “Miriam was the first Jewish genealogist to become certified by the BCG and is known for her pioneering work in Holocaust research and Eastern European records,” said President Jeanne Larzalere Bloom. “The Board is grateful for her many contributions to the field of genealogy and for promoting genealogy standards during her distinguished career.”

BCG will host “meet and greet” events at two national conferences in 2016. The gathering at the National Genealogical Society conference (4–7 May 2016, Ft. Lauderdale, FL) will be organized by Nicki Birch, CG. That at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference (31 August–3 September 2016, Springfield, IL) will be organized by David McDonald.

For questions or more information, please visit or contact Nicki Birch at

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.

Recordings of BCG-Family History Library Lectures

If you were unable to attend the lectures sponsored by BCG and the Family History Library yesterday, you may access recordings of all for a small fee each. For many of us that’s a lot cheaper than a trip to Salt Lake City!

NOTE: Jamb Tapes has gone out of business, so the recordings referred to below are no longer available through them. They may be archived in genealogical libraries.–October 2016

Michael Hait, CG, “What Is ‘Reasonably Exhaustive Research’?” Jamb Tapes May 2015, F351

Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG, “The Art of Negative Space Research: Women,” Jamb Tapes May 2015, S451

Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL, “After the Courthouse Burns: Rekindling Family History Through DNA,” 2014 International Genetic Genealogy Conference

Michael Ramage, JD, CG, “Forensic Genealogy Meets the Genealogical Proof Standard,” Jamb Tapes May 2015, F342

Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA, “Margaret’s Baby’s Father and the Lessons He Taught Me (about Illegitimacy, Footloose Males, Burned Counties & More),” an earlier version at Jamb Tapes 2008, F-144

Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA, “When Does Newfound Evidence Overturn a Proved Conclusion?” Jamb Tapes May 2015, F321


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.

Free BCG Lectures in Salt Lake City, 9 October 2015

The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) will offer a day of free skillbuilding genealogy lectures at the LDS Church History Museum, Salt Lake City, 9 October 2015. 

Renowned genealogists Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, Michael Hait, Thomas W. Jones, Elizabeth Shown Mills, Michael Ramage, and Judy G. Russell will present six one-hour skillbuilding lectures. The annual lectures, co-sponsored by BCG and the Family History Library, are free and open to the public. Anyone in Salt Lake City on that day is welcome to attend. The lectures will be presented live.

Friday, October 9, 2015, Church History Museum Auditorium (on West Temple next to the Family History Library)

9:00 a.m. – “What Is ‘Reasonably Exhaustive Research’?” Michael Hait, CG

10:15 a.m. – “The Art of Negative Space Research: Women,” Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG

11:30 a.m. – “After the Courthouse Burns: Rekindling Family History Through DNA,” Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

12:30 p.m. – One hour break

1:30 p.m. – “Forensic Genealogy Meets the Genealogical Proof Standard,” Michael Ramage, JD, CG

2:45 p.m. – “Margaret’s Baby’s Father and the Lessons He Taught Me (about Illegitimacy, Footloose Males, Burned Counties & More),” Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA

4:00 – “When Does Newfound Evidence Overturn a Proved Conclusion?” Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA

“Whether you attend one skillbuilding lecture or all six, you will learn more about how to apply sound methodology to your genealogical research,” said BCG President Jeanne Larzalere Bloom. “The Board for Certification of Genealogists strives to foster public confidence in genealogy by promoting an attainable, uniform standard of competence and ethics. Education is part of this mission.”

For questions or more information contact

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.

Welcome, Lori Cook-Folger, CG!

A photograph of an unknown woman inspired Lori Cook-Folger to pursue genealogy. Although the image was in a photo album, nobody in the family knew the woman’s identity. An inscription on its reverse called out to Lori: “Remember me—tho my face you cannot see.” She set out to honor the woman’s wish and finally identified her as the mother of a great aunt by marriage.

Lori’s mother frequently talked about family as Lori was growing up. “I felt like I knew people that were already dead or I had never seen,” she says. Her father, on the other hand, began telling stories of the past only after Lori was grown. He provided so many details that Lori can drive through the town in which her father was raised and point out specific places of interest. “I don’t know that people pass down the stories anymore,” she adds wistfully. “The little details about life will be lost if we don’t record them.”

Lori Cook-Folger, CG

Eleven years ago Lori and her husband moved to the mountains of North Carolina, but they don’t spend much time there. Her husband’s contracting work as an aerospace electrical engineer often takes them out of state. “Most of the time I am in a hotel somewhere,” she says. Lori does have ancestors from North Carolina, but none from the part of the state in which she now lives. She has not researched much in her local area. Lori and her husband hope to purchase a second home in Charleston, South Carolina, after her husband retires. By then, she hopes to have enough research clients to provide income while still having time to enjoy life.

Attending advanced courses at institutes helped Lori prepare for certification. Her first was Elizabeth Shown Mills’s Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis track at the Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research in Birmingham, Alabama. “I was in awe. Several things she said on the first morning are imbedded in my head.”

Lori learned not only from doing the coursework, but also by absorbing whatever she could from conversations with instructors and classmates. She attended several certification seminars and says that “hearing tips from those already certified” eased her concerns. She credits Clarise Fleck Soper, CG, and Debbie Hooper, CG—both of whom she met through the ProGen Study Group—as being always on call to answer her questions.

While the time involved in preparing the portfolio was more than she expected, Lori feels that others “on the clock” sometimes make the process sound more difficult than it actually is. She urges applicants to read and follow instructions. “If you are truly ready, then all you have to do is follow the directions,” she encourages.

Lori finds great satisfaction in being able to prove a conclusion using the Genealogical Proof Standard. She also enjoys learning about and using DNA evidence in genealogical research. A recent Y-DNA match on her father’s Cook line has created an opening in a long-standing brick wall problem. Lori says that following that lead is one of her current priorities.

As a wife, mother of five, and grandmother to nine, Lori enjoys spending time with her family. For the past two years she, her mother, and a granddaughter have participated in a 216-mile, week-long trail ride ending in Houston. For most of the trip Lori drives the lead car as her mother and granddaughter ride horses, but on the final day she, too, is on horseback.

Although the mystery of the woman in the photo was solved long ago, Lori is still passionate about learning and recording details of the past—both for her own family and the families of others. She may be reached at

Congratulations and welcome, Lori!


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.