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!”

RPAC Report, January 2014

Courtesy of Microsoft Office.

Submitted by Barbara J. Mathews, CGSM, BCG’s Representative to the Records Preservation and Access Committee:

As BCG’s official representative to the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC), I advocate for the concerns of Board-certified genealogists, and participate in RPAC’s monthly conference call. RPAC is a joint committee organized by the National Genealogical Society, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. Each of these three societies has a vote on the committee. Non-voting representatives are sent by several national groups: American Society of Genealogists, Association of Professional Genealogists, BCG, and ICAPGen. In addition, non-voting representatives attend from two corporations, Ancestry, and ProQuest. Communication is fostered by an email list, monthly telephone conference calls, and the RPAC blog.

Two topics are important this month:

  • at the federal level, ensuring that genealogists are involved as stakeholders in the process of writing regulations regarding access to the Social Security Death Index; and
  • at the local level, ensuring a rapid response to legislative or administrative activity involving records preservation and access.

Advocating as Stakeholders in Death Master File Regulations

At the federal level, the impact of the recent federal budget compromise bill on records access remains everyone’s top priority. The budget bill embargoes recent deaths from the Social Security Death Index until the end of the third calendar year after the event. It was discussed here in my 2013 year-end report.

On behalf of RPAC, Fred Moss submitted written testimony in relationship to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee’s SSDI closure language. His testimony is linked to the RPAC blog post “Senate Finance Committee — Tax Administration Discussion Drafts,” together with an attachment from Michael Ramage, CGSM, outlining a forensic genealogy definition.[*] The summary at the end of the testimony states:

We offer four main points:

  1. We are anxious to support the effort to implement the provisions of the Bipartisan Budget Act requiring the Department of Commerce to develop a Certification Program governing access to the Death Master File. Genealogists who fit the (a – f ) categories listed on pages 2-3 should be accommodated for quick certification. The genealogical community is a vitally interested stakeholder in this process.
  2. As existing policy regarding public access to the Death Master File is reviewed, we urge that input from professional genealogists be sought. The members of the Records Preservation and Access Committee stand ready to assist in arranging for that input to both the Executive and Legislative branches. We can best be reached at access@fgs.org
  3. Our strongest message is that steps already taken by the IRS and genealogical entities to protect SSNs listed in the SSDI may have already intercepted this particular form of identity theft without waiting for any additional legislation.
  4. The SSNs of living people will remain vulnerable as long as the IRS mandate is to rush payments of tax refunds before information returns can be compared with the submitted return to assure its validity.

RPAC will continue its efforts to participate in the regulatory process of the Department  of Commerce. The group will advocate for access for professional genealogists and those doing compassionate work for the U.S. Department of Defense’s Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office and for Unclaimed Persons.

Those Board-certified genealogists who consider access to recent deaths to be important to their work can offer their support to RPAC by emailing access@fgs.org. Your stories about how access made a difference in people’s lives will be helpful in articulating this concern to Senators and Representatives.

Monitoring Action at the State Level

We expect the introduction of state legislation based on the unapproved 2011 Model Act and Regulations. State liaisons will play a continuing role in checking for new legislation and in rallying local response. I discussed the history of the Model Acts in my March 2013 report, as follows:

The registration of births, deaths, marriages, and divorces is done on the local level, that is, by 50 states, 5 territories, the City of New York, and Washington, DC. Information contained in those records is shared with U.S. government entities such as the Social Security Administration.

To ensure successful sharing, the U.S. government has made available text that states may elect to use for law as well as for regulations describing how those laws are implemented. States are not required to conform to the Model Act and Regulations. Each state, city, or territory is free to implement laws and regulations for its own needs. Nonetheless, the Model Act can have significant impact. For example, the movement of state vital records offices into state Departments of Public Health was first advised by the 1977 version of the Model Act.

Beginning in 2009, a committee formed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services convened to update the 1992 Model Act. The National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS) approved the update by resolution 8 June 2011. NAPHSIS is an association of representatives from the 57 states, cities, and territories. Members of the organization had participated in the drafting of the new Model Act.

Previous iterations of the Model Act have gone through periods of public feedback and revision before approval by the federal agency involved. The 2011 revision has not yet been made available for public review by DHHS (see their note here) and so it is not yet considered final. In the meantime, several state public health departments developed legislation that conformed to the unreviewed version of the Model Act. This past Friday, 1 March 2013, at noon Eastern time, NAPHSIS independently released the 2011 revision of the Model Act on its website. It can be downloaded here.

What does the new version do? It incorporates changes in technology over the twenty years since the 1992 version. It also changes the records closure periods. Please compare these periods to the ones currently in law in the states in which you research. If they differ, it would be wise to work with local genealogy societies to monitor for the introduction of state legislation affecting records closure.

  • Birth records closed for 125 years.
  • Marriage and divorce records closed for 100 years.
  • Death records closed for 75 years.

Because the response to local legislation begins with local efforts, RPAC worked in 2013 to strengthen its state liaison apparatus, defined here as:

In each state there is or will be an individual responsible for maintaining liaison and communication between the FGS Records Access and Preservation Committee and the statewide genealogical/historical community with respect to matters concerning the preservation of and access to national, state and local historical records of genealogical and historical interest.

To locate a state liaison, RPAC must determine if there is an umbrella organization within the state, or an overall genealogical society. The committee then works with the President of that society to find the statewide liaison. This person becomes a contact for anyone in the state having a records access concern. The process means better representation, but it also means that it takes time to fill a slot. (Disclosure: I am the state liaison for Massachusetts.)

In December and January, RPAC hosted conference calls that included representatives from twenty states and RPAC leadership. On January 28th, we heard from Teri E. Flack of Texas and Helen Shaw, CGSM, of Maine. In both states, genealogists testified against records closure legislation. The Texans were successful in stopping closure. The Mainers saw modifications to the bill and are now considered stakeholders in the process of writing regulations. Rob Rafford of Connecticut spoke passionately about being proactive in monitoring legislative activity.

Efforts this year led to three states adding a state liaison, for a total of 33+1 represented states. If you live in one of these states, which are now unrepresented, please consider working with your state’s genealogy society to find a person willing to take on the role. Every state needs a person or a committee or a society checking for new legislation, budget changes, and preservation issues. Without attention, changes can happen that will come as a shock to genealogists.

  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

North Carolina is moving quickly to identify a state liaison. A matter of unexpected records destruction got everyone’s attention. The 2011 Model Act provisions are also relevant as the UNC School of Government was investigating records closure last year. My written response on behalf of Board-certified genealogists is available here.

To find the state liaison for your geographic area of concern, consult the RPAC roster here.

________________________
* The genealogy community has not rallied around an industry-wide definition of the term forensic genealogy. A definition focused on financial or legal work is slowly coming to the fore but there are points to be made for a broader definition that includes work involving living people. For example, Attachment A includes two out of three legs of the adoption triad (child, birth parents, adoptive parents). RPAC testimony adds medical and genetic genealogy.

UPDATED: 2 Feb 2014, to show that Nebraska is already represented by a state liaison.

New Board-Certified Genealogist: Darcie M. Hind Posz, Washington, D.C.

Darcie M. Hind Posz

Darcie M. Hind Posz of Washington, D.C. has earned the credential of Certified GenealogistSM.

The newest member of the Class of 2013, Darcie has been a professional genealogist for more than nine years. She is President of the National Capital Area Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists and will be Region 4, Northeast, Board Director for the Association of Professional Genealogists in 2014.

Her research emphases include Chicago and Hawaiian/Polynesian genealogy and urban ancestors. Her writing has appeared in the APG Quarterly, FGS FORUM and NGS Magazine and portions of her research are housed at Columbia University. She is the NGSQ Study Group Coordinator and in the past served as the chair of the Federation of Genealogical Societies Outreach Committee.

She resides in Washington, D.C., and can be reached at darcieposz@hotmail.com.

Darcie’s achievement came on her second attempt at certification and she credits both perseverance and continuing education for her success. Asked if she had advice for those seeking certification, Darcie suggested “elaborate outlines to make sure that all of the criteria stated in the instructions, rubrics and the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) will be met.”

Her genealogical heroes include Elizabeth Shown Mills (“her methodology and studies on multicultural subjects have inspired me for years”), Thomas W. Jones (his new book Mastering Genealogical Proof and teaching style “made understanding and applying the GPS attainable”), and Eugene A. Stratton and Neil D. Thompson (“my lineage heroes”; “Stratton’s comment about DNA in Psychic Roots is what inspires me to do what I do,” while Thompson’s work “feeds the royal lineage junkie within me”).

She hopes, when seeking recertification in five years, to be in the Waipio Valley beginning her dream of a land study done on foot.

Let’s all extend a warm welcome to Darcie!

RPAC Report, August 2013

Jan Meisels Allen presenting at IAJGS 2013. Photograph © Barbara Mathews.

Submitted by Barbara Jean Mathews, CG.

The three societies that are voting members of the Records Access and Preservation Committee hold annual conventions. At each convention RPAC presents a session. This year, I attended two meetings and telecommuted to the third. They were:

  • National Genealogical Society convention in Las Vegas, Nevada (reported here in April).
  • Federal of Genealogical Societies (FGS) in Fort Wayne, Indiana (telecommuted).
  • International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) in Boston, Massachusetts.

Both FGS and IAJGS were this month. What a delight it is to make connections with people who care about records preservation and access. It is a great lift to my spirits.

The FGS presentation was made by Janet Alpert and Fred Moss. Jan Meisels Allen presented a slide show remotely from her home in California. The FGS slide presentation by Janet Alpert is available on the RPAC website as a PowerPoint presentation (17M in size) or as a pdf handout with six slides to a page (only 1M in size). The slides cover the main themes seen this year, including the 2011 Model Act, state budget restrictions, bills currently under consideration in the U.S. Congress, and misunderstandings around identity theft and the Social Security Death Index.

Over the summer, RPAC strengthened its coordination with its state liaisons. A liaison is the individual within each state who communicates concerns to and asks for support from RPAC. (Disclosure: I am the state liaison for Massachusetts.) A state toolkit and sample state slide show are available for download from the RPAC Publications site here. In the first eight months of 2013, seven state states have had to actively respond to state legislative actions or budget restrictions. All were successful.

RPAC strongly urges that state genealogists visit their U.S. Senators and Representatives. Their suggestion is that the president of the statewide genealogical society and a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists schedule a meeting with the Congressional member or their staff. RPAC’s talking points brief is available from as a Microsoft Word DOCX (or as a pdf), APG’s talking points are covered on their Advocacy Committee’s website here.

Members Jan Meisels Allen and Kenneth Ryesky, Esq., of the Public Records Access Monitoring Committee (PRAMC) of IAJGS together with RPAC chair Janet Alpert presented the session in Boston. The PowerPoint slide is available from the IAJGS site here and the handout is here.

 

 

Please Welcome Rebecca Koford as a Board-certified Genealogist

Rebecca Whitman Koford of Mt. Airy, Maryland, earned the credential of Certified GenealogistSM this month. Genealogy has been her passion since childhood. She has been working professionally as a genealogist since 2004.

Rebecca’s commitment to education includes completion of the NGS Home Study Course, NIGR, ProGen Online Study Group 4, and Advanced Methodology at SLIG. She lectures and teaches about family history research. Until she moved to Mt. Airy in 2010, she was Assistant Director of the Family History Center and an Instructor in genealogy for Howard Community College, both in Columbia, Maryland.

She is now the Director of Genealogy for Reel Tributes, a company that creates films on family histories. Her professional work includes Maryland and lineage research. Currently she is focused on lecturing about, and spreading the word on, the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions project sponsored by FGS at www.preservethepensions.org.  She can often be found at the Maryland or Pennsylvania State Archives.  She is grateful for the support of her three wonderful teenagers and very patient husband.

 

Elizabeth Shown Mills to present Leary Distinguished Lecture at NGS 2013

The BCG Education Fund announced that the 2013 Leary Distinguished Lecturer at the NGS Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, is Elizabeth Shown Mills, CGSM, CGLSM, FASG, NGS, FUGA, who poses a provocative question: “Can Trousers, Beds, and Other ‘Trivial Details’ Solve Genealogical Problems?” Her answer is, Yes! All can create solutions to brickwall problems. She will present the lecture at 9:30 AM on Friday, May 10th.

Elizabeth Mills, who has emphasized research methodology and evidence analysis throughout her long career, is a master at drawing clues from seemingly trivial details. In the 2013 Leary Distinguished Lecture, she presents a series of brick wall problems involving identity and parentage. For each, she demonstrates ways to develop solutions from minutiae found in everyday records, including black domestics and tacks, housekeeping bills, trousers, beds, and more.

Mills is a historical researcher and writer who has spent her life studying American culture and the relationships between people—emotional as well as genetic. A popular lecturer and past president of both the American Society of Genealogists and the international Board for Certification of Genealogists, Elizabeth is the author, editor, and translator of thirteen books and over 500 journal and magazine articles in genealogy, history, literature, and sociology. Aside from her 2004 reality-based historical novel, Isle of Canes (which Historical Novels Review called a “masterpiece” and other reviews dubbed “a cross between Roots and Gone with the Wind”), Mills is best known for Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (a Library Journal “Best Reference 2007”) and the textbook Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers & Librarians. Interviews with Elizabeth Mills are featured in the National Genealogical Society’s popular video series “Paths To Your Past” at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.

The Leary lecture series, initiated in 2007, honors Helen F.M. Leary of North Carolina, Certified Genealogist Emeritus and a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists, known for her richly informative and entertaining lectures on methodology, law, writing, and the art of lecturing.

Throughout her distinguished career, Helen F.M. Leary has worked to educate all serious genealogists. Helen embodies personal and professional work standards that the BCG Education Fund seeks to emulate and to instill in those practicing the art and science of genealogy.

Graphic courtesy of the National Genealogical Society.

RPAC Report, March 2013

Courtesy of Microsoft Office.

Report from Barbara Mathews, CGSM

My friends will attest that two of my burning concerns are the preservation of records and our rights to access them. As BCG’s official representative to the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC), I advocate for the concerns of Board-certified genealogists, and participate in RPAC’s monthly conference call. Beginning today I will also report monthly to you about the records issues.

What is RPAC? It is a joint committee organized by the National Genealogical Society, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. Each of these three societies has a vote on the committee. In addition, non-voting representatives are sent by several national groups: American Society of Genealogists, Association of Professional Genealogists, BCG, and ICAPGen. In addition, representatives attend from two corporations, Ancestry, and ProQuest. Communication is fostered by an email list, monthly telephone conference calls, and the RPAC blog.

This month there are two important topics of national interest (legislation involving the Social Security Death Index, and release of the 2011 Model Act and Regulations), and two local topics (North Carolina, and Georgia). Continue reading

Will You Be Able to Attend a BCG Certification Seminar in 2013?

BCG board members and local Board-certified genealogists often offer certification seminars at national and regional conferences. The seminar topics cover everything from considering why to apply to tips for the application process.

Several certification seminars are already on the calendar. They are free for conference attendees (after conference registration costs) and everyone – whether considering certification, already “on the clock,” or a Board-certified associate assembling a renewal portfolio – is welcome to come and learn more about the process.

At the Ohio Genealogical Society conference in Cincinnati on Thursday, 25 April 2013, Elissa Scalise Powell, CGSM, CGLSM, will conduct a “BCG Associate Gathering and Renewal Discussion.” Then at 3:30 pm she will give “Reasons & Tips for Becoming a Board-certified Genealogist.” Please join in the appropriate session!

At the National Genealogical Society’s 2013 annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, session T211 is marked as a double session, however you may come to one or the other or both. There David McDonald, CGSM, Elissa Scalise Powell, CGSM, CGLSM, and Warren Bittner, CGSM, will spend the time on reasons why board-certification might be appropriate, discussing application strategies and fielding questions from interested audience members.

Another opportunity to interact with board-certified speakers in a seminar is scheduled at 2:00 p.m., Thursday, 22 August 2013, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, at the annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, session T237. There David and Elissa will be joined by Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CGSM, and Debbie Mieszala, CGSM.

Each team is sure to cover the issue of preparation. Here is what the syllabus says about that:

Education and experience are the two main components in preparing for certification. The goal is to acquire and practice the standards articulated in The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual.

The Board sets no formal educational requirement. Surveys of successful applicants show that most have availed themselves of structured learning opportunities well above the introductory level—attending institutes, conferences, and workshops or enrolling in online or distance-learning courses. Self-education, derived from analyzing case studies developed by board-certified persons and published in major peer-reviewed genealogical journals, is also helpful.

Experience comes in many forms. Successful applicants for certification are experienced in dealing with the full range of challenges genealogists face. They demonstrate sound, critical judgment when evaluating the work of others. They hone their ability to resolve research problems, develop expertise in specific areas, and strive for excellence in every regard. While it takes a number of years to acquire the education and experience needed for certification, the personal and professional rewards from certification are significant.[1]

 

Updated 2:41 pm, 18 Feb 2013, edited to reflect that conference registration was required.

Graphic courtesy of the National Genealogical Society.

 


[1] “Board for Certification of Genealogists’ Certification Seminar,” 2012 Family History Conference Syllabus: The Ohio River, Gateway to the Western Frontier, session T201 (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2012): 116.

Debbie Parker Wayne now a Board-certified genealogical lecturer

Debbie Parker Wayne received the Certified GenealogistSM credential in 2010 and the Certified Genealogical LecturerSM credential in 2013. Debbie is a full-time genealogist experienced in using laws and DNA analysis, as well as more traditional techniques, for genealogical research. She previously worked in the computer industry doing support, training, programming, and Web design. Those skills are especially useful when analyzing a client’s DNA test results, but also help when doing traditional research in this technical age.

When she first attended the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) in 2003, Debbie knew she wanted to do professional-level research, but hadn’t yet decided whether she wanted to become certified or start a research business. Experiences on that trip, her first exposure to the world of professional genealogists, the techniques learned in Elizabeth Shown Mills’s Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis course, and discussions with credentialed genealogists convinced Debbie to work towards this goal. She started with pro bono clients and accepted paying clients as her knowledge increased due to self-study, institutes, and conference sessions.

Debbie’s business includes research clients, DNA clients, speaking engagements, and writing projects. She won two writing awards in 2012 for articles that were based on research done for her BCG portfolio. She was invited to present “Forensic Techniques for Genetic Genealogy” at the Forensic Genealogy Institute (FGI). In 2013 she will be presenting sessions at the NGS and FGS conferences, “Genetic Genealogy for Clients” at IGHR’s Genealogy as a Profession course, and continuing her presentations for FGI and local societies.

Continue reading

Why Become Certified? Reasons Vary

“Why become certified?” is a question every person who has learned about BCG has asked. To help answer this, several Board-certified genealogists were asked at the 2012 FGS conference in Birmingham, Alabama, to record an audio clip on how they came to certification. The comments are unscripted and spontaneous–and totally inspiring. In the over dozen statements you will probably find a reason or approach that resonates with your own.

You can listen to the first three testimonial audio clips at http://www.bcgcertification.org/certification/why.html.

Dave McDonald, CG, states, “I first earned certification . . . because I had spent time around colleagues who had been certified and whose work I wanted to emulate.”

Beth Stahr, CG, observes, “In my mind there has always been a connection between librarianship and certification.”

Michael Hait, CG, advises, “I actually applied for certification twice and I had different motivations each time I applied.”

More audio tracks will be released periodically. Check back to this blog (or sign up for automatic email notifications of new blog posts).

If the audio controls are not visible on the webpage below the photographs, you may need a browser plugin or you can click on the MP3 files link to download the files.