Associates in Action

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

Activities and Projects

LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD , LLM, CG, will present “Including African American Genealogy in the American Mosaic” at the National Institute on Genealogical Research Alumni Association (NIGRAA) Annual Banquet, 15 July 2016.  http://www.gen-fed.org/2016-banquet-to-feature-labrenda-garrett-nelson/.

Trish Hackett Nicola, CG, was featured in the Chinese Oregon Speaker Series in March and April. She spoke at the Oregon Historical Society and the Multnomah County Central Library in Portland and gave four presentations for the Southern Oregon Historical Society in Ashland, Medford, Klamath Falls, and Grants Pass. Her final lecture for the series will be on 24 August at the Washington County Museum, Hillsboro, Oregon. http://www.washingtoncountymuseum.org/home/2015/10/24/crossroads-lecture-august-24/

Judith A. Herbert, CG has relocated from Maine to New York’s Capital District. New York represents the lion’s share of her genealogical research efforts. The move affords closer access to the Albany and Greater New York records and the luxury of being able to get to Hartford, Boston, and the New York City area for same-day research. http://www.genealogyprof.com.

Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA, has two courses available at Ancestry Academy: The Lure of the Train Whistle: Researching Railroad Workers and Native American Ancestry: Steps to Learn More. https://www.ancestry.com/academy/courses/recommended.

Paula also has a new blog exclusively for Lyfmap, a new free website. Lyfmap began this spring as a website for sharing memories, photos, stories, businesses and family history related to Saint Paul, Minnesota. Shared materials are saved at the location and date in history when they actually happened! Post a picture or memory and pin it to a specific street address then read the genealogy blog to learn more about researching family history. http://www.lyfmap.com/index.php.

Awards and Achievements

Trish Hackett Nicola, CG, has received the Weidman Outstanding Volunteer Service Award, presented during the 16th Annual Archivist’s Award Ceremony of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes exemplary diligence in making records more accessible. Trish worked to create a database of 60,000 Chinese Exclusion Act case files at National Archives-Seattle Branch.

Trish’s mentor, Loretta Chin, another National Archives volunteer, worked on the index for many years until her retirement. Recently a team of four other volunteers joined Trish on the project. The basic index should be finished by December 2016. Trish has started a blog on interesting cases found in the files at the facility in Seattle: www.ChineseExclusionFiles.com.

Julie Miller, CG, FNGS, was honored with the award of Fellow by the National Genealogical Society at their annual banquet on 6 May 2016. www.jpmresearch.com.

 Publications

Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, and Blaine T. Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D., have co-authored a new book: Genetic Genealogy in Practice (Washington, DC: National Genealogical Society, 2016), to be released in August. Part of the National Genealogical Society (NGS) Special Topics Series, this is the first genetic genealogy workbook. The book covers biological basics, types of DNA testing that are useful for genealogy, and analysis techniques needed for successful genetic genealogy. No matter which company a person tested at or which tools are used for data collection and analysis, this book will help researchers incorporate DNA evidence into their family study.

Debbie is also the author of the NGS online course Continuing Genealogical Studies: Autosomal DNA, http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/genetic_genealogy_autosomal_dna. This intermediate course focuses on concepts and techniques for genetic genealogy. The concepts taught in this course cover the analysis of the data no matter how the data was accessed.

Sandra M. Hewlett, CG, “English Origins and First Wife of Samuel Winsley of Salisbury, Massachusetts,” The New England Historical and Genealogical Register: The Journal of American Genealogy 170 (Spring 2016): 121–27.

Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, FASG, FUGA, FNGS, “In the County of Cumberland and the Province of New York: Clarifying Josiah Burton’s Identity, Relationships, and Activities,” The New York Genealogical And Biographical Record 147 (April 2016): 85–102.

Harold A. Henderson, CG, The Family of John S. and Zerviah (Hawkins) Porter of Jefferson County and Points West,” The New York Genealogical And Biographical Record 147 (April 2016): 129–43.

Jeanne Larzelere Bloom, CG, “The Child Left Behind: Henry Larzelere of the Town Of Jerusalem, Yates County, New York” (continued), The New York Genealogical And Biographical Record 147 (July 2016): 144–55.

 

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.