Ruth Craig became associate #1078 in August 2016. She is a resident of Grafton County, New Hampshire, just across the Connecticut River from Vermont. Her maternal ancestors lived in Massachusetts and New York, and she enjoys doing New England and Canadian research. Ruth especially appreciates the Catholic priests who kept excellent records of her French-Canadian research subjects.
“My career in medical research schooled me in the hypothesis-testing approach to research, and in means of correlating data. These have served me well in family history research,” says Ruth. She needs that experience as she works on a large family project. “I am trying to trace all descendants of the earliest known ancestor on my father’s side. The husband of one descendant, who had a very common name, moved from Germany to Toronto, changed his name, birthdate, and religion, probably worked on ships on the Great Lakes, and died in parts unknown. I have so far been unable to find any trace of him after 1915, whereas he likely died in the 1950s. I work on him in bits between other research, and will find him someday!”
Ruth has several observations about the certification process. She became educated in genealogical research by participating in the Boston University genealogy course and the ProGen Study Group. “However, the best thing I did was to work on four of the five requirements before I even submitted an application.” She declares that preparing her portfolio definitely changed her approach to genealogy. “I knew nothing about this type of work when I started. I see family history as a field where continuous learning and change are critical. I hope to be able to keep up!”
Ruth offers two pieces of advice for those approaching this task. “First, if a requirement seems overwhelming at the beginning, just start on it without being too perfectionistic. Once you have something on paper, it can be further developed. Second, start small (e.g., on Requirements 6 and 7)—these things tend to grow. If possible, start with a relatively simple situation.”
The standards for certification—the rubrics—made the process difficult for Ruth. She says, “My comments here may be heretical. I find it confusing that the standards, rubrics, and application instructions are overly wordy and redundant/overlapping. All of these changed while I was in the process of applying. My impression is more verbiage is being added (likely to try to help applicants who failed), whereas streamlining would have been more helpful.”
An impressive figure emerged from Ruth’s research for her kinship determination project. Ruth (Willson) Wilson, her grandmother and namesake, was recruited in 1918 for cryptologic work by MI-8, precursor of the National Security Agency (NSA). She helped break a variety of codes used in Central and South America and became a Japanese linguist. “What I learned was a surprise to me and to others who had known her. She made a fantastic contribution at a time when it was difficult to do so as a woman.”
Ruth plans to tie her current medical work to history and genealogy. “I am interested in how diseases and causes of death have evolved historically. I hope to use family history as an entrée to make this area interesting to others. In short, I hope to combine my background in medical research with my new-found interest in genealogy.”
We are sure that research goal will produce some interesting studies. Congratulations on becoming certified, Ruth, and good luck with your work.
Nora Galvin, 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.