BCG is a not-for-profit District of Columbia corporation managed by its board of trustees on behalf of its beneficiary, the general public, and of its associates who have been certified by the corporation in one or more established categories. The goal of the corporation is described in its articles of incorporation as “limited to exclusively charitable, educational, and scientific objects or purposes.” To achieve its objectives, the corporation establishes minimum standards of qualification for certification, examines and issues certificates to persons who meet those standards, and provides information to the public about the standards and those persons who meet them.
The corporation is bound by its articles of incorporation, its bylaws, and its policy manual.
Since its founding in 1964 by leading American genealogists, BCG has fostered public confidence in genealogy as a respected branch of history in two ways:
– We promote attainable, high, and uniform standards of competence and ethics among genealogists through programs of outreach, publication, and education. We continue to publish, disseminate, and update these standards as appropriate, and collaborate with others who share this goal.
– We award the Certified Genealogist® credential to persons whose work meets these standards.
The Board’s Vision
Genealogical practice advances our understanding of history, and it requires advanced skills learned from training and experience.
Genealogical clients should benefit from the practitioner’s efforts:
– no matter how the results are delivered (in writing, orally, or online);
– regardless if the work is done for fee, for salary, or for free; and
– no matter whose ancestry is being studied.
Genealogical certification is an important step in one’s personal growth as a genealogist, and a vital part of maintaining quality and public confidence in the field.
– For genealogists, certification says, “I care about the quality of work I compile for posterity.”
– For consumers, certification offers reassurance and recourse as they seek professional help in a largely unregulated field.
During the late 1990s the five-part Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) was developed. Today ninety published standards cover the same ground in more detail. See Genealogy Standards, 2nd edition (Nashville: Ancestry, 2021), which includes standards for documenting, researching, writing, lecturing, and continuing education.
The five interdependent parts of the GPS still serve as a ready-reference condensed version. To meet standards,
– we research thoroughly, emphasizing original records providing participants’ information;
– we cite completely and accurately the source(s) of each information item that is not common knowledge;
– we analyze and correlate our sources, information items, and evidence;
– we resolve any conflicts among evidence items; and
– we write a soundly reasoned, coherent conclusion based on the strongest available evidence.
Each individual seeking certification signs the Genealogist’s Code, a pledge to act in every way to protect the public, clients (whether paying or pro bono), and the profession.
> Read more about the Genealogist’s Code of Ethics
For consumer protection, BCG offers the public a dispute-resolution service. Should a problem arise from a professional relationship with one of its associates, BCG will accept a formal complaint (including specific allegations and evidence) and will attempt to mediate the matter. If mediation is unsuccessful, the complainant may elect arbitration, the decision to be binding on both parties to the dispute. BCG reserves the right to rescind certification in instances of flagrant violation of the Genealogist’s Code, or failure to comply with an arbitration decision.
> Read more about Discipline and Dispute Resolution