Jane Beal has become the ninth Missourian to currently hold the credential of Certified Genealogist from the Board for Certification of Genealogists.
Jane’s first genealogical mentor remains her most powerful motivating force: her grandfather Richard Dolbeare “entrusted to a teenager many years ago the family papers and photos, obviously seeing in [her] younger self someone who cares about the family history.”
His enthusiasm and his trust started Jane on a journey that began with her New England ancestors and ultimately led her to pursue her genealogical goals and, in 2014, to becoming a Board-certified genealogist.
A registered nurse with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Nursing, Jane explains that she has worked “in a wide variety of jobs as a nurse,” and continues to work full-time as one “although it is a desk job, not patient care.”
She lives east of Kansas City with her husband of 30 years: “We have a small farm, lots of children and grandchildren.” And, she adds, “All these activities keep me very busy, but the family knows my passion is genealogy.”
Jane started following that passion as a teenager, after getting those precious papers and photos from her grandfather, whom she credits first and foremost as her genealogical hero. Though the time she has had to devote to her passion has varied, over the years she has worked on her own family history, her husband’s, and those of three of her sons-in-law — and that doesn’t include the many others she has helped and the many local projects she’s worked on.
“I take every opportunity I can to attend genealogical conferences, learn the local history, and expand my knowledge base,” she said. “I particularly love doing research in courthouses, and of course the nearby Midwest Genealogy Center [a wonderful place].” But, Jane notes, even though she started as a teenager, she wishes she had started earlier to “focus more on the stories, history and people, rather than just getting a lot of names and dates. I think most people start off that way, I know I did.”
Today, she said, she is “passionate about the stories and history behind the names and dates, to understand what happened and why in their lives.” Her favorite project now is the ‘brick wall’ case, “particularly if they revolve around women whose history has been lost, due to either an early death or lack of a known maiden name. I like to give them back their identity.”
Jane’s advice to those considering certification is to “download and read the BCG Application Guide, outline what projects need to be done for one’s portfolio [maybe an individual has a project they have recently worked on that would fit with some tweaking or could be used with an in-depth effort], and at least start on the bigger parts of the portfolio prior to beginning the ‘clock’.” She added that it’s necessary to “stay on focus during that year, and if at all possible avoid an extension. I think you start to second guess yourself the longer it takes you.”
Besides her grandfather Richard Dolbeare, Jane considered Elizabeth Shown Mills and Thomas Jones as her role models and genealogical heroes. “During my journey to completing my portfolio, I absorbed much knowledge from their presentations [I listened to a lot of CDs from past conferences, and listened over and over again], as well as from their books and articles,” she explained. “I felt they brought me to a higher level and expectation of myself and my work.”
She hopes to have her own genealogy research business in the future, mainly focused in individual clients, and looks forward to contributing articles on genealogy to various publications.
CG or Certified Genealogist is a service mark 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.