Sharon Hoyt, who received her Certified Genealogist credential earlier this year, is a genealogy researcher and lecturer from California’s Silicon Valley.
She became interested in genealogy after her husband’s research on his Mayflower ancestors made her curious about her own family origins. What began as a hobby quickly became a passion, and in 2002, she traded a career as an information architect managing intranet content and search tools for large technology companies to focus on genealogy research.
As a native Californian whose family has lived in the state since the 1880s, she enjoys helping clients trace their ancestors’ paths to the Golden State. Her areas of interest include New England, New York, and the Midwest, with a particular focus on Civil War research. In addition to her client research, she serves as a consultant to Ancestry.com. She is a member of APG, NGS, NEHGS, and the Southern California Genealogical Society.
Sharon’s key advice to those thinking about certification is this: “Don’t be afraid to apply – the application process is a great learning experience!”
She notes that her own preparation was broad-based, but in addition to seminars, webinars, conferences and institutes (NIGR and SLIG), she found the graded NGS American Genealogy Home Study Course particularly helpful in preparing her application. “The experience of working through lessons on my own and receiving written feedback was very similar to the BCG certification process.”
Sharon credits her cousin, Pauline Love, who was 92 years young when they met, as her genealogy muse: “The stories she shared made our ancestors’ lives real to me, and her endless curiosity and excitement about family history encouraged me to seek out new sources to answer her many questions. She inspired me to dig deeper to find the stories behind the basic facts.”
Her genealogical heroes? “The thousands of people who volunteer their time to collect, preserve, index, and share records to help others find their families. I’ve learned so much from volunteers in local genealogical and historical societies, and appreciate their willingness to share their time and expertise.”
And, she adds, “I’m grateful to my husband for introducing me to a dream career, and for his patience and willingness to visit archives, libraries, and cemeteries on every vacation trip.”
(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.)