Jill K. Morelli is Associate 1084, certified on 20 January 2017. She moved to Seattle 13 years ago after five major moves in her adult life, never once to a place where her ancestors resided! This forced her to assess what she had to offer the genealogical community. Recognizing the large Scandinavian population in the area and her own Swedish ancestry, she honed her skills and utilized her newly found knowledge in presentations, classes, and client work in the Puget Sound area.

Jill K. Morelli, CG®

By background, she is a registered architect who worked on large institutional projects, mostly in higher education. Doing architectural work honed the skills of taking disparate pieces and assembling them in innovative ways. Jill says she is a “fuzzy thinker” by nature, and sometimes finds answers not obvious to others—she also admits she sometimes looks like she is “wandering in the woods” before she identifies an answer to the problem. She describes herself as a visual learner and often uses maps, tables, and diagrams to illustrate her points.

Jill started researching many decades ago because she didn’t know one of her grandmother’s names and was afraid she would “lose the women.” She also loves the thrill of the hunt!

Education is Key
Three things prepared her for certification: ProGen Study Group, Tom Jones’s Advanced Methodology class at SLIG, and her network of strong genealogy “cheerleaders.” “Education is key and a variety of types are needed—reading the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ), attending conferences and institutes, self–education, ProGen, etc. We never have the luxury of stopping our educational process.”

When Jill began, she was “not as confident a writer as I should/could be. Writing my blog “Genealogy Certification: A Personal Journey”* allowed me to practice and gain confidence.” She continues, “My portfolio writing process required total commitment and concentration, and I worked best when I had big chunks of time to write. It wasn’t until I retired in January of 2016 that these chunks of time were available.” Shortly after retirement, she decided the distractions of home were too much and took a driving “sabbatical” to the southwest where she finished her Case Study and the Kinship Determination Project. She offers the following advice, “To all the folks who think they cannot write and it holds you back from going “on the clock” (the term used for those who have applied but not yet submitted their portfolio)—start writing!”

“Certification changed my outlook towards my work in that I recognize that I have a greater responsibility for doing even stronger work and to maintain the high standards of the profession.”

Engagement through Teaching
Jill loves teaching and engaging with attendees through lectures, webinars and workshops. She presents to a variety of audiences, not just genealogists. “I would like to continue to present at major conferences and coordinating the Certification Discussion Group series, a 7-part online series that attempts to demystify the portfolio process. I enjoy writing and always have ideas in the queue for articles. I also hope that I can make the way easier for others by sharing my experiences –mentorship helped me and I like to help others.”

One of her genealogical heroes is Roberta Wakefield, editor of the NGSQ until her death in 1957. “During her time as editor, she published an average of 50% articles by women, unheard of at the time. No genealogical scholarly journal achieves that goal today. I find that inspiring.”

Her portfolio case study was among her most satisfying works. “It forced me to explore other Swedish record sets that I wouldn’t have otherwise, and who wouldn’t like to find an 18th century Swedish tax evader in their direct lineage?” She says her “most interesting ‘high threshold’ problem (I don’t like to use the term ‘brick wall.’) is an individual who immigrated in late 1860, missed the census; and married my great grandmother in 1861. In 1862, his German wife and the six kids show up!” The bigamist was a scoundrel at many levels.”

Jill closes by saying “I am honored that the judges felt my work was of the caliber to be granted the credential of Certified Genealogist. My goal now is to increase both awareness of certification and the number of credentialed individuals in the state of Washington.”

Thank you, Jill – you’re off to a great start!

*Ed. – Find Jill’s blog at https://genealogycertification.wordpress.com/ ) and sign up for the Certification Discussion Group at http://theCDGseries.wordpress.com )

The words Certified Genealogist and letters CG are registered certification marks, and the designations CGL and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.