Happy New Year from BCG! Below is a copy of the President’s Column in the January 2014 issue of OnBoard written by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, President, Board for Certification of Genealogists

At the end of January, Genealogy Standards, fiftieth-anniversary edition, will be published. Pre-publication orders at a 20% discount are now being taken through the BCG “Publications” website page, https://www.bcgcertification.org/catalog/index.html. This 100-page book updates and revises The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, Millennium edition.

Thank you, Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, for editing the new book. Many people were involved over the past several years in the creation of this new edition, including those who participated in a standard-by-standard discussion on the Transitional Genealogists Forum LISTSERV led by Harold Henderson (now CG).[1] I also want to thank Donn Devine, CG, David McDonald, CG, and Michael Ramage, J.D., CG, for their part in the overall process. Additional committee members were Laura DeGrazia, CG, Stefani Evans, CG, Alison Hare, CG, and Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL. A list of others who were involved appears in the book’s Introduction. Thank you all!

You may be wondering why BCG undertook this project and what is different between the two books.  To answer the first question one must realize that the genealogy field is not static. It is a living, developing body of knowledge that continues to be refined, redefined, and re-evaluated. The standards that every practitioner is invited to use need to periodically be refined, redefined, and re-evaluated as well. Standards are the foundation by which we define sound genealogy. Any recipient of genealogy research can understand how thorough or error-prone it is by comparing it with the standards.

For example, new standard 54, “Logical organization,” states, “Proof summaries and arguments present data, discussions, and conclusions in logical sequences to explain or defend a research question’s answer. A logical sequence often is not the order in which the genealogist collected evidence or reached subsidiary conclusions.”[2] If one has a “travelogue” style proof argument, then it does not meet this standard which says the proof needs to be laid out logically, not chronologically. The logical layout is beneficial to the reader to understand the research question, background, process, analysis, and conclusion of the proof argument.

The second question you may have is what the difference is between the 2000 BCG Genealogical Standards Manual and the 2014 Genealogy Standards book (besides 14 years!). Tom Jones wrote “The revision is both longer and shorter. Five appendixes (86 pages) in the 2000 edition show examples of different kinds of genealogical compilations and reports, all fictitious. The 2014 edition replaces that section with a 3-page list of online and print resources for non-fictitious examples. The new edition also contains a 17-page glossary, which the prior edition does not have.

“Not only does the newer edition have fewer pages, they are smaller in size [5.5” x 8.5”]. The font size is not smaller. The new edition’s 83 standards fill 41 pages, where the earlier edition’s 72 standards fill 25 larger pages [8.5” x 11”]. The standards in both editions cover the same principles, but they are reorganized in the new edition, as well as updated to reflect relevant advances in technology and science since 1999. The reorganization includes separating multi-part standards, combining related concepts into one standard (thus minimizing repetition and redundancy), and grouping standards to reflect more clearly the structure of the genealogy discipline’s skill set. Each standard now bears a title/descriptor. The new edition aims for greater clarity, stronger connections to genealogists and their work, and closer ties to the Genealogical Proof Standard. Watch the [BCG] website for charts showing the correspondence between the two editions’ standards numbers.”[3]

I am excited about this updated edition and find it easy to read. I hope you will agree with me and use it often. Standards are for everyone and BCG has shared this work with all practitioners through this book, which also will be offered as an e-book. It is up to each of us to make it a part of our everyday research, writing, and education. If everyone were to do so, even those working on “just my family,” then sound research and correct kinships would become the norm and illogical trees would become less prevalent.

We are the link between past and future. Our ancestors deserve to have their true stories told using sound practices. Future generations will depend and build upon these stories. Do not let them down.

[1] The Rootsweb.com LISTSERV discussion began on 23 January 2010 and progressed through each of the 74 standards, ending on 4 June 2010.

[2] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, fiftieth-anniversary edition (Nashville, Tennessee: Ancestry, 2014): 33.

[3] Angela McGhie, “Tom Jones Compares Editions of Genealogy Standards Manual,” Adventures in Genealogy Education, 12 December 2013 (http://www.genealogyeducation.blogspot.com/search/label/BCG: accessed 13 December 2013): paras. 2–3.