SpringBoard is pleased to present a series by associates writing about their path to certification. These posts spotlight the many ways to reach that goal and provide encouragement and ideas for anyone considering their own roadmap to becoming a Certified Genealogist®.
Pam Pracser Anderson, CG®, of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania is Associate 1096 and was certified in May 2018. Her story follows in her own words.
Pam Anderson, CG®, owner of Anderson CoGen, received her certification in May 2018. She grew up in Illinois, but has lived in Franklin County, Pennsylvania since 1986. She used her master’s degree in Speech Pathology until 1991, when she became owner of Anderson Construction. In 2016 she moved completely into professional genealogy. She feels this variety of careers helped develop her transferrable skills, which she wrote about for the APG Quarterly in 2016.
Pam began studying her own family’s history in 2010 and began taking clients in 2014. Her paternal grandparents immigrated to Chicago from Slovakia in 1920, and her maternal side goes back to at least 1600s New York and New England.
Her Certification Journey
Pam’s genealogy education began with the NGS Home Study Course on CDs in 2014. Completing ProGen 26 in 2016 was the most important educational opportunity on her way to certification. Once enrolled in ProGen, she began attending institutes and conferences, and continues to watch webinars. She currently mentors ProGen 47.
When Pam’s portfolio was returned, she analyzed the comments and developed an education plan with the help of a current BCG associate. She recommends all submitters have access to an associate with whom to discuss their portfolios, as submitting can be a lonely experience. Beyond legitimate deficiencies, two areas hurt her submission. First, she confused the advice to “use your best work” with “use your most difficult brick wall.” An easier case study would have met the GPS just fine. Second, she used her 2017 NGSQ published article as a model for writing the case study and KDP—keeping it short and concise.
She now knows one must write for their audience. In a BCG portfolio, it’s important to explain the work in detail, rather than submitting a succinct, bare-bones journal-type article.
GPS in the Local Community
With no ancestors in Franklin County, Pam had to find ways to meet her research passion. Initially, she researched the family that built her 1886 farmhouse. While doing that, she became acquainted with the Franklin County Historical Society. Since 2014, she has been the primary volunteer that fulfills their research requests.
In 2016, a research request from Europe resulted in an article about a WWII gunner who was killed while defending the Netherlands. She also writes for the annual Kittochtinny Journal and sits on their editorial committee. In 2018 Pam wrote about the first influenza victim of Franklin County. From newspaper articles 100 years ago, the community learned that the first flu victim was “a young girl.” She found this “girl” (a 21-year old woman), wrote a three-generation article about the woman’s family, and shared the story with the family’s descendants who attended her Rotary Club presentation.
A Franklin County judge learned of Pam’s research and enlisted her help to research an itinerant wood carver for a book he was writing. Traveling through three Pennsylvania and Maryland Counties in the early 1900s, Frank Feather appeared in only one census. His carvings are distinctive because he carved a person’s name and year, then gave the carvings to that person as payment for room and board. Using these artifacts’ names and dates, Pam researched when Frank first appeared in Franklin County and where he stayed in the three-county area. The article was published in the Maryland Genealogical Society Journal in 2018.
The Chambersburg Post Office was renovated in the early 1900s and later became the current Coyle Free Library. During its 2018 renovations, workers found a document under the hardwood floor signed by thirty postal workers who worked there at that time. Pam researched all the signers and presented her findings at the library’s reception for descendants of the men.
Another project was a collaboration with a local photographer to photograph and write the stories of Franklin County’s Female Firsts. Their photos and stories were displayed at the library for Women’s History Month in March 2020. These women were the first female county commissioner, hospital vice president, Chambersburg borough president, president of the county bar association, and pioneers in non-profits. Pam was included as the first female president of the Franklin County Builders Association, the first female Pennsylvania Small Contractor of the Year, and the first certified genealogist in Franklin County.
Pam’s most recent project was finding descendants of local physicians and nurses from the late 1800s and early 1900s, whose families donated books to the local hospital. To date, 33 books have been sent to fifteen descendants.
Though not what people consider traditional genealogy, the GPS appears throughout these projects. Always on her mind is that the research is reasonably exhaustive, cited, analyzed, and correlated. Conflicts are resolved, and conclusions are written and published or presented to audiences for their feedback and comments. Pam is proud of how her BCG certification benefits her local community.
Sincere thanks to Pam Pracser Anderson, CG® for sharing her story.
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.