Angela McGhie is a familiar name to many for her commitment to excellence in genealogical education. Now we welcome her as a new BCG associate!
Angela credits her parents’ family history interests and her grandmother’s Swedish and Danish research for an early introduction to the world of genealogy. As a college student, Angela interviewed both grandmothers and combined photographs with collected stories to present her family’s history. She has been a dedicated genealogist ever since and for the past fifteen years has focused on in-depth research and education.
Moving into the professional field, Angela recognized the need for formalized training to hone her skills. She began attending genealogical seminars and conferences, and completed the National Genealogical Society (NGS) American Genealogy Home Study Course. In 2007 Angela joined the NGS Quarterly (NGSQ) Study Group; she joined the first Professional Genealogy (ProGen) Study Group in 2008. Within six months she became its administrator, writing assignments and recruiting mentors to work with participants. The ProGen Study Group has grown to 328 alumni and over 110 current students. This success is due in large part to Angela’s tireless efforts.
More recently Angela completed a study of Tom Jones’ Mastering Genealogical Proof, then initiated a study group based on the book; to date, forty-five groups have completed the program. She helped design and coordinates the “Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum” course for the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG); students work to solve genealogical problems and sharpen their evidence analysis skills.
Certification was a logical step for Angela: “I decided that if I was going to be a professional genealogist I should have my work evaluated to show that I met standards.”
Angela prepared for certification through a combination of education and practical experience. She attended courses at genealogical institutes, including Tom Jones’ “Advanced Genealogical Methods” at SLIG and Elizabeth Shown Mills’ “Advanced Methodology” at the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR).
Whether researching her own ancestors or those of her clients, Angela found it exciting and challenging to apply the methods she studied, as each case required unique records and methods to solve. Once the methodology became an inherent part of her research process, Angela knew she was ready to complete and submit her portfolio.
Her most challenging project was her portfolio case study. Angela had searched for the parents of her third great-grandfather for about eight years. She performed what she felt was “reasonably exhaustive research,” then “exhaustive research.” The mystery was solved through discovery of her ancestor’s Canadian brother. Angela overcame conflicting information and researched in four countries to reveal their mother’s identity: an invaluable learning experience.
Angela’s advice to aspiring BCG associates? Get a solid education by taking advantage of the many opportunities available. Study the standards and the rubrics until you really understand them. Practice writing research plans, research reports, and proof arguments or case studies. Once you feel comfortable, prepare your portfolio.
Angela appreciates the many mentors who provided education, guidance and encouragement, including Elizabeth Shown Mills, Tom Jones, Claire Bettag, Craig Scott, Rick Sayre, Pam Sayre, Elissa Powell, and every mentor that has participated in the ProGen Study Program.
What’s next for Angela? She says “I love teaching and lecturing and have focused my career in this area for the last few years. I have been blessed with opportunities to teach at the genealogy institutes, and am very grateful as I am passionate about education. I want to continue my focus in this area, but will probably begin taking clients again.” Her blog, Adventures in Genealogy Education, journals Angela’s educational priorities and experiences.
Angela lives in Laurel, Maryland, with her husband and three children. She can be reached at email@example.com . Congratulations, Angela!
 The groups work through Elizabeth Shown Mills, ed., Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2001).
 Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013).