In April 2014, Nora became Connecticut’s third Board-certified Genealogist. Nora combines her professional work in Connecticut and Irish research and genetic genealogy with activities in local genealogy societies. She is journal editor and past president of Connecticut Ancestry Society, board member of the Connecticut Society of Genealogists, president of the Connecticut Professional Genealogists Council, and editor of the e-zine of the New England Regional Genealogical Conference. In her past career as a biologist, Nora worked in laboratory research for a pharmaceutical company and as a high school biology teacher.
When asked about advice she would give to those considering certification, Nora suggested finding as many varied genealogical experiences as possible. She said,
I worked as a professional for five years before I began to feel I might be ready to start on my portfolio. My own family research taught me about the “known knowns” and the “known unknowns” but it was my client work that taught me about the “unknown unknowns.” (Apologies to Donald Rumsfeld.) I thought I was getting a “feeling for the organism,” the title of a book about biologist Barbara McClintock. It captures the sense of knowledge that I had to develop to be ready to get that portfolio put together.
With tongue in cheek, Nora also advises starting your genealogy career early. She took time to be a high school teacher, a stay-at-home mother, and a research scientist. She started genealogy research about twelve years ago and set up her business soon after, in 2006.
Where does she see her career going now that she is Board-certified? She will have fewer clients but bigger projects and she will be able to devote more time to editing Connecticut Ancestry. Travel to Ireland for research is also in the cards. She admits to being at first skeptical of the hype around autosomal DNA testing, but is now a convert. She enjoys applying her scientific background to genetic genealogy.
Her genealogy heroes are “The people who dig, dig, dig and put together amazing work.” In New England, she admires the work of Robert Charles Anderson on the Great Migration Project, and that of Helen Ullmann, who has transcribed countless almost illegible early records so that others can use them easily. She also admires the family historians who call themselves amateurs but who turn out wonderful narratives documenting their ancestors.
In Connecticut, vital records, town records, and land records are kept by the town clerks. The Connecticut Professional Genealogists Council has worked for decades to provide support and improve communications with the Town Clerks Association. CPGC instigated legislation to provide funds for records preservation at the town level as well as legislation to clearly state genealogical access to vital records. Nora is a member of the Town Clerks and Genealogists Action Committee as well as a member of the consortium of Connecticut genealogical societies. She has testified before legislative committees regarding open records and continues to advocate for preservation and access.
(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.)