My Certification as a Genealogist Decision is…


that I did not receive certification. Two judges said yes and one, no. My portfolio went to a fourth judge for arbitration who agreed with the no – insufficient for certification.
I was looking forward to the rubric results but I’m a little confused by them. For example, on the ratings for a Case Study, Judge 1 said I partially met 5 standards and 2 standards were undetermined. Judge 2 said I met all the standards and Judge 3 said I met 5 standards and partially met 2. That’s a wide disagreement!
Further clarification regarding the ratings is also given. That, too, varies greatly from judge to judge. Judge 1 wrote “…Court proceedings’ information is described as “secondary” and the hospital admission information as ‘firsthand.’ When informants and their ability to know facts are unknown, information can only be considered as ‘undetermined.’ (Standard 36)” I agree but I knew and wrote who provided the information; the hospital information was given by the subject of the Case Study as she signed the document and the court information was provided by her sister, who was named and attested she was the sister.
Judge 2 did not include any comments about the Case Study. Judge 3 wrote, “…Research extends to commonly used sources and the use of hospital and court records for [subject’s] insanity hearing and institutionalization is well done…”
All 3 rubric results follow this same pattern for the remaining portfolio submissions.
I don’t think the Genealogical Standards are subjective. I’m unclear, though, how I received ratings and comments with such variance all based on the same Standards.
I was hoping that the rubric would benefit my growth as a genealogist because I don’t know what I don’t know. Instead, I’m left with trying to determine what I’d improve upon. One judge noted, “…There are minor capitalization and punctuation differences between the original and the transcription…The research plan demonstrates awareness of commonly used record groups; however, attempting to anticipate all contingencies at the outset interferes with efficient focus…” while another stated, “The document is accurately transcribed and abstracted, background is carefully described, and a thorough research plan is proposed.” So, should I made a thorough research plan or not? I have no idea.
I thought about posting all but the BCG supplied document on my website, genealogyatheart.com, but decided it might not be a good idea as three of the entries were generated for clients and there is a lot of personal information included. I did have permission from all of them to use for the portfolio but posting online is another matter. I also thought about posting the rubrics but I don’t know how that would benefit anyone without seeing the portfolio.
In reflecting on almost the past two years since I decided to pursue certification I think the process was worth it. I did spend a lot of time away from my family and I’m not ready to do that again. For now, I won’t be reapplying any time soon. I plan on continuing to research, write and learn. Maybe I’ll change my mind some day but for now, that’s my plan and I’m good.

An Update on Submitting the BCG Portfolio

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com 22 May 2016

I’m finishing up with my portfolio for submission to the Board for Certification of Genealogists and I have butterflies in my stomach!  Officially, I have until late October but since I selected several papers that I had previously done for clients last fall and winter, I am about finished.

At the National Genealogical Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, I was able to view successful portfolios that were submitted.  I also found it useful to be able to pick the brains of some of the Certified Genealogists (CGs) that attended the “On the Clock” dinner.   So glad I was able to attend and meet several other “On the Clockers” and those on the other side.

Additionally, the National Genealogical Society conference enabled me to further refine my skills and now I pulled out the Kinship Determination Paper I finished last month and reread it yesterday.  I caught one missing comma and changed one sentence.  I’m satisfied with the content and the numbering so I just need to take another look at my footnotes.  I had bolded a few that I knew weren’t quite right as I was so into the writing I didn’t want to stop and lose the momentum.  I also need to make sure I’ve been consistent with my citations. The next few weeks I’m busy with other tasks so I probably won’t revisit it until mid-June.

I’m still uncertain if I should hold off portfolio submission until after an upcoming trip to DC this summer or not.  On the one hand, I want to submit before I get extremely busy with my full time job in late July.  On the other hand, I have this nagging feeling that the missing record in Pennsylvania will miraculously show up if I look one more time.  The document was supposedly misfiled in the 1960’s and hasn’t been found since.  Why in the world I think if I look again I’ll find it now I don’t know!  I’ve already looked twice over the past 5 years AND hired someone to try to find it.  Clearly the “3rd time’s the charm!” as my mom used to say didn’t happen and a fourth visit would be beyond reasonably exhaustive.   My thought process is bordering on irrational and I realize that.  This certainly is like the tongue in cheek meaning of insanity – doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result!

Reflecting on my behavior I see this as déjà vu – I did the same thing when I was ready to submit my portfolio to the National Board of Certified Teachers several years ago.  One morning I woke up and I knew that there was no more I could do so I just packed it all up and mailed it off.  Even so, I stood in Office Depot and just stared at the box.  The clerk was nice, though I’m sure she thought I was nuts.  She told me to take as long as I wanted.  As soon as she said that, I was able to let it go.

Now I have to decide if I’m going to send it snail mail or electronically.  Decisions, decisions!  Another way to procrastinate finality!  Will keep you informed…

Learning Patience as I complete by KDP

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com 31 March 2016

Spring Break has come and gone and I didn’t make my goal of having the rough draft of my Kinship Determination Project (KDP) completed.  I’m not complaining, though, as three events occurred that threw me into a tizzy!

First, less than a month ago, I received 30+ years of a diary written by the sister-in-law of one of the individuals I’m writing about.  It is a genealogical gold mine!  After reading and rereading I took notes based on individuals and then by types of events.  Spent the last three weeks incorporating the information into the KDP as it was quite useful and enhanced the paper.  Long term plan is to create an index of the diary for future use.

Second, our desktop system bit the dust.  I had my work saved in numerous places so that wasn’t awful but instead of a double screen I was back using (and sharing) an old laptop.  Really slowed the process down.

Last, I had changed my mind about taking a trip during my week’s vacation and instead, I had decided to spend that week working on the paper.  Plans changed when my husband fell off the roof.  Miraculously, he’s fine, however, we spent the week quite differently than expected.

Since he’s okay, a co-worker’s son was able to recover the data on our crashed system and the new information I added gave the paper more character, I’m fine with not meeting my goal.  My revised plan was to finish by the end of March, put it away for the month of April, check out the portfolios that will be available at the upcoming NGS conference in Ft. Lauderdale, revise through June and after taking one more trip through the archives to make sure that I left no stone unturned, submit in July.  Well, it’s the last day of the month and I’m not done.  I’m still waiting for six records to arrive that apply to the last generation. Have to read through about 100 handwritten letters that are 100 years old to mine for details.  New goal is mid April completion. That’s only obtainable if I work all day the next 3 weekends, spend at least 2 hours a night during the week AND get the records.  Genealogy is definitely a study in patience!

The Kinship Determination Project and Its Emotional Impact

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com 24 Jan 2016

The Kinship Determination Project, aka KDP, has been looming as the last requirement I need to complete before submitting my portfolio for analysis to become a Certified Genealogist.  I had started writing before I submitted my application but in November, a few weeks into being “on the clock,” I rewrote most of it.  I changed from end notes to footnotes so the judges would have an easier time tracking citations,  I wrote for many needed documents to give a more thorough look at the individuals’ lives.   I  added additional background data, too much, in fact, which I removed yesterday. Not to worry, it’s full of very interesting stories of the ancestors I’ll be focusing on later so I’m keeping it safe for another project.  I think that it was good to start 3 generations prior to the 3 generations I’m focusing on as it gave me a better perspective of my main characters’ lives.  We often become who we are because of the influence of our parents, grandparents and perhaps, our great grandparents.

Back in the day, meaning when submitting more than 3 families was permitted, my paper would have been fine but I’m trying to stick to the application guide.  I had viewed Judy Russell’s webinar, “Kinship Determination:  From Generation to Generation” which is free to view on the BCG site (click Skillbuilding, then click Webinars, then scroll down.)  I loved Judy’s passion about her project!  I share that passion when I start analyzing the evidence I’ve accumulated;  the humanness behind the paper record is revealed and I begin to understand what occurred in their lives.  Sometimes it’s something personal from my own life that I can relate to and sometimes, not.  Makes me wonder how I would have reacted if the event had happened to me.

I just reread what I wrote about the first generation and I’ve very excited.  I didn’t quite finish that first generation individual’s life but plan on doing so today after my company leaves.  I want to get back into the story as there were two twists of compassion that I hadn’t known existed prior to analyzing the records.  Although I can’t share much due to the requirement of submission, I will say that those tick marks on early census returns come alive when you attach a name to them.  Pondering why you have extra marks is important – was their a child or two that died prior to being revealed in later censuses or other documents?  Did other family members, an apprentice, an indentured servant, or a neighbor reside with the family the day the census was being enumerated?  Did the family provide the enumerator misinformation, meaning the missing son was marked as a daughter or did the enumerator err?  That’s a lot to think about and oftentimes, later records will help explain what was happening in the household.

The impact on a child when there’s a change in a household unit is important to consider.  When community influences and national events occur there are additional effects.  Such was the case with my generation 1. Now I think I better understand why the individual exemplified compassion, an interest in politics and education, and safety for future generations.

What really struck me was discovering that three of the siblings of the individual I’m focusing on relocated in the mid 19th century across the continent.  I can’t imagine the anguish that must have been felt when communication was cut off.  Strangely, I happened to visit 2 of the 3 places that the siblings had moved to this past year.  I even blogged about one of the buildings in the town that I visited.  Most likely, that building played an important role in the lives of the sibling’s children!  It was such a strange feeling when the realization hit.  I began to wonder how many times I’ve walked in the footsteps of my ancestors and never known it. It’s one thing to purposely go to a location you’ve discovered to visit.  I’ve dragged my family on many vacations to visit homes where prior family members resided, ports they disembarked and battlefields where they were injured but I’ve never had the experience of visiting a place, feeling quite at home there, writing about it and then discovering months later that there was more of a connection then I was aware of at the time.

Today, I hope to make more headway on the KDP as next week, I’ll be traveling for business and won’t be able to work on it.  My new goal is to try to get the draft complete by the end of February as I may be making a trip to obtain a few documents during my spring break.

I hope your week is filled with wonderful discoveries!

Becoming a Certified Genealogist – An Update

A FABULOUS FIND of 15 Jan 2016

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com 13 Jan 2016

The clock is still ticking and now that we’re in the new year I’ve got less than 10 months to submit my portfolio requirements.  I actually accomplished way more than I thought I would during the holidays. My family kids me that I must be channeling the dead.  I don’t know about that but I certainly had some awesome finds that propelled me forward.  Here’s where I am and what I have to do:

1.  Preliminary application was submitted in October 2015 – DONE

2.  Signing the Genealogist’s Code – that’s easy!

3.  Background Resume – completed but needs to be reviewed and possibly updated right before submission – Almost Done

4.  Document Work – BCG Supplied and Applicant Supplied.  All transcribed and written, just need to review and make a final edit. – Almost Done

5.  Research Report prepared for another person – started this in late December.  This was unexpected but I loved the hunt so decided to switch what I originally had planned to submit that was already finished. Completed the newly started report on December 31st and gave it to client on January 4th – DONE

6.  Case Study – used a client’s second report I was working on instead of what I had originally thought I was going to do.  I finished it over the holidays with some wonderful documents that simply showed up!  Wish I could share this with you – a real twist and turn type of case. – Almost Done (haven’t given it to client yet but have appointment scheduled)

7.  Kinship Determination KDP- have a great start but didn’t work on it much in the past month.  I’m still assembling documents and my problem is I don’t live anywhere close to the areas that the family lived.  I’m planning on a trip in March to one of the states but that still leaves me with a hole on the east coast and I wasn’t planning on being close to that area until July.  So, it’ll be slow going with this item.  I figure, unless a miracle occurs, I won’t be done with this until September and will just make the deadline but who knows?  I put the rest of the requirements together in a much quicker time period than I planned so maybe this will come together, too.  KDP 1/3 Done

In hindsight, I’m glad that I had a skeletal idea of what I would be submitting before I actually committed to the process. I’m also thankful that I took the webinar about what certification entails so I had clear expectations of what was expected.

Here’s an update on my 2 past blogs regarding Ancestry.com and member family tree’s that reported a co-worker’s mother as deceased when she isn’t – I received an email from Ancestry staff on Monday directing me to have the deceased email them with her request to correct the records and to provide Ancestry with the URL’s of the trees.  I pulled the URL info and included it with the forwarded email to my co-worker who sent it off to her mom.  I was impressed that Ancestry responded so quickly, especially after the phone conversations I had with their support staff.  I didn’t think there was going to be any resolution!  I’m also very pleased that Ancestry stayed true to their confidentiality statement and understood how the problem impacted the affected family.  Kudos to Ancestry!

Lost Mail May Be A Genealogical Gem Someday

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com 6 Dec 2015

Don’t know if you saw the recent article about undelivered mail found in an old trunk.  When I say old, I mean really old – as in 17th Century.  You can read about it at A Postal ‘piggybank’.

We have terrible US Mail service, receiving several pieces of mail a week that don’t belong to us.  It makes me wonder how much I don’t receive.

If it was junk mail I wouldn’t care but it’s been affecting important correspondence lately.  The most recent “lost” mail was from the Board of Certified Genealogy (BCG) with a much needed portfolio requirement enclosed.  Thank goodness I was notified via email the first week in November that I would be receiving a packet with a document to transcribe within 2 weeks.  Due to the Thanksgiving holiday I gave it extra time – 3 weeks – but it still didn’t come.  I contacted BCG and they verified it was mailed to my address on November 14th.  They will resend if I don’t receive it by week’s end.

In the past, I’ve spoken in person to my Postmaster who shrugged his shoulders when I tried to find out what happened to the last important piece of mail that never arrived back in June.  He told me that the mail service doesn’t guarantee delivery.  Clearly!  My son had sent a time important document within the state as certified, return receipt requested and it had been lost.  Postmaster said they’d put a tracer on it but that was it.  I thought the barcode scans were a way to trace but obviously they aren’t very useful.  That document was found in the wrong city and arrived a month later, way past the deadline needed.  No explanation as to why it was in the wrong city.  No apology, either.  Since it was found and eventually delivered we were told that we couldn’t get a refund on the postage because again, “there’s no guarantee” mail will be delivered in the time frame that is posted in the Post Office.

Since there’s nothing I can personally do (except avoid using snail mail as much as possible) to insure my letters are delivered I’m seriously considering sending my portfolio to BCG electronically.

I also have had the thought that just maybe, in 400 years, the BCG letter will arrive and it will make an interesting new story.  Don’t know if there’s an explanation in the envelope explaining why it was being sent but if not, it will have created a mystery as to why a copy of an old record was mailed to someone.  My poor future relatives will be all confused as to how we’re related to the individual and perhaps spend time trying to make a connection.

Bet you’re like me and love to solve genealogical mysteries, not create them. If so, read this article 

in the New England Historic Genealogical Society weekly newsletter as it’s equally important that we leave our stories for our descendants. Happy Hunting!

The Genealogical Clock Timer Has Been Set…

A FABULOUS FIND of 22 November 2015

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com 12 Nov 2015

I received via email notification last Friday that my Certified Genealogist preliminary application was received. Hooray! I immediately accepted the invite to join the Google+ candidate group, downloaded and printed the FAQ and 1st month recommendations attached to the email, texted family and friends and after the excitement passed, realized I have a lot to accomplish in a little time!  Actually, 11 months and 2 weeks until the portfolio is due.  Since I travel for business once a month I lose a lot of time so I have to develop a workable plan to meet the deadline.

I reviewed the suggested timeline before submitting the application and thought it best if I worked on one portfolio requirement in depth during each of my upcoming school breaks – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring and then using my earned vacation time since I work 12 months to complete anything left to do.  That plan was great in theory but as the holidays approach I realized it wasn’t going to work.  I’m the go to house for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s meaning I’m having family stay with me.

My revised plan is to write on one day on the weekend, do nothing on Monday, reread whatever I wrote on Tuesday, edit Wednesday and Thursday, do nothing on Friday and begin the process all over again the next weekend working on one portfolio requirement at a time.  That’s how I accomplished the portfolio when I submitted it for National Board Certified Teacher so I think that’s the approach I’ll take again.

Last weekend I decided to get organized. I always tell my students to have all the supplies they need readily available to minimize wasted study time so I attempted to practice what I preach. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out so well.  Last month hubby and I decided to move some furniture around between the kids’ old bedrooms.  When we became empty nesters our grand plan was to have one room be a home office and the other, a craft/exercise/guest room.  We selected the smaller, darker room for the office but it doesn’t work with both of us in there and the lighting is not good on our old eyes so now we’ve decided to flip flop rooms.  Then we realized that the smaller room really won’t work for crafts or exercise and it should just be a guest room.  We get a lot of family visitors (sometimes I think I’m running a bed and breakfast for free!) and if it’s being used by a guest, we wouldn’t be able to work on crafts or exercise so the larger room will have to have work space for craft projects, besides a research area and enough room to work out.

In hindsight, this is a terrible time to make this change with the genealogical clock running.  I thought it wouldn’t be that much of a problem to purchase furniture that would work for us but I’m not liking most of what I see.  Seriously considering getting 2 glass computer desks with a corner connector for the printer/scanner/copier and a table.  I’m over laminate top desks that look great initially but fall apart quickly.  I don’t like the prices of solid wood desks and most aren’t designed for flexibility.  Hubby loves his desktop system and I’m a tablet and laptop girl.  So for now, I’m between the old desk set up and spreading out on the dining room table which isn’t going to work with the holidays fast approaching.

Last weekend I re-read and printed all the Skillbuilders on the Board for Certification of Genealogists site. I strongly recommend taking a look at the Skillbuilders if you haven’t ever done so.  They’re brief but powerful reminders of effective practice.  You can check them out here.  I put the copies in a binder in the order I need to refer to them as I work through the portfolio. I tabbed the binder by the various portfolio requirements and included a copy of the submission requirements and rubric so I can remain focused. I like everything in one place so I don’t waste time looking up processes when I’m in the writing mindset.

I had previously printed and assembled all of my research notes and records for the families I’m going to be writing about so it was easy to include this in the binder.  I’ve started the Kinship Determination Project, identified what I’m using for the Applicant Supplied Document, and have accumulated a lot of info on the Research Report Prepared For Another Person (but haven’t started writing it yet).

I’m still torn about the Case Study.  What I really wanted to do would make me change the Applicant Supplied Document because you are limited in portfolio submissions to one per family.  I could change the Applicant Supplied Document but the backup would make me change the Kinship Determination Project and I’ve already begun writing that and am happy with the line I selected. Decisions, decisions!

The introductory email mentioned I’d be receiving the final application in 2 weeks.  I have a business trip scheduled for this weekend but I happen to be going to a destination that I can research during off times I’m happy I can still keep up with the planned schedule.

I previously wrote the resume and updated it over the past week.  Will have to do that again several times, maybe quarterly, until I’m ready to submit.  While I’m off for Thanksgiving I hope to have completed a very rough draft of the Kinship Determination Project (KDP). I re-read what I wrote a few months ago and hated it!  I started a rewrite on Saturday, put it away til yesterday and when I reread it I was pleased as it was in the direction I wanted to go.  For me the KDP is the most formidable portfolio entry so I’m tackling it first.  I’ll be so glad when that’s done.

Next I plan on working on the Research Report as I may have to travel within the state to obtain additional records.  I can do that during Christmas break around the family visits.  I’d like to have that done by the end of February.

In the back of my mind I’ll keep thinking about who I should chose for the Case Study and I’ll spend March and April working on that project.  Since I might need to request additional records I may have to flip to working on the Applicant and Board Supplied Documents.  Will see.

Hopefully, by late summer I’ll have everything near completion and then I can spend 2 months editing towards the final product.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress and if I miss a blog posting or two, send good thoughts my way ’cause you’ll know I’m hard at work on the portfolio 😉

Obtaining Certification – An Update

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com 7 Oct 2015

In the past month I’ve made some progress towards obtaining Certified Genealogist status.  I attended the webinar on September 16th from the Association of Professional Genealogists that I found very helpful.  I was inspired by the presenter and moderator and a few days after made a timeline of how to proceed. I’ve looked at the timeline recommendations from the Board of Certification and modified it somewhat because of my personality.  I don’t want to commit to something I can’t deliver so I want to start 3 of the 4 portfolio requirements and when I’m confident that they can be completed, I’ll firmly commit and then work on completing one at a time based on the suggested timeline.  That approach worked for me when I was obtaining my National Board Certified Teacher status for school counseling so I’m going to go with it again.

Since the webinar I’ve identified who I’ll be doing for the Kinship Determination paper and completed the introduction, pulled hard copies of the records I’ll be using, wrote for additional records and numbered the pedigree.  Initially I wasn’t certain which line I was going to focus on but after reviewing several individuals I’m quite happy with my final decision.  I ended up selecting these particular folks because of the time period in which they lived and the events that they experienced. Wish I could share more but one of the requirements is that the submissions haven’t been previously published so my lips are sealed.

I’m still waiting for records that I requested for the case study and I’m a little frustrated with the organization that holds them.  I told my co-worker client that I may just have to drive up to try to get them in person since I’m getting the run around on the phone.  It’s a 6 hour drive so I’m hesitant to do it with my regular work commitments.  First I was told that the file had been found but that my client had to have her request notarized. No where on the website did it say that the request was to be notarized.  I was given a fax number to fax the notarized  request and we tried to comply the following day except the fax number that I was given didn’t work.  Made 3 attempts from 3 different faxes over the course of a day.  Tried to call the number that was on the web and no one answered and there was no answering machine.  Mailed the notarized request.  After 3 weeks hadn’t heard so tried to call again.  The phone number is now the fax machine.  Faxed a note stating we hadn’t heard and wanted to verify that the notarized copy was received via US Post Office mail.  Got a call the next day from the same person I had originally spoken with and a whole new story.  Originally I was told that the person was a volunteer who only pulled records twice a week.  Now I was told that the person was employed and it was an add-on job and she didn’t have time to pull records quickly.  I didn’t want to make her angrier than she was so I didn’t mention, according to our prior phone call, that she had the file already on her desk.  Geez!  She said the process was that the supervisor had to review the request and the supervisor had only been given the request the day before (just happened to be the day I faxed a reminder, hmmm) and that it would be at least another 2 weeks until a determination will be made if the records will be released or not.  None of this was mentioned when I first spoke with the organization. None of this is on the webiste.  I shared this with my client and she’s thinking there must be something in those records that they don’t want us to see.  I’m not sure what the issue is.  So for now, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we get something.

This upcoming weekend I’m going to identify the record I’m going to analyze.  I’ve pulled out my “hurricane box.”  That’s a plastic filing box that I keep my old genealogy records in so that they will hopefully, remain safe in their individual plastic sleeves in the event of a flood.  I have some idea of what I want to do but what particular record I select I’m not yet sure.

I’m thinking that by the end of the month I’ll formally send in the application and the clock will start ticking (I’ll have a year to complete the portfolio).  In a way, I feel like the clock’s already ticking!

An Update on Becoming a Certified Genealogist

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com 30 July 2015

In April, I blogged about my intention on obtaining credentials as a Certified Genealogist through the Board of Certified Genealogists.  My plan was to submit my application once I was well on my way in completing a client prepared research report, one of the portfolio submission criteria.  My target date was mid August.

I didn’t think this was going to be a problem as I had obtained permission from a client in May and had already invested 2 hours through an initial meeting and research time on the project.  I contacted her with two surprising discoveries I had uncovered regarding her great grandparents and scheduled a meeting to discuss a possible revision to the research plan we had initially made.  She cancelled our meeting date due to a family emergency.  I was traveling a lot during June so we scheduled a meeting for July.  A few hours before we were to meet I received a phone call that she was going to have cancel, not just the meeting, but the entire project.  Turns out, she had discussed what I had found with her children who were quite taken aback and the family put pressure on her to abandon the project.  She said that although she would like additional information, she did not want to alienate her children who were quite upset.  I suggested that I speak with her children but she declined.  I told her I would mail her a report of the research findings but she requested that I not send her anything.  I ended the conversation by letting her know that she was welcome to contact me in the future if she changed her mind.

As a counselor and genealogist, I have had to relay difficult information to clients, friends and family over the years so how I disseminated the information was not new to me and she initially took the information well. I’ve previously had former clients tell me that family members were not interested about information discovered or had difficulty with information provided and requested that the findings not be further discussed.  I never had a situation quite like what I recently encountered, however, where family members became so upset that the client pulled the plug on the project.

I looked for professional guidance since this was a new experience for me.  Nothing about what I encountered at any of the websites of the professional organizations where I am a member.

Just like everyone else, my family is far from perfect.  To help a client feel at ease sometimes I’ve shared my personal discoveries to help with their adjustment.  When I first heard about the brouhaha over the Finding Your Roots episode regarding Ben Affleck’s request to not disclose that his ancestor’s owned slaves I recall thinking (and posting) that the problem may have been averted by discussing initially that unsettling information may be found and will be disclosed  Since I did communicate that maybe I was wrong about the Affleck situation – perhaps Mr. Affleck was initially informed but he reacted after the facts were presented, like my client did.  I’m still processing what I could have done differently.  If you have any ideas let me know!

In the meantime, I’m back to the drawing board.  My revised timeline to submit the application for Genealogical Certification is now mid-October.  Although I’m chalking this up as a learning experience I’m hopeful the next client will be willing to accept the foibles of their ancestors.

Certified Genealogist or Accredited Genealogist?

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com 6 May 2015

I was in a quandary – should I pursue becoming a Certified Genealogist or an Accredited Genealogist?  In typical genealogical mindset I looked to the past for help.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I have attained National Board Certified Teacher/Counselor (NBCT) status.  NBCT is a rigorous peer review program involving submission of a written reflective portfolio, audio and video tapes of counseling sessions, documentation of community involvement that demonstrates how one has gone above and beyond what is required and a day long exam.   I decided 8 years ago that the time was right to pursue NBCT as my youngest had just gone off to college and my husband, also a counselor, agreed to work towards obtaining NBCT, too.

The timing turned out not to be so good – a family member became seriously ill and temporarily moved in with us, one crisis after another happened at the school where I worked and our roof gave out so money was tight (the NBCT process is not cheap!).  The portfolio and tapes are submitted in February, the exam is in June and notification of achievement isn’t made until November.  When notification day finally arrived I was understandably relieved to learn I had made it.  What I discovered, though, was the notification of achievement wasn’t as big of a deal as the process itself had been.  The process made me think about counseling in a very different way – I became more skilled as a counselor due to the reflective aspect that is integral to the NBCT process.  I became stronger professionally and that was what I wanted the outcome to be of whichever genealogical process I decided to follow.

With that criterion in mind, I reviewed the information online from both the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) and International Commission for the Accreditation of Genealogists (ICAPGen).

From BCG’s website “Certification results from evaluation of work samples in a portfolio submission.  BCG requires different materials for each certification category.  If three to four judges recommend certification, you will be certified for a five-year period.  You can perpetuate your certification with five-year renewal applications showing that you have kept your skills up to date.”  This is very similar to the NBCT process. BCG’s requirements are:

  • Signing that you will comply with the Genealogists’ Code of Ethics
  • Submitting
    • a background resume
    • a paper based on a BCG provided document in which you transcribe, abstract, evaluate and formulate a research plan
    • the same as bullet 2 but with a document you provide concerning an area that is your primary research focus
    • a research report prepared for a client with the client’s permission
    • a case study of conflicting or indirect evidence and
    • a kinship determination project

Challenging but doable.

Next I looked at ICAPGen requirement.  The bold and italics are mine to emphasize my concern, “… Your presentation of four connecting generations in your project should represent your knowledge of a variety of records that are useful at different times in your chosen region. The regional focus allows for practice in records that might be included in the written exams.

Many of our U.S. ancestors migrated from one geographical region to another so we might have to choose a family other than our own for the four generation project. This might be the ancestry of another family member, a client, or a family that is known to have four generations that lived in the same geographic region. We might also select from our own ancestry a related descendant line that meets the criteria. Note that privacy issues are not violated because the records are for events of people born before 1900 and identities of living persons are not included in the report.”

In our family, my kids are first generation Floridians so I would be looking for a client.  Finding a client to meet ICAPGen’s requirements in my area would be difficult.  Here’s why – for simplicity, let’s say a generation is 20 years.  To meet ICAPGen’s requirement we’ll say my client’s Person 1 was born in 1899 since the requirement is a birth year prior to 1900.  Person 1’s parent (generation 2) would be born in 1879, grandparent (generation 3) would be born in 1859, and great grandparent (generation 4) would be born in 1839.

Florida is a large state and I don’t claim to be an expert on its entirety.  I’d prefer to focus on the Tampa Bay region as that is where I research and where I have the most knowledge.  Here’s the historical population of Tampa, the area’s largest city, from Wikipedia:

Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 974
1870 796
1880 720 −9.5%

The first census is shown as 1850 because Florida did not become a state until March 3, 1845.   Citidata.com reports that “The 1830s and 1840s were marked by repeated violent conflicts between the Seminoles and white soldiers and settlers. Although Tampa emerged from the so-called Second Seminole War (1835–1842) as a fledgling town rather than just a frontier outpost, it subsequently endured a variety of setbacks, including further skirmishes with the Seminoles, yellow fever epidemics, and, in 1848, a hurricane-generated tidal wave that leveled the village.” I know there are Tampa families today that can trace their lineage back to pre-Tampa days when the area was known as Fort Brooke but I don’t want to use something that’s already been done.  Finding a new Tampa pioneer family with 4 generations going back to 1839 would be time consuming and a matter of luck.

I could expand my search area to meet the requirement.  The Florida population in 1837 was 48,000, half being slaves, and most people lived in the northern part of the state, between St. Augustine and Pensacola.  ICAPGen wants primary sources.  To find a primary source slave document from 1839 would be miraculous.  Remember, this was the period of the Seminole War and the document would have to have also survived the Civil War, hurricanes, mold, and courthouse fires.  Even finding a primary source for a white man in 1839 in Florida is something to celebrate.  Plus, I don’t live close to where I would be researching to find the document.

This would explain why ICAPGen lumps Florida in the Gulf South region of the United States, along with Georgia,  Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas.  A client could have family from any of the other listed states which allows for the requirement to be met.  However, I would not be comfortable taking clients from the entire Gulf South region.  I would be doing them a disservice as I don’t have the knowledge or skills to assist them. I suppose others feel the same way I do as there are only 11 ICAPGen’s that have achieved Accredited Genealogist status for the Gulf Shore region.

So the criterion made the decision for me – I will be seeking Certified Genealogist through BCG.

Next time – I’ll be traveling to the Big Apple for a conference and my thoughts are on motherhood and the brain.