Last week I got that email everyone who has submitted a BCG portfolio hopes to get… “Congratulations and welcome! I am delighted to report that your application for BCG’s Certified Genealogist credential has been successful.” Hallelujah!
What a journey! It began 10 years ago when my friend and mentor, Birdie Holsclaw, encouraged me to create a lecture describing all of the obituaries I had collected in my first few years of research. At that time it was somewhere over 100 (today it is closer to 300 but I lost an accurate count). A few years later, she suggested I look into Certification (from the Board for Certification of Genealogists) and think about working toward that goal. My friend Birdie died on 13 May 2010 from cancer.
After her death, I became sad whenever I tried to work on any of my genealogical research and so I spent some time away from it. But I loved it too much to stay away for long. In 2012 I got some renewed energy and decided to make it my full-time gig. GenealogyPANTS was born in March of 2012.
I decided that instead of being sad that Birdie was gone from our midst, I should do the things she thought I could do. I decided to pursue certification in her honor. If she thought I could do it, then I should do it. I should see if she was right. Along the way I met others who thought I could do it as well. The knowledge that someone is pulling for you, has confidence in you, and will stop what they are doing to send you an encouraging email or answer a question is a powerful thing. This knowledge helped me finish my portfolio. All of the things that these genealogists do for the genealogical community at large to educate us contributed to my success.
I am going to list some people here. So many people have shaped me in some way over the years that I can’t possibly name them all; just please know your contribution to my success did not go unnoticed or was unappreciated. In no particular order:
- Angela McGhie for ProGen and all of my cohort from ProGen 16! (This amazing study group helped me tighten up many areas of my portfolio.)
- Tom Jones for all of the educational materials he has written over the years, classes and lectures he has taught, for answering several emails in super-quick fashion, and for just being one of the most approachable and patient people out there.
- Judy Russell also for all of the educational materials you provide to us (via The Legal Genealogist blog and all of the lectures and classes) but also for being so clear AND fun in your lecture style. It makes learning about potentially boring topics so much fun and NOT boring. I mean we each have our interests, but Judy has the ability to make you really want to learn about historical laws and their genealogical impact even if you were an art major in college!
- Elizabeth Shown Mills for all of the work she’s done on making citations understandable through not only her books but also her Evidence Explained website; also for her informative lectures and classes. I’m honored to have been among the last Course 4, Advanced Methods class at IGHR and I’m honored to have gotten the coveted “gold seal” AND the Walter Lee Sheppard Jr. Prize. I have to admit that the thought of “Elizabeth Shown Mills thinks I can do this!” really, REALLY helped me finish and succeed with my portfolio.
- Dave McDonald also for the Walter Lee Sheppard Jr. Prize. It is people giving back to the genealogical community that really helps others succeed! [And I wanted to say thank you for your lovely tribute to Birdie at the 2012 NGS Birdie Monk Holsclaw Memorial Lecture. I bought the CD to your lecture titled “Maps! White Oaks, Gradients, Google, and more….” and listen to what you had to say from time to time. Very moving.]
- Mark Lowe for being another one of those educators that just makes learning fun and for telling a great story every time he speaks. Mark can really get into the emotions of why genealogy is important. Also, for being so approachable, supportive and just a great genea-friend!
- To my genealogy “support group” which consists of Annette Botello, Ruth Ratliff, Deb Skoff and Denise Miller. This group also included Birdie and she was always so encouraging to us when we met and so generous with her time. This group has been such a blessing to me not only genealogically but personally! Thanks you guys!
- To the members of the CERTS group I was a part of that included: Beth Benko, Kirk Patton, Deena Coutant, Harry Ross, Karlene Ferguson, Diane Barbour, Margaret Kadziel, and if there are others I’ve missed, please accept my apologies, but this group tended to morph a bit so I hope I didn’t miss anyone.
- To my genealogy colleagues in Colorado. ALL of you whom I have had the pleasure of learning, interacting, working, and engaging with over the past 14 years. [I am not even going to try naming you all; you know who you are!]
- Most of all to my husband, Seth, for being encouraging, for listening to rants, for tolerating genealogical tantrums, for bringing me food and coffee to keep me going, to all of the driving to cemeteries and libraries, and for taking care of kids so I could focus. [I love you!]
And so to conclude, I’m grateful. I’m grateful that this part of the process is over, I’m grateful for all of the support I’ve had and I’m grateful that I had the chance to know and work with and be friends with one of the best people on the planet. Plus, I’m so excited to start this next part of the genealogical journey, watch out!