Category Archives: Genealogical Education

Announcing NEW NGSQ Study Groups

During my time as a facilitator for the Certification Discussion Groups (CDG), organized by Jill Morelli, students indicated to me that they wished for some more options in discussion groups to talk more about the “meaty” techniques and methods of genealogical research, particularly when working with evidence analysis and the Genealogical Proof Standard.

IMG_3953I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while and have finally settled upon the details. This is a monthly study group that will examine one National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) journal article per month. We will study these articles with a focus on principles taught in Mastering Genealogical Proof (MGP) by Tom Jones. We will discuss topics on the genealogy standards, evidence analysis and correlation, writing, citations, and more.

The cost is $50 for the year. For this price, you will:

  • Participate in a monthly study group session for up to two hours with your peers, led by me, Cari Taplin.
  • Receive the discussion questions at least two weeks prior to the online meeting.
  • Have access to a private Facebook Group for mid-month discussion. This Facebook group will be limited to study group participants only, no outside noise!

There will be no individual feedback given unless you want to sign up for a private consultation session. There will be no required peer feedback, except for what you choose to post and receive in the FB group. Your commitment is to read the articles, any indicated sections in MGP, and come prepared to discuss the questions (or simply show up and listen). I believe the benefit you will get out of a class is equal to the effort you put into it.

Please Note: You must have access to these articles either by being a member of NGS or from your local library. You will also need to have a copy of Mastering Genealogical Proof. Due to copyright, I cannot provide copies to you.

There are three sessions, two daytime and one evening.

Sign up now or click for more information.

This is meant to be an INTERMEDIATE discussion group, not a beginner or advanced. If you aren’t sure if you fall into that category here are some possibly helpful descriptors to help you decide (all or none could apply but this is the type of group I’m aiming for):

  • You’ve read NGSQ articles and generally can follow them (I’m not asking if you fully understand them, but they aren’t “Greek” to you either)
  • You own Mastering Genealogical Proof(or at least know what it is and will buy a copy before this class starts)
  • You own or have access to a copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills
  • You’re interested in certification or accreditation and have participated in one of Jill Morelli’s Certification Discussion Groups (CDG)
  • You know what the Genealogical Proof Standard is.

If you aren’t sure, send me an email and we can discuss it further.

To keep the discussion manageable and allow everyone a chance to speak, class size is limited to 25 participants, so sign up now!

I’m looking forward to studying with you!

Review: New Jersey Family History Institute

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of attending the New Jersey Family History Institute … from the comfort of my own home! Melissa A. Johnson, CG® has put together a fantastic two-day course on New Jersey Family History Research. I have a project in mind to work on some of my New Jersey ancestry and so when I saw this opportunity, I jumped on it. njfhi-logoThe course is offered online or in person “to learn all about sources and strategies for researching NJ ancestors and families.” 

I expected two days of lectures giving me a run-down of the unique history, geography, record sets, and other information to help me with my New Jersey research. I even figured I’d fold laundry while I listened. What I got was a whole lot more. I did manage to fold the laundry, but I also found myself paying very close attention, taking notes, answering class exercises in the chat, and creating a research plan for a future research trip!

Melissa has done a fantastic job of creating an in-depth, interactive course (even with the online audience), with in-class exercises pertaining to the topic of the hour. She asked for people to share their answer to the exercises, including those online, and would read them out for everyone’s benefit, which also made me feel like part of the class. Optional homework was given as well.

This course covered topics ranging from the basic timeline of New Jersey, highlighting key points as they would pertain to records and research, to laws and their impact on research findings, a breakdown of the court system, major resources, libraries, collections, and so on. A lot of attention was given to differentiation between the Colonial period and post-statehood. Melissa is a fantastic instructor, not only because she provides the students with the information they need to be successful in their research, but by also giving relevant exercises that were challenging and educational on the topic at hand. Furthermore, she is very cognizant of the online community tuning in as well, repeating questions from those in class and interacting with us in an individual and meaningful way.

While this course is over for this year, I suspect it will be held again. The website indicates that more courses will be added in the future on other topics as well. You can join the mailing list to be informed when new events are added.

I will be watching this educational resource for future opportunities and encourage you to do so as well!

Fox listening in
Even my dog “Special Agent Fox Mulder” (Fox for short) had a fun time listening to Melissa’s course!

CG Renewal Time!

I recently received a helpful packet in the mail from the Board of Certification of Genealogists that my renewal application would be coming due soon. Where did five years go? (Well, four and a half, but still.) It seems like just yesterday I was putting the final spit and polish on my first portfolio!

Luckily, the renewal application process is not as rigorous as the initial application. You only have to submit one to three items as long as one meets the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). The main goal is to make sure you are continuing to grow in your journey as a Certified Genealogist, that you are keeping up your education, and that you are applying the standards to your work.

I have been working steadily to improve everything from my first portfolio and am not too worried, except for the lack of time I have to work on it! So I’ve been working hard to finish up and clear out some responsibilities I’ve had and to block time out in my schedule to work on it. Time management is such a trick sometimes!

I will keep you posted. In the meantime wish me luck and few interruptions!

Mid-Summer Catch-Up

I returned from a fantastic week at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) where I had the pleasure of taking “Advanced DNA” from Blaine Bettinger, Angie Bush, and Karen Stanbury, CG. I learned a lot and I learned I already knew a lot which is almost just as important when you are trying to build your confidence in your DNA analysis skills! GRIP has a fantastic line-up for July as well as their 2020 courses published. It’s one of my favorite institutes!

I have some exciting things planned for the rest of my year that I wanted to share:

Phew! I’m tired just thinking about it. I hope to see you at at least one of these events. Be sure to say hi if you see me about.

It’s National Genealogical Society Conference Week!

This week I am attending the NGS Conference and am so excited to participate! My schedule is quite full this time! First, I am attending the BCG Education Fund’s “Putting Skills to Work” day to refresh and update my skills.

During the conference I am presenting three lectures:

  • Session W154, Wednesday, 4PM, “Breaking New Ground: Creating a Locality Guide for New Research Areas”
  • Session F328, Friday, 11AM, “How’d You Find That?!? Tips for Locating Obscure or Hidden Records”
  • Session S421, Saturday, 11AM, “Family History Piecework: An Approach to Writing” (BCG Skillbuilding Lecture)

Working at the booths for the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), the Association of Professional Genealogists, and the Board for Certification of Genealogists is also on my agenda.

Beyond this, I am looking forward to new and exciting “things” in the exhibit hall, learning new techniques at lectures, and catching up with old friends and making new.

Board for Certification of Genealogists Adopts Standards for DNA Evidence

The use of DNA in our genealogical research is becoming more and more prevalent. As the use of DNA has grown, the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) has been assessing how it has affected the field. As a result, BCG has adopted new standards for the use of DNA in genealogical work.

The following news release was received from BCG making the announcement:

For immediate release 27 October 2018
News Release, Board for Certification of Genealogists

Board for Certification of Genealogists Adopts Standards for DNA Evidence

On 21 October 2018, the Board for the Certification of Genealogists (BCG) approved five modified and seven new standards relating to the use of DNA evidence in genealogical work. BCG also updated the Genealogist’s Code to address the protection of people who provide DNA samples.

The new measures are intended to assist the millions of family historians who now turn to genetic sources to establish kinships. The action followed a public comment period on proposed standards released by BCG earlier this year.

“BCG firmly believes the standards must evolve to incorporate this new type of evidence,” according to BCG President Richard G. Sayre. “Associates, applicants, and the public should know BCG respects DNA evidence. It respects the complexity of the evidence and the corresponding need for professional standards. BCG does not expect use of DNA to be demonstrated in every application for certification. However, all genealogists, including applicants, need to make sound decisions about when DNA can or should be used, and any work products that incorporate it should meet the new standards and ethical provisions.”

“Standards for Using DNA Evidence,” a new chapter to be incorporated in Genealogy Standards, introduces the issues this way:

“Meeting the Genealogical Proof Standard requires using all available and relevant types of evidence. DNA evidence both differs from and shares commonalities with documentary evidence. Like other types of evidence, DNA evidence is not always available, relevant, or usable for a specific problem, is not used alone, and involves planning, analyzing, drawing conclusions, and reporting. Unlike other types of evidence, DNA evidence usually comes from people now living.”

In brief1, the new standards address seven areas:

  • Planning DNA tests. The first genetic standard describes the qualities of an effective plan for DNA testing including types of tests, testing companies, and analytical tools. It also calls for selecting the individuals based on their DNA’s potential to answer a research question.
  • Analyzing DNA test results. The second genetic standard covers factors that might impact a genetic relationship conclusion, including analysis of pedigrees, documentary research, chromosomal segments, and mutations, markers or regions; also, composition of selected comparative test takers and genetic groups.
  • Extent of DNA evidence. The third genetic standard describes the qualities needed for sufficiently extensive DNA data.
  • Sufficient verifiable data. The fourth genetic standard addresses the verifiability of data used to support conclusions.
  • Integrating DNA and documentary evidence. The fifth genetic standard calls for a combination of DNA and documentary evidence to support a conclusion about a genetic relationship. It also calls for analysis of all types of evidence.
  • Conclusions about genetic relationships. The sixth genetic standard defines the parameters of a genetic relationship and the need for accurate representation of genealogical conclusions.
  • Respect for privacy rights. The seventh genetic standard describes the parameters of informed consent.
  • The modifications made to several existing standards call for:
  • Documentation of sources for each parent-child link.
  • Where appropriate, distinction among adoptive, foster, genetic, step, and other kinds of familial relationships.
  • Use of graphics as aids, for example: genealogical charts and diagrams to depict proved or hypothesized relationships; or lists and tables to facilitate correlation of data and demonstrate patterns or conflicts in evidence.
  • Explanations of deficiencies when research is insufficient to reach a conclusion.

A new edition of Genealogy Standards is expected to be ready by next March. A new application guide and judging rubrics incorporating the new standards will be released at about the same time. In the interim, portfolios submitted for consideration for certification will be evaluated using the existing Genealogy Standards.

1. The Board for Certification of Genealogists® (BCG) contractually granted the publisher of Genealogy Standards the exclusive right to copy, publish and distribute the standards including amendments. However, BCG-certified associates have the contractual right to include reasonable portions of the standards in presentations, articles, blog posts, social media, and the like. In no case may BCG or its associates allow the standards to be published in their entirety because the publisher deems that competitive to its publication rights.

The words Certified Genealogist and the designation CG are registered certification marks and the designations Certified Genealogical Lecturer and CGL are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by board-certified associates after periodic competency evaluations, and the board name is registered in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Laura G. Prescott SLIG Scholarship Announced

One of the best, brightest, kindest, and most selfless genealogists in the genealogy community, Laura Prescott, has decided to enter hospice care after years of fighting a tough battle with cancer.

The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) has announced a scholarship in her honor. As if the writing of this post, the fund has reached over $14,000!

What a wonderful gift to remember and honor such a kind and generous person whose smile would just light up a room!

You can read the full details and how to donate here: https://ugagenealogy.blogspot.com/2018/07/new-laura-g-prescott-slig-scholarship.html?m=1

Please consider a donation, no matter how small, to help honor this lovely person and gift the community with a wonderful legacy in her memory for years to come.

Interested in Certification? Try a Discussion Group!

2018-06-12_14-31-22I recently completed my first time as discussion group leader (ring leader?) with Jill Morelli’s “Certification Discussion Groups” (CDG for short). These groups were created to demystify the process of preparing and submitting your portfolio for the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). It was a fun time. I got to meet with old friends and make new ones. And they got to ask questions about the process, be each others’ cheerleaders, and have the opportunity to study and process portfolios and judges’ comments.

The discussion groups are seven weeks and are divided up as follows:

  • Week 1: Intros, Application, Resources & Strategy I
  • Week 2: Ethics, Dev Activities & Strategy II

  • Week 3: Transcriptions

  • Week 4: Research Report (Client Report)

  • Week 5: Case Study

  • Week 6: Kinship Determination Project (KDP)

  • Week 7: Evaluation & Process

We go over each part of the application as well as the rubrics and standards for each piece. We also discuss some of the confusing items such as the differences between a narrative lineage, genealogy, and pedigree, and the differences between a proof statement, proof summary, and proof argument, and more. Questions arise as to what a particular standard or rubric means and this group allows for discussion of those questions.

The groups take place via video conferencing either via GoTo Meeting or Zoom. There are homework assignments that are meant to enhance the discussion, but they are optional. The course is not meant to be intensive, rather to answer specific questions about the process, dispel any myths that are floating around, give participants a chance to hear from people who have been through the process and passed, but aren’t PERFECT! We share our mistakes, the things we learned, and tips for avoiding overwhelm.

If you are interested in the process, are considering becoming certified, are already on the clock, or just wondering if it is even for you, I encourage you to participate in one of the groups. Current discussion group leaders are Jill Morelli, Angela McGhie, and myself. For more information and to be added to the waiting list, contact Jill jkmorellli@gmail.com.

GRIP 2019 Courses Announced

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It is hard to believe that the year is half over and I’m already looking ahead to my continuing education plans for 2019. In a little over a month, I will be attending the July week of the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) in Pittsburgh (as opposed to the July week in Amherst, NY) coming up soon, taking the course “Women and Children First” with Judy Russell.

Looking ahead to future educational opportunities, I want to point out that GRIP’s 2019 courses have been announced and you can read about them on their blog.

Two weeks will be held in Pittsburgh at La Roche College, which is a lovely and inviting setting for a week of study. The weeks are June 23-28 and July 14-19, 2019. Mark your calendars!

GRIP is one of my favorites. I hope to see you there!

IGHR Scholarship Update: Lloyd Bockstruck

A few days ago I encouraged future institute-goers to apply for a variety of scholarships to attend IGHR. You can see that post here. Last night we attended the conclusion banquet for the week where my friend and colleague Kelvin Meyers announced that the Dallas Genealogical Society would be setting up a scholarship in honor of Lloyd de Witt Bockstruck, a long-time faculty member of IGHR.

The details of the scholarship have not been announced yet. But they will be available through the Dallas Genealogical Society.

You can read Lloyd’s memorial and biography here.