Tag Archives: Board for Certification of Genealogists

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.

Genetic Genealogy Standards Deadline Looming

If you haven’t yet had a chance to read and comment on the proposed genetic genealogy set forth by a committee of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, you only have a few days left.

The proposed standards can be viewed at https://bcgcertification.org/DNA/Proposed_Standards.pdf.

The public comment period ends on 23 July 2018. Fill out the survey at this link (https://goo.gl/forms/57ahXLqkAYOBWDop2) by 23 July 2018.

BCG Seeks Public Comment on Genetic Genealogy Standards

Exciting news!

This was just sent out by the Board for Certification of Genealogists:

[At the annual meeting at NGS] … “the trustees debated a proposal to update genealogy standards to incorporate standards related to genetic genealogy. As a result of this discussion BCG intends to move forward with the integration of genetic genealogy into Genealogy Standards. The board directed that the committee’s proposal be published for public comment. The proposed standards can be viewed at https://bcgcertification.org/DNA/Proposed_Standards.pdf.

The public comment period ends on 23 July 2018. Fill out the survey at this link (https://goo.gl/forms/57ahXLqkAYOBWDop2) by 23 July 2018. Due to the expected volume of comments, we will not be able to acknowledge or respond to individual comments.”

Often, when I am discussing the certification process with interested genealogists, I am asked about using DNA in portfolios. They want to know about the specific requirements for including genetic genealogy in their portfolios, and as of yet, there are not really any specifics. There are now many NGSQ articles I can point people to, webinars that can be watched for DNA methodology, and guides and articles on citing DNA in your reports. However, there are not currently any DNA-specific standards, rubrics, or instructions for portfolio preparation. I hope this is a step in that direction, so that those working on certification can have specific and solid guidelines for DNA requirements.

If you are interested in reviewing the proposed standards for genetic genealogy, I encourage you to view and comment using the links above.

BCG Portfolio Madness

PortfolioFinishedI turned it in. It is over. This MAJOR accomplishment is done. I TURNED IN MY BCG PORTFOLIO!

Honestly, I don’t know if it’s any good (I am my own worst critic). I have been looking at this project for a couple of years and almost non-stop for the last 3 months. I am not sure who or what it’s about anymore, if I made any valid arguments, or if it even contained complete, coherent sentences. If you’ve ever undertaken a major project you know what I’m talking about. You get so close to it you can’t see it anymore. The words blur together. And even though it makes sense to you, who knows about the rest of the world.

Let me say this: whether or not I pass doesn’t matter at this point. I did it. It is done, over, finished, kaput and off to the judges. I turned it in and it is out of my hands now. I also know I did my best given all that has happened to me and my family over the last four months. In case you didn’t know: we moved from Colorado to Texas, bought a house, sold a house, packed, unpacked, got kids into school, and are still adjusting to life in a new and almost foreign state. And I finished my portfolio. I think I will say it again because I’m not sure I believe it yet: I finished my portfolio.

Also, whether or not I pass, I know this:

  • I am a better genealogist for having done it.
  • I have researched, analyzed, correlated, researched, written, proofread, researched, proofread, and researched more than I ever have in my life. (Did I mention that I also proofread until my eyes couldn’t focus anymore?)
  • I have learned more about citations that I ever knew before.
  • I know more about my methods of being organized (or disorganized) and worked on ways to improve all of it.
  • I know way more about the process and what it actually takes to get the portfolio done. (It’s A LOT!)
  • If I don’t pass this time, I will be doing it all over again because when you have a goal you can’t give up or you’ll never make it.
  • And I know that my mentor Birdie Holsclaw told me I could and should do this, so I will keep working at it until it happens.

There were a couple of good things I learned that I will share just in case you don’t already do these things.

  1. Keep a log of the documents you’ve requested, sent off for, asked a friend or colleague to copy, etc. I found that I got so many balls in the air toward the end and while I was moving that I had a few documents “on order” that I lost track of. I needed to follow-up on them because they weren’t in my hands weeks before deadline and then I scrambled to get them, failing to do so on one important document. (This is the one thing I can’t get out of my mind.) Keep some kind of log and keep track of those document requests.
  2. I know you’ve heard this, but I’m going to say it too. Write those citations, fully, as you gather the information. I don’t know how many hours I spent trying to “re-find” things, fill in volume, page, column, enumeration district, and microfilm numbers so I could create an appropriate citation. And I’ve been doing this for years. I know better! I spent too many hours, that’s for sure. And I can now say with certainty that I will ALWAYS write my source citations the minute I find something. Seriously. I am not exaggerating.
  3. Start writing right away. I tried researching first, filling in boxes in my software and creating check-off charts to be sure I covered everything. I still ended up doing a lot of research during the writing phase of the process and then felt like I was crunched for time at the end. I say forget it and just write. I ended up doing things like color coding sentences that needed more research, writing “find a source for this” in the footnotes, and coming back to it later. Get it all out there, on the computer screen, as much as possible, and then go back and work on it, and then go back and work on it, and then go back and work on it some more. Eventually it will all come together.

I’m sure there are some more “tips” I could give, but these are the first things to come to mind. I’m glad it’s over. I was getting really tired of those surnames and after a while I started getting confused about who was who. I’m happy to have it completed before the holidays and I hope all of you have a great holiday season and happy new year!

(And if any of the above makes sense, I’ll be surprised. I’m pretty sure my mind has gone to jelly for the time being. Just forgive any typos, use of passive voice, improper use of “it’s” or “its” and chalk it up to “post-portfolio brain.”)

My First IGHR Experience

My Gold-Star Certificate
My Gold-Star Certificate

I wasn’t sure what to expect from IGHR or Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Advanced Methodology Course. I heard a lot of rumors about how hard it was. When people would find out which course I was taking they’d say “Ooooh. Gosh, be ready for a lot of homework.”  Of course then I begin to second guess myself. “What if I’m not at the level needed to take this course? What if I’ve overestimated my abilities?” It turned out to be at just the right level and pace for me. I was familiar with almost all of the topics covered, with the exception of the government documents (gov docs for short) section. I’ve listened to lectures about gov docs before but never had the opportunity to use them. Everyone has a unique brain and therefore a different way of doing things and I thoroughly enjoyed learning how someone of Elizabeth Shown Mills’ caliber approaches a problem, what interpretations she makes from any given record and where she goes from there.

I think the biggest lessons I learned from the course are:

  • There’s always something more.
  • Citations are an art not a science.
  • Research the neighbors.

Of course there were many lessons to learn. I definitely have a new way of approaching my research problems! And there was a fair amount of homework. I spent about 4 hours per night, but I found myself going off on tangents. (Anyone else have that problem?) I did not attend any of the evening events except the banquet, because I wanted to do the homework to my satisfaction, and I wanted sleep. Craig R. Scott taught a lecture or two in our course and my favorite thing he said was “A good genealogist needs sleep.” I still didn’t get enough sleep, but an adequate amount. (I hope Elizabeth takes the yawns as a sign of hard work and not as commentary on her lecturing!)

I was surprised when I received a gold star on my certificate. I was doubly surprised when I got home and received an email from Elizabeth letting me know that I had won the Walter Lee Sheppard Jr. Prize. This is from the press release:

Cari Taplin of Longmont, Colorado, has been named the 2013 recipient of the Walter Lee Sheppard Jr. Prize, bestowed annually upon one or more genealogists who demonstrate sound practices and exceptional potential. Candidates for the award are drawn from the Advanced Research Methodology and Evidence Analysis track at Samford University’s Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research. The stipend awarded to each recipient covers the preliminary and final application fees for pursuing certification by the Board for Certification of Genealogists.
 
Past recipients of the prize include Debbie Hooper, CG, of Millsboro, Delaware; Judy Russell, CG, of Avenel, New Jersey; David Ouimette, AG, CG, of Highland Utah; Phil Burnett Adderly, CG, of Shreveport, Louisiana; and Teri Tillman, CG, of Natchez, Mississippi.
 
The Samford University IGHR and the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) were both founded in 1964 by a cadre of genealogical educators seeking to advance quality and professionalism within the field. Across the decades, BCG has co-sponsored the IGHR; and a significant number of Board-certified genealogists have been its course coordinators and instructors.
 
The prize itself memorializes the late Walter Lee Sheppard Jr., one of the twentieth-century’s leading genealogical scholars whose example strongly promoted sound reasoning and careful analysis in all genealogical specialties. As a mentor, his discerning eye could be counted upon to identify a missed source or clue in family reconstructions, thereby strengthening a colleague’s conclusions. A founder and president of BCG, Lee was also a fellow and president of the American Society of Genealogists, the National Genealogical Society, the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, and other bodies. In 2007, he was elected to the National Genealogy Hall of Fame.
 
The Sheppard Prize is privately funded by an IGHR Track 4 graduate, for whom Lee acted as mentor and patron. The prize has no affiliation with the Board for Certification of Genealogists itself.

The Walter Lee Sheppard Jr. Prize is funded by a private person who was mentored by Lee. This is serendipitous because having had an awesome mentor is the only reason I am here (in the genealogy world) today. My dear friend and mentor Birdie Holsclaw told me I could be, she told me I could do this, that I had potential, that what I was doing was fun and interesting and that people would want to hear about it. So I began speaking and writing articles. We would sit up until Buffalo Wild Wings kicked us out (around 2am) talking about my work and she’d just impart her wisdom on me, freely
and with such patience and grace. Then she and some other friends invited me to a small group of people who were thinking about becoming certified. And I’ve been on that path slowly ever since. Well, now, it’s not going to be slow anymore.

The next 18 months is going to fly by and I hope to do Birdie proud! And I hope to be able to pay forward the mentoring gift someday. All in all, that is not a bad first time at IGHR!