Welcome, Patricia Lee Hobbs, CG

Patricia Lee “Patti” Hobbs

Patti Hobbs, native Californian, inadvertently made a reverse, west-to-east migration by settling in the Missouri Ozarks in 1990. After the move she discovered that her grandfather was born ninety miles west of her current home, and his mother was from territorial Missouri stock, bringing her back to her own roots.

Patti is the genealogy face of the Springfield-Greene County (Missouri) Library District. Since 2009 she has been a genealogist reference associate for the Local History and Genealogy Department. She loves this position that suits her inclination to teach and her passion for genealogy.

Her twenty-five-year career homeschooling her six children prepared Patti well for genealogical research and readying her BCG portfolio. She became more logical, especially in her presentations. Too, she had to teach herself a lot, and at a high level, to be prepared to teach her students. She knows that “you can learn almost anything if you have the experts giving the standards, and you have the tools for learning.” For Patti those tools included at least ten sessions at the Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research, the National Institute on Genealogical Research, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, and the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh.

From preparing her children’s lessons, this biology major developed a love of history and the stories of people in historical context. “It has been thrilling to me to see how the everyday people fit into the grand historical themes. [They] are the fabric of our society, and we should be proud of that.”

Patti found great satisfaction in preparing her kinship-determination project. She had two goals: to start in the 1700s and to include her family watchmakers. The story begins with a Massachusetts woman whose father was a Revolutionary War patriot and continues through Patti’s great-grandfather, whose son, taught by his father, was well known for his watch craft during World War II. Patti wants to continue this type of writing where “little details come together that [may not be] so obvious. Writing biographical material with historical context creates a synergy that can otherwise be lost.”

Patti continues, “I love discovering ‘lost’ family, especially those who had no children and therefore have no descendants looking for them. I want to be their advocate and tell their tales. But even with ancestors who aren’t lost, there are lost stories in their lives. Teasing those things out of the details of the records is immensely rewarding.”

This consummate teacher describes two types of library patrons: those who want simply to compile a family tree and those who are ready and willing to research in records. Addressing their frustration with not finding the one record that “proves” an identity, Patti explains, “If a jillion people haven’t found it yet, it’s because no one has muddled around in the records.” She’s just the person to help do that because she has a great attitude about brick walls. “I have difficulty calling anything a brick wall. I usually figure that I just haven’t looked hard enough yet.”

Looking hard can bring up surprises. While researching her great-grandfather watchmaker, Patti found online and was able to purchase his own watch with his name and the town he was working in engraved on it.

Looking to the future, Patti expects to spend the next five years continuing teaching through her local genealogical society and writing articles for publication. She can be reached at research@quotidiangenealogy.com, or she may be spotted at the next genealogical institute. All the best, Patti, and welcome!


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.

Ten-Minute Methodology: Proof Summaries and Arguments 1


This post is part of an occasional series intended to educate and challenge BCG associates, aspirants, and the genealogical community at large.

Our Proof Goals

We genealogists aim for accuracy in representing identities and relationships. We want to show why we believe people were who we say they were. We want to show that they really belonged with the folks we attach them to.

We follow the Genealogical Proof Standard to ensure that our research is thorough, our sources well documented, our reasoning levelheaded, and our conflicts resolved. Then we write up our conclusions. Standards 51 through 54 in Genealogy Standards describe the qualities we aim for in writing our proofs for the public, for ourselves, and for posterity.

Options for Writing Proofs

Standard 53 offers a division of proofs into statements, summaries, and arguments.

  • Proof statements are the simplest and reflect direct evidence. We’ve looked at these in the first and second “Ten-Minute Methodology” posts.
  • Proof summaries are a little more complex and also rest on direct evidence. They are “relatively straightforward” and can be lists or narratives. Always, they present documentation. It there are conflicts, they are minor and easily explained.
  • Proof arguments are still more complex and address cases where evidence conflicts or where direct evidence is absent. These are the challenging cases that require more explanation and often include tables, charts, or maps. [1]

Both proof summaries and arguments can stand alone as work samples, or they may appear as parts of larger works. They can be very similar, only the complexity of the case distinguishing the two.

Understanding the Terminology of Proofs

What can be confusing is when a proof is a summary and when it’s an argument, and what to do about proofs that seem to be hybrids that aren’t defined in Genealogy Standards. Over time terminology has been changing. An example of a proof summary in an older publication may look more like the current definition of a proof argument.

A Continuum

We don’t have to get hung up over trying to create artificial boundaries between summaries and arguments. There’s an easier way to look at genealogical proofs than trying to determine whether we use a proof summary or a proof argument and to figure out which one to use when. It’s a continuum and looks something like this: [2]

There’s a big overlap between proof summaries and proof arguments in terms of their complexity and length: the grey area. Occasionally our proofs will naturally fall into the grey area, and that’s ok.

Naming types of proof isn’t our goal. Designing and writing them is. As we work with information we turn to research standards related to reasoning, for example Standards 47 (evidence correlation), 48 (resolving evidence inconsistencies), and 50 (assembling conclusions).[3] For choosing a format when writing, we rely on “Genealogical Proofs.”

Standard 53 gives us a general idea, from the type and complexity of evidence we have amassed, what type of proof we will write. Standard 54 reminds us of the importance of organizing evidence and sequencing it logically so it convinces readers of the accuracy of our conclusions.[4]

Examples

It’s fine and well to describe what proof should look like, but it’s important to see what it does look like. There’s an example of proofs that are part of a larger work right on the BCG website. This ascending genealogy provides proofs broken out into “Parentage” sections for three women.

  • Elizabeth’s parentage, pages 1–2, rests on direct evidence. This is a proof in narrative format.
  • Another, more complex, narrative on pages 12–13 summarizes proof of Mary’s parentage with a focus on her mother. It requires five paragraphs to describe and explain the evidence for Mary’s mother’s identity as well as the parental relationship.
  • Proof of Barbara’s parentage on page 19 is presented in a numbered list. It derives from “Four pieces of direct evidence.” [5]

We see how the type and length of proof used depend on the type, quality, and reliability of the evidence available. More narrative is required to explain reasoning in cases where we have only second-hand information or when conflicts and/or indirect evidence is added into the mix. What we call our proofs is of minimal significance. What is really important is that we get them written!

Next time we’ll look at more published examples of proofs.

Many thanks to Alison Hare, Laura DeGrazia, Stefani Evans, and Tom Jones for helpful input.


[1] Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), Genealogy Standards (Nashville: Ancestry.com, 2014), 31.
[2] Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 87.
[3] BCG, Genealogy Standards, 27–29.
[4] BCG, Genealogy Standards, 32–34.
[5] Connie Lenzen, “The Maternal Line of Elizabeth (Niesz) Titus,” 2007, Board for Certification of Genealogists (http://www.bcgcertification.org/skillbuilders/titusnarrlineage.pdf : accessed 11 January 2015).

Last Chance to Comment on Rules Regarding Social Security Death Index Access

Board-certified genealogists working in forensic genealogy should read the new regulations for access to the most recent three years of deaths in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), also called the Public Death Master File (Public DMF). The regulations were published in the Federal Register on 30 December 2014, and are available here.

A comment period was opened at that time. All comments are due by 29 January 2015. Your comments must be submitted through the “Submit a Formal Comment” button on the Federal Register website associated with this Final Rule.

The closure of recent deaths in the SSDI was enacted into law on 26 December 2013 and officially began on 28 March 2014. After that time, genealogists needing to locate the recently dead had to qualify for a certification program instituted and developed by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), the entity responsible for selling the Public DMF produced by Social Security Administration. The history of this regulatory process was covered in an earlier Springboard post.

NTIS has requested specific feedback on several areas. Two are important to genealogists: (1) security and (2) impact on small businesses.

The original law provided more than one type of information security solution. Rather than request a technical amendment to the law, NTIS has picked a solution. It asks for feedback on that solution, which is to use third party companies to perform the security evaluation. All costs, of course, are to be borne by the NTIS-Certified Persons with access to the Limited Access DMF.

The impact on small businesses must be measured by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act. The majority of Board-certified genealogists certainly come within this group. If your small business has been hit by the 2013 law and regulations restricting the SSDI/Public DMF, your comments are specifically requested. The Federal Register states:

NTIS is unable at this time to estimate the number of impacted entities that may be considered small entities. Because NTIS lacks information about the types and sizes of entities [small businesses] impacted by this rule, it cannot determine impacts. Accordingly NTIS requests that the public provide it with information about the types of entities impacted by this rule, whether those are small or large entities under [the Small Business Administration]’s size standards, and the level of or a description of the type of impacts that this rule will have on those entities.[1]

Would you like to be NTIS-certified but are uncertain about the user query system on their DMF database? Would you prefer to pay by the query rather than a flat fee of nearly $1000 each year? Are you worried about the third party security program and how much it might cost? Would you rather make your queries through a database aggregator like Ancestry.com? Has this regulation made it more difficult to find next of kin? All of these are important impacts on your small business. NTIS needs to hear about them in order to fulfill its responsibilities under section 203 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

by Barbara Mathews, CG, FASG

As BCG’s official representative to the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC), Barbara advocates for the concerns of Board-certified genealogists, and participates in RPAC’s monthly conference call. RPAC is a joint committee organized by the National Genealogical Society, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. Each of these three societies has a vote on the committee. Non-voting representatives are sent by several national groups: American Society of Genealogists, Association of Professional Genealogists, BCG, and ICAPGen. In addition, non-voting representatives attend from two corporations, Ancestry, and ProQuest. Communication is fostered by an email list, monthly telephone conference calls, and the RPAC blog.

Photograph used under Creative Commons license. For more information, see https://www.flickr.com/photos/arts/34758108/in/gallery-halliebateman-72157629088082905/.


[1] Federal Register, vol. 79, no. 249, p. 78320, 30 December 2014.

 

BCG Certification Discussions for APG Members

Members of the Association of Professional Genealogists have two opportunities in the coming year to discuss BCG certification with BCG past president Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, one in March and one in September. Elissa describes them as follows, ”With only 25 APG members allowed to be in attendance on a first-come, first-logged-in basis, we will have an intimate chat about certification, how to prepare, and what it takes to be successful.” It is a great opportunity to learn about certification and ask questions of someone who has been Board-certified for 20 years.

Upcoming APG Discussion Groups

We are pleased to announce four [two relating to BCG] upcoming APG Discussion Groups! These meetings are open to all APG Members with no pre-registration and are a unique way to learn from and network with your colleagues. The access instructions for each Discussion Group can be found in the “members only” section of the website and include biographies for each leader.

18 March 2015, 9:00 p.m.: “Certification: Process, Requirements, and Readiness” by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL

16 September 2015, 9:00 p.m.: “Certification: Process, Requirements, and Readiness” by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL

The meeting room will open fifteen minutes prior to the scheduled starting time and holds a maximum of twenty-five attendees. Access will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

The discussion groups are meant to be discussions on a particular topic, not lectures or webinars. It is through the give and take of these discussions that the best learning experiences will occur. Please come prepared with your questions.

If you have any questions, please contact Melanie D. Holtz, CG, at Melanie@holtzresearch.com.

We hope you enjoy the meetings!

APG Professional Development Committee


CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer, are service marks 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.

BCG Education Fund Workshop at NGS St. Charles 12 May 2015

The BCG Education Fund is sponsoring a great educational opportunity at the annual NGS conference. Aimed at intermediate to advanced genealogists, this one-day workshop features two skilled and respected instructors, Barbara Mathews, CG, FASG, and Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL. They will speak about evidence and research reports, respectively. The workshops fill quickly, so if this one looks appealing, sign up right away: http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/bcg-education-fund-workshop/.

 

Putting Skills To Work

Tuesday, 12 May 2015, 8:30 AM–4:30 PM
St. Charles, Missouri

Putting Skills To Work is a unique full-day, hands-on workshop limited to sixty participants. The focus is on skills needed by anyone practicing serious genealogical research, whether as a family historian, librarian, dedicated hobbyist, or writer. Materials are geared to intermediate and advanced practitioners and advocate established genealogical standards.

The $110 registration fee includes lunch, two in-depth presentations, hands-on exercises, syllabus, handouts, and active class participation. NGS conference registration is not required.

Barbara J. Mathews, CG, FASG, will lead the session “Evidence Analysis, Correlation, and Resolution: The Heart of the Genealogical Proof Standard.” Focusing on only direct evidence creates unnecessary research dead ends. This session addresses weighing BMathewsand correlating sources, evidence, and information in their many diverse forms for successful resolution of investigations.

Barbara Mathews is a lineage genealogist specializing in colonial Connecticut and Massachusetts. She represents BCG on the Records Access and Preservation Committee, and is Civil Records Co-Director for the Massachusetts Genealogical Council (MGC). Her white paper co-written for MGC, “Framing a Discussion on Vital Records Access,” provides an historic look at government policies involving ID theft, financial fraud, and vital records. She is currently working on a book about the descendants of the fourth colonial governor of Connecticut for the Welles Family Association. Barbara mentored ProGen Study Group 7, GenProof Study Group 6, and currently mentors ProGen Study Group 21. She is a substitute instructor for the Boston University genealogical certificate program, a contributor to the BCG blog, SpringBoard, and a former trustee of BCG and the BCG  Education Fund.

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, will lead the session “Tested Strategies for Efficient Research Reports.” Many researchers EPowellassume committing research findings to paper is separate from the research process. Elissa will share her methodology for using available time efficiently during the research process, resulting in a sharable work product.

Elissa Powell, a western Pennsylvania researcher, is immediate past president of BCG. She is co-director of the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, and instructs for Boston University’s genealogical certificate program and at the Salt Like Institute of Genealogy. She is coordinator of the Professional Genealogy course for the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University. Elissa is a frequent lecturer at national conferences as well as at venues across the United States. In 2010 she was the recipient of the National Genealogical Society’s President’s Citation for her broad support of the genealogical community.

 by Kathy Gunter Sullivan, CG, BCG Education Fund


CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks 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.

Welcome Sherry Lindsay, CG

Sherry Lindsay, CG

BCG’s newest associate is also one of its youngest at certification. Sherry Lindsay was just shy of thirty when she received the email congratulating her on her achievement. The response to her portfolio was so long in coming, she had convinced herself she had not passed and that she would consider the application a great learning experience. After much finger-crossing and wondering if she understood the standards correctly, the email came as a surprise.

A major in Family History from Brigham Young University prepared Sherry well for her genealogy career, as well as for certification. Her coursework included family, local, and social history research in southern states, the Midwest, and Ireland, and work in Latin handwriting and documents. For the past five years Sherry has worked for AncestryProGenealogists (formerly ProGenealogists) and is currently part of their European team, comprised of about fifteen genealogists. This professional work has improved her research skills, and she gives credit to great mentors in her workplace.

Sherry loves solving the problems people have been puzzling over for years. She enjoys facilitating the reunion of adoptees and others who have lost contact with their biological families. She has also been involved in the fast-paced, collaborative, deadline-driven work for “Who Do You Think You Are?”

Sherry shares how she helps her family members learn about ancestry: “I’m a big proponent of my nieces and nephews being able to name their ‘eight greats,’ and I’ve been impressed with how early they start to understand how a family fits together. My obsession with helping people learn the names of their ‘eight greats’ actually started with my husband. When I learned that he actually had memories of some of his great-grandparents, I was really surprised. Then when I tried to find out which grandparents they were, we both realized that he had no clue. One grandma he just referred to as the ‘Raisin Grandma’ because she distributed raisins to the kids. I memorized his eight great-grandparents and then helped him to learn their names too. Now when his parents tell stories of their own grandparents, he can put specific names with the stories and know where they fit on the family tree.”

Two little boys complete Sherry’s family, and the older one, age four, is beginning to learn where his “Grandma Great” (Sherry’s husband’s grandmother) belongs in his family tree. Besides teaching her family how it connects together, Sherry keeps an online tree at Ancestry.com, commenting, “I hope they don’t lose their servers.” She is not tied to paper files and notebooks.

A love of camping, hiking, and canoeing keeps Sherry and her family outdoors in summer. She and her husband spent a year in New Zealand. The joke is that while he prepared his degree, she majored in vacation. Together they traveled around the beautiful south island, camping at Great Barrier Island and gathering shellfish.

Sherry can be reached at sherry.lindsay@gmail.com. She is so young that it is possible she could renew her certification eight or nine times. As her sons grow older, she looks forward to attending genealogy conferences and teaching at them. Welcome, Sherry, and may your association with BCG be long and fruitful.


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.

Ten-Minute Methodology: Proof Statements 2, Examples

This post is part of an occasional series intended to educate and challenge BCG associates, aspirants, and the genealogical community at large.

I promised last post to give examples of proof statements. Here are two. The first shows proof statements as sentences, the second as data items.

Proof statements in a genealogical summary. Here each proof statement is comprised of an assertion and its related source citations, together proving the identity of Harriet and her husband. The sources are original and the context demonstrates “reasonably exhaustive research” in vital, church, and newspaper records. Two proof statements in this excerpt show the relationship of Harriet and Joseph to the parents of each.

1. Harriet Jane Iddiols, daughter of John Iddiols and Harriet Walter, was born 1 November 1842 in London, England,1 and died 3 April 1881 in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.2 She married on 13 February 1863 at Saint John to Joseph Williams.3 Joseph, son of Peter and Elizabeth Williams, was baptized 27 November 1836 at Mawgan-in-Meneage, Cornwall, England,4 and died 24 April 1886 in Boston, Massachusetts.5

________________________

1 England birth certificate, Harriett Jane Iddiols, 1842; General Register Office, London, image from Strand, vol. 1, p. 349. Also, Parish of St. Anne (Soho, Westminster, Middlesex), Baptisms, vol. 7 (1837–1853), p. 247, Harriett Jane Iddiols; microfilm 918,608, Family History Library (FHL), Salt Lake City, Utah.

2 “Died,” The Telegraph (Saint John, N.B.), 5 April 1881, p. 3.

3 Saint John Co., marriage register, vol. F (1859–1863), p. 413, Williams–Iddiols; microfilm F16244, Provincial Archives of New Brunswick (PANB), Fredericton, N.B. Also, Saint John Co., marriage bond 1387 (1863), Williams–Iddiols; PANB microfilm F9093.

4 FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org : accessed 25 November 2014) > “England, Cornwall and Devon Parish Registers, 1538–2010” > Cornwall > Mawgan-in-Meneage > Baptisms 1813–1837, image 52 of 54, Joseph Williams. [The later biographical sketch will show Joseph enumerated as his parents’ son in 1851.]

5 FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org : accessed 25 November 2014) > “Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1627–2001” > Suffolk > Boston > Deaths 1886–1887 > image 97 of 683, Joseph Williams. Also, “Deaths,” The Daily Sun (Saint John), 27 April 1886, p. 3.

The author gratefully acknowledges Alison Hare, CG, for providing this example.

Proof statements in a database. Here the proof statements are not sentences, but data items, a series of related proofs for the events of a woman’s life. Each is supported by at least one citation to a high quality source. Taken together they create context for evidence of this woman’s identity.

Two items assert Philippina’s relationship to her father and her mother. Again, each is supported by direct evidence from original sources and some primary information. Using a relationship tag or fact allows us to identify all the sources that bear directly on proof of parentage. If our genealogy software does not provide such tags, we can create them.

Name: Philippine Magdalene “Philippina” Kaiser

Individual Facts

Birth: 3 August 1843 in Bremberg, Nassau, Nassau1

Relationship: 3 August 1843, birth to Philipp Jacob Kayser; Bremberg, Nassau,                Nassau2

Relationship: 3 August 1843, birth to Anna Magdalene Klöppel; Bremberg,                                   Nassau, Nassau3

Confirmation: 31 May 1857 at Evangelische Kirche, Kördorf, Nassau, Nassau4

Marriage: 12 August 1876 to Johann Friederich “Frederick” Kicherer in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, United States5

Death: 3 July 1909 in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, United States6

_____________________________

1. Evangelische Kirche Kördorf, KB [Kirchenbuch, church register] 05, Taufen [baptisms], 1843, pp. 564–65, no. 42 [first of two], Philippine Magdalene Kayser; FHL microfilm 1,577,323, item 1. At the time of Philippina’s birth, Bremberg was in the Duchy of Nassau, now part of Germany.

2. Evangelische Kirche Kördorf, KB 05, Taufen [baptisms], 1843, pp. 564–65, no. 42; FHL microfilm 1,577,323, item 1. Also, Evangelische Kirche Kördorf, Konfirmationen [confirmations] 1818–1878, 1857, p. 120, no. 30, Philippine Magdalene Kayser; FHL microfilm 1,577,324, item 6. Also, “Aged Lady Dead; Mrs. Kicher, of Henderson Township, Expired Saturday,” Sykesville Post-Dispatch (Sykesville, Pennsylvania), 9 July 1909, p. 1, col. 4. “Kicher” reflects Philippina’s stepchildren’s abbreviation of their family name.

3. Ibid.

4. Evangelische Kirche Kördorf, Konfirmationen, 1857, p. 120, no. 3.

5. “Aged Lady Dead,” p. 1, col. 4. Also, 1880 U.S. Census, Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Henderson Township, ED 191, p. 17 (penned), dwelling/family 93, Frederic Kicherer household; NARA microfilm T9, roll 1136.

6. Pennsylvania Bureau of Vital Statistics, death certificate 61832 (1909), Bena Kicher; Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg. Bena is a nickname for Philippina. Also, “Aged Lady Dead,” p. 1, col. 4.

Did you notice how the proof statements in these examples comply with the Genealogical Proof Standard (except for resolution of conflicting evidence, as there is none)?

For further information on proof statements, see

  • Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry.com, 2014), 32, 73
  • Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 84–86 and 177.

Next time we’ll look at what our proof looks like when there is conflicting evidence.

BCG Education Fund Offers Genetic Genealogy Workshop at NGS Conference

If you’re an intermediate genetic genealogist (not a beginner) and you’re going to the NGS conference in May, treat yourself to this fabulous opportunity. The workshop is limited to thirty participants, so register soon!

National Genealogical Society Conference 
St. Charles, Missouri
Friday, 15 May 2015

DWayneDebbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, will present “Genetic Genealogy: Effective Analysis and Correlation of DNA Test Results.” This full day intermediate-level workshop is for those who understand DNA basics and want to effectively correlate DNA test results with documentary research to answer a genealogical question.

The $40 registration fee includes hands-on exercises, syllabus, and handouts; lunch is not included. Please note that syllabus material will be provided electronically prior to the workshop. Attendees should print the material and bring it with them to the workshop. Internet access will not be available in the classroom.

Many genealogists today have attended lectures on genetic genealogy, but putting those principles to practical use is seldom demonstrated in one-hour lectures due to time constraints. As with analysis and correlation of any type of genealogical evidence, in-depth understanding comes with experience and practice. This workshop provides that “next step” beyond what is provided in introductory lectures.

The workshop will address analysis techniques and tools for Y-DNA, mitochondrial DNA, autosomal DNA, and X-DNA. Attendees should already understand the basic theoretical underpinnings in order to successfully complete hands-on exercises. There will be active class participation with examples from real DNA projects and one-on-one assistance with the exercises. While there will not be time for consultations on your personal DNA test results, you will be able to apply the techniques learned to your own results.

Debbie Parker Wayne is a Board-certified genealogist and genealogical lecturer experienced in DNA analysis as well as traditional techniques. Her traditional research focuses on Texas, the Southwest, and the southern United States. She coordinates and teaches week-long, comprehensive, interactive genetic genealogy courses at several genealogical institutes. She has performed research for genealogical television shows, such as the Canadian series Ancestors in the Attic, PBS’s Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr., and The Learning Channel’s Who Do You Think You Are? Debbie is a trustee of the BCG Education Fund and the DNA project director for the Texas State Genealogical Society.

 by Kathy Gunter Sullivan, CG

 

To register for this and other workshops, as well as for the conference, visit the NGS conference website.


CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks 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.

Welcome Sara Anne Scribner, CG

Sara Anne Scribner, CG

by Melinda Daffin Henningfield, CG

Sara Anne Scribner finds genealogy to be an emotional endeavor, and some original documents she found moved her to tears. One tearful read included content descriptions “of unclaimed packages sent to Confederate prisoners of war at Point Lookout.”

Genealogy is not Sara’s first career. She graduated from Vassar College with a degree in drama. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Sara continued her education with an MS in Library Science from Simmons College in Boston. She worked as a library director in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and San Jose, California, and held other executive positions at San Jose. In the midst of this busy life, Sara found time to graduate with a BFA in drawing from the California College of the Arts in Oakland.

Sara uses all of her education in her daily life. Loving a good story, she writes and produces plays (several of which involve genealogy) and also acts in her local community theater. In 2010 she produced a play that explored a family and its reaction to unexpected DNA results. “The advertising read ‘DNA doesn’t lie, but sometimes Southern ladies do.’”

Sara chose her home in Bainbridge Island, Washington, partly because of its vibrant artistic community. She has continued her career as a librarian for the last thirteen years, answering patrons’ questions and teaching research strategies to the public at both a community college and a public library. She enjoys exploring new genealogical methodologies and research localities. Tenaciously seeking answers, she loves to move from low-hanging fruit to more challenging research.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Sara’s genealogical hero. “We could not conduct genealogy as we do today without their [the LDS Church’s] programs, most free or low-cost[:] . . . their international microfilming program, Family History Centers, educational programs (like the FamilySearch Wiki or free online courses), and the one-of-a-kind Family History Library.” Sara is inspired by and values the many genealogical “heavyweights” she has studied with at institutes and conferences.

Going through the certification process improved Sara’s genealogical work. She realized she was an inconsistent record-keeper. As she prepared her portfolio, she developed a process that improved her record-keeping skills and her method of working through a genealogical research problem. Sara loves “a good laugh, and where research is concerned there are plenty of those, especially in the ‘now I know better’ category.”

Sara’s advice for those thinking about certification includes getting as much education as you can afford and getting acquainted with others involved in genealogy. Having genealogy friends to laugh with helps. She also advises frequently revisiting the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) requirements, genealogical methodology books, and conference notes. Finally, take your time in preparing your portfolio, even if you require an extension.

In the next five years, Sara hopes to open a genealogy research business and credits her experience in a ProGen Study Group for providing business guidance. She is working towards identifying the parents of her ancestor, Eliza (Williamson) Fisher, her most elusive female ancestor.

Welcome, Sara!


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.

Ten-Minute Methodology: Proof Statements 1

This is the first in an occasional series intended to educate and challenge BCG associates, aspirants, and the genealogical community at large.

Confession: Since starting this post, I’ve come to realize that my idea of proof statements was all wrong. Now I have them pretty well figured out. I hope this post will help you understand them better, too.

The heart of all our genealogical work is determining identities and relationships and proving them. Proof statements are one means of presenting our genealogical conclusions. Not all statements, even if they are source-cited, are proof statements. Proof statements are special. All by themselves, individually, they can make a case for a conclusion and comply with the Genealogical Proof Standard. What? How does that happen? Let’s look at one of the standards.

Standard 53 includes a definition of proof statements:
Proof statements are source-cited sentences and data items in thoroughly documented contexts demonstrating adequate research scope. Genealogists use proof statements when at least two citations demonstrate that a conclusion’s accuracy requires no explanation. Proof statements usually appear in documented presentations of genealogical research results, including articles, blogs, case studies, chapters, charts, family histories, monographs, reports, tables, and other printed and online works. [1]

Whew! Let’s break it down.

What are proof statements? They are conclusions within a broader context that meet current standards for genealogical proof. Let’s analyze the standard to see the requirements.
o They are “sentences and data items [as in a table].” They make an assertion.
o They are “source-cited.” They include the source citations.
o They appear in “thoroughly documented contexts demonstrating adequate research scope.” They are part of a larger whole (the context), one of the types of presentations listed above, and the context is further described:
• The whole context (like the single proof statement) is thoroughly documented.
• The context demonstrates “adequate research scope.” The context and its citations show reasonably exhaustive research.

How do proof statements comply with the five criteria of the Genealogical Proof Standard?
1. The proof statement and the context of which it is a part reflect broad research in a wide range of best available sources.
2. At least two source citations support the assertion. One or more may appear in the footnote to the proof statement. Or one may appear in the footnote and other(s) in the broader context in which the statement appears.
3. The citations reflect use of high-quality sources and information. Priority is given to original sources and primary information. The proof requires no further explanation or discussion of the evidence. It fits well in its context.
4. Resolution of conflicting evidence requires explanation beyond the scope of a proof statement, so it is not applicable to this type of proof.
5. A proof statement is the write-up of the conclusion.

Where do we find proof statements? What do they look like? We use them in every genealogical work product we create. The next “Ten-Minute Methodology” post will give examples of proof statements. Be watching for it as you mull over these concepts!


[1] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (Nashville: Ancestry, 2014), 32.