Welcome, Fuller “Sonny” Jones, CG

BCG’s newest associate came to genealogy twenty years ago after “growing up” with the U.S. space program. A veteran of more than 150 space vehicle launches, Fuller “Sonny” Jones is a retired National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) engineer whose career spanned more than four decades. Born in Alabama, he graduated from Auburn University with a degree in mechanical engineering. In 1958 (pre-NASA) he started work at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in Huntsville. This was the Werner von Braun team that launched the first American satellite, Explorer 1.

Fuller “Sonny” Jones, CG

Later Fuller’s desire to become more directly involved in the space program led him to Cape Canaveral. He participated in the development of the Atlas-Centaur and the early planetary exploration launches. In 1979 he moved to the Space Shuttle Program and later was the shuttle main engine lead engineer. Preparation of propulsion systems analysis reports and launch summaries honed his writing skills. The painstaking requirements of pre-launch checkout developed the attention to detail necessary in genealogical research and documentation.

Regarding genealogy Fuller says, “There is no telling when the genealogy bug will bite. It may happen when reading a family history, looking at old photographs, or visiting old graveyards.  There may be periods of ‘remission,’ but the bug can bite again at any time, and there is no cure.” Fuller’s interest in genealogy actually started about 1960 when his mother-in-law showed him the history of her Holden family from the early 1600s in England. He did not realize that the genealogy bug was present. Later, during the documentation of his wife’s Holden line for her application to the Daughters of the American Revolution, the genealogy bug bit deep.

Although interested in genealogy for many years, Fuller’s career did not allow much time for genealogical research. After he retired in 1995 from shuttle launch operations, Fuller joined the local genealogical society and started studying research methodology. The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) led to the realization that a “brick wall” could be overcome using well-documented indirect evidence.  Intensive study of the GPS requirements raised his research skills to the next level. Tom Jones and Elizabeth Shown Mills are his genealogical heroes, and he credits them with providing the inspiration to continuously improve and to attempt certification.

Fuller believes in the “boots on the ground” approach of on-site research. Such work at rural courthouses provided two breakthroughs in the research of his maternal Matthews family.  His fourth great-grandfather Rev. Willis D. Matthews died in Alexander City, Tallapoosa County, Alabama, in 1864, and family stories hinted at a will. The search began at the county courthouse in nearby Dadeville. After hours of searching through the old courthouse basement archives, Fuller asked one of the older workers for help. She came back after about ten minutes carrying an old leather wallet with the original handwritten will naming all of his children! There was no will book or index. Without the personal search and request, this invaluable document could not have been found.

Two 1930s “genealogies” of his Matthews family included many erroneous conclusions. The most egregious asserted that Fuller’s fifth great-grandfather James Matthews (father of the above Willis) died in 1810 and also reflected a change of four children’s birth dates accordingly. There were some good clues, however. One stated that James died in Pendleton District (now Anderson County), South Carolina. A research trip to the Anderson County courthouse solved the James Matthews problem. Fuller found an 1828 reference to James’s wife, Nancy Matthews. This led to a document proving that her husband died in late 1827, not 1810, while in the process of selling his land. Because James died before the sale was finalized, widow Nancy was forced to complete the sale. The resulting document, found on microfilm in the Anderson County Library, identified all the living sons and sons-in-law. Later research identified the correct birth dates of the four children born during the “lost” years of 1810–1827. Again, a research visit to the courthouse was essential for success.

A member of the National Genealogical Society, Fuller is also a long-time member and past president of the Brevard [Florida] Genealogical Society. After finding several Revolutionary War ancestors, Fuller joined Sons of the American Revolution (SAR). This led to his current passion of helping other men with their research to join the SAR.  He does this without compensation as his way of contributing to the organization.

Fuller found that poor quality documentation was prevalent in many SAR applications. He was instrumental in correcting some of this at the national level by recommending the use of the GPS and stricter documentation requirements. These improvements have now been implemented. Providing improved documentation for SAR applications was Fuller’s primary reason for seeking certification. Plus, certification was on his “Bucket List,” and now it is crossed off!

Many congratulations, Fuller, and all the best as you pursue the next item on your list!

Marie Varrelman Melchiori, Certified Genealogist Emeritus

BCG offers Emeritus status to a certified person who has had a long and distinguished career with BCG and who is retired or semi-retired. In 2015 the Board of Trustees voted to offer this designation to Marie Varrelman Melchiori.

Forty years ago Marie Varrelman Melchiori found her great-grandfather’s Civil War discharge paper. It set her on a quest for more information that resulted in a career in genealogical research, service to organizations in the field, and honors that include her election this year as a Certified Genealogist Emeritus.

Learning of her great-grandfather’s service in the 131st New York Infantry led Marie to acquire his Civil War pension file. The National Archives (NARA) in Washington, DC, was a reasonable commute from her home. She became familiar with its Civil War records holdings as she worked on her own ancestor and later for clients who were dealers and collectors of Civil War memorabilia. Marie explains that they had “letters, guns, swords, drums, etc. that belonged to a soldier. It was a pleasure to find the person who carried the item, usually a plain, ordinary soldier who would not have been mentioned in a history book.” Because of her research, this soldier’s name now became known. “The same was true of the vague ancestor whose name might appear on a family tree. Now he became a person who fought in battles that everyone had heard about.”

Marie Varrelman Melchiori, CG Emeritus[1]

In 1980 Marie’s successful application to BCG earned her the Certified Genealogical Record Searcher (CGRS) status. Her email address (MVMcgrs) still reflects that designation. The initials remained the same when the category changed in 1993 to Certified Genealogical Record Specialist, which best describes Marie’s work. “My specialty was Civil War records at NARA. This specialty expanded to include NARA military records for all wars and NARA researching in general.”

Marie began lecturing nationally in 1986 and earned the Certified Genealogical Lecturer (CGL) credential in 1995. She had heard many lecturers talk about what great things could be found in basic military records, but they said very little about how to access the records. Marie covered what most lectures missed: the important NARA finding aids. Her handouts were in outline format and contained record group number, entry or microfilm publication number, and title. She also included the all-important source citations. In later years she added mention of records that had been digitized, the company that digitized them, and the idiosyncrasies of the digitizing process. These outlines became shopping lists that could be taken to NARA in person or online. All the necessary information was there for ordering records.[2]

When BCG consolidated the CGRS and Certified Genealogist categories, Marie’s designation became CG. She felt, she says, “like the family who never moved, but the county lines changed around them. I am very much record-oriented and feel that it is important to have people who know their local records so well that they are the ‘go-to person’ for a particular area or subject. NARA doesn’t have many specialists left. Most are generalists.” She hopes BCG will continue to value the specialists.

Image technology has changed dramatically in the years since Marie first started working with NARA records. She describes the differences:

Huge census copies made on the old machine at NARA can now be made on smaller paper and with better quality. I have recopied my great-grandfather’s Civil War pension file each time NARA purchased a new copy machine. The information never changed, but the quality of the copy did. Now many of the NARA series are digitized, a big improvement over scratched microfilm. This also allows researchers to search records at home, at midnight and on holidays.

When I started lecturing, examples were presented as overheads or transparencies, and now they are slides made in PowerPoint (PP). Since my transparencies were straight from the document or the microfilm, there wasn’t much that could be done about the quality. As assistant director of the National Institute on Genealogical Research I had the chance to read reviews of the first PP presentations given. For several years the comments were more about the bells and whistles of the presentation than the material content. When the focus changed back to content I went to computer presentations. PowerPoint slides can be tweaked, and the documents used may be from a cleaner, digitized version. A lot of what is taken for granted now was at one time cutting edge.

Marie’s forty years of genealogical research, thirty-five of client work, and many years of lecturing accompanied service to genealogy organizations, too. She was assistant director of NIGR from 1987 to 2002. A member of the Association for Professional Genealogists (APG) since 1983, she served as its vice president from 1991–93 and trustee from 1994–99. In 1999 she was awarded the Grahame T. Smallwood Jr. Award of Merit in recognition of her personal commitment and outstanding service to APG. She counts as a proud moment being elected by her peers to the BCG Board of Trustees, where she served from 2002–2006.

Marie comments, “Thank you, BCG, for an association that spanned thirty-five years and helped me meet so many really great people. I have enjoyed being certified and feel it is a natural progression when someone wants to become a professional. It’s time to stop client research and get back to my own family. Thank you to the Board for granting me Emeritus status.”

On behalf of BCG and the genealogical community, thank you, Marie, for sharing your time, your energy, and your expertise to help us all grow. Congratulations!

[1]Photo courtesy of Ryan Morrill Photography.

[2] Recordings of Marie’s lectures for National Genealogical Society and Federation of Genealogical Societies conferences from 2012 and earlier can be accessed from Jamb Tapes, Inc. Her outlines were published for conference attendees in each year’s syllabus, possibly available now in genealogy libraries.

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.

Ten-Minute Methodology: When Index is a “Dirty Word”

Genealogical work supported by indexes alone can be unreliable. What? What’s wrong with the Social Security Death Index (SSDI)? It comes from a reliable source. Other indexes are good, too! Why not use them and cite them as sources?[1]

Standard 38, Source Preference, gives us the answer: “Whenever possible, genealogists prefer to reason from original records that reliable scribes carefully created soon after the reported events.”[2]

Standard 13, Source-Based Content, points out that our research plans may include indexes. However, when it’s possible, we “follow such materials to original records and primary information.”[3]

What is an index, anyway? We usually use the word to refer to an alphabetical list or guide that points us to more information elsewhere. By nature it is a derivative source, something created from something else.

Other so-called indexes offer much more than direction to find an item. Some include extracted information, helping us distinguish people of the same or a similar name.

Here’s an example of information gleaned from two online indexes. It gives a pretty good overview of one man. 

  SSDI[4] California death index[5]
Name John Kellar John M Kellar
Social Security Number 560-03-9682 560-03-9682
Death date Aug 1964 20 Aug 1964
Death place Sonoma [County], California
Birth date 14 Jun 1879 14 Jun 1879
Place where benefit was sent California
State (Year) SSN issued California (Before 1951)
Birth place Pennsylvania
Gender Male
Mother’s name Philippi

So what’s wrong with these indexes? Sure, they are derivative sources, but not all derivatives are bad. What can make index a “dirty word”?

There are two issues.

  • Extracting information involves recopying it, which introduces the possibility of error, no matter how carefully the extracts are proofread.
  • Creators of the indexes make choices about what information is extracted and what is left behind. Usually we are not given all the information from the record. This could lead to incorrect assumptions about what we do have. And what we’re missing could be clues to lead our research in productive directions.

The original death certificate for the above example reveals the extraction choices made by the California death index.[6]

If research stopped at the index level, the following information would be missed:

  • employment
  • father’s name and birthplace
  • mother’s given name and birthplace
  • spouse’s name and that she was the informant for the personal information
  • residence
  • length of residence in the state and county
  • medical and health data
  • burial information

Much of this information is primary, provided by knowledgeable informants (the spouse, the physician, the embalmer). This is one reason we are not satisfied with index entries alone. The original source may have errors, but they are not errors of transcription that could creep in when making an extract.

Indexes are useful in pointing the way. We note the information they offer and then set off to find an original source for the information we need.

Here’s the rub. First, we have to figure out if it is even possible to get the originals an index points to. The next step is learning how to get the originals. In the case of many online records, a digitized image of an original document is available with a few more mouse clicks. Other times we must determine the repository and then make contact in person or via telephone, email, or snail mail. Sometimes we are hamstrung by legal restrictions on records access, as with some recent vital records.

In the case of our death certificate example, Sonoma County, California, death records are available on Family History Library microfilm through 1919 only.[7] For a more recent death we can apply to the county or to the California Department of Public Health. (Ancestry even provides a link.) Oh yes, and we have to pay $21 and send an application through the mail. Or we can order online through a third-party site, which reduces the wait and increases the fee.

So here’s the question: Our n-generation genealogy includes many people in recent generations for whom death certificates are available, but not published, not on microfilm, and not online. It’s an expensive and time-consuming proposition to order death certificates for all the individuals. Yet genealogy standards urge us to use original sources. If we don’t, if we opt to use the “dirty word,” our list of source citations can include many derivative indexes. What do we do?

Time and money. That’s often the cost of accessing original records. However they almost always give us far more than the index, and we can judge for ourselves the quality of the source and perhaps the reliability of the information in it. We don’t have to worry about introduced errors. We usually have new hints to work with, too. And we have the satisfaction of working to standards by getting closer to original records and primary information.

Watch for the next SpringBoard post for ways to meet standards when the original records indexes point to are lost, destroyed, or otherwise inaccessible.




[1] See Anita Anderson Lustenberger, “Skillbuilding: Using Indexes,” OnBoard: Newsletter of the Board for Certification of Genealogists 3 (September 1997): 24.
[2] Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Turner Publishing, 2014), 23.
[3] Ibid., 12–13.
[4] “U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935–2014,” database, Ancestry.com (http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=3693) : accessed 28 October 2015), search for John Martin Kellar, d. 1964 California.
[5] “California Death Index, 1940–1997,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VP4D-BWH : accessed 28 October 2015), John M Kellar, 20 Aug 1964; Department of Public Health Services, Sacramento.
[6] Sonoma County, California, Certificate of Death no. 4900-1176, John Martin Kellar, filed 26 August 1964; Register and Recorder, Santa Rosa. The Registrar’s Certification Statement is pasted on the left side of the certificate. It has been folded back for purposes of this post.
[7] “Death records, 1873–1919,” catalog entry, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/302916?availability=Family%20History%20Library : accessed 6 November 2015); citing Sonoma County Recorder.

Free BCG Webinar: “Do You Have the Reflexes You Need to Become Certified?”

Tuesday, 17 November 2015, at 8:00 p.m. EDT, Harold Henderson, CG, will present “Do You Have the Reflexes You Need to Become Certified?”

A recording of this webinar is available for a small fee from Vimeo.

Like all professionals, good genealogists learn to take certain approaches and attitudes toward our work. For example, citing and questioning sources are among the many skills and practices we slowly and painfully learn. Once learned, they become automatic—and then it’s easy to forget that reflexes even exist, and that not everyone has developed them. In this talk, Harold will discuss several important reflexes genealogists need to cultivate for successful research using the standards set forth in the book Genealogy Standards. He will help audience members answer the question, “Am I ready to try for certification?”

Harold Henderson, CG, has been a professional writer since 1979, a professional genealogist since 2009, and a Board-certified genealogist since June 2012. He lives and works in northwest Indiana, and serves as a trustee of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. He has published articles in American Ancestors Journal (annual supplement to the New England Historical and Genealogical Register), the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and several state publications. His website, www.midwestroots.net, includes free resources and a link to his blog.

To register for Harold Henderson, CG, “Do You Have the Reflexes You Need to Become Certified?” on 17 November 2015, 8:00 p.m. EDT (7:00 CDT, 6:00 MDT, 5:00 PDT): https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5631969406323382786.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Attendance is limited for this free webinar. Once registered, please sign in early to avoid disappointment.

President Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG, says, “The Board for Certification of Genealogists is proud to offer this new webinar as part of an ongoing series that supports our mission to provide education for family historians. This webinar will address questions regarding the genealogy standards for research. By promoting a uniform standard of competence and ethics the BCG endeavors to foster public confidence in genealogy.”

The BCG is an independent certifying body and author of the 2014 Genealogy Standards.

Please visit SpringBoard‘s webinar page to learn about BCG’s previous webinars.

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.

News from October 2015 BCG Trustees Meeting

The trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) met in Salt Lake City on 10 October 2015. Three new trustees joined the Board: Paul Graham, CG, Judy Kellar Fox, CG, and Richard G. Sayre, CG, CGL. Two trustees retired from the board: Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, and Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL. Both have served as president of BCG and provided distinguished service to the Board and the community at large for many years.

BCG officers for 2015–2016 are Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG, president; Stefani Evans, CG, vice president; David McDonald, D.Min., CG, secretary; Michael S. Ramage, JD, CG, treasurer; Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL, and Richard G. Sayre, members-at-large.

BCG is in the process of redesigning its website. Judy G. Russell issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) on 26 October 2015. The RFP is for a redesign and update of the BCG website and overall BCG graphics for branding purposes.

The BCG trustees honored thirty-year associate Miriam Weiner with Emeritus status. “Miriam was the first Jewish genealogist to become certified by the BCG and is known for her pioneering work in Holocaust research and Eastern European records,” said President Jeanne Larzalere Bloom. “The Board is grateful for her many contributions to the field of genealogy and for promoting genealogy standards during her distinguished career.”

BCG will host “meet and greet” events at two national conferences in 2016. The gathering at the National Genealogical Society conference (4–7 May 2016, Ft. Lauderdale, FL) will be organized by Nicki Birch, CG. That at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference (31 August–3 September 2016, Springfield, IL) will be organized by David McDonald.

For questions or more information, please visit http://www.BCGcertification.org or contact Nicki Birch at office@BCGcertification.org.

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.

If You Don’t Care About Genealogy, Skip This Post

If you do, sign here.

Did you know

    • you cannot obtain a death record in Oklahoma during the seventy-five years after a death unless you are the subject of the record, i.e., the deceased;[1]
    • entries are no longer added to the Social Security Death Index until three years after the death occurs;[2]
    • state vital records officers have a Model Act which, if passed in your state, will close access to birth record for 125 years, marriage records for 100 years, and death records for seventy-five years?[3]

Without records we have no research.

We are advising congress and our state legislatures that we need access to public records and that we vote. BCG is a participating member in the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC).[4]  RPAC has crafted the Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights, a petition showing support for loosening recent restrictions on the SSDI and other public records. The goal is 10,000 signatures by the end of 2015, and we’re 90% there.

You can help! Sign the Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights. Ask your societies to urge members to sign. The petition can be signed online. A link is also available on SpringBoard‘s Genealogists’ Declaration page. RPAC Chair Jan Alpert reports that petitions will be available to sign at the November 1st Genealogy Roadshow event at HistoryMiami Museum and November 7th at Ancestry Day in Raleigh, North Carolina.

It takes just a few minutes to read the declaration out loud at your local society meeting or seminar. Pass around a few signature pages (Word doc or PDF), and folks will willingly sign, knowing what the petition is all about. We must all make our voices heard on this critical matter.

We’re 90% there. You care, right? Join in the final push!

[1] 63 Okla.Stat. § 1-323.
[2] 42 U.S.C. §1306c.
[3] §26(c), “Model State Vital Statistics Act and … Regulations,” NAPHSIS (http://www.naphsis.org/Documents/FinalMODELLAWSeptember72011.pdf).
[4] Sponsoring members of RPAC include the National Genealogical Society, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. Other participating members, in addition to BCG, are the Association of Professional Genealogists, the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists, the American Society of Genealogists, ProQuest, and Ancestry.com.

Gale Williams Bamman, Certified Genealogist Emeritus

In May 2015 Gale Williams Bamman of Cross Plains, Tennessee, was granted BCG’s honorary designation Certified Genealogist Emeritus, in recognition of more than forty years of noteworthy involvement with BCG. First certified in 1972 as Genealogical Record Searcher (GRS), Gale earned three additional BCG credentials: Certified American Lineage Specialist in 1977, Certified Genealogist in 1982, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer in 1995. She served as BCG trustee and president. At the time of receiving Certified Genealogist Emeritus, she was the longest actively-credentialed associate.

Gale Williams Bamman, Certified Genealogist Emeritus

When Gale began taking clients for research, she was hesitant to call herself a professional genealogist. “I didn’t consider that a title I could just assume. I felt I needed approval from some authority, and the fairly newly-organized Board for Certification of Genealogists (1964) seemed the perfect avenue for that,” she said. “The instructions I received in 1972 were daunting, because of my general lack of education in the field and my being somewhat self-taught. . . . There was no BCG application guide, no seminars or local speakers, and no national conferences. How-to guides were some years down the pike, other than Gilbert Doane’s Searching for Your Ancestors, first published in 1960, and which I’d consumed.”

Her application for GRS was approved. Receiving word of her success, Gale said, “was one of my happiest moments; and it proved to be a momentous move upward in my career. . . .  I could then say I was a professional, but I’d add—as I continue to do today—that I still had much to learn. I should here state what is obvious: that no one today could pass BCG’s certification requirements based on the limited knowledge I had in 1972; and with the myriad forms of instruction and study available now, it would be counter-productive, anyway, to limit oneself to basically one’s own experiences in genealogical research.”

Gale has seen the field grow and change over the years. She is excited about FamilySearch’s initiative to digitize and index their holdings, and is gratified to see the increasing recognition of genealogy’s importance to fields such as history, medicine, and genetics. On the other hand, she is concerned about some of the information found online—trees without proper documentation or proofs, and the transitory nature of some websites and records.

Like the field in general, BCG continues to evolve. “Over the forty-plus years that I have held BCG credentials,” Gale remarked, “BCG’s influence has grown significantly, and the certification process has received extensive deliberation and refining. More-specific requirements and stronger qualifications are increasingly required. None of the eight application and renewal portfolios I submitted were easy to prepare. Each required careful consideration as to which of my client reports or journal articles would best reflect my knowledge and abilities as a researcher. I mailed each and every one with sweaty palms and fluttering heartbeat.”

Associates facing their first renewal often question how best to prepare. Gale advises, “It’s very important that you address all points discussed by your judges as ones needing improvement or correction, and demonstrate in your submissions as to how you’ve improved. During the five years prior to your renewal, continue your studies and attendance at seminars and conferences, or avail yourself of tapes from those. Consider attending a genealogical institute. Conferences and seminars are ideal for networking and for learning about myriad topics; but there’s much to be absorbed, to the point that sometimes attendees can return home with a certain amount of information-overload. Institutes offer structured classes that can help you retain what you learn.”

Gale suggests that those contemplating an initial application for certification “have sufficient research background and education so that you understand the application’s requirements. If you don’t grasp what is required of you, it will be quite difficult to present submissions that will meet with the judges’ approval.”  She suggests genealogists hold off filing preliminary applications until they feel they are ready “or are very close.” Gale continues, “Sample, but actual, BCG portfolios are available at national conferences, where you can study approved submissions. You can have an edge up if you avail yourselves of those. And, by all means, study Genealogy Standards, by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (2014); Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace  (Third Edition, 2015), by Elizabeth Shown Mills; and Mastering Genealogical Proof (2013), by Tom Jones—to name the top guide books—until the principles in those  become second-nature to you.”

Now retired from professional research, Gale has taken on a project as a fundraiser for the Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society: an in-depth book on the history of Nashville, Tennessee’s earliest charitable organizations. “I’ve always enjoyed learning more about social and historical aspects— something clients expected me to know about each of their locations. I couldn’t spend their time learning that, but had to apply myself to learning, when and as I could,” she revealed. Gale’s desire to keep learning—after spending more than four decades gaining knowledge and improving her skills—is only one of the things that set her apart.

On behalf of BCG and the genealogical community, thank you, Gale, for sharing your time, your energy, your expertise, and your viewpoints to help the rest of us grow.

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. Certified Genealogist Emeritus is also a service mark of BCG, offered to Board-certified genealogists who have had long and distinguished careers with BCG and who are retired from research for clients and from the profession of genealogy for more than incidental monetary gain. The board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Website and Branding for the Twenty-First Century

Request for Proposals

The Board for Certification of Genealogists® today issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the redesign of its website and branding for the twenty-first century.

Noting that the existing website is dated in both looks and functionality, the Board is seeking a complete makeover.

The purpose of the redesign is to better serve the needs of website users, including

• persons considering Board certification who are looking for information on the certification process and judging system, and the like

• BCG’s associates, trustees, and judges

• the general public interested in genealogical standards and/or in hiring a qualified genealogist to conduct research.

The desired web design must be fully mobile-ready and offer modern content management tools. It may, if appropriate, build on an existing content management system, such as Joomla or WordPress. Graphical elements, including logo and font choices, will be updated at the same time to foster consistent branding across all media (print and web). Other key elements include but are not limited to

• intuitive navigation;

• clean and focused design;

• optimization with SEO best practices;

• social media integration (share buttons, follow buttons, etc.);

• updated associates’ directory with automatic email and phone links.

Web designers and other interested parties may download a copy of the RFP from Google Drive or DropBox. Questions about the RFP may be directed to bcg.rfp@gmail.com.

The deadline for submissions is December 1, 2015. The desired launch date of the redesigned site is as soon as possible but no later than June 1, 2016.

Darcie Hind Posz, CG, wins ASG Scholar Award

BCG associate Darcie Hind Posz is “over the moon” on winning the 2015 American Society of Genealogists (ASG) Scholar Award. She has reason to be. The ASG is a prestigious group of leading published genealogical scholars. Fellows, elected for life, number only fifty and are identified by the post-nominal FASG. The ASG “serves the discipline of genealogy by embodying and promoting the highest standards of genealogical scholarship.”[1] To this end it publishes a leading journal, The Genealogist, and confers the annual Donald Lines Jacobus Award and the ASG Scholar Award.

Darcie Hind Posz, CG

As an applicant for the ASG Scholar Award Darcie submitted an unpublished manuscript that was evaluated by three Fellows. She describes her winning entry as “a four generation study of two families from Hiroshima Prefecture in Japan, their migration to the Big Island of Hawaii, and then the return of a few of them to Japan. It discusses the class system, Japanese law, the 1873 mandatory conscription act, plantation contacts with Hawaii, records-creation laws (in the Empire of Japan, the Kingdom of Hawaii, and the United States), dual citizenship of Japanese immigrants, and WWII Japanese internment.”

To encourage advanced education in genealogy, the ASG grants a prize of $1000. It is to be used for study at one of the major U.S. academic genealogical programs: the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR); the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR) in Washington, D.C.; the Certificate Program in Genealogical Research at Boston University; the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG); or the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP).

Darcie plans to attend the advanced land-analysis and platting course at IGHR. “Regardless of geography, my ancestors kept living in state-land states,” she said, “and I need to learn how to study and plat with patience and understanding. This also moves me closer to the project I mentioned when I first became certified, which is to do the land and community study on Waipio Valley [the Big Island of Hawaii] on foot.”

Darcie has submitted her award-winning piece for publication in a major journal. We’ll be watching for it! Many congratulations, Darcie.

[1] American Society of Genealogists (http://fasg.org/ : accessed 23 October 2015).


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.

Free BCG Webinar: Applying Standards to International Research

Tuesday, 20 October 2015, at 8:00 p.m. EDT, Melanie D. Holtz, CG, will present “Applying the Standards to International Research.”

A recording of this webinar is available for a small fee from Vimeo.

The idea of “reasonably exhaustive research” might be one of the most mysterious elements of the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). What exactly does it mean? How do you know when you’ve achieved it? How does the GPS apply to international research?

Melanie D. Holtz, CG

The lecture will focus on showing how the standards can apply to international research through the evaluation of several Italian case studies and/or research problems. Some research problems naturally require more work to meet the definition of reasonably exhaustive research, while others may be a lot simpler.

Understanding reasonably exhaustive research is important in preparing a kinship determination project. Examples abound for those who focus on U.S. research. However, for those who don’t, it is often helpful to see examples from other geographic locations. In this way, they can more easily learn the proper application of these concepts to their own type of genealogical research.

Melanie D. Holtz, CG, is a Board-certified genealogist, writer, and lecturer. She operates an international research firm that specializes in Italian genealogical research, Italian-American dual citizenship, and Italian-American probate cases. Melanie maintains offices in both Italy and the U.S.

To register for Melanie D. Holtz, CG, “Applying the Standards to International Research” on 20 October 2015, 8:00 p.m. EDT (7:00 CDT, 6:00 MDT, 5:00 PDT): https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7525305339610306562.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Attendance is limited for this free webinar. Once registered, please sign in early to avoid disappointment.

Please visit SpringBoard‘s webinar page to learn about BCG’s previous webinars.

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.