Welcome Jean Atkinson Andrews, CG

Jean Atkinson Andrews, CG

Jean Atkinson Andrews may be familiar as a regional director on the National Genealogical Society (NGS) board and as its outgoing treasurer. She is South Carolina’s second BCG associate. She confesses, though, to having (paraphrasing Garrison Keillor) “a certain smug satisfaction in being a Midwesterner,” raised in the soybean country of central Illinois.

Jean and her husband retired from Ohio to South Carolina eight years ago. Growing up in the North, she knew the Civil War from the Union perspective. Recently she has begun working with Redcliffe, a South Carolina state historic plantation, to trace descendants of the African American slaves who worked and lived there. The project has given Jean a perspective from the “other” side and an appreciation for the passion African Americans and non-slaveholder whites brought to defending their way of life.

Describing herself as “rather bookish,” Jean tells of a teenage summer spent reading the local newspaper obituaries at her public library. In just one month she traced her Atkinson roots back to England. She now dismisses that effort with a laugh and knows her roots extend from Illinois back to Indiana, and perhaps to Maryland via Kentucky.

Jean’s training in accounting, an MBA in finance, and a career in the automotive industry prepared her to track, analyze, and justify large volumes of data. On retirement she put those skill to work researching her husband’s difficult and interesting Ohio line.

About four years ago Jean began seriously pursuing certification, which has changed her work “exponentially” for the better. Besides the “usual suspects,” Elizabeth Shown Mills and Tom Jones, Jean appreciates “timely prodding” toward certification from her BCG-associate-mentors Shirley Langdon Wilcox, Barbara Vines Little, and Nancy Peters. Jean would make the NGS Quarterly articles by “outstanding South Carolina genealogist GeLee Corley Hendrix required reading for anyone interested in Palmetto state research.”

Jean especially values the rubrics in preparing her successful portfolio. She explains, “After finishing each segment of the portfolio, I would critique it against the appropriate rubric and each of the relevant standards. Once I felt I had done my best work, I put it aside and did not return to it.” She advises prospective applicants, “Focus on producing your best work and not on being perfect.”

Jean loves writing and has published in the NGS Magazine and the Ohio Genealogy News. She has submitted her first scholarly article for publication in a leading genealogical journal. It treats a brick wall solved with, among other things, the serendipitous discovery of scraps of receipts in an Ohio probate file.

Jean can be reached at aandreje@gmail.com and through the BCG website. Welcome, Jean!


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.

The Road to Better SSDI Access Goes Through All Fifty States

A stretch of road between California and Nevada, photograph by Dan Thorburn, used under Creative Commons license, https://www.flickr.com/photos/danthorburn/7558581290 .

Do you remember how with one stroke of a pen on 26 December 2013 genealogists lost access to recent deaths in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI)?

Nearly a year ago, the President signed into law the 2013 federal budget compromise bill. It included Section 203, which removed Freedom of Information Act protection from the SSDI and eliminated deaths from public record until the end of the third calendar year after they occur, effective 28 March 2014. As an example, deaths that occur between 28 March and 31 December 2014 will first appear in the SSDI on 1 January 2018. Closing the SSDI’s most recent records hides that critical single element, the Social Security number, but it also hides names, dates, and locations—information which could remain open and is used and needed by genealogists.

As the new session of the U.S. Congress begins in January, the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) plans to ask that only the Social Security number be omitted from recent death entries and that other information be returned to the SSDI. RPAC plans to show Congress that genealogists care by gathering signatures on a petition. Signatures are needed because Congress responds to numbers. The goal is to reach at least 10,000 signatures before approaching senators this coming year. In 2014 the petition traveled to the NGS, FGS, and IAJGS conferences, as well as the Southern California Jamboree, resulting in the collection of 4,000 signatures. We have six weeks to collect 6,000 more signatures!

Now is the time to take this petition to the fifty states. RPAC needs your help!

RPAC asks that you, in each of your home states, gather signatures on this petition. If you are an officer in a state society, take this petition to your board and to meetings. If you are a society member, ask your society to support this effort. If you attend genealogy roundtables at your local library, bring this petition along.

  • Once you get signatures, scan the signed pages and email the images to Jan Alpert, RPAC’s chair; her email is listed at the bottom of the page.

Please help by printing out this paperwork and bringing our case to the genealogists who don’t travel to national conferences, to genealogists in all fifty states.  We have six weeks. Let’s top 10,000 signatures! Let’s get Congress to listen to our concerns!

You can read more about this on RPAC’s own blog, “Genealogists Declaration of Rights—We Need Your Support!”

 

 by Barbara Mathews, CG, FASG

As BCG’s official representative to the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC), Barbara Mathews 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.

Welcome, Jaclyn Wertis, CG

Jaclyn Wertis, CG, of Tulsa Oklahoma

Without really intending to, Jaclyn Wertis has become an American Indian research specialist. She thought she would pursue Midwest research, compile lineages for DAR applicants, and trace immigrant ancestors. However, a post-retirement move to Tulsa, Oklahoma, changed her focus. Jaclyn lives close to the Cherokee Heritage Center and Native American genealogical resources not available online. Now over half her clients are searching for their Native American ancestors. Some are already on the rolls but don’t know about their forebears. Others know of Native ancestry only through DNA testing or family lore. Jaclyn enjoys this work that has a clear goal and a limited scope.

Jaclyn moved to Tulsa from California after retirement from a twenty-year career in public service administration. Most recently she worked for the Community Development Department of the City of Riverside, California. Her MBA and certification as a Project Management Professional prepared her well for her BCG application. She explains, “The tools and techniques and quality focus used in managing projects in the business world have translated easily into my genealogical work.” Jaclyn had been lecturing informally on genealogy, advising other researchers, and helping prospective DAR members when she began to do client work. At that point she knew it was time to become Board-certified.

Jaclyn found the BCG certification seminar at national conferences particularly helpful. In addition to reading the new Genealogy Standards, Tom Jones’s Mastering Genealogical Proof, and Elizabeth Shown Mills’s Evidence Explained, she also took online NGS courses. Her advice to prospective applicants is, “Put together a proof argument, proof summary, or proof statement for every relationship until it becomes a natural and instinctive process.”

Jaclyn has a strong orientation toward giving back through her genealogy work, both to her family and the community. Her future goals include the following:
• speaking to secondary school history classes “to help young people understand that history is more than just names and dates”
• volunteering at homes for troubled teens and after-school centers, as she knows from personal experience that “if our children have a sense of belonging to something larger than themselves, they will develop a sense of pride and self-worth that will help them make better life decisions”
• publishing “Tales My Mother Told Me and Other Family Stories,” a compilation drawn from conversations with parents, grandparents, and others
• transcribing her great-grandfather’s Civil War diary and her aunt’s three journals
• serving as DAR Registrar for her local chapter beginning in 2017
• teaching beginning genealogy at senior centers, for her church’s educational program, and for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Jaclyn Wertis is Oklahoma’s only BCG associate, our link to the foothills of the Ozarks. She can be reached at jackie.wertis@yahoo.com. Welcome, Jaclyn!


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.

Continuing the SpringBoard Tradition with New Editors

Laura Murphy DeGrazia and Judy Kellar Fox

Two years ago BCG launched SpringBoard, to create a sense of community and connect with online genealogists. Under the leadership of then-president Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, the blog introduced new associates, focused on noteworthy contributors to the field, summarized BCG Skillbuilding presentations at the NGS conference, and provided status updates on records preservation and access. Contributors included Elissa, Barbara Mathews, CG, FASG, and Judy Russell, CG, CGL.

Editorship of SpringBoard now passes to Laura Murphy DeGrazia, CG, FGBS, and Judy Kellar Fox, CG. Laura comes to the BCG blog with broad experience as past president of BCG and former co-editor of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. Judy’s background includes teaching and writing.

The three SpringBoard founders will continue to be involved as contributing authors. All Board-certified associates are welcome and encouraged to submit posts as well. SpringBoard will continue to report news related to BCG, educate about our certification process and standards, and address issues that impact BCG and its role in the genealogical community at large.

Judy Kellar Fox, CG
Laura Murphy DeGrazia, CG, FGBS


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, Malissa Ruffner

Malissa Ruffner, CG

Computer programmer. Lawyer. Educator. Reference librarian. And, now, Board-certified genealogist.

Clearly, Malissa Ruffner is, in her own words, “not shy about career shifts.”

Raised in Pennsylvania, Malissa received her bachelor of arts degree from Goucher College, and started her first career as a computer programmer for a large insurance company. After she received her law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law, she was a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, and worked on landmark cases dealing with public education funding and racial segregation.

At the same time, Malissa worked with parents in and outside of the public school system to establish an elementary school based on experiential learning. She became its first full-time director in 1998.

Malissa followed that with a master of library science degree from the University of Maryland, working as an independent contractor serving individual and institutional clients in the areas of libraries, archives, education, and research. Later, she worked in Special Collections at the University of Maryland, and as an email reference coordinator for the Internet Public Library.

And, behind it all, was her love of family and genealogy. Mother of two and now grandmother of a soon-to-be-two-year-old, Jane, Malissa collected family documents, researched at repositories around Maryland and Washington, D.C., and added genealogy to the list of things she wanted to do “someday.”

Her father’s death in 2008 brought “someday” front and center. “I enrolled in an introductory workshop in March of 2009,” she explained, “and by the time I attended New England Historic Genealogical Society’s ‘Come Home to New England’ program in June, I was already contemplating a career shift.”

Malissa took on a project for a friend to see if researching for others was as enjoyable as investigating her own family, and found it was “just as much fun.” She completed the ProGen program (as part of ProGen 5), and, in 2010, attended the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University, and the National Institute for Genealogical Research at the National Archives.

“Full immersion had begun,” she said. She followed up by getting involved with the Maryland Genealogical Society, where she is currently in her second term as an at-large board member.

Malissa’s advice to those considering certification is to “make it a high priority and tackle it in pieces. I stayed home from conferences and institutes and shied away from new commitments for a period of time. That was hard. Some applicants wait until the requirements are nearly complete before starting the clock, but I took the other path. Even though I needed an extension, the goal of submitting a successful portfolio remained at the top of my list.”

She noted that there are pros and cons to having come to genealogy later in life. “The fact that I haven’t been able to share my discoveries (both delightful and shocking) with my parents breaks my heart a little,” she noted. “On the other hand, my earlier experiences have been invaluable, and I haven’t had to worry about neglecting young children—only grown ones!”

She added that she is “in awe of genealogists who labored without the technological tools we enjoy today. Imagine typing your letter of inquiry to a distant family member or library and waiting weeks for a reply. We have so much at our fingertips: increasing availability of original records, vast opportunities for collaboration, and now DNA. And there are still good reasons to visit libraries, archives, courthouses, and cemeteries. It doesn’t get any better.”

“I am lucky to have found the perfect niche at last, in a field that is so rewarding on every level,” Malissa said. “Everyone I have met in the last five years—from genealogy ‘rock stars’ to local researchers with decades of experience—has encouraged and welcomed this new kid on the block. In particular, I want to thank Claire Bettag, CG, for keeping me afloat with her encouragement and friendship.”

Malissa and her husband, John Odell, live in Baltimore, as do their two daughters, their daughters’ husbands, and their granddaughter, Jane.

by Judy G. Russell, CG, CGL

 


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.

What Does CGL Mean?

The BCG credential Certified Genealogical Lecturer (CGL) designates a Board-certified genealogist who has earned additional certification in teaching. Eighteen people currently hold this credential. You will see “CGL” identifying genealogical lecturers and instructors at local, regional, and national conferences, institutes, and webinars. How did they earn this credential?

To apply for CGL, the BCG Application Guide asks those who hold the research credential, CG, to demonstrate their skills in the following areas:

  • “selecting and organizing lecture contents
  • providing accurate and effective presentations
  • using written and visual learning aids”[1]

Applicants are asked to provide a summary of lecturing activities and a list of topics they present, as well as two recorded lectures that demonstrate adherence to Standards 74 to 79 in Genealogy Standards.[2] Each lecture must be thirty to sixty minutes long and address genealogical sources, methods, or standards. Syllabus materials (handouts), visuals (PowerPoint or similar slides, maps, and/or classroom board illustrations), and copies of speaker notes, if utilized, are also submitted. A bibliography of resources recommended for further study is required.

The next time you look at upcoming educational opportunities, notice how many speakers hold the CGL credential. Now you’ll know how they earned it.

by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL

 


[1] Board for Certification of Genealogists, The BCG Application Guide(Washington, D.C.: BCG, 2014), 9.
[2] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry, 2014), 41–42.

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.

Introducing BCG’s New President, Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG

Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG                         President, Board for Certification of Genealogists


In the mid-1990s my father asked, “Why did your great-great-grandfather enlist in an Ohio Civil War regiment when his family was from eastern Pennsylvania, and how did he end up in Kansas?” The attempt to answer those questions rekindled my adult passion for genealogy and family history.

The foundation for my passion and eventual professional calling was laid very early. Before naptime when I was a child my favorite stories were those my grandmother told about growing up on a farm in north-central Kansas—how the gypsies came when my grandmother and her sister were left alone on the farm while their parents went to market day in town, and how the girls hid in the cellar until the gypsies left; my grandmother’s delight at Christmas to receive an orange and a small bag of chocolates; that she played house using catalpa leaves as plates and acorn husks as cups; how, because of her family’s religious beliefs, she could not play games on Sunday, but was allowed to play the card game Authors because it was considered educational.

Until the age of nine I lived in Hays, Kansas. It was a town where, at least for me, many stories made history alive and tangible. Wild Bill Hickok had been the sheriff of Hays City. My doctor’s office was the site of one of Hickok’s shoot outs. The Big Creek flood washed out the camp of General Custer and the 7th Calvary. I accompanied my father on many a trip to search for artifacts in the freshly plowed fields that were once the site of Fort Hays. Entrepreneur Buffalo Bill Cody provided buffalo meat to that Fort. He also attempted to found the town of Rome where he thought the Union Pacific line would be located. Every time we took old Highway 40 we passed the foundations of the buildings for that failed town.

Growing up with an unusual last name—Larzalere—led to my one-name study of that surname and its variations. The descendants of this Huguenot family spread throughout the United States. One of the highlights of the research was the reunion with the White River Apache branch of the family. As a family member (distant cousin) I had the honor of attending a memorable and moving three-day Sunrise Ceremony, a coming of age ceremony for female Apaches.

My love of stories, especially those of the forgotten history of our ancestors, has not diminished over the years. Have I answered my father’s original questions? No. My working hypothesis is that my great-great-grandfather’s occupation as a mason (a skilled worker who builds with stone) involved him in the construction associated with the westward movement of the railroads. My search for proof continues.

My journey with BCG began in the “dark ages,” in the late 1990s before the extensive use of the internet. I was self-taught and working alone. There was little opportunity for feedback about the quality of my work. I thought I was a good genealogist, but the only way to be sure was to have my work peer-reviewed.

Compiling my portfolio was a tremendous commitment of time and involved much angst. During the process I realized I had overestimated how “good” I was and there was much that I needed to learn. Assembling the portfolio focused my genealogy education. The first three judges arrived at a split decision. The arbitrator’s opinion was that my deficiencies were remediable. In September 1999 I earned BCG’s Certified Genealogist credential, certificate number 419.

Fifteen years and three renewals later (the most recent still in the evaluation-process pipeline), I have the honor to be the newly elected president of BCG. I am humbled to follow in the footsteps of the “great ones,” those who previously served BCG as president.

On the horizon I see a number of issues and concerns that the genealogical community will face and that BCG should actively address

  •  promoting ethical behavior,
  •  participating in the Records Preservation and Access Committee,
  •  introducing the standards to the international genealogical community,
  •  combatting the acceptance of a definition of “genealogy” that is limited to unsourced and sourced online family trees.

To help carry out the mission and the work of BCG during the upcoming year I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with an outstanding and dynamic Executive Committee, Board of Trustees, and group of associates. With their knowledge, energy, and dedication, I know that the next year will be a great one for BCG.

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.

Welcome Alice Hoyt Veen, CG

Alice Hoyt Veen, CG

An Iowa native and the sixth generation of her family to call Iowa home, Alice Hoyt Veen has become the second Iowan Board-certified genealogist of the 21st century.

A graduate of Iowa State University, Alice has been a dedicated genealogist for more than thirty years. She is a volunteer researcher for the Mahaska County Commission for the Preservation of Pioneer Cemeteries and has researched, cataloged and archived historical artifacts for Forest Park Museum in Dallas County. A past board member of the Iowa Genealogical Society, Alice has served as the society’s eNews and bimonthly newsletter editor and continues to contribute articles for publication.

In 2009 Alice began providing professional genealogical and historical research services through her business, Prairie Roots Research, specializing in Iowa and Midwestern research, with special emphasis on military research and Midwestern connections to American colonial roots.

Her answer when people ask her what she does: “I tell them I ‘reconstruct forgotten lives.’ Nothing is more satisfying than the knowledge that a life, long lost to time, can be rediscovered and understood. Every life has purpose and significance. My goal is to honor those disappeared lives by recreating, preserving and sharing their memories.”

Her advice to those seeking certification is to broaden their education by attending genealogical institutes and to expand their experience by completing projects for others that provide challenges beyond the researcher’s usual comfort zone. She adds that if she could do one thing differently herself, she would take her own advice and “more deeply explore colonial and early American records and spend more time accessing resources in eastern states.”

Alice notes that her inspiration as a genealogist comes from her father, Keith D. Hoyt: “He provided not only the link to a rich family heritage, but his personal character demonstrated those qualities I most admire and desire to emulate: humility, a strong work ethic, dedication to family, and perseverance in the face of adversity. His unquenchable thirst for knowledge extended to every possible subject and he challenged me to always strive for a higher purpose. It is a legacy I cherish and have tried to pass on to my own children.”

She can be reached through her website Prairie Roots Research (http://www.prairierootsresearch.com) or via email (alice@prairierootsresearch.com).


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.

November’s BCG Webinar: Probate!

The Board for Certification of Genealogists proudly announces the next in its series of webinars.

Michael Hait, CG

On Monday, November 17, Michael Hait, CG, will present “‘Of Sound Mind and Body’: Using Probate Records in Your Research.”

Created as part of the BCG Skillbuilding Track at the 2014 National Genealogical Society conference, this lecture discusses the process associated with the administration of testate and intestate estates and the records created as a result. Consulting these records is ordinarily an essential part of the reasonably exhaustive research necessary to meet the Genealogical Proof Standard. Example documents illustrate the various and detailed information that probate records can hold about our ancestors, their daily lives, and family relationships.

Open to all genealogists who want to improve their skills, this live webinar will begin at 8 p.m. Eastern (7 p.m. Central, 6 p.m. Mountain, 5 p.m. Pacific).

To register and receive your unique link to the webinar, please go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5876550263529763585.

Note that recordings may be made available online at a later date.

Look for announcements of future monthly webinars on this blog.


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 U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Please Welcome John D. Beatty, CG

 

John Beatty, CG, in the stacks of the Allen County Public Library. Photograph by Dawne Slater-Putt, CG. Used with permission.

This post was contributed by Dawne Slater-Putt, CG:

            John D. Beatty, CG, of Fort Wayne recently became one of five Board-certified genealogists in Indiana. He is a reference librarian at The Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library (ACPL), an institution well-known for its second-largest genealogical research collection in the United States. John also serves The Genealogy Center as its bibliographer. He is the author of numerous genealogical articles and books, including Protestant Women’s Narratives of the Irish Rebellion of 1798, published by Four Courts Press of Dublin; and the two-volume James Beaty and Ann Bennett of Ballycanew, County Wexford, Ireland, and More than Two Centuries of Their American Descendants, which he self-published in 2010 and considers his magnum opus. He was also the editor and major contributor to volume 1 of the two-volume History of Fort Wayne & Allen County, Indiana, 1700-2005.

            Through his work as bibliographer for The Genealogy Center since the 1990s, John has comprised a database of more than 65,000 titles ordered – but he was ordering books before the advent of that record, so he cannot cite the total number of volumes he has been responsible for adding to this great collection. His other duties include Continue reading