Melissa Johnson’s fascination with the genealogical resources of Newark, New Jersey, is hardly surprising: she is the first Johnson in her line not to have been born in Newark since 1666.
A descendant of many of New Jersey’s first settlers, including those from Newark and Elizabethtown, she has documented her family’s immigration into America from the 1500s on her father’s side all the way through to the twentieth century on her mother’s side. She became interested in genealogy when she was about nine years old after her Johnson grandfather showed an interest.
She never looked back and, today, Melissa Johnson is one of the newest—and one of the youngest—Board-certified genealogists, having received the credential in January.
A graduate of Susquehanna University who has worked in public and government relations, the lifelong New Jersey resident said she sought certification for many reasons. More than anything else, she said, “I wanted to know that I was working to standards.”
“The process that BCG laid out made sense to me, and I knew I’d learn a lot from putting together a portfolio,” she said. “I also thought it was important, as a younger genealogist, to have a credential that would make people take me and my work more seriously.”
Melissa noted that the best preparation she had for certification was writing a journal article and working with journal editors. “I got to see what I did well and where I needed more work,” she explained.
She recommended that those thinking about certification look at portfolios at conferences and institutes where they are available for review. “When you look at the portfolios in detail, you realize that you can do this level of work, too.” She also highly recommends studying journal articles, such as those published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ).
The best part of the portfolio process for Melissa was writing the kinship determination project. “If I could write those types of works all day long, I would.” If she had it to do over again, she would have submitted her portfolio earlier. “I really was ready,” she said. “I just put it off too long.”
Just named as editor of the brand-new NGS Monthly, a digital newsletter of the National Genealogical Society, Melissa is also the Reviews Editor for the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly (APGQ) and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Genealogical Society of New Jersey and the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History.
Her genealogical work focuses primarily on researching New Jersey and New York City families from the colonial period to the present. She also assists clients with writing and editing projects, and works on forensic genealogy cases. She hopes to be able to spend more time writing journal articles and teaching genealogy at institutes, conferences, and other venues. She can be reached through her website at www.johnsongenealogyservices.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.