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January 17, 2018

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Video seminar explains certification process

Stefani Evans

Stefani Evans

The Board for Certification of Genealogists has de-mystified the certification process.

The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) has released a free two-hour video seminar featuring board-certified genealogists Dr. Thomas W. Jones and Elissa Scalise Powell as they present a November 2008 certification seminar in Salt Lake City. FamilySearch produced the video and BCG Trustee CindyLee Banks coordinated the effort. The BCG presents the program in short segments at .

Powell explains the Board for Certification of Genealogists ( and defines certification as “a formal evaluation of competence.” She explores the standards presented in the BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, and discusses reasons genealogists elect to pursue certification. Powell encourages aspiring applicants to develop their skills before they apply, and she stresses the “one-year clock” applicants begin when they choose to submit their preliminary application. She describes two certification categories: Certified Genealogist (CG) and Certified Genealogical Lecturer (CGL); this seminar focuses on the CG.

The second section discusses in detail each of the BCG Application Guide’s seven requirements that applicants for the CG credential will submit to the BCG.

Jones explains why each element is important, how judges weigh each, standards that judges expect from applicants, and what applicants may expect from judges.

Jones elaborates on requirements one and two — signing the Genealogist’s Code of Ethics and Conduct and compiling a resume.

Jones explains document work in requirements three and four, where applicants work with two hand-written documents, one supplied by the BCG and one supplied by the applicant. Applicants transcribe and abstract each document, analyze the document for content, develop a research focus based upon the analysis, and produce a research plan using information contained in the document as a starting point. Jones refers applicants to the BCG Standards Manual and to Mary McCampbell Bell’s chapter on abstracting and transcribing in “Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians.” Jones suggests applicants select a document with an “interesting twist.”

Powell discusses requirement five, the client research report that incorporates research outside the applicant’s family and includes the client authorization for research, release to submit to the BCG, and agreement of research parameters. Powell defines “client”; she outlines the skills a genealogist needs to develop to execute a research plan and compile a report based upon the client’s objectives. Powell also discusses requirement six, the case study, in which applicants analyze, correlate, and weigh conflicting or indirect evidence as they demonstrate their knowledge and application of the Genealogical Proof Standard to present their findings in a narrative format.

According to Jones, applicants devote most of their time on requirement seven, the kinship determination project that treats three couples in successive generations and links them through proof arguments. Jones explains that applicants may utilize four formats, and that the first three—narrative genealogy, narrative lineage (the most practical), and narrative pedigree—must incorporate the appropriate numbering systems because these formats organize the information around relationships. The applicant may also select a narrative case study he organizes around the explanation. Jones emphasizes that all treatments must place the individuals in full historical context and use a wide range of sources.

The third and final section of the presentation consists of four videos that briefly discuss the following: CGL requirements; assembling the portfolio; extensions and mailing details; the judging process (application fees, who judges your portfolio and how they review it, when you might receive results, and feedback you may expect); and additional resources.

Jones and Powell stress that applicants should follow directions in the BCG Application Guide to ensure their portfolios reflect their knowledge and application of the standards, including the Genealogical Proof Standard. Presenters also refer aspiring applicants to the BCG Genealogical Standards Manual and the BCG Web site. The videos de-mystify the application process and allow aspiring applicants to determine their readiness. BCG allows individuals to use the videos for personal use, but requires written permission to present the videos at meetings or to the public. Thanks to BCG President Laura Murphy DeGrazia and Elissa Scalise Powell for edits.

Stefani Evans is a board-certified genealogist and a volunteer at the Regional Family History Center. She can be reached c/o the Home News, 2275 Corporate Circle, Third Floor, Henderson, NV 89074, or [email protected].

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