How does one revigorate certification?

I am not sure what “switch was flipped” but in the past few weeks I have been totally reinvigorated about certification.  Maybe what happened is I passed through the typical stages…you know them:

"light at the end of the tunnel"

“light at the end of the tunnel”

Stage 1:  I don’t know what I don’t know:  This led to an overconfidence of my abilities and made certification seem easily within reach.

Stage 2: I know what I don’t know:  This was the scary time, especially at the beginning.  It was a time when it seemed like there was so much to know that I couldn’t possibly ever be qualified to be certified, much less write the portfolio for submission.

Stage 3:  I know what I know.  I am not at this stage yet. I definitely feel like I am in the middle of Stage 2 but “feel like” I can see the “light at the end of the tunnel.”

So, what pulled me out of this crisis of conscience?  Action! Taking the ProGen course helped a lot. (I am on lesson 8 of 19) and holding my own.  In one week I will start start the 8 week course based on Mastering Genealogical Proof by Tom Jones and mentored by Karen Stanbury.  In January I will be attending the Salt Lake Institute for Genealogy’s class Advanced Methodologies taught by Tom Jones.  I am looking forward to all of these opportunities to improve my skills.

But, those are looking forward…ie. they are the “light at the end of the tunnel.”  What has happened that has made me get to the point where I can even see the light?  (at some point this metaphor will run its course!).  There were a number of things.

The article on Grietje Wientjes and her sister Eda being accepted in the Illinois State Genealogy Quarterly was definitely an ego boost when I really needed it.  I also had a long talk with the Publications Editor of the Quarterly and her issues were my issues for the SGS Bulletin…..I think the various publications chairs would be a very supportive community if we could tap into it in a more organized way.  She, too, was taking ProGen, so we had much to talk about.  In addition, I received a very nice note from Judy Russell (The Legal Genealogist) who was very supportive of what I had written and who encouraged me to apply.

I am working very hard at ProGen and really want to bring my “A-game” to the group.  There seems to be 3 or 4 of us in our cohort that have these same goals.  We work hard, critique using BCG standards and just “take it.”  It’s working.

I have started writing the Case Study….I realized that I was making the determination of the problem too hard.  I thought I didn’t have any unresolved issues (Stage 1) but as soon as I got a good (better?) handle on the Genealogical Process Map I realized that every relationship qualifies, it’s just that some are more challenging than others.  I picked one with conflicting direct evidence and I am writing, writing, writing.

While I haven’t decided for sure which of my family lines to use for the Kinship Determination Project. I have several good ones I could use, even after publishing Grietje Wientjes.  While I could extract her section from my submission exactly, I think that I will probably not do that.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last posting:  Prepped for my MGP class, writing a great blog on Mrs. Frank Bunce (d. 1881) which will not be posted until January (you’ll know why when you read the posting.), cleaned my office because of my aunt’s visit,  reading about Swedish emigration/immigration, trying to find any published materials other than OGSA’s on the Ostfriesens (not finding anything), sewed 6 cute linen tops–with adorable buttons.  Attended a conference in San Diego for my “day job”.  started getting ready for a speaking gig for SGS on self publishing (note: the 210 hardbound books arrived just in time for the big event for my client–woo hoo!) ,  worked with Puget Sound Association of Professional Genealogists to determine the viability of submitting a program to UW continuing education which would revamp the program.  It will be presented tomorrow.  Played golf with hubby.

Have you done a research plan before?

I haven’t, not really.  The development of a research plan is our next assignment for the ProGen virtual study group.  I am  challenged by by the assignment because I have a hard time conceptualizing all the sources there could be for any particular problem. Yet, the development of a research plan is a component of the portfolio for BCG Certification with the transcription of the documents.  My anxiety over the assignment was increased when the class was referred to a research plan by Elizabeth Shown Mills which was 8 pages long!  I doubt my report of findings on the work I do related to the research plan will be 8 pages long.  (Anyone see the movie, The Paper Chase? :-) )

The link for the ESM research plan is: http://www.apgen.org/resources/worksamples.html

I googled “genealogy research plans” and got articles about writing research plans but no real examples.  (Is this one of those things where we say we ought to do this but the reality is quite different?)  I even listed to a webinar concerning research plans which was more of a source cataloging spreadsheet system.

So….I asked two experts, Tom Jones and Craig Scott.

The issue of research plans was bothering me even last September when I was on the cruise.  I had drafted, what I thought, was a pretty good research plan.  I had my genealogical question, background information, an assessment, and I included likely sources, an assessment of the sources and some questions about what to do next.

Tom and Craig were consistent:  They both said I needed to reduce what I wanted to find out to a single measurable question and that their research plans only include some questions about what to do next and none of the other “stuff”.

The single question comment was very interesting…My focus was to “What could I find about the elusive Frederick Eilers, second husband of Ida (nee Van Hoorn) Berg.”  Both of them said that my question was too broad and must be modified to be measurable.  So I changed it to “What was the death date of Frederick Eilers, second husband of Eda/Ida Berg.”

My assignment will not measure up to outlined standards if I just include the research question and a list of possible places to look.  So, I will have to do more; but, I found it interesting what nationally known researchers do for a research plan.  I will also find it interesting to see what others in the class create.

I think the “bottom line” is that research plans vary widely. What you write depends on whether you are trying to glean all information from an historical document or whether you have trod the research path you are traveling before.  The problems may result in a plan that is 1 or 8 pages long depending on the scale of the problem.  I have decided to write a plan around a relationship that I am verifying. I’ll post what I end up with (or maybe after I incorporate some of the good ideas of the study group!).

Happy Hunting

Jill

What I have done since the last posting:  not much since it was just a few minutes ago…made breakfast,  pet the cat,  Packed book to send back to Amazon and remembered that one of my SF friends wants to hire me.  I will have to contact her.  Woo hoo!

What would be an effective way to conduct an assessment of my reports?

“…6. Review up to five reports or articles against the BCG Genealogical Standards Manual and determine how many meet all acceptable standards and how many meet only some of them.” (1)

Some time ago I took the readiness quiz for BCG certification on their website and found they recommended that I assess my reports against the standards by which BCG determines whether you are eligible to become a “certified genealogist.”  The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual (2) is a guide published by the BCG to assist those interested in knowing the standards of any genealogist and/or the process to become a certified genealogist. On the website however, is a series of rubrics which are used to assess the qualifications of the applications.  I decided to use those rubrics for my standards, assess five of my client reports and then assess these reports as viable candidates for submission. (3)

There is good news and good news….

They are better than I thought and I am getting better and I can still improve!  That is all great news.  I still have not succeeded in accumulating 20 points; I do not read enough peer reviewed articles for the past two years to qualify.  I have, however, figured out whether I went wrong on the count of the total number of possible points (21).  The use of courthouses, archives and major genealogical libraries is only valued at one point, not one for each, i.e. three points)

Here is the assessment with analysis.  Comments are welcomed.

Assessment Rubrics

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last post:  fed the cat, called my daughter as it is her birthday!

(1) Board for Certification of Genealogists®, “Are you ready for certification?”, online <http://www.bcgcertification.org/ruready.html> accessed 23 September 2012.

(2) Board for Certification of Genealogists®, The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, (Orem, Utah: Ancestry,2000).

(3) Board for Certification of Genealogists®, “Rubrics for Evaluation New Applications for BCG Certification,” online as a PDF file named BCGNewAppRubricsMar2012(3).pdf, revised 15 March 2012, online <http://www.bcgcertification.org/certification/index.html>, downloaded 23 September 2012.

What happened today?

(I started this blog posting on the ship.  Unfortunately, due to connectivity problems it did not get posted.)

We had two great days of presentations while we sailed from Skagway, Alaska, back to Seattle.

There were a couple of the presentations that warrant some comment and they may be of help to you.  (Note:  I asked the presenters if i could blog about their presentations and they gave approval.)  Here are my comments about Tom Jones’s presentation on the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS).

In an early lecture, Dr. Jones mentioned that the BCG Standards Manual was being revised (1).  At a scheduled on-on-one session, I asked him the extent/type of changes that we might expect.  Dr. Jones stated that the changes were more clarifications of some concepts (2).

In a lecture later that week, Dr. Jones presented “This Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS): What It is and What It is Not,” and outlined specifically what constitutes “a reasonably exhaustive search.”  He made special note of the fact that the emphasis should not be on the phrase “exhaustive search” but rather on the word “reasonably”.  He pointed out that “overkill” was to be avoided.

He outlined six criteria:

“GPS Element 1–A reasonably exhaustive search:

  1. At least two independent sources in agreement
  2. All sources competent genealogists would examine (varies with time, place, and the research question and answer)
  3. Some primary information
  4. Some original sources
  5. Relevant derivative sources or secondary information replaced by findable corresponding originals and primary information
  6. All findable sources suggested by relevant sources databases and indexes.” (3)

My “takeaways” were:

  • Dr. Jones is defining for us what a “reasonably exhaustive search” constitutes, a discussion topic by genealogists for many years.
  • He may be “testing’ the standard before it is incorporated into the BCG certification criteria.
  • I could see that we may need to assess our sources in the reports we write for certification.  Perhaps this will take the form of an additional rubric or it might be an internal assessment within the report itself.
  • In a presentation later in the cruise and not yet presented at a national conference, “Overcoming Surprising Research Barriers: A Case Study,” he presented a methodology for the assessment of sources which was very helpful.
  • Researchers who wish to achieve a high standard of professionalism should not use transcribed indexes as the source, e.g. SSDI, CaDI, or many of the family search finds which do not have an image.  One must go to the source of information on the index if it exists.
  • Books should be considered “finding aids.”  When using a book as a source, we need to assess where the author obtained the information and go there instead.  (This also was stressed later in the week by Craig Scott in his “Brick Walls” sessions.)

This was one lecture on one day!  And the rest of the lectures were “chockablock” with info throughout.  I will blog about some of my other enlightenments I received on the way to and from Alaska in subsequent postings.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last posting: Arrived in Seattle this morning, and was picked up by our neighbor and friend, Joan.  Very well coordinated exiting of 2500 people from a ship to the ground (an amazing feat).  I went to yoga but for some reason couldn’t do “tree” very well!  :-) ; cleaned out the suitcase and petted the cat.  Did an BCG assessment of 5 client reports I have completed.  I will post that assessment and solicit your input in the coming few days.

(1) Lecture by Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG (SM), CGL (SM), FASG, FUGA, FNGS,  (address withheld), “Missing Something?  Getting the Most out of Genealogical Evidence,” referring to the Board for Certification of Genealogists, The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, (Orem, Utah: Ancestry,2000), 1a. 2012 Genealogy Conference and Cruise, 16-23 September 2012.  Syllabus held by Jill Morelli (address withheld).

(2) Interview with Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG (SM), CGL (SM), FASG, FUGA, FNGS, (address withheld), 2012 Genealogy Conference and Cruise, 20 September 2012.  Notes held by Jill Morelli (address withheld).

(3) Lecture by Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG (SM), CGL (SM), FASG, FUGA, FNGS,  (address withheld), “The Genealogical Proof Standard: What It Is and What It Is Not,” 2012 Genealogy Conference and Cruise, 16-23 September 2012.  Syllabus held by Jill Morelli (address withheld).

Am I ready to apply for BCG certification?

Maybe!

I spent last night reviewing a number of the subsites at the BCG site.  They have a quiz there that you are to take to determine whether you are skilled/knowledgeable enough to do the work at a level that is necessary to have a credible application.  It was interesting.  You are “supposed” to score 20 of 23 points on all questions or you should reconsider whether you are ready to apply.  The one I lost the most points on was the question pertaining to reading five peer-reviewed journals (NGSQ, TAG, NEHGR, NYGBR, The Genealogist. I subscribe and read only one–NGSQ) for two years minimum.  I would be interested in your opinion of the relative value of subscribing vs. just taking a trip to my local library regularly and copying/reading a few of the articles. And, which ones?  Is there value for a person from the NW and who works in the Midwest to subscribing to either NEHGR or NYGBR?  if so which one makes for a better illustration of scholarly writing?

Here is the link for the quiz:  http://www.bcgcertification.org/ruready.html 

I do think that the rigor of my education is lacking and so last night I put myself on the waiting list for ProGen.  I am very interested in its structure.  It’s an 18 month program and uses Professional Genealogist by ESM as its text.  It meets virtually with a mentor to discuss the assignments that have already been shared and reviewed by the class.  Since much of the class is oriented towards serving clients, I think that I have enough experience to find a professional mentor helpful.  And you would have the camaraderie of a group of like minded genealogists.

Here is the link for the ProGen Study Group:  http://progenstudy.org/

My next post (probably) will cover the analysis related to the last question on the quiz: assess five of your reports against the rubrics of the BCG Certification.  I think this will not only re-acquaint me with the standards against which you are measured but also show me if I am consistently missing any particular area and be a terribly humbling experience!  Stay tuned for this one.

The rubrics are in PDF format so you will have to click on the link after getting to the site via:

http://www.bcgcertification.org/certification/judging.html

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last post:  made an appt. to meet with my client, Stephanie, to review the draft of the book; did some research on the paternal side for her report.  I am gaining experience working in the southern states but it is harder for this “northerner” than I was expecting.  You really do have to live in any area to do genealogy in the area well.  It seems like there are far fewer documents than in the north.  (of course, being from Iowa which has an enormous amounts of on-line records, I admit to being spoiled! I signed up for ProGen (they place you on a waiting list until they have 24). I finished up my reimbursibles for the conference and submitted them to the association’s Treasurer.

Are you on the “should I/should I not” roller coaster?

Lately I have wondered why I am procrastinating about “going on the clock”  and signing up to apply for BCG Certification.  The last few months I have actually thought seriously about not getting certified for a number of reasons, one of which is that I am having too much fun working for the clients I have right now.   This past week I was in Chicago and I spent part of a day with a new genealogy buddy who urged me to apply.   We discussed reasons to apply and reasons that did not support applying. So, I admit I am still waffling but it might be because I am so busy planning the genealogy conference in Illinois in 2.5 weeks.

As I write this I find myself becoming more committed to applying.

The document I am most concerned about is the Case Study. I spent a lot of time on this document a year ago but now find that it does not qualify as a conclusion based on indirect evidence but rather is a proof argument.  So I have to identify another example and write something that complies with the requirements. ( I wonder how many people miss on this issue. I can’t be alone in misinterpreting what they were looking for.) Luckily, I have found another example that might work: a problem raised by Theresa’s Irish project where there are too many Mary Coynes immigrating.

The other piece that will take some time to shape up is the kinship determination project. There is a requirement for two embedded arguments. I did not do that. So, I will have to give that some thought as well.

So, I am going to put that aside and go order pretzels for 150 people. Who knew that Freeport IL was the Pretzel capital?

Let me know if this is a thought process that you struggle/struggled with.  I would be interested in knowing.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since my last post: went to the Newberry Library with my friend and also the Chicago Historical Research Center.  Had a great time researching my own family! Finished up the report for Susan and had a chat with her about it. Both she and Stephanie want books to be published so they can share it with their families. I am now challenged to see if i can do a book in a minimal amount of time and still produce a quality product. The good news is that i have done two of my own and as a consequence i am a lot quicker than i was.  I also worked on Mary’s problem.

The community of genealogists….

One of the most satisfying parts about genealogy is the community of genealogists. There are all kinds….from the beginner just starting to work on their family, the serious avocation-er, to the rock stars. (yes, we do have rock stars).  There is room for everyone.

Last night, after my walk down to the river and the park, I decided to have dinner BEFORE I went to Graeter’s (I almost decided to have dessert first but decided I would enjoy it more if it came after the meal!).  I sat down and Karen from Chicago sat down next to me, I invited her to join me and three hours later……

We discovered we had many things in common including having one daughter, going for certification but not yet “on the clock”, and trying hard to be good to great researchers. She is taking the ProGen Study course which I had vaguely heard of but didn’t know the particulars.  It was great fun hearing her talk about her research on the mob of Chicago which was characterized by lots of lands deals and swaps, changing of names without legal documentation! Etc. Fun!

Of course, we walked down to the music and Graeter’s.

Thanks, Karen, for a delightful evening.

Happy Hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last post: I finally made it back to the exhibit hall.  I wanted to check in with Family Tree DNA for a quick consult. My husband’s mother was born out of wedlock (isn’t there a better term for that or illegitimate?) but I think I know the father. The consultant confirmed that I was on the right track with an autosomal test of a descendant of the two candidates.  Now, “all” I have to do is find a descendant of the two gentlemen who is also willing to be tested. I do not think that will be easy.

Our Thursday lunch: Table of Notables!
in the group were (back row, left to right) Michael Rumage (BCG lawyer), Michael Hait (blogger and cg), Trisha (from Seattle), Nikki (BCG Executive Dtr.), ??, ??. Front row: Willis White (excellent lecturer on creative non-fiction) and ??. All very friendly people.

NGS: Thursday am +

Had a good morning!

Attended the first hour of the BCG Certification panel discussion. Didn’t learn too much new but  the price is going to go up on January 1 and so it will be good to “get on the clock” by then. Also found out that between 40% and 53% usually pass.  This past year they had 30 applicants of which 43% passed.

I then went to a very crowded session on German records once you have the village name. This information would have made my second report for Mary much richer. But, I am glad I have the information now. The session after that was equally crowded and was on German records on the Internet. I got a lot of interesting sites that would be good to pass on to the OGSA membership.

Lunch was interesting!  I wanted to talk with Michael Hait, a regular commenter on this blog, and so I sat At his table  Little did I know that there would be a number of BCG officials there as well. We had a terrific conversation about blogs, what they are and aren’t and how much control you have over the content of comments.

The luncheon speaker was a woman reenactor (who also is the editor of the NGS Magazine) who assumed the personality of a woman pioneer about 1862 in mourning. She talked a lot about “deep mourning,” “partial mourning” and “quarter mourning” and the social customs of each. Very interesting!

I haven’t seen Janice yet.

Happy hunting!

Jill

I’m an Official Blogger of the NGS Conference!

Whoo hoo!  (shhhh, don’t tell anyone but I think everyone who wanted to be one, got the designation)  I even figured out how to install the logo on my sidebar!

So, my pledge is to blog every day during the conference starting on Tuesday when I attend the BCG Certification Workshop.  I will move off the self imposed constraints of certification occasionally.  The length of the blog may vary widely as well.  I suspect that by the end of the conference there will be a severe reduction in the number of words written.

The good news is I get to use the Media Room at the conference.  Sometimes this provides a great respite from the clamor of the exhibit hall.

Happy hunting!

Jill

what I have done since the last post: worked on my paper (outline due on Thursday), finished up my 10 hours of work for client no. 3, received the information from client number 4.  attended a board meeting of a national group I belong to (has nothing to do with genealogy–I do have a day job.) and I got another job today…same client but she is now a repeat client!

Are you getting excited for the NGS conference?

YES!  In just a few days I will be traveling to Cincinnati to  attend the NGS conference. I got extra excited today when I received my information about the BCG workshop on Tuesday. I fully expect to regularly blog dealing with my experiences. I have volunteered to work to support the event ( don’t know quite yet where and when this will occur but will let yojkmorelli how thatexperience goes.) I also have requested to be named an official conference blogger.

Other activities have been occupying my time….I have been working on my paper for class. My instructor gave me very good comments/criticisms on the draft that I am in the process incorporating now now. This has required me to do additional reading and research.

I have also been working on my client reports. I have two new clients and so I am getting started with those investigations.  I think that both of these will be more comprehensive than my earlier work.

One thing that has been a dawning realization….I will not have applied for BCG certification before the conference. I think that’s OK but I thought it would be good to let you know I remembered this task.

Happy hunting!

Jill

What I have done since the last post:  reread the first two chapters of Professional Genealogy; reworked my paper for my class, volunteered to work at the conference; Interviewed my two new clients and obtained the initial information from one.