Development Activities

Clock 3I decided to “take a break” from the client report and work on the new Development Activities (DA) requirement.[1] This is the certification portfolio component that replaces the resume.


The Development Activity document is different in two significant ways:

  1. The DA is now part of the evaluation of your qualifications.
  2. The requirements of the DA focus on your genealogical education and what you learned.

The reason why this change occurred is because the Board for Certification of Genealogists discovered there was a direct correlation between rigorous education courses and successful portfolios. Their survey of past applicants and successful portfolios showed that ProGen, the series of classes I took in 2013-2014, results in the highest percentage of success.

This DA component seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? And, assuming that you have some reasonable educational opportunities in your genealogical tool chest, it is.

My primary tip? Do not take this too lightly.

  • Organize the DA carefully. What do you want to highlight? Do you put elements of your education into clusters or is it a list?
  • Focus on what you learned at each educational opportunity. Clearly make the connection between your education and the four learning areas BCG lists in their Guide.
  • Work at making this succinct. The guidelines ask for only one to two sentences for each educational opportunity describing what you learned.

After you have the opportunities arranged in a way that works for you and you have listed what you learned in each–step back. Assess if it is as good as you can make it. Assess if you have any gaps in your Development Activities and if so, identify what can you do to rectify the gap–either by filling it or focusing on an alternative.

At this point, I went through and tried to reduce each entry to two sentences.  I wasn’t always successful, but I didn’t do too badly in achieving that goal. I really want to “ingratiate” myself to the judges by having a fairly small number of pages for the portfolio! :-) With the new rules for this extension, I have to submit fewer than 150 pages.  I am hoping for a portfolio of no more than 120 pages.

If you want to read the guide or better yet, considering getting your certification, click on this link.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post: presented my “Fire Insurance Maps: the Google Maps of their day” at Legacy Software Webinars. It was a wonderful experience and the presentation was well received. Geoff Rasmussen is a gracious host and does a very nice job of prepping the inexperience webinar presenter (me!) and then having a smooth transition to the actual presentation. At Geoff’s urging, I submitted five other presentations for his consideration (finding your parish, Danish records, Norwegian records, Swedish taxation and 19th c. insanity.) I also continue to refine the client report.  Just when I think I have it polished up–something rears up. Next up? Getting ready for my presentations at NGS the first week of May.

[1] Board for Certification of Genealogists, The BCG Application Guide (Washington, DC: Board for Certification of Genealogists, 2016) 3.



Client Report Comments

Clock 6I have been working on a client report for a while.  And, as I usually do, I learn something along the way that might be of help to you.

I am also working on my portfolio for submission for certification for review by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG.) I hope to submit the portfolio during the Fall of 2016 after my Midwest driving/research trip.

You probably noticed, if you are a regular reader, the countdown clock  now has enough months to get me to 2017. BCG allows  you to be “on the clock” for 1 year, then you have to extend (pay $75). I have extended twice. I now have until 12 May 2017 to submit. Some things changed when I submitted because  the “rules” changed.  I must now keep the portfolio to less than 150 pages (shouldn’t be a problem) and instead of a resume, I have to report my learning activities with a short statement of what I learned. This will now be graded; whereas, the resume was not.

One of the requirments is to submit a real client report. I don’t take a lot of clients, but I had the opportunity to do so right before Christmas. We mutually agreed to wait until I returned from my driving vacation #1 to begin. Here are some observations after I have almost finished the report:

  • I thought I had a couple of good reports in the bag that I could submit. I was wrong.
  • BCG has a monthly webinar about the segments of the portfolio. Any one can listen in; they are outstanding. I was lucky. Right before I started writing this client report, Tom Jones gave a BCG webinar on writing a good client report! Lucky?  You bet! Here are a few things I learned.
    • Have a header on every page that identifies you so no page can “get away from you” without your authorship being attached to it
    • A good client report starts with a good contract, which does not have to be long or formal. (look to ProGen for some more formal ones; they can be simpler.)
    • Write your research plan with citations of where you are going to start.
    • Write as you research
  • Do a minimum of two client reports and then pick which one you think is the better. (I will do a second one in May.)
  • Read the standards carefully–I think you almost have to “read between the lines,” but a  genealogist who had done multiple reports, would probably call me to task and say that to him/her, the requirement was obvious! You can find the standards by which all portfolios are graded, on the BCG website, or you can click here.
  • look at what the standards use as examples which are usually within parentheses.  For example, standard 67, bullet no. 8, says you should include sources you researched that did not result in any findings….OK, got that. But it goes on to say “along with findings of direct, indirect and negative evidence…” [1] Hmmm. I will have to review what I have done to see if I am being consistent, not only in my vocabulary but also with where I apply the analysis of the source.

I hope these hints are helpful.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: gave my first (and not my last) Legacy Software webinar on Fire Insurance Maps. The reviews were terrific and I was on “cloud 9” for two days–but, what are “clouds 1-8 about?” I worked on my client report and worked on the client report and worked on…you get the idea. I am now prepping for my NGS presentations. My next blog will probably describe how I do that.

[1] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (Nashville:, 2014), 39.

[2] Elgin watch, photo taken by Jill Morelli at the Elgin Historical Society, Elgin, Illinois, 2012.

NGS 2016: the App is out!

I am a big fan of genealogy conference apps. I usually “wax on” about the app for the conference every year I attend. Guess what?  This year is no different!

Reader alert: I have an iPhone 6, if you don’t then YMWV.

If you are planning on attending NGS 2016, please download and more importantly–use–the app. It can save you time and save your back –you won’t be carrying around that big syllabus. Here is your link: I used my Scanlife app to scan the QR code and I thought I was set–but I couldn’t find NGS 2016. After reading the instructions, I found it!

NGS 2016 schedThe mainstay of the app is the conference schedule. NGS will run around 10 lectures per hour long session. You can pick and choose which lectures you wish to attend and they will show up on your   personal schedule. At this stage of preparation I have already gone through all the lectures once and made a “first draft” of my personal schedule with the lectures I wish attend.  There are sometimes 3-5 sessions in an hour that I wish to attend as you can see from the photo at the left.  Since I cannot defy laws of physics and be in two places at one time, this list will get pared down to 1 or 2 sessions as I get closer to the day.  Some, like the times I speak, I have only one session checked–mine!:-)

In this blog, I thought I would review a couple of my favorite other features of the app and how I will use them at the conference.

  1. “Social Media”: Here is where you have access to Facebook and Twitter.  In the past, I have tweeted more at the NGS conference than I post on FB. Currently, I am using FB more.  We’ll see what happens this year. Twitter is a short (140 characters) message out to those who are reading them, usually other conference attendees. It is great, if you are late for a popular session, to know if the session has closed entry to more attendees–twitter will tell you. It also lets you know if your friends are in the room.  Even now people are tweeting about the conference, but it will “light up” during the actual event.  If your are not on Twitter and coming to the conference, I recommend that you join the group.
  2. “Downloads”: This is where all the syllabi are digitally stored. I will get a thumbdrive with the syllabus but I can also download them (once I have the password) if I want.  (Hint to attendees: Authors approach syllabi writing very differently. If there is a session I think I want to see, I check the syllabus.   If it appears that the author has given me their presentation in the syllabus, I might not attend. Hint to presenters: make your syllabus content-rich, but different than your talk to increase attendance.)
  3. “Speakers”: At this stage of my genealogy career and this far in advance of the conference, I am more interested in hearing the best speakers speak. I can always learn from them.  So, I go to the list of speakers and pick out the ones that consistently deliver good content.  I select their talks to place on my personal schedule. Some of these will be selected to be Live Streamed by NGS. When those are announced, I will (maybe) sign up for Live-Streaming and delete their sessions from my personal schedule. I can then attend another session, listen to the Live-Streamed session at home and avoid the crush at NGS.

Things I don’t like about the app:

NGS 2016 app faceYes, there really are some things I don’t like about the app, but not many and they are more irritations than actual “deal breakers”.

  1. I didn’t like that the app appeared to over-write my last year’s app–only to find out I was wrong.  I actually looked at that the 2015 app when I am devoid of ideas for presentations and need a psychological boost! (clicking through the buttons of the app, I just found the 2015 conference! Woo hoo!)
  2. To download the app with the other app still on the phone, I had to read the instructions!!  Can you believe it? There was a little thing-y you had to change in the settings of the old app to get it overwritten.  I am a great believer in “intuitive equals easy; reading instruction manuals equals hard.”
  3. On the home page we lose a lot of “real estate” to the bands at the top (see photo on left). Almost 50% of the face is the tabs (important), the “Dashboard” (this could be a slider from the bottom, like putting your phone in airplane mode), the advertisements (important to NGS, but not to me), the welcome and alert band (could be handled differently and still tell me I needed to update) and the events that are upcoming (not important now but will be).

I’ll live.:-)

Hope to see you at the conference!

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: I have been working furiously on a client report.  It has been more difficult to write than I thought, which tells me that my other client reports that I thought would be good to submit for my BCG portfolio–aren’t. I will work on two of them (I will work on the second report after the NGS conference) and then pick one for submission for my portfolio. I extended my portfolio submission date to 2017. Since I am taking a research (and attending 3 genealogy conferences) trip to Iowa in August, I want to incorporate what I find into the KDP.

NGS 2016: Presentation Composition

Slide1In my last post I noted the two presentations I am giving at the NGS 2016 conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, in May.  I thought I would chat more about how my presentations are constructed.

I am most satisfied with my presentations when they combine three organizational elements.  Every presentation is composed similarly:

  1. element of scholarship:  I do not need to reinvent the wheel, so I look to see what others, particularly historians or scientists, have written about the topic.
  2. element of story: I think the audience is always interested in a story.  The other night at the Swedish genealogy class we tweezed out three stories from one record that spanned 10 years–the father’s marriage to the second wife, the son emigrating to the US and leaving the rest of the family behind and the farm girl’s illegitimate child. Sometimes, I am following the evidence trail of a single ancestor, but sometimes the FAN Club joins in!
  3. element of “how to”: Every presentation has to include a methodology of how the audience members can apply the information and apply it to their personal genealogical work. It can be websites or resources or a process–whatever the topic requires.

With that in mind, the presentations can take form. “Push and the Pull: Decision Making of the 19th Century Emigrant” illustrates this concept and contains the three elements.

  1. Element of scholarship: I researched the origins of the terms “push” and “pull” as they relate to immigration and found the terms were applied to migration by E.G. Ravenstein in his 1889 article in the “Journal of Royal Statistical.Society.” [1]
  2. Element of story: Using a letter written by an emigrant in 1864 describing his journey across the Atlantic and settlement in Iowa, I tweezed out the multiple reasons why he emigrated.
  3. Element of “how to”: The resources listed include a long list of books of letters from a variety of ethnic groups. Your family may not have letters from your immigrant but letters by other immigrants of the same era may survive which you can use instead to create the context of life in the homeland and why some emigrants left and others stayed.

I estimate the push/pull presentation is weighted approximately 40% scholarship, 50% story and 10% methodology. The weight of each of the elements is different for each presentation.

I’ve noticed that Judy Russell also organizes her presentations similarly but has the ability to weave the story more tightly with the scholarship than I do.

Happy Hunting & hope to see you in Florida!


What I have done since the last post: Completed teaching the “How Swede It Is! Beginning Swedish Genealogy” series of courses.  There were 17 students and many of them made major discoveries in the two weeks between the 3 classes. The class members wanted to continue the course.  This is under consideration. Accepted a couple of other speaking engagements in the area.

[1] Ravenstein, E.G. “The Laws of Migration.” Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. LII:2 (June, 1889), 241-313.



NGS 2016: Preparation

Well, I am home from my 7 week driving sabbatical and cleaning up many of the items I had still on my “post it” wall I didn’t get to while I was in Tucson. I am now looking forward to the National Genealogical Society (NGS) 2016 conference to be held in Ft. Lauderdale, FL from 4 May to 7 May–just 4 weeks away!  Yikes!

Ah, Florida. The Morelli’s lived in Florida, actually in Lighthouse Point in northern Broward county, contiguous to Dade County where Ft. Lauderdale is located, in the early 1990s. While this Midwestern girl could never figure out when to plant impatiens, my hubby relished the idea of hanging the Christmas lights in shorts and flip flops!  A definite advantage. I worked for Dade County Public Schools and my husband worked for Owens Corning which had a plant located in the Port of Fort Lauderdale–yes, you guessed it–with a little luck our room will overlook “his plant”!

There is no question, I am looking forward to seeing the remaining of his co-workers who still work there, even tho’ it has been over 20 years.

Slide1 My “preparation” for the conference includes working on my two presentations– “On Death and Dying: a Brief Look at the Changes in Medicine in the 19 Century” and “The ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’: Decision-Making of the 19th Century Emigrant.” The former concerns the education and growth of professionalism of medical care staff and institutions and the changing attitudes towards death and the wounded in three eras during the 1800s.  This presentation was last given several years ago to an Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) group. While I was surprised that NGS picked it, I was also pleased, as this presentation is one of a series I have developed which look at how the Civil War changed so much of what we now take for granted.  I ask you to think back 25 years to BC (before computers) and how much your life has changed; the Civil War, as horrific as it was, changed our society as much and maybe more.

Slide1‘Push/Pull’ is a very popular presentation which I have given locally multiple times and most recently for the Southern California Genealogy Society webinar in early January. The presentation asks the question of why did our ancestor emigrate? While most do not have an ancestor who wrote down the answer to the question, there are way to “tweeze” the information from letters and contextual study.

I want these presentations to be as good as they can be and to reflect the quality of work that I do.  It is an honor to present at NGS and I have never been asked before.  I want to make sure 2016 won’t be the last time!

Hope to see you in Ft. Lauderdale.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  submitted 8 proposals for NGS 2017 and 10 for the Federation of Genealogy Society’s (FGS) 2017 conferences.  I will also think about submitted to Ohio GS but I have been rejected twice. It looks like BYU Family History Fair held in Provo the end of July will pick at least five and maybe six of my presentations. I will present all in 2 days–it will be a marathon.



PCA/ACA Conference 2016

Lisa Oberg, UW Librarian, and I had the chance to participate in the genealogy track series of lectures for the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (PCA/ACA) 2016 annual conference held in Seattle a week ago.  This was a special track for the conference and one they had not had before.

Over 250 speakers presented in a wide variety of tracks from Academics and American Culture to Women’s Studies.  I was most interested in the Cemetery & Grave markers, Genealogy, and the Civil War tracks.  Unfortunately, I was only able to attend the Genealogy track and then only part of it. (although I did sit in on a series of short presentations on comics one of which was about one of my favorites, Calvin & Hobbes, and its youth sports parallels)

The genealogy track began with a documentary by Julia Creet, York University, on the business of genealogy, “Need to Know: Ancestry and the Business of Family.”  While not an expert at genealogy she became interested in the business of family history when she started looking at her own heritage.  She interviewed the developers of Ancestry and the CEO of Family Search.  She  journeyed to Iceland to learn how their one country database is unique and even more unique when combined with medical data and DNA studies.  The ethics of privacy were discussed in the film.

Lisa Iversen, a private practice psycho-therapist from Bellingham  (Center for Ancestral Blueprints), spoke on the role of clusters and family in her presentation, “Ancestral Blueprints and the American Soul.”  Individuals who are mentally damaged by trauma are usually very disassociated from their  family cluster, both the descendants and ancestors. These clusters, as they are re-created or re-revealed, are important to “ground” one in the reality of now.  This is great confirmation of what we do as genealogists and the journey we take.  Lisa I., Lisa O., and I had great conversation over lunch.

A look at the bias within the show “Finding Your Roots” was  reviewed in the presentation by Christine Scoldari from Florida Atlantic University in her talk “Recuperating Ethnic Identity through Critical Genealogy.”  She observed that there was an overt supporting of northern Italians over southern, where southern Italians were routinely described as “maybe mafia.” I hadn’t observed that but it was not something I was looking for either.  I will watch for that.

Susan Hutchinson, presented a discussion in support of Coming to the Table, a group which supports using ancestral discoveries of slavery and slave ownership to serve as a catalyst for a discussion about slavery, guilt and racism. Susan was followed by Dionne Ford, independent scholar and present Board member of Coming to the Table, spoke about researching her African-American roots and finding and meeting her ancestor’s slave owner’s descendants. They also spoke of differing reactions of the “stars” of Finding your Roots to the discovery of ancestors as slaves and slave owners. At one extreme was Ben Affleck to some of the “stars who speak of their fear of “turning the page.” But, Dionne also spoke of lost opportunity by Gates to probe the reaction of the guests and a tendancy to attempt to find some “redemption” ancestor–some ancestor that campaigned for Civil Rights or illustrated exceptional sensitivity in life– to balance the slave or slave owner.  This talk fit in very nicely with Lisa and my talk “Rootless: A Retrospective of America’s Fascination with Its Ancestry” and the differing levels of interest in genealogy by a variety of cultures and their motivations.

Lisa and I proposed “Rootless” as a way to look at the interest in genealogy over the centuries.  It was very difficult to fit even a small portion of our findings into the 20 min limit per speaker that was imposed upon us.  But, we also are aware of how much “hit the cutting room floor” and we will present the topic in all its longevity (about 90 min.) to the South King County Genealogical Society on 9 June 2016. We are discussing presenting it to Seattle Genealogical Society after the end of September.

Some basic themes did emerge in our research for “Rootless” —

  • motivations have changed in three cycles since Medieval times to the 1860-1940 to now.
  • fraud has been, unfortunately, a component of genealogy when the societal stakes were high (life/death or proving high society lineages)
  • Professionalism of genealogy has been difficult to advance due to the small number of voices calling for scholarly rigor, although there have been notable exceptions beginning with the 19th century.

Segments I attended ranged from very interesting and even inspirational to simply boring where the author “made much of the molehill.”  But we had a good time, met some terrific people and I learned about how to present at academic conferences.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  conducted two classes in “How Swede it is! Beginning Swedish Genealogy” at the Swedish Club, firmed up a deal with the Nordic Heritage Museum for a class in October 2016, reached out to BYU to find out which presentations they wanted when, set up a time with a client to discuss her outcomes and did an interesting exercise of mapping the birth locations of my ancestors by color.


Nordic Immigration Conference: 15-18 March 2016

This past week I attended and spoke at the “Nordic Immigration in the Pacific Northwest from Then to Now” conference (also called the Nordic Immigration Conference) held in Seattle 15-18 March. The conference was hosted by the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle. I was only able to attend two of the three days but I thought I would give a short synopsis of the presentations I did hear and some outcomes of my attendance.

First of all, this was similar to an academic conference with papers presented in 30 min. blocks of time–20 min. for presentation and 10 min for Q&A. The typical day for the conference included presentations in the morning with a lunch break and a tour of some site important to our Scandinavian heritage in Seattle in the afternoon.

Wednesday, 16 March
Keynote presentation was by Diana Pardu from the Ellis Island Museum on “Becoming a National Immigration Museum.” Diana discussed the history of the Ellis Island Museum and site, with special focus on its exhibits and how they have evolved over time. She also discussed the upcoming changes as the exhibits become more comprehensive, including Castle Clinton, and more global in its diversity rather than ethnically segregated. The Nordic Heritage Museum is raising money for a new museum and I am sure that many of her ideas were ones that will be incorporated into the new building.

I was the first of the short presentations with my “The ‘Push’ and the ‘Pull:’ Decision-Making of the 19th Century Emigrant.” I had to cut my usual 50 minute presentation drastically.  I covered the genesis of the terminology “push” and “pull” as it relates to migration (Ravenstein, 1889) and then discussed some reasons why our ancestors made the difficult choice to emigrate from their homeland. It seemed a good topic for the kick-off of the other academic papers. (Diana Pardu nodded her head vigorously when I spoke about how immigrant’s names were not changed at Ellis Island!)

2016 0316 NICHarald Runblom, Emeritus Professor in History, Uppsala University, spoke on “Ways to WA: Scandinavian Migration to the Pacific Northwest in a Global Perspective.” This presentation was very compatible with mine. Harald noted that I had covered some of the principles he was covering but he went on to  look more closely at emigration statistics and global migration patterns. Of particular interest to me was a group that traveled from Sweden > Finland > Estonia > Ukraine > Sweden  before being disenchanted with Sweden and emigrating to the US in the early 1900s! It explains my Swedes who traveled from Sweden > Iowa > Canada.

Next up was Steinar A. Sæther, Associate Professor, Latin American Studies, University of Oslo who spoke on “Norwegian Sailors, Whalers and Workers between Tierra del Fuego and Alaska, 1848–1914.” Steiner described the voyages of a Norwegian sailor who traveled multiple times in the 1800s up and down the western coast of the Americas from Alaska to Chile. He noted that Chile was such a popular spot that a group of Swedes asked Chile if they could establish a colony with their own governance, money, language etc.  Chile government denied their request.

The day ended with Terje M. Hasle Joranger, Lecturer in North American Studies, Department of Literature, University of Oslo, on “Creating a Sense of Place: Norwegian Ethnicization in the Pacific Northwest, 1870–1900,” a look specifically at the town of Poulsbo, Washington, and its Norwegian settlement and heritage.  He spoke of the maintenance of the Norwegian culture and the eventual assimilation but with physical remembrances in the names of businesses, a Sons of Norway chapter, the church and the festivals of the town.

Friday, March 18
Friday morning, we learned about the establishment of the University of  Washington’s department of Scandinavian Studies from Terje Leiren, Professor and Sverre Arestad Endowed Chair in Norwegian Studies Department of Scandinavian Studies, in his paper, “Establishment and History of the Department of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle, 1909–2015.  Most are integrated with Germanic Studies; UW is one of those with with stand-alone programs: University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of California-Berkeley being the other two.

2016 0318 NICThe history of the Swedish newspapers in the Puget Sound region was also interesting. Ulf Jonas Bjork, (and UW alum) Professor, Department of Journalism and Public Relations, School of Liberal Arts, Indiana University—Indianapolis, covered the mercurial life of a Swedish language newspaper as it moved from Seattle to Tacoma to eventually broaden to be the Puget Sound Posten. His paper, “The Role of the Swedish-Language Press in Tacoma’s Swedish Immigrant Community, 1889–1935,” was a vivid reminder of the importance and unfortunate demise of a foreign language paper.

Knut Djupedal, Director of the Norwegian Museum of Migration, reviewed the life of a single male Norwegian who immigrated, worked his way from Minnesota to Montana to Seattle and then “boomeranged” back to Norway when he was, as Knut said, “not able to pick up the gold off the streets.” Not every immigrant settled and had the “good story” to tell the descendants.

Hans Wallengren, Ph.D. Lund University, Dept. of History and the Swedish Emigrant Institute ended the conference with a presentation of his research into the ethnic composition of “Hoovervilles” in Seattle during the depression in “Scandinavians in the Pacific Northwest—Not Only a Success Story,” which told of the struggle of young Nordic men during the 1930s. The composition of the shantytowns, especially the one south of the (now) Starbuck’s headquarters was disproportionately not native-born and Scandinavian.

So, you can see the range of topics was wide and the lecturers came from a wide variety of Scandinavian country. Each brought unique perspectives to the issue of migration of individuals. It certainly broadened my knowledge of the migration patterns (much more varied than my Sweden > Midwest mindset). There was discussion at the end of the conference to publish the individual papers, so stay tuned.

I met and re-established contact with a number of individuals from the Seattle Nordic Heritage Museum and two of my students from my previous class at the NHM were in attendance due to my inclusion of information about the conference in my post-presentation website–that was cool. I also now have a contact for Pacific Lutheran University as I would love to teach a regular Swedish genealogy class there but we will see if that comes to fruition.

Note: NIC also had the best goody-bag ever: two books, two CDs, the requisite pen and paper and two samples of Aquivit!:-)

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: worked on the above presentation and the one for next week’s Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association joint conference. I have to submit my proposals for National Genealogical Society and the Federation of Genealogical Societies this weekend for their conferences in 2017. I did get my syllabi submitted on time to Jamboree and solidified my two speaking engagements when the family visits Cape Cod in July.