Do you ever go back and re-read reference books?

While I rarely re-read a leisure reading book (FYI: I am reading Catherine the Great right now by Massie), I do find myself going back and re-reading my reference books.  As I have now done a few client reports, I thought I would glance again at Professional Genealogy by ESM.  It was interesting how it resonated with me much stronger the second time around.  I suspect that it will resonate even stronger the 3rd and possibly the 4th time as well.

Some of my ah-ha moments as i went through the first two chapters were:

Observation no. 1: I did a little homage to Birdie Holsclaw when I saw her name in the Table of Contents. Birdie was a friend of mine when we lived in Colorado.

Observation no. 2: I have been thinking a lot about what is a “professional?” (Chapter 1: Defining Professionalism by Donn Devine)  There are the professions (usually considered law, medicine, architecture, teaching etc. as professions) of which I belong to one.  Since I did the pro bono work for my clients, I wondered…does that made me a “professional genealogist?” Or, did I have to have a paying client to do that?  Or, did I have to practice for a length of time before I could call myself a professional genealogist?  As an architect I had to have a certain level of degree, then go through an apprenticeship program for three years, and take a comprehensive exam.  Then and only if I passed the test, could I call myself an architect.  Was getting certified kind of like that?  Without a required internship?

Mr Devine defines professionalism by the perceptions of three groups:  public, peer, and self. The narrative about public and self perception are very short, less than 1 page each.  The one on Peer Perception is 6 pages long.  Obviously he considers the perceptions of peers to be the critical audience.  He then outlines some of the elements of peer perception, noting that preliminary applicants for BCG certification have, on average, 15 years of personal experience (check!) and 3 years of professional experience (nope).  At some point I might set up a score card and see how I have progressed on the 7 major categories (some have subcategories).

Observation no. 3: I read through Chapter 2: Educational Preparation by Claire Mire Bettag, CGRS.  It was very interesting.  I promise myself that next year I would either go to Samford or take the BU course.  Ms. Bettag gives a good overview of the courses, some of which I was not aware of.  One I hadn’t checked out as closely as I should is the NGS course or those given by NARA in DC.  I will check those out.

And that’s how far I am right now.

I would like to offer two ideas for comment:

  1. BCG should consider the addition of a mentorship program to their process of certification.  I find that I feel particularly isolated here from the serious researchers and would like to have someone I would talk to regularly to push me to a higher level and to comment on work product.  While each client report got better and better, I think they would have been much better quicker with some mentorship.  I do not think this has to violate their rule about it being 100% your work if the comments were received after the client report was delivered to the client but it allowed the individual to incorporate the comments into the next work product.  I am sure they have thought of this.  I just think it sounds like a good idea.
  2. Teleconferencing would make some of these classes/conferences more accessible instead of having to journey to a specific location and pay for housing and food etc.  I was glad to see RootsTech have some of their sessions on-line.  A friend of mine recently got her a business doctorate on-line.  She lives in Houston.  You can get your doctorate in Pharmacy on line.  All from reputable universities.  Seems like genealogy classes (complete with assignments and class participation) could work with a Skype feature.

So those are my thoughts today.

Happy Hunting!


Things I have done since the last post:  read the first two chapters of Professional Genealogy again; worked on incorporating the comments of my instructor into my paper, posted 3 postings on the class bulletin board on sources, information, evidence and about writing footnotes and bibliographies; worked on the brochure (I have the next draft done…I need to get a good picture of me), did some filing of work product.


2 comments on “Do you ever go back and re-read reference books?

  1. Jill — If our paths cross at NGS, I can give you some second-hand fill-in on previous BCG mentoring projects. You might want to consider joining APG, which will have a roundtable on mentoring Tuesday evening. — Harold

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