What did I learn about certification at SLIG?

The tone of the conversation about certification is changing.  I noticed the “change” in the first day of the Advanced Methodology course as Dr. Jones took numerous opportunities to make the process of applying and obtaining certification seem attainable to a greater number of potential applicants than before.

In my own mind, a mystique built around the application process.  I felt, even understood, that I must have certain institutes and other criteria met before I am eligible to apply.  Certain materials reinforced my mindset:

  • Quiz on the BCG page [1]:  Have you read two years of five journals worth of articles?  These are valuable to read but if you haven’t, you lose points and then you may not be “qualified.” I am not sure that the family lineages of the east coast as presented in the NEHGR and TAG are all that pertinent to me whose earliest ancestor immigrated in 1854 and went straight to Illinois.  NGSQ focuses more on methodology and I learn a lot from those articles, wherever the proof argument is located.
  • BCG portfolios at conferences:  These nearly “perfect” examples have certainly made this potential applicant reticent to apply.
  •  Number who are certified yearly:  It does not help when we see one person get certified in a quarter.  This makes it appear that of the many that must apply (of course, we don’t know how many actually apply) only an extremely small percentage must qualify.

I am sure that none of the above is the single thing that has kept me from applying but it does ascribe a criteria which if not accomplished sent a negative message to this potential applicant.

At a breakfast at the end of SLIG attended by 15+ attendees including certified and uncertified individuals, the discussion centered around how there are two types of genealogists who apply for certification: those that aren’t ready at all and the “over readies.”  The latter group has every box checked, every institute attended, every NGSQ+ article read and analyzed and every citation template memorized.  The “over readies” work beyond the level necessary to achieve certification and seem to be striving for perfection.

 Let’s be clear…I am not, nor are the people I spoke to, saying it is easy or frivolous to attain certification, just attainable–and perhaps more attainable than we, the applicants, are making it.

Tom Jones and Judy Russell also reduced the focus from citations to correlation.  The application process is less about the form and more about substance.  Both iterated that getting an A was not the goal but that passing was.  Judy noted that no one gets a different certificate if they “pass” better than the next applicant.

Some certified individuals made it clear that the reason why they failed the first time was because they did not follow directions.  Lesson Learned:  Follow the directions!  But one individual also failed a portion of an element of the portfolio and still passed! The advice was– it is better to fail on form–something correctable–then to fail on correlation or analytical thought process.  Form is easily corrected; an inability to correlate is not.

I am being urged to apply and submit.  I will put in my application to go “on the clock” in the next four weeks.  I want to time this so it doesn’t land too close to the holidays and after my computer comes back from the Apple Hospital!

A new standards manual comes out in the next week and I have my copy on pre-order.  I will be pouring over it and I am sure that in short time frame it will be as dog eared and tabbed as the previous edition.  Tom Jones noted a significant change is the title.  Have you noticed?  It is no longer The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual [2] but is rather Genealogy Standards [3]– for all genealogists– a significant and important modification.

 Happy Hunting!


 What I have done since the last posting: watched my two favorite pro football teams duke it out to play each other in the Super Bowl!  Now who do I root for? I have a couple of posts ready to publish but I had to wait until my desk top got back from the Apple Hospital which it now is.  Woo hoo!  I apologize in advance for a cluster of postings which are appearing a week after the SLIG event.  corrected this post per Judy Russell’s comment.

[1] http://www.bcgcertification.org/ruready.html, accessed 25 January 2014.

[2] Board for Certification of Genealogists, The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual (New York: Turner Publishing Co., 2000).

[3] — , Genealogy Standards, 50th Anniversary Edition (Nashville, Tenn. : Ancestry, 2014).  Book has yet to be distributed but the preorder price is less if you purchase by January 27th!


6 comments on “What did I learn about certification at SLIG?

  1. The title of the new manual is actually Genealogy Standards. Period. No “manual” at all. It is a VERY significant focus change: these are standards for all genealogists, not just for a few. Things we all need to try to do, to leave a legacy of excellence — and of truth — for our descendants and kin. And for all who want the proper citation, it is:

    Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, 50th Anniversary Edition (Nashville, Tenn. : Ancestry, 2014).

    • jkmorelli says:

      Thanks, Judy. I also didn’t have the publication info. I look forward to getting my copy in early February. And, I will write that email I promised. Jill

      • jkmorelli says:

        I have updated the blog on certification to include the correct publishers information on the new book and adjusted the name near the bottom of the post.

  2. Fuller Jones "Sonny J" says:

    Thanks Jill! That reinforces my thoughts about the process, and makes me glad I went ahead on got “On the Clock.” I have thought for some time that there was too much emphasis in the citations, and started some critical comments in the BCG forum about them.
    I also felt it was unfair to put that “Are you ready” quiz with the primary emphasis on attending conferences. I cannot!!
    Please keep the comments coming!

  3. Allen says:

    Good post.

  4. Sandra Page says:

    Jill, please don;t apologize for “a cluster of postings”, what could be better? I have been looking forward to reading about your week at SLIG. Sandra

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