Privacy and the GDPR

“Genealogy Certification” respects your privacy and recognizes the importance of your personal information. We are committed to protecting your information through our compliance with this Privacy Policy. This Privacy Policy describes our practices in connection with information we may collect through your use of our website (our ‘Site’). By using our Site, you consent to our collection and use of the information described in this Privacy Policy.

This blog post is now a page on this website.

You might have some questions, but be aware, I am no expert in this.

Why are you doing this?

On 25 May 2018, the European Union put into effect the requirements for a privacy policy called General Data Protection Regulations or GDPR. Although this blog is a very small “fish” in a very big “pond,” we felt it reasonable to describe to you our use of your information. While the GDPR applies to our European readers, we think it is good practice for all to recognize what we use of your information and how we use it.

For a description of what the GCPR is see The Legal Genealogist:
Abundant Genealogist

At Genealogy Certification: My Personal Journey (“the website”), we have two principles that we follow when it comes to your privacy:

• We don’t ask you for personal information unless we truly need it.
• We don’t share your personal information with anyone except in accordance with law.

We can state those principles clearly, because we do not carry advertising on this site, except when WordPress adds it. Those ads and your click-throughs fall under the policy of WordPress, its parent company and any of its affiliates. We urge you to read their Terms of Service at:

“Genealogy Certification” uses the free version of WordPress, and, therefore, we do not have an the ability to add a click agreement to their principles/policies, and so our low-tech solution is this:

  1. Opt-in: by using this site you are agreeing to the use of your cookies in a manner described below.
  2. Opt-out: you can refuse to supply personally-identifying information by unsubscribing.

What are Cookies?

Cookies are small programs stored on your computer, which may be used by WordPress, the blog service provider, to enable certain privacy and log-in capabilities. You have the ability to delete cookie files from your computer at any time or avoid cookies by configuring your browser to reject them or to notify you when a cookie is being placed on your computer.

What information do you collect?

Jill Morelli is the sole owner of the information collected on this site. We only have access to personally-identifying information if you voluntarily give it to us directly or by using email.

We collect information when you make a comment, subscribe to receive blog posts by email, surf the website, or when we use certain other site features in the following ways:

• To keep the website secure.
• To improve user experience.
• To improve the website.
• To respond to your requests.

We don’t and won’t sell or rent your information to anyone, and we won’t share any of your information with any third party unless required by law–which is highly unlikely.

WordPress also aggregate data about visitors (browser type, language preference, referring site, date and time of visit and the like), through services like WordPress that track this information for us, and retain it in log form. This information isn’t linked to anything personally identifiable, but we don’t sell or rent any of it to anyone either.

How do you protect my information?

The website is scanned on a regular basis for security holes and known vulnerabilities in order to make your visit to our site as safe as possible, but it is not perfect.

Do I have rights to my information?

International privacy rules give you rights over personally-identifying information collected for website purposes, including the right to withdraw any consent previously given; the right to review data that’s been collected; the right to correct or update your data; the right to have any portable information transferred to another data controller; and the right to have any personally-identifying information erased.

What if I click on a link that you have provided?

This website, through its many blog posts, has a lot of links to other websites. We’re not responsible for their content or their privacy practices.  We’re also not responsible if any content from this website is republished elsewhere without our permission.

Will these Privacy Policies ever change?

This Privacy Policy may change from time to time. Your use of the website after any change in this Privacy Policy will constitute your acceptance of such change.

The Site and I, personally, shall have no liability to you under this Policy, it being acknowledged and agreed that the Site is provided solely for your convenience.

What if I need more information?

I first urge you to read the blogs I noted above. If you need more information or have questions about this privacy policy, please contact me by email,

If you wish to unsubscribe, do not hesitate to do so. That function is totally in your control.

Happy Hunting!

Much of this blog post utilized the privacy statements of others including The Legal Genealogist, GEDmatch and WordPress.  I am indebted to all of you for your leadership.

Jill Morelli, CG
Updated: 22 May 2018


Don’t Make Up Rubrics!

Rubric: b. an established custom; a set of rules, an injunction; a general prescription. [1]

Rubrics on computerThe definition of “rubric” has morphed from its 15th century ecclesiastical origins into directions of how something is assessed or prescribed.[2] The Board for Certification of Genealogists® (BCG) publishes their rubrics on their website, which explains how the BCG judges will assess your submitted portfolio.[3] The BCG website explains:

New research-category applications are evaluated using standards-based rubrics that address all aspects of the work, including documentation, research, writing, and adherence to the Genealogical Proof Standard.

Study of these rubrics will supply insight into the criteria BCG’s judges consider during evaluations.[4]

I contend that one of the reasons some of us (me included) have/had angst associated with the submission of the portfolio is that we worry if we are “following the rules.” That’s not a bad thing; what is a “bad thing” is when we “make up rules”, adding requirements that really aren’t there.

Making up the rubrics is evidence that we are overthinking the portfolio and its process.

Example #1: A friend asked if she would be penalized if she did system x vs. system y in her KDP report. The important point here isn’t the question itself, but rather that she had a misconception about the requirements of the Rubrics. Why did she think that there was a “requirement” for one system over another? I asked which rubric told her that she had to use one system over another. There, of course, wasn’t one.

Example #2: I thought that the three generations of the Kinship Determination Project had to have a theme that tied the three generations together, in addition to being a documented family line. I worked hard to identify a family with theme, selected a family line with a series of three seceders from their home religion. I worked hard to gather the information to support the theme. As I finished up the report, I realized, after doing my “just before I submit my portfolio” reading of the rubrics, there was no requirement for that. I removed much of the theme description and submitted a shorter KDP.

Don’t fabricate rubrics that don’t exist. What isn’t there—isn’t there. You have the ability to do what you wish within the rubrics that are presented.

You can avoid this tendency to make up rubrics by closely reading and understanding the rubrics. Look for key words in the description of the rubrics that “meets standards”. Don’t make it harder by reading more into them than is there!

You should also constantly question your assumptions–not just those assumptions related to your genealogical research, but also those assumptions related to the process of putting your portfolio together.

Are you making up rubrics, and making the process harder? CGs, what are some “rubrics” you made up?

[1] OEDonline
[2] Board for Certification of Genealogists, “Rubrics for Evaluating New Applications for BCG Certification,” 15 January 2018, The rubrics are free for the download and while you are there, download (free) the Application Guide. You will want to also obtain the book Genealogy Standards, 50th Anniversary Edition ($, from BCG) which are referred to on the Rubrics. here is the link for the Standards manual:
[3] Ibid., “Rubrics,”


How I File My “Stuff”–Yawn

MyDesk old spreadsheetI started collecting my family information in 1982. It was the time of paper genealogy. I wrote letters, included SASEs, and recorded the informational scraps received on family group sheets. I was always interested in citing my work and eventually developed a source list (see left) that I number coded to my family group sheets. At one time, my husband and I worked with Russ and Birdie Holsclaw to write a program for genealogy that would incorporate citations. That initiative failed under its own weight, but I was still determined to find a program that could facilitate my writing citations for genealogy.

Fast forward to 2002, my daughter was now in college. I had contributed my time and expertise to a community organization in Denver, moved to Florida, moved again to Ohio and was finishing up my masters degree at Ohio State.

I remember—it was a February of 2002.  I said to myself, “After I graduate, what am I going to do?” (Note: I had a very full time job at Ohio State!)  I decided to check out various genealogical programs to see what might be available. I wanted one that could facilitate citation writing. There was only one—The Master Genealogist (TMG), which was still under production, but the citation element was there!

Like avid genealogists everywhere, there were many nights in the subsequent months when I looked up from my genealogy work and it was 2:00 in the morning! But, citations were not enough. It was equally important to have a filing system that I could easily file and easily find the source I was looking for.

The over-riding principle of my organizational system was simple. I adopted a single goal– to find any document in 20 seconds or less. I knew that the simpler I made my system the more likely I was to follow it. I also investigated systems that others espoused—colored folders, long identifying numbers and surname files.  None of these were simple and all required me to remember where I filed something to retrieve it. I looked back at my original list of sources and realized I could just number my sources sequentially, record the number in the database and I would be good to go. I let my computer do the “heavy lifting,” I just had to cite every source received, give it a number and put it into that 3 ring binder.

Did it happen?  You bet! I love my system, but I would suggest that few have ever adopted it, perhaps because it requires you to cite your sources!

MyDeskSo many genealogical filing systems rely on the “library system” of cataloging our sources, i.e. the description of the item determines how it is filed. For example, you have a death certificate and file it in the vital records file under Fred Jones. You consider yourself done. You aren’t.  What happens when you want to find it later? You have to remember it existed, “think” about it being in Fred’s file and then you have to think about it being a vital record and then you have to think about where it might be filed (color, Ahnetaufel number or what). Too much thinking for me!
MyDesk B213I instead file by the “archival method.” I don’t care what kind of document it is; and I don’t care who is identified. I only ask myself one question—is it my dad’s (Jacobson) or my mom’s side (Bode) of the family! I grab a 3-ring binder with the proper family (I have no pedigree collapse between my mom and my dad’s side of the family, which would complicate things.) The 3 ring binder has archival slip sheets in it (see image on left and note number in lower right hand corner); each sheet has been pre-numbered sequentially—J for Dad’s side, B for mom’s. A number looks like this: B213.

I find the earliest open slip-sheet, insert the document into it and record the reference number, in this case B213 in the short form of the citation of the source in my database.

MyDesk numberThis last step is the key. Like an archival system, if my document becomes separated from its number (say, I took it out of the slip sheet to inspect more closely and didn’t put it back) then I have to find where it belongs by looking at my (very long) source list. Not good. Waste of time. Or, even worse, if I misfile it, then the reference number refers to an empty slip-sheet. Like an archive, if the item gets separated from it’s box, the archivist has to figure out where it goes and if misfiled, the document can be lost for a very long time! (See image on left to see number on the slipsheet.)

When I look at my list of sources, I see a short form abbreviation for the source followed by my reference number. Using our example above, the short form would look like this—“PRO Jones Fred [B213]”—for the Probate Record of Fred Jones, filed in my Bode books, slip sheet number B213.  No thinking when filing and no thinking when retrieving. I let my computer database do the heavy lifting. If I have multiple Fred Jones’s, I add the year of birth after his name: “PRO Jones Fred 1902 [B213]

“Case Study”

For my portfolio, I didn’t have and wasn’t going to get the church record of the birth of my great uncle Boyd. I went to his birth record in my database, and saw I had 6 different sources for his birth. I needed the best source–one that was recorded closest to his birth with the highest reliability.  I had an online source of an entry in a church book of Boyd’s birth by his pastor father when Boyd was about 7 or 8 years old.  That’s good, but then I saw something else on my source list. I had a letter from Shirley M. that I had used as a source for Boyd’s birth—number B52. I pulled the 3-ring binder down, opened it up to B52 and there was the letter Shirley had written in c. 1982. She had visited the church and carefully recorded the birth information—from the book that the church now said burned in a fire in 1895!

I explained the lack of an original birth record in my KDP like this:

“The True Dutch Christian Reformed Church (Ridott, Illinois) birth records for Boyd Bode in 1873 pose a conundrum. The church burned in 1895 and a present church official informed the author that no records survived.[1] Casting doubt on this statement is that in the 1980s, researcher Shirlee Mxxxx of Stephenson County, Illinois, transcribed the records from the church books, which indicated that “Bajoden Bode” was born 4 October 1873, to the parents, Hendrik Jans Bode and Grietje Wienenga Bode.[2] While the “stories” differ, the result is that the evidence of Boyd’s birth is consistent with other sources concerning birth date, birthplace and parents’ names.

Which is more credible: a transcription from the original by a careful genealogist or the entry in the membership book of the church by the father about 7 to 8 years after the event? I used both as the information was consistent.

More importantly to our point: The identification of the desired record, the removal of the 3-ring binder from my shelf, and the flipping the pages to the correct page, took about 10 seconds! Could you find a letter that you don’t remember receiving in 1982 in less that twenty seconds?

I love my system. Of course, not all things can fit into a 3-ring binder. Some source collections are so large they get their own 3-ring binder, e.g. all my photocopies of the BMDs in the Weener (Germany) parish records and my U.S. land records of the Bodes. Some sources I don’t catalog at all—censuses, books, and my framed ornate marriage records. I have removed the censuses I had collected, which opened up more slip sheets for newly found sources (Remember, the order doesn’t matter!) These days I am doing more digital filing and link to the actual document by using a permalink or the image itself.

That’s it– not hard to set up, but you have to cite your sources–always.  The system is easy to remember and it works. I hope your system works as well. If you have questions don’t hesitate to ask.

Happy Hunting!


[1] Valerie –?–, secretary, Grace Valley Christian Reformed Church (successor to the True Dutch Reformed church), Ridott, Illinois [(e-address for private use),] to Jill Morelli, e-mail, 23 February 2016, “Birth record: Boyd Bode, 1873” Personal Correspondence Folder, Bode Research Files, privately held by Morelli [(e-address), and street address for private use], Seattle, Washington, 2016.

[2] Shirlee Mxxx [(address for private use),] to Jill Morelli, original transcription, c. 1982, “Transcription of Bode Entries at Ridott [Christian Reformed Church],” Personal Correspondence Folder, Bode Research Files.