Numbering! Maybe You Don’t Have to Buy “the Book”

The Kinship Determination Project (KDP) seems daunting to many who are writing their portfolio.1 In the previous post we covered the formats one could choose. Another aspect of the KDP that causes concern and questions is the numbering of the work. Perhaps this is heresy–maybe you don’t need to buy “The Book”, much less sleep with it under your pillow!2

“The Book” I am talking about is Numbering Your Genealogy: Basic Systems, Complex Families, and International Kin, the Bible for numbering formats.3 And while I think it should be in everyone’s library, for this exercise you will need it only for the definitions of the various elements I am deleting or keeping.

The BCG Application Guide says that we have to “Submit a narrative genealogy, a narrative lineage, or narrative pedigree that documents and explains linkages among individuals through three ancestral generations–ascending or descending.”4 In a previous post I showed you– visually– what each of these types of presentation of your genealogy might look like and debunked a few myths along the way. It was obvious that using a narrative lineage reduced the amount of people needed to be covered, while still staying within the 150 maximum page count.

The BCG Application Guide 2019 (6th bullet, in section 6) states that “a clear, comprehensive [numbering system] format” needs to be used.5 Numbering Your Genealogy is the standard recommended for numbering the three formats of KDPs.

In the Genealogy Standards “Standard formats,” it states “Lineages… need not be numbered.”6 What does that mean to you, writing your KDP and writing it as a narrative lineage?

I attempted to number my narrative lineage for my portfolio and one judge said I did it wrong and another said I didn’t have to number my lineage at all! My conclusion was and is, “why open yourself up for criticism when you can avoid it?”

But what should you do?7

I like to think about my reader. What would make reading my KDP easier for a judge? I think the following would make it easier for a judge to read my descending KDP and reduce the numbering system interjections.7:

  • I would still separate the generations with the subsection titles “Generation One,” “Generation Two” and “Generation Three;”
  • I would not assign a sequential “individual number” to the first or subsequent people, because it is an easy format to follow;
  • I would not include the past generations in parentheses of the first person;
  • I would not include a “generation number” to the first or subsequent people. It’s obvious based on your subsection labels of the generations.
  • I would include a genealogical summary (that dense summary information about your person of interest) right at the top–born, died and married.
  • I would include the children’s list. This would list all the children and include their vital information. I interpreted that as meaning birth, death and marriage info. Others write much more. I use a table with hidden lines for my list of children–much easier then wrestling with Word tabs.
  • I would include the birth order number, the lower case Roman numerals which number the generations’ children.
  • I would include a + sign to indicate which child is the person of interest in the next generation.
  • And, of course, I would comply with all the other requirements of the Application Guide and the Rubrics which are not covered here.

You may disagree. You may include something I haven’t or take something out that I included. Your KDP might be set up as an ascending narrative lineage. In the end it’s YOUR KDP and you will decide what is best for your reader and your evidence. This is just what I would do– in retrospect.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post: quarantined in place to a point where if I take out the trash, it’s a big deal!; had an article accepted at the Swedish American Genealogist for June 2021; started and completed a Certification Discussion Group–always fun and visited my daughter, SIL and their new daughter. (We “bubbled up.”)

1 The KDP is one element of the portfolio which gets submitted to the Board for Certification of Genealogists for the purposes of review in the determination of whether the credential “Certified Genealogist” should be granted to the submitter.
2 The need to place the “Book” under your pillow in an effort to absorb the information while sleeping was stated to me twice in a conversation on 18 November 2020 in a Zoom meeting.
3 Joan Curran, CG et al., Numbering Your Genealogy: Basic Systems, Complex Families and International Kin, (Arlington, VA: National Genealogical Society, 2008).
4 The BCG Application Guide 2019, (Washington, DC : Board for Certification of Genealogists, 2019) item 6. Emphasis by the author of the book.
5 Ibid.
6 Genealogy Standards, Second Edition, (Washington, DC : Board for Certification of Genealogists, 2019) p. 39, item 72, second bullet. Why don’t they number their pages!
7 I do not speak for BCG, nor am I a trustee. These suggestions are what I would do and if I submitted this way I have no idea how the judges would view them. Your situation will be different and you will have to make that judgement about what to include or not on your own. I repeat: I do not speak for BCG.

2 comments on “Numbering! Maybe You Don’t Have to Buy “the Book”

  1. LisaGorrell says:

    I agree with you. My next KDP will be much simpler in form. I, too, was told that I didn’t need to number in the manner I did. Now, if you’re writing a complete genealogy, that’s another story (and I have practiced that 😉 ).

    • Jill Morelli says:

      Lisa, I practice formal number as well. After every proof of my end-of-the-line ancestors I include a genealogical summary. I hate to write them but once I am done, it is a good feeling. JM

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