Welcome to my blog, “Genealogy Certification: A Personal Journey.” My name is Jill Morelli, CG(R). I blog because when I decided to apply for Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) certification, I thought I would have something to say. I thought the journey of educating myself to become qualified to submit a portfolio might be of interest to others. After two years of work, and two and a half years of being “on the clock,” I submitted my portfolio. Three months later BCG notified me that I had exhibited the suitable standards to be conferred the designation of Certified Genealogist (R) .
During that period of formal and informal education, I devoted myself to genealogical research. Initially the focus was on client work, but I have now shifted towards writing and lecturing/teaching. I shifted the moment I received my first (very modest) checks for both.
I am a “Roots” genealogist; I started tracing my family tree shortly after the Roots series was on television but I have always been interested in history. I especially like the aspect of comparing and contrasting the macro historical events that you learn in school with the micro historical events of our ancestors.
I was an active “paper” genealogist for about 10 years until 1982, at which time I stopped doing genealogy to nurture a family, contribute to my community, and work professionally. I remember:
- In 1982 I listed my sources (not in citation form) in a database and linked them to my paper files with a number.
- In 1988 I wanted a computer program that would assign a source to a fact. Birdie Holsclaw, a well known and now deceased genealogist, her husband, Russ, and my husband worked on writing a new program as there were no genealogy programs that linked a source at that time. (Being the un-tech person I am, I watched them work.) This effort did not result in a product, but we did all become good friends.
- In 2002, being tired of working on my final paper for my master’s degree, I decided to investigate and purchase a genealogy computer program. I barely got the masters paper completed because I became instantly re-obsessed.
- In 2002, I had 144 names in my “paper” data base when I reactivated my research. I thought it was a lot at the time. Twenty years later, I now have 13,000!
I love to do research and write about it. At any one time I am investigating three or four different topics to blog or write about. Some of my more complex investigations (some ongoing) include gender balance in authorship in genealogical publications over time, the treatment of mentally ill patients held in “insane asylums” in the late 1800’s, finding the parents of a 18th c. Swede (see National Genealogical Society Quarterly, September 2017), The Penthouse Playhouse (Seattle, WA) sponsors, to name a few. I have been lucky in finding groups and individuals who help me along the way. Thanks to the entire genealogy community for their support.
If you wish to contact me for any reason please feel free to contact me through this blog or use firstname.lastname@example.org
Jill, I am trying to follow your blog, but I get a WordPress message saying that my request was not approved, and to enter a valid email address. I know I’m entering a valid email address. Is it really going through, and the error message is false? It looks like I’ve added to your total followers, but I’m not sure it has actually worked.
Kathy, I cannot explain what you are seeing. I do not see you signed up on my list. I also do not approve followers but I do approve comments before they are posted. There are two types of followers: email and blog followers. Which one do you think you signed up for? Perhaps try again?
Jill, I’m trying to trace my husband’s side, but I’m come to a concrete wall (not brick!). He has a few generations that are the same name and same area. Could you give me some information on what you do for clients?
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Thanks for the shout-out, GL! I appreciate it. And wasn’t the ProGen lunch fun? I had a great time. Jill
Thanks Jill for coming to Skagit County Sept 19!! Hubby & I enjoyed your talks & you have inspired us to write some bios.
Thank you! I enjoyed myself very much. Happy writing! Try just 350 words every day for a week. “small bites.” 🙂 Have a a great week. Jill
Jill, Looking forward to bringing you greetings from Tucson at Jamboree, as I am planning to attend this year. Elizabeth O’Neal started a FB group for Jamboree bloggers. If you are interested in Joining, here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/jamboreebloggers/
Jill, I am doing research on the Peter Burma family tree. The Winnebago Historical Society gave me your name as a possible source of information. Can you help? Thank you.
While going through boxes of family photos and papers recently I discovered the exciting news that my great great grandfather’s half brother, Jens Dahle, served in the Civil War. I have a newspaper photo of him at a reunion of survivors. Today while chatting with family about this I googled him and came up with the equally exciting news of your blog about him. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to read your blog. If you can direct me to any of your publushed info about him or any other accessible information, I would be must grateful.
See previous comment, Susan, but do check out lulu.com. Jill
Jill, I communicated with you several years ago as I think we are shirttail relatives. You pointed me to a story about the son of Weet Janssen & Hilke Bode (John Bode Janssen) and his upbringing after his mother died (I think from a horse and buggy accident). Could you tell me where I could find that story. I am just starting to try and put my Janssen family tree together. My grandfather (Koert Otto Janssen), great-grandfather (John Esderts Janssen) came from the Campen/Upleward area.
Loved your webinar tonight on Dissecting a Civil War Pension Packet! Would love to have a copy of the template for your inventory spreadsheet.
I found I cannot link a document here. Please contact me a email@example.com so I can send it to you. JM
I really enjoyed the talk on Civil War Pension Packets last evening I went to Haithi (SP?) Trust this morning but could not find The “Compendium oF civil War Pension Acts” you spoke about. Is that the name I should be searching under?
Doug, Thanks for listening. When I said it was a compendium of pension laws, I didn’t mean to imply that was the name of the book. I was speaking generically. The citation is in the syllabus: Frederick G. Brightly, An Analytical Digest of the Laws of the United States, Pensions, (Philadelphia: Kay & Brother, 1858-1869) vol 2. 482-491; HathiTrust, https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008965146.
Hello Jill, I very much enjoyed your Webinar “Finding a father for Molly.” I am trying to find the name of a great grandfather. To my delight I recently had a 108 cM match with someone from Missouri, the highest yet for an unknown person. Unfortunately he has not responded to my emails. I have been polite and not given too much information but he has simply not responded. I moved from the USA to Germany 2003 and am familiar with the (genealogy) privacy laws here but am not familiar with US genealogy privacy laws. Are there ways there, besides (possibly) facebook, instagram, etc. to find out the names of someone’s parents and grandparents online?
E Lise, Many people do Ancestry (I assume that is what you are talking about here.) and then never look at the results again. I have many requests out to individuals who have never responded. I also assume that this individual does not have a tree that you can see. If that is the situation—I go to Shared Matches between you and your 108 match. These are individuals who share cM with him and you. Look for people with trees. Now these may be smaller matches but at least you should be able to confirm the family line the cM are passed down from. Contact these people if in fact they are of your unknown family. Secondly, move your data to GEDMatch and find matches to this line there and contact the individuals directly. You can also separate out your family lines by grandparents using the LEEDS Method. Just google “Dana Leeds clustering” without the quotes. Otherwise, I use Facebook, Linkedin, newspapers (obituaries that list survivors are particularly helpful.) etc. Good luck. Jill
Hi Jill, I’m interested in learning about your program about being a professional genealogist. I took the 15-week course through Boston University, “Certificate in Genealogical Research.” Patti Huff Smith
Hi, Patti! The course I teach (virtually) is call Certification Discussion Group and can be found on the web at
https://the CDGseries.wordpress.com. It however, is not oriented towards giving you skills to be a professional (other than do good work) but rather informs the attendees about the requirements for certification by the Board for Certification of Genealogists. You may be thinking of the ProGen Study Groups (just google it) This year long course is definitely oriented towards improving the skills of genealogists and goes into contracts types of documents etc. If, after looking at these websites you still have questions just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
the web address did not come out right on the note above. https://theCDGseries.wordpress.com.