BCG: What is on my monthly to-do List?

clock 1As you know I went “on the clock” (OTC) in May.

So, what have I done to advance my portfolio?  It seems like almost nothing!  🙂  But, as I write down what I have done–I am ok.

  1. I have worked on my Dirk article about my great grand uncle who spent from 1872-1905 in three different insane asylums in Illinois.  It is a kinship determination project, but is not one I am submitting for BCG.  By writing it, I have learned a lot about the different numbering systems and put the principles in practice.  I have also figured out how to make Word behave so I can have a + sign, a numeral and a roman numeral all line up vertically in the same line with the text.  Yea!
  2. I attended Warren Bittner’s class at NGS 2014 on writing well.  He is such a fabulous writer.  I am studying his approach to writing, by re-reading my notes and the syllabus and articles he has written.  I am extra lucky that his Büttner article, which won the NGSQ writing award in 2012, was our NGSQ Study Group article for June.  Zola, the leader, formulated great questions about the article to aid our reading and we had a lively discussion.
  3. I have scheduled monthly readings.  I will be reading the BCG rubrics, The BCG Standards Manual, Genealogy Standards and the first two chapters of EE once a month.  I just do not think I can put those in front of me enough times. (Besides, I have heard that the most common reason for not “passing” is that the individual didn’t follow directions.)
  4. I have turned in my assignment (the last) for ProGen, completed and submitted my presentation proposals for NGS, FGS, and OGS. and completed the presentations and syllabi for WSGS and OGSA.
  5. I attended the SCGS virtual conference.  Great presentations.  Some of the best speakers. Since I am a member I will be able to review those, including Warren Bittner’s presentation on writing proof arguments.
  6. Worked on my resume–it did need updating.
  7. Worked on the BCG provided document.  My ProGen experience really helped me here.  when we were transcribing in ProGen I identified some formats I particularly liked.  It was nice to have an example of a format I was comfortable with.

I don’t think that is too bad actually!  Next? –probably the transcription of the document that I provide.

I am also done with the Dirk article–5000 words.  I am fairly pleased with it.  I see some gaps, but I suspect most authors do.  I may be able to fill a couple of those gaps the end of this month when I visit Elgin Hospital and have a tour of the facility by the resident historian.  It should be interesting talking to him.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting (see above):  If you didn’t listen in on the SCGS free webinars you missed out on some very good presentations.  Warren Bittner’s presentation on Proof Arguments is still available at (session S-421).  It was presented at NGS in 2013.

[1] Rubrics can be found at

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

[3] Thomas W. Jones, editor, Genealogy Standards (Nashville:, 2013).

[4] Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, Inc, 2007).


Is BCG really going to update “The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual”?

Yes.  I might be the last to know but according to Dr. Tom Jones they will issue another edition next year.

When I questioned him about the differences, he stated it was more clarifying in its approach rather than a rewrite.  I definitely got the idea (although not necessarily stated by Dr. Jones) that there was going to be more information about what constituents a “reasonably exhaustive search,” a topic that he spent some time on in his cruise lecture.

In his presentation, Dr. Jones discussed at length  the word “reasonably” and how critical it is to the phrase “reasonably exhaustive search.” He urged us all to analyze what we have rather than collecting sources that are “different” but have the same root source.  Two statements that refer to a single source does not add up to three sources, just one.  You might check out my previous blog posted as I illustrated the use of a methodology presented by Dr. Jones for analyzing sources.

A “reasonably exhaustive search” should be comprised of:

  1. “at least two independent sources in agreement”
  2. like all good science, be replicable by competent genealogists
  3. include some primary information
  4. include some original sources
  5. cite root sources in lieu of derivative sources or secondary information and
  6. cite root sources of databases, indexes etc.

These, together, seemed like a reasonable standard to me but if you look on p. 8 of your BCG Standards Manual you will see that it is not stated as explicitly.  So, I will be waiting for the next edition of the Manual to see if it includes a more careful assessment of what constitutes a “reasonably exhaustive search.”  Note:  in the lecture he actually covered all five of the elements in detail.

Note: the above was used with permission of Dr. Jones who also supplied citation for the original article which was printed in APG Quarterly.  Thanks, Tom!

Happy hunting!


What I have done since the last post: made breakfast, watched a bit of the MSU/Northwestern football game and got ready to run some errands downtown.


Thomas W. Jones, interviewed by Jill Morelli, September 2012; notes privately held by interviewer, address withheld, Seattle, Washington, 2012.

Thomas W. Jones, “The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS): What It is and What It is Not,” lecture, 2012 Genealogy Conference and Cruise, September 2012, hosted by Wholly Genes, Inc., syllabus p. 47-50, augmented with handwritten notes by Jill Morelli (address withheld), Seattle, Washington, 2012.

Thomas W. Jones, “How Much Searching is ‘Reasonably Exhaustive’?,” Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly 25 (March 2010): 25–33

Board for Certification of Genealogists, The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual (Washington, DC: Turner Publishing Co., 2000) p. 8.

What would be an effective way to conduct an assessment of my reports?

“…6. Review up to five reports or articles against the BCG Genealogical Standards Manual and determine how many meet all acceptable standards and how many meet only some of them.” (1)

Some time ago I took the readiness quiz for BCG certification on their website and found they recommended that I assess my reports against the standards by which BCG determines whether you are eligible to become a “certified genealogist.”  The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual (2) is a guide published by the BCG to assist those interested in knowing the standards of any genealogist and/or the process to become a certified genealogist. On the website however, is a series of rubrics which are used to assess the qualifications of the applications.  I decided to use those rubrics for my standards, assess five of my client reports and then assess these reports as viable candidates for submission. (3)

There is good news and good news….

They are better than I thought and I am getting better and I can still improve!  That is all great news.  I still have not succeeded in accumulating 20 points; I do not read enough peer reviewed articles for the past two years to qualify.  I have, however, figured out whether I went wrong on the count of the total number of possible points (21).  The use of courthouses, archives and major genealogical libraries is only valued at one point, not one for each, i.e. three points)

Here is the assessment with analysis.  Comments are welcomed.

Assessment Rubrics

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post:  fed the cat, called my daughter as it is her birthday!

(1) Board for Certification of Genealogists®, “Are you ready for certification?”, online <> accessed 23 September 2012.

(2) Board for Certification of Genealogists®, The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, (Orem, Utah: Ancestry,2000).

(3) Board for Certification of Genealogists®, “Rubrics for Evaluation New Applications for BCG Certification,” online as a PDF file named BCGNewAppRubricsMar2012(3).pdf, revised 15 March 2012, online <>, downloaded 23 September 2012.

What happened today?

(I started this blog posting on the ship.  Unfortunately, due to connectivity problems it did not get posted.)

We had two great days of presentations while we sailed from Skagway, Alaska, back to Seattle.

There were a couple of the presentations that warrant some comment and they may be of help to you.  (Note:  I asked the presenters if i could blog about their presentations and they gave approval.)  Here are my comments about Tom Jones’s presentation on the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS).

In an early lecture, Dr. Jones mentioned that the BCG Standards Manual was being revised (1).  At a scheduled on-on-one session, I asked him the extent/type of changes that we might expect.  Dr. Jones stated that the changes were more clarifications of some concepts (2).

In a lecture later that week, Dr. Jones presented “This Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS): What It is and What It is Not,” and outlined specifically what constitutes “a reasonably exhaustive search.”  He made special note of the fact that the emphasis should not be on the phrase “exhaustive search” but rather on the word “reasonably”.  He pointed out that “overkill” was to be avoided.

He outlined six criteria:

“GPS Element 1–A reasonably exhaustive search:

  1. At least two independent sources in agreement
  2. All sources competent genealogists would examine (varies with time, place, and the research question and answer)
  3. Some primary information
  4. Some original sources
  5. Relevant derivative sources or secondary information replaced by findable corresponding originals and primary information
  6. All findable sources suggested by relevant sources databases and indexes.” (3)

My “takeaways” were:

  • Dr. Jones is defining for us what a “reasonably exhaustive search” constitutes, a discussion topic by genealogists for many years.
  • He may be “testing’ the standard before it is incorporated into the BCG certification criteria.
  • I could see that we may need to assess our sources in the reports we write for certification.  Perhaps this will take the form of an additional rubric or it might be an internal assessment within the report itself.
  • In a presentation later in the cruise and not yet presented at a national conference, “Overcoming Surprising Research Barriers: A Case Study,” he presented a methodology for the assessment of sources which was very helpful.
  • Researchers who wish to achieve a high standard of professionalism should not use transcribed indexes as the source, e.g. SSDI, CaDI, or many of the family search finds which do not have an image.  One must go to the source of information on the index if it exists.
  • Books should be considered “finding aids.”  When using a book as a source, we need to assess where the author obtained the information and go there instead.  (This also was stressed later in the week by Craig Scott in his “Brick Walls” sessions.)

This was one lecture on one day!  And the rest of the lectures were “chockablock” with info throughout.  I will blog about some of my other enlightenments I received on the way to and from Alaska in subsequent postings.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: Arrived in Seattle this morning, and was picked up by our neighbor and friend, Joan.  Very well coordinated exiting of 2500 people from a ship to the ground (an amazing feat).  I went to yoga but for some reason couldn’t do “tree” very well!  🙂 ; cleaned out the suitcase and petted the cat.  Did an BCG assessment of 5 client reports I have completed.  I will post that assessment and solicit your input in the coming few days.

(1) Lecture by Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG (SM), CGL (SM), FASG, FUGA, FNGS,  (address withheld), “Missing Something?  Getting the Most out of Genealogical Evidence,” referring to the Board for Certification of Genealogists, The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, (Orem, Utah: Ancestry,2000), 1a. 2012 Genealogy Conference and Cruise, 16-23 September 2012.  Syllabus held by Jill Morelli (address withheld).

(2) Interview with Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG (SM), CGL (SM), FASG, FUGA, FNGS, (address withheld), 2012 Genealogy Conference and Cruise, 20 September 2012.  Notes held by Jill Morelli (address withheld).

(3) Lecture by Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG (SM), CGL (SM), FASG, FUGA, FNGS,  (address withheld), “The Genealogical Proof Standard: What It Is and What It Is Not,” 2012 Genealogy Conference and Cruise, 16-23 September 2012.  Syllabus held by Jill Morelli (address withheld).

Am I ready to apply for BCG certification?


I spent last night reviewing a number of the subsites at the BCG site.  They have a quiz there that you are to take to determine whether you are skilled/knowledgeable enough to do the work at a level that is necessary to have a credible application.  It was interesting.  You are “supposed” to score 20 of 23 points on all questions or you should reconsider whether you are ready to apply.  The one I lost the most points on was the question pertaining to reading five peer-reviewed journals (NGSQ, TAG, NEHGR, NYGBR, The Genealogist. I subscribe and read only one–NGSQ) for two years minimum.  I would be interested in your opinion of the relative value of subscribing vs. just taking a trip to my local library regularly and copying/reading a few of the articles. And, which ones?  Is there value for a person from the NW and who works in the Midwest to subscribing to either NEHGR or NYGBR?  if so which one makes for a better illustration of scholarly writing?

Here is the link for the quiz: 

I do think that the rigor of my education is lacking and so last night I put myself on the waiting list for ProGen.  I am very interested in its structure.  It’s an 18 month program and uses Professional Genealogist by ESM as its text.  It meets virtually with a mentor to discuss the assignments that have already been shared and reviewed by the class.  Since much of the class is oriented towards serving clients, I think that I have enough experience to find a professional mentor helpful.  And you would have the camaraderie of a group of like minded genealogists.

Here is the link for the ProGen Study Group:

My next post (probably) will cover the analysis related to the last question on the quiz: assess five of your reports against the rubrics of the BCG Certification.  I think this will not only re-acquaint me with the standards against which you are measured but also show me if I am consistently missing any particular area and be a terribly humbling experience!  Stay tuned for this one.

The rubrics are in PDF format so you will have to click on the link after getting to the site via:

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post:  made an appt. to meet with my client, Stephanie, to review the draft of the book; did some research on the paternal side for her report.  I am gaining experience working in the southern states but it is harder for this “northerner” than I was expecting.  You really do have to live in any area to do genealogy in the area well.  It seems like there are far fewer documents than in the north.  (of course, being from Iowa which has an enormous amounts of on-line records, I admit to being spoiled! I signed up for ProGen (they place you on a waiting list until they have 24). I finished up my reimbursibles for the conference and submitted them to the association’s Treasurer.

What were some books that I bought?

I found in the process of educating myself about the process of application that I did not have enough good examples of reports required, particularly the lineage reports.  I also saw some consistent recommendations for books in the videos that I reviewed so I decided to go ahead and purchase some items for my library.  Today’s blog will be a short review of those books I bought or had in my library that have proven their worth.

Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian:  (ESM) I really like the approach she took with this and my citations follow this book very closely.  If there is a downfall, it is that there are not enough on-line citations for the variety of documents now found there.  She makes up for that with her Quicksheet

Quicksheet; Citing online Historical Resources:  (ESM) I really like this one also but I found that she shifted away from putting the name of the person of interest first (what I liked about Evidence!) and instead embedded the name further in the document.

Evidence Explained! (ESM) A big expensive book.  I use the previous two for my citations but I like the narrative in the beginning about proof, what constitutes proof and how to make those decisions.  I don’t know that I would buy this book now, but others find it invaluable.

The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual:  (BCG) After my first glance at the book, I thought about sending it back.  Subsequent to that, it’s become a “go-to” book and all I can say is “What was I thinking!?”  It has been a very good resource especially the examples of the reports. I found the narrative in the front repetitive of the FHL video by Tom Jones.

Professional Genealogy:  (ESM) I think I could have done without this one as well, since I have no intention of becoming a PG.  On the other hand it has some good examples, and ESM is always an easy writer to read…..and besides that my friend from many years ago, Birdie Monk Holsclaw, wrote one of the chapters.

The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy:  (Val Greenwood) Haven’t delved into this one much.  I think it may of been more use to me a few years ago….explaining the different land & probate transactions but then again…I may have gotten them wrong.

In summary, I would suggest that there are some minimal books you need to have in your library but what works for me might not work for you.  Check out your public library (I should be wearing a black arm band, our public library is closed this week due to budget cuts!) and see what they might have for you first or prevail upon a friend who has purchased the book to see if it would be of any interest to you.

I probably need to purchase some subscriptions but haven’t explored enough to know which ones.  Stay tuned!  I’ll let you know what I find out.

Happy Hunting!


What I worked on yesterday:  The lineage report.  I wrote about 1 page last night.  I find I have the sources but decided to re-review every source to glean out all the information for the report.  I am still working on the person of interest but have now covered her genealogy summary and her life story up to 1900.  It is slow going.

ESM is Elizabeth Shown Mills.