Client Report Comments

Clock 6I have been working on a client report for a while.  And, as I usually do, I learn something along the way that might be of help to you.

I am also working on my portfolio for submission for certification for review by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG.) I hope to submit the portfolio during the Fall of 2016 after my Midwest driving/research trip.

You probably noticed, if you are a regular reader, the countdown clock  now has enough months to get me to 2017. BCG allows  you to be “on the clock” for 1 year, then you have to extend (pay $75). I have extended twice. I now have until 12 May 2017 to submit. Some things changed when I submitted because  the “rules” changed.  I must now keep the portfolio to less than 150 pages (shouldn’t be a problem) and instead of a resume, I have to report my learning activities with a short statement of what I learned. This will now be graded; whereas, the resume was not.

One of the requirments is to submit a real client report. I don’t take a lot of clients, but I had the opportunity to do so right before Christmas. We mutually agreed to wait until I returned from my driving vacation #1 to begin. Here are some observations after I have almost finished the report:

  • I thought I had a couple of good reports in the bag that I could submit. I was wrong.
  • BCG has a monthly webinar about the segments of the portfolio. Any one can listen in; they are outstanding. I was lucky. Right before I started writing this client report, Tom Jones gave a BCG webinar on writing a good client report! Lucky?  You bet! Here are a few things I learned.
    • Have a header on every page that identifies you so no page can “get away from you” without your authorship being attached to it
    • A good client report starts with a good contract, which does not have to be long or formal. (look to ProGen for some more formal ones; they can be simpler.)
    • Write your research plan with citations of where you are going to start.
    • Write as you research
  • Do a minimum of two client reports and then pick which one you think is the better. (I will do a second one in May.)
  • Read the standards carefully–I think you almost have to “read between the lines,” but a  genealogist who had done multiple reports, would probably call me to task and say that to him/her, the requirement was obvious! You can find the standards by which all portfolios are graded, on the BCG website, or you can click here.
  • look at what the standards use as examples which are usually within parentheses.  For example, standard 67, bullet no. 8, says you should include sources you researched that did not result in any findings….OK, got that. But it goes on to say “along with findings of direct, indirect and negative evidence…” [1] Hmmm. I will have to review what I have done to see if I am being consistent, not only in my vocabulary but also with where I apply the analysis of the source.

I hope these hints are helpful.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: gave my first (and not my last) Legacy Software webinar on Fire Insurance Maps. The reviews were terrific and I was on “cloud 9” for two days–but, what are “clouds 1-8 about?” I worked on my client report and worked on the client report and worked on…you get the idea. I am now prepping for my NGS presentations. My next blog will probably describe how I do that.

[1] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (Nashville:, 2014), 39.

[2] Elgin watch, photo taken by Jill Morelli at the Elgin Historical Society, Elgin, Illinois, 2012.


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.

How do you market genealogy services?

I have tried a couple of approaches but would really appreciate comments from others about how to expand and become more professional at it.

So far, the following are being used or in progress:

  • marketing materials:  Developed a brochure and had some other genealogists and clients give me feedback about its effectiveness.  The brochure, my business cards, by letterhead all coordinate in color quality, typography etc…..a common look
  • “Word of mouth:”  although I have had some referrals it usually ends up being MY mouth that is the most effective. I try to talk it up in circles where there may be interest.  I am amazed who is interested and their level of interest.
  • Speaking engagements: I am a fairly good speaker having done it throughout my professional career.   I use each to introduce myself to others.  I have three coming up: Newcomers of Seattle, DAR and the SAR.  I have many topics.   I am thinking of joining the Genealogists Speakers Guild.
  • Donations:  As with my first three clients I am now a firm believer in….small donations give sometimes big returns.  As you know I started by giving three people a free 10 hours of research and a report of findings.   All three signed up for additional services and one even referred me to someone else.  All paying clients.  I have approached two friends whose children are in private schools to participate in their annual fund raiser’s silent auction.

If you have other ideas, let me know.  I need all the help I can get.


What I have done since the last post: connected with a friend I met at the NGS Conference so we will have a day together when I am in Chicago in another week. completed Susan’s second request and sent it off to her.  It was a major undertaking that resulted in a “storyboard” for a book.  I think she will have a major role in doing the book herself but wanted to have some direction.  Found lots of interesting “stuff” but also walked away from some interesting questions.  Perhaps she’ll think they are interesting also.

Why are Client Reports so fascinating?

I am struck by the variety of questions that genealogists can answer.  I have been following Michael’s advice about obtaining a “library” of client reports from which to pick the best for the purposes of the certification.  It is obvious that some seem to flow better than others and that I am getting better, and more efficient about writing the report of findings.  

So far, my limited number of clients have asked for:

  • help in obtaining Irish citizenship (if your grandfather was born in Ireland and you can prove your lineage, you can obtain an Irish passport)
  • proving (or not) two family traditions…one about the civil war participants (yes) and the second about a relationship to a signer of the Declaration of Independance (doubtful)
  • developing a birthday present that focuses on a grandchild but includes stories by the grandfather and the lineage
  • Identfying the villages of origin of two Irish families (success)
  • finding the place of death of a great grandmother (no success; shoot, I couldn’t even find her immigration record much less evidence of her existence in the US, although it is known she immigrated and died here.)
  • a generic request of “find out more information about my family”

So the requests range from very specific to general.  I admit I like the goal focused requests better than the wide open requests.  Sometimes I think I am offereing up no more information than they already had…it’s just documented better.  It’s been great so far.  I hope I can continue the momentum i have with my clients.

Invariablely, the payoff is not the check but rather the stories they tell me after they have reviewed the information with their family members.  That is the best part.

(note: hubby today asked me if I was keeping track of the checks…I thought that was a good sign of him seeing this as a serious business.  I told him I have a contract with each, an invoice and I acknowledge each payment on the invoice.  Caught him by surprise.)

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post:  met with the client on the gift project.  She responded with what she would like to do; I wrote up a Phase II contract, started the work on the Swedish family.  I am very familiar with Swedish records so I am moving that one along pretty rapidly.  I will have that one done this weekend and will get it written up.  

Are you taking care of the living?

This weekend I didn’t even think about genealogy!  Hard to believe, actually.  I spent five days on Cape Cod with my hubby and daughter. So much fun.  We vegged on the beach, went for a bike ride of 25 miles and 12 miles, shopped, and read books. Great fun!  Of course we had really good seafood as well.

I do admit that when we traversed past a cemetery I looked longingly at it, hoping someone would want to stop and take a little walk. I love doing that even if I do not have ancestors in the cemetery.  I think it’s great fun, a “fun” that is, unfortunately, not share by my family.   I also dropped in on the New England Genealogical Society on Newberry in Boston just prior to leaving for the Cape.

Therefore, no work on the certification or with the clients.

So, Susan, you are next.  And, Mary, we need to talk.  Finished up Theresa’s project in County Galway and need to review that with her.

Three of us, and maybe four, from the class have decided to take the BU course next January. I think it will be fun taking it with others in the Seattle area.

I am now in the airport waiting to board and go back to Seattle. There will be no postings for a couple of days while I recover.

Make sure you take care of the living!  Happy hunting!


What have I done since the last posting?  I finished up the County Galway project. I certainly feel like I have mastered the beginning skill level for Irish genealogy; Completed the class project, and traveled to Massachusetts.

Is it time for an assessment?

Yes!  With all I have learned at the conference, I want to reassess the situation with all my needed content items for the BCG portfolio.

A. Code of Ethics.  I feel very confident about this.  Attended a session on plagiarism and then read the latest article in The NGS Magazine.  Very helpful is splitting the line between plagiarism and copyright.  Interesting in that I have been spotting some unethical practices in genealogy, not by intent.

B. Background resume:  I need to review what I have written so far and update it.

C. Document work, BCG supplied:  Can’t do much about this one specifically

D. Document Work, applicant supplied:  I like the document I have selected (land indenture).  Since I took the transcription, abstraction, extraction class at NGS, I want to look again at what I have done and see if there are some hints I can apply to the document to spruce it up.  I also want to rewrite the research plan; my recollection is that it very weak.  I was helped alot by reviewing the successful portfolios at the BCG booth at the conference.

E. Research Report for Client:  doing well here.  Don’t know if I have one that I particularly like.  I have just finished up working on a report for a friend on her Irish maternal side.  Ireland is a fascinating country in which to do research.  I really enjoyed doing that.  I feel sorry for the folks who came over early!  🙂

F. Case Study: conflicting information:  I worked very hard on this one only to have my fears substantiated… is not an indirect proof.  So I will have to start over with this one.  Ouch.  Good experience though.

G. Kinship Determination:  I also worked very hard on this one.  It’s still a keeper but I will re-review to spruce up.  I also have some additional information.

So that’s where I am after about 11 months of work.  Not too bad for where I started.

Happy hunting!


What I have done since my last post:  had my class paper bound and turned in (I will miss the last class which is this Thursday.); also sent it to to publish (woo hoo!).  decided with at least one other classmate to take the BU course in January.  There may be three of us.  I am looking forward to that.  Finished up my friend’s Irish maternal line and will scan and send to her today.  Finished up, as best I can, my friend’s Irish citizenship project, until the final document comes in.  Reviewed my other client’s report and want to make it a little stronger before I talk to her.  And, finally, started as Director of Publications for the Seattle Genealogical Society.  They are a great group.

So how was the UW class and what is next?

The class was not the greatest.  Not rigorous and about 7 to 10 years outdated.  That isn’t to say I didn’t learn anything.  I certainly expanded my on line sources of information.  (I think this focus on on-line information was due to the instructor being wheel chair dependent.)  I also “discovered” the importance of having access to an academic library and the sources that are available because of that relationship.  If you do not have access to an academic library, I recommend to check out the one closest to you and see if you can have access to it (some allow you access if you join the alumni group.)

I finished the paper yesterday.  I thought I was finished and then I took out the placeholder that forced the document to read the pages side by side and realized that my page number just went bonkers.  After fixing all the items that were page number dependent, I then reread the comments made by the instructor on an early draft and found some small items I had not incorporated.  I also tweaked some footnotes.  Then I reread the assignment and found that I needed to include a pedigree chart and a family group sheet, so I did.  Lesson Learned:  read the instructions at the beginning and at the end to make sure all the details are wrapped up!

I will eventually post the document here but not quite yet.

Meanwhile, I have been working on Irish citizenship for my friend/client.  That has been interesting.  I have sent for two documents (Irish birth record and MT marriage certificate.)  She is in charge of the others.  Also, have started writing up her findings on her maternal line.  Have them about done.  Want to wrap that up and get on to Susan’s and Mary’s projects.

Next? A friend from class and I are thinking about taking the BU course.  I also am considering taking the ProGen Study course but that is longer.  I would rather have intense and shorter.  Your thoughts and comments about each of these courses would be helpful.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post: finished the paper for the class (I will turn it in 1 week early because I will miss the last class.) and now my study area is a mess.  A clean up is in order.