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 have I learned from my second client?

Yes!  I have a second client. I took Michael’s advice and put out my need to a limited group of friends. I very quickly got three responders for 10 hours of pro bono work

I will work on all and report here but the first one built on my recently obtained Civil War expertise. She wanted to know if a family tradition was true about a Civil War soldiers in her maternal line. While I was unfamiliar with PA and OH records it was fairly easy to work the lineage back to the era in question.

In the end, I was certain that one ancestor served; two were probable Civil War veterans but one of the two I couldn’t document the connection to her ancestor and the other I could connect but there were too many of soldiers with the same name and I couldn’t identify exactly which one of the 16 were her ancestor. The fourth person was likely to have served but because of an early death (before 1870) he was proving difficult to trace.

I was proud of the final product but there were some things I wish I had done differently. It was great fun sitting down with her and reviewing the findings together.

Some things learned:

  1. Sometimes simpler, i.e. targeted, is better. 
  2. It’s a little more challenging to decide whether to write a separate report or to just include the findings in a letter. 
  3. I source my information on each exhibit with Avery labels.  That is working great. 
  4. I used the book Professional Genealogist as a reference. I am glad I had it. 
  5. I still spent more hours than ten to do the work. It was OK. 
The good news?  She decided to hire me to look at another tradition in her family!  
Happy hunting!
Things I have done since the last posting:  turned in my final assignment for the class for the 2nd Qtr.  completed Mary’s project. Now I have to bundle it up and send it to her. Got three new clients and completed one of the three.   Got a new paying client!  Woo hoo.

What does a contract for genealogy services look like?

It is a requirement for the Client Report that you have a written contract.  This written contract is submittted with the resultant report.

I have written a lot of contracts in my life because of my background (architect) so this step was not intimidating to me.  I find it not worthwhile to try to write these from “scratch” and so I always use a template or some previous example.  The book Professional Genealogist has a couple of options, a formal contract and a letter type.  Both are acceptable.  Using the letter type, I wrote the contract between my friend and I.  The hardest part was putting into words the work that I was to do for my friend as her request was to “know more about Jens”.  Where to start and stop with that?  With an unknown client, I would have pinned them down to a greater level of specificity or time limit.  This scope of work was kept looser.

The letter also made reference to 2 different Codes of Ethics (APG & BCG) and one Standard (NGS).  I reread them all.

I do think it reasonable to do a little preliminary work to see what sort of records are “out there”.  For example, it is not reasonable to put a 10 hour timeline on tracing your “Martian alien” ancestor if there are no records available for Martians; it seems not fair to the client unless the client is aware of the limitations of records.

I admit that my work output is reduced right now as I am engrossed in the Ken Burn’s Prohibition series on Public Television.  An amazing work and so suitable for today.  The message at the end was loud and clear.

Happy hunting!


What I did today:  wrote the contract for the client work and did some on line work on Jens’s wife, Anna/Anne/Annie.  Found out she had 3 siblings, 2 sisters and 1 brother.  I can tell Jens is going to be harder to track down.