My Genealogy Goals for 2016

Happy New YearDo you make resolutions?  I decided to identify goals instead. My resolutions tend to  be broken in the first month and then not looked at again–at least that’s my pattern. I work continuously on my “Goals” and if I don’t get it right the first time I keep working on them.  Here are my Genealogy Goals for 2016.

  1. Have Fun!  Lucky for me, I have fun practicing genealogy and observing every day improvements.  Having fun to me includes sharing my passion, my knowledge and my experience with as many people as possible.  This sharing will include more lecturing, more writing, more mentoring and more researching than in the past.  I feel I am on track with  this goal with retirement on 6 January. I know this goal isn’t as measurable as Amy Johnson Crow would like (Click here to go to her blog about setting genealogical goals.) but I can live with that.
  2. Submit my portfolio to the Board of Certification for Genealogists.  Notice that the goal isn’t to “pass”–that would be a bonus! The “resolution” is, however,  to submit it before the National Genealogical Society conference in May.  There are a couple of things that could derail that schedule but Plan B is to submit the portfolio before the end of 2016.
  3. Become a well known regional expert in Swedish research. I am working at this very hard. I would eventually like to extend the definition of “regional” to national, but for now, I will be happy with a strong reputation in the WA, OR and even BC area. Present status: some genealogists in the Seattle area view me as knowledgeable. 🙂
  4. Attend one or more of the major institutes in 2017: SLIG (Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy), GRIPP (Genealogy Research in /Pittsburgh) and/or Gen-Fed, the newly resurrected NARA course (yea!!). SLIG and Gen-Fed are on my “cross-hairs.”
  5. Technology:
    1. get my website up and running
    2. change the look of my blog…it’s looking a little stodgy these days!

In 2014 I also identified goals for 2016 for a ProGen class assignment (has it been that long?) focusing on lecturing. Here are the items for 2016 as stated back in 2014.  Since actions in 2016 are usually predicated on applications you make the previous year, I have placed comments concerning achievement on each:

  • Speak at WSGS (Washington State Genealogical Society) and two other major seminars: WSGS has morphed into the NwGC, Northwest Genealogical Conference.  I will be out of town for the conference this year. I will, however, be speaking at Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and two academic conferences here in Seattle.  I think those count!
  • Speak at Puget Sound chapters (2): I will well exceed this goal, probably by the end of January!
  • Speak at NGS 2016: goal achieved.  I will be presenting twice in Ft. Lauderdale. This is my first year speaking at NGS.
  • Speak at SCGS Jamboree: goal achieved.  I will be presenting twice in Burbank. This is my second year speaking at Jamboree.
  • Apply to SCGS Jamboree 2017: I will do this as soon as the Call for Papers comes out. I can never assume I will be selected in the next year just because I spoke at the last one.
  • Apply for NGS 2017, Raleigh, NC: The Call for Papers has just been announced. I will submit eight.
  • Apply for FGS conference 2017: I will do this as soon as the Call for Papers is announced. I wasn’t selected for 2016.
  • Submit one article to NGSQ: This will probably be my case study, which I will have submitted for my portfolio. (Note: I have just been informed that the editors wish to print my Gender Balance article if I can respond to the reviewers comments appropriately. Woo hoo!)
  • Submit two articles to other genealogical publications: I am totally up for this once the portfolio is submitted.

The above 2016 goals (made in 2014) assumed I had submitted my portfolio and was certified, so I have had to modify some of the goals from the previous years.  But we move on! Generally, I am about 1 year ahead of my ProGen goals, which is a good thing.

Thanks to each of you-my readers!  It is great to know that some of what I write is of interest and I hope a bit of a help. I wish you each achievement in your genealogy goals for the new year.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  I have been working on my Case Study.  I will write about the process soon–lots of little discoveries. I also am getting ready for my first webinar for the Southern CA GS. You can register here:  I was informed of the NGSQ article which I am thrilled about–but I admit, some of the comments are conflicting. I am mentally and physically getting ready to retire.  It’s a little scary, but exciting too.


Aw, shucks….I’m an award winner!

One Lovely blog award

Woo hoo! Zola, my friend and fellow ProGen cohort member, recently awarded me the “One Lovely Blog Award”  This is awarded by a fellow blogger of blogs they admire.  Thank you, Zola.

Here are the rules as offered by Zola which came from Charley which came from….who begat…who begat….

1. Thank the person who nominated you.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Name fifteen bloggers you admire (or as many as you can think of).
4. Contact those bloggers and let them know you’ve tagged them for the One Lovely Blog award.

Here are seven things about myself:

  1. I am an architect and work for the University of Washington School of Medicine as their Director of Facilities
  2. I have lived in Iowa (born, raised and educated), Oklahoma, Colorado, Florida, Ohio and now Washington.
  3. Hubby is an engineer and now plant manager for an asphalt products company.
  4. We have one daughter who lives and works in Boston.
  5. Whenever I am asked to play the icebreaker game of  “tell us something about yourself that no one else knows,” I share that I spent one high school summer at Physics Camp.  Actually Mary, a follower on this blog, may know that.
  6. I started doing genealogy when Alex Haley brought us “Roots”.  It was a national phenomenon.
  7. I continued doing genealogy because I didn’t want to lose the women.  Some genealogists are so focused on their surname—it seems to me an insult to the rest of the family tree, especially the women. Of course, 100% of my family was from regions with patronymic naming patterns and so, other than Bode (mother’s side), I do not have a “surname’ that is older than 150 years old.

Fifteen blogs I admire:

I would like to award “One Lovely Blog Award” to these blogs which I read upon arrival. Shout outs go to  the following blogsl:

Judy Russell’s “The Legal Genealogist”.

Zola Noble’s “Rambling Roots,” (turnabout’s fair play)

Yvette Hoitink’s “Dutch Genealogy”: Yvette and I may be related! It’s more of a website with a weekly newsletter but it counts.

Genealogy in Time’s online magazine. Here is the link to their article on plagiarism.

Angela McGhie’s “Adventures in Genealogy Education.”  She makes sure I don’t miss any great conferences or other educational opportunities.

Thanks, Zola.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting….worked on about 4 other posts.

Questions for NGSQ Study Group: Linkenheim

to educate clipI volunteered to facilitate the NGSQ Study Group for September.  For these online events, an article is selected from the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ), one per month.  The group then meets online on the third Tuesday of  every month to discuss about the article.  The facilitator ‘s responsibility is to questions and lead the discussion.  The goal is to educate ourselves about writing successful proof arguments by reading and analyzing articles selected from the magazine.  About 8-10 participate in each chat.

After reading a few of the “Q” articles, as they are often called, you realize that these are not about whether you have a family member mentioned in the article the discovery of the methodology the author used to uncover the answer to the research question.  Each article is a case study of a proof argument.

I thought I would blog about the study group and the questions I will pose to the group on 16 September.  Sometime after the 16th, I will post a summary of the answers to the questions.

The article:  Lynn Fisher, “Uncovering the Linkenheim, Baden, Origin of Ludwig Fischer of Cook County, Illinois,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly, 99 (September 2011) 199-212.

The questions:

  1. What is the research question?
  2. Based on Tom Jones’s book, Mastering Genealogical Proof, there are three methodologies for the organization of a proof argument: single hypothesis, multiple hypotheses or building blocks. (MGP p. 89) What type of proof argument do you think this article represents and why?
  3. The author says this was solved using “standard genealogical methods.” Do you agree? (NGSQ p. 208)  What are your standard genealogical methods?
  4. Which of the tables helped your understanding of the argument?  Did any tables seem superfluous or even  hinder your understanding of the argument?
  5. Did the author convince you of her conclusion?
  6. There are different approaches the author could have taken in writing her conclusion.  Discuss some alternatives for this article.
  7. This article had a Genealogical Summary.  Have you every written one?  If so, tell us about your experience.  What style did you use — Register or NGSQ?
  8. What did you learn from this article that you can apply to your own writing or research?

Thanks to Patty McIntyre for organizing us and being a great cheerleader for the group. If you would like to join contact Patty at

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since I last posted: Went to yoga!  restrategized my submission to BCG for certification.  I am transcribing a different document.  got pretty far with it.  woohoo!  filled out an evaluation about the Washington State Genealogical Conference; got to final draft on the client report and worked on a couple of my new presentations.

Some Comments about ProGen.

ProGenCyndi Ingles (of Cyndi’s List) and Mary Kathryn Kozy recently asked (via Facebook) Miriam Robbins and me to comment on whether they should take the ProGen Study Group classes.  Regular blog readers know that I enjoyed the experience and many of the class assignments precipitated blog postings. I decided to quote myself, with some minor editing for flow, what I posted on Cyndi’s page.

I highly recommend the program.

Why you should think twice about participating in ProGen:
1. Life gets in the way. You do need to prioritize getting the assignments done, on time. There will be times when you won’t (or don’ want to) but then you still have to do them.
2. If you are not committed to doing the program, don’t sign up. Sounds simple but you are cheating the cohort if you drop out.
3. If you are not planning on starting (or having a business) many of the assignments seem less interesting. A friend of mine who has no intention of starting her own business did not put much effort in those related to business inception.
4. The Coordinator can help or hinder the building of the community of the cohort. The Coordinator needs to have a “presence” and sheperd the class by checking in, following up and making sure folks are doing their assignments. (We had a great Coordinator—Teresa Scott)
5. Contrary to popular belief, the Mentor is not responsible to read your assignments and comment, only to attend and participate in the chats. (We had a terrific Mentor—Craig Scott.)

Why you should do it….
1. Gives you a discipline about what you know you should do anyway.
2. Builds/Adds to your genealogy community (individuals within our group are still asking for comments, and supporting each other in many ways.)
3. You will get out of it what you put into it. I always strove for a very good product to turn in. Sometimes, I accomplished my goal and sometimes I did not. But, there was nothing to gain by letting the assignment go until the last minute. I got a lot out of the program because I felt I put a lot into it.
4. You need to be open to the criticism of the group. While you may disagree with some of the comments, others will make a significant difference in how you see your work.
5. I enjoyed (most) the assignments.
6. The class definitely elevated the level of my genealogy work—perhaps substantially.
7. I feel much more confident in applying for certification.
8. The class and cohort members provided access to materials which support the certification process. (templates by example)
9. You will see different ways of accomplishing the same task. Then you can pick the one that you liked the best.

I am a “professional student.” I love the act of education. I think you both would be extremely successful in the class and bring the same kind of life to the group that we had in ours.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since my last posting: my lecturing is certainly ramping up this fall.  I got my first two all-day sessions (3 presentations each).  Some of the new speaking engagements are due to my friend Eric recommending me where he had other commitments.  Thanks, Eric, for the recommendation–big shoes to fill!  You can see my schedule on Genealogical Speakers Guild. I will have to pace myself in November! I am therefore building my resume of lecture topics.  Right now I am working on internet evaluation for quality of evidence, an overview of Ostfriesen  culture and society, unraveling family traditions, and the non-population censuses.  I am also reading a lot about Swedish agrarian reform in the late 1700s and into mid-1800s.  I am in the process of requesting the mental health records in Illinois on Dirk Bode.  That will be another blog posting.  I also have worked on my transcription (changed the document) and the KDP for certification.

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).

GPS Element #5: Writing your conclusions

typewriterThis is the third of a series of articles about the Genealogical Proof Standard. [1]  The elements are not being published in numerical order, primarily because I had presentations to make on some of the elements, and I completed those first.  You can read about GPS #1 (thorough search), GPS #2 (source citations)  and  GPS #3 (analysis and correlation), by clicking on the links.  I haven’t yet published GPS #4 (resolving conflicting evidence).

My ProGen class is in its second month of writing their proof arguments. Proof arguments are the basis of the BCG case study and components of the Kinship Determination Project, both requirements for certification.  Proof arguments are a type of genealogical writing that describes, in a scholarly way, our findings to a question.

I won’t dwell on the definition of a proof argument, you can find explanations and examples in a variety of places, including the BCG website ( Almost every article in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly is a proof argument.

As our class discussed their first drafts, I started to see some trends in my writing as well as that of my cohort. These observations may reflect a single paper or sometimes the issue is systemic.  One thing remains clear–these are my personal comments.  Each of the items below is composed of 1.) what I see/experience, 2.) any documentation or analysis which clarifies the issue and finally 3.) a statement of how I plan to approach the issue in my own writing.  What you select to incorporate into your proof arguments is a personal decision; your choice may be different than mine.

I pause here for a minute to thank Karen Stanbury, my facilitator for Mastering Genealogical Proof (MGP) by Tom Jones.[2] She made the course, taken in late 2013, rigorous and demanding. I utilize daily the information contained in that book and emphasized by Karen. I know that some facilitators were not as rigorous as Karen and that is their loss.

1. Research Question:  The crafting of the research question seems easy at first and then reveals itself to be surprisingly difficult. At times I was struggling with defining exactly what I was trying to “prove.”  Did I want to answer when Mary was born, or her location of birth or who were her parents?  In the end, for this assignment, I decided to focus on the parents because I had the evidence to support that question.
Analysis:  The research question is composed of two parts: a clearly defined and unique individual and a measurable interrogatory. To identify an individual who is “unique in the world,” you must supply enough known descriptors that there is only one person who could satisfy those requirements.  The interrogatory may be relationship (e.g. who are the parents of…), or an identity (e.g. Which Alonzo Fedpussle paying taxes in Whichamacallit County in 1879, was the son of Alphonso Fedpussle?) or an activity (e.g. What military service, if any, did Alonzo Fedpussle, born in 1847 in Whichamacallit County, provide in the Civil War?)  The interrogatory also needs to be measurable.  A question such as “who is John Smith?” fails on two counts.  John Smith is not unique in the world but, in addition, the interrogatory “Who was…” is not measurable; said a different way, how would you know if or when the question of “who was John Smith” had been answered?
How I plan to approach it:  I believe that I understand the concept of the unique individual but I will continue to work on the crafting of the good question.  I am hopeful that writing more PAs will result in more efficient writing.  Reading more articles will help as well.  I struggle most with research questions that are implied in the writing but not specifically stated.

2. Organization: The organization of the writing is very challenging. It’s not that I cannot organize the writing, but rather I have trouble picking the best organization for the question, the evidence and the reader.
Analysis:  I am not sure I see too much written about this.  In MGP Dr. Jones describes how the work must have a beginning, a middle and the end (I work with several people who always start conversations “in the middle.” Irritating, isn’t it?)  I think this is harder for some people than others.  Dr. Jones discusses various constructs for the argument, including single hypothesis, alternative hypotheses, building blocks and syllogisms [3]
How I plan to approach it:  My articles usually use one of these techniques as the prime organizing methodology and then within that structure some or all of the others will be utilized.  It sounds like I know what I am doing but it is still hard to pick the right structure for the evidence you have.  I’ll probably blog about this more later.

3. Inclusion/Exclusion: We want to include all we know. We worked so hard to get all that information and just because it doesn’t support the research question doesn’t mean we should eliminate it, does it? Well, yes, it does. The focus of the writing should be on the research question and all other material which does not support the thesis should be deleted. On the flip side and equally as “wrong” as too much information, is making the paper so “bare bones” that the author forces the reader to make assumptions and “leaps of faith.”  A third type of problem with writing of proof arguments is where the author writes something which “begs the question.”  In the latter, the reader is busy wondering why something wasn’t covered; just the inclusion of a brief discussion would have eliminated the alternative focus by the reader.
Analysis:  Inclusion of other information which does not directly support the question, leads the reader away from the prime focus; the author appears to have wandered off topic. The reader should also not be making assumptions because the writer has failed to include necessary evidence.  This type of writing leaves the reader with questions which interrupt the flow of the reading.
How I plan to approach it:  I actually have the problem of putting in too little information and making leaps of faith, under the guise of “isn’t it self-evident?” My writing improves if I have the opportunity to let it sit for a while before rereading.  I also write the paper and then outline it after the first draft.  I find outlining helps identify errant bits of evidence which do not support the question, but notice — I outline after I have written the draft.  If I have difficulty outlining the paper, the area of writing which needs improvement is immediately identified.

4. Proof Argument/Research Plan?: Some in the class wrote the argument as if it were a research plan. This sometimes looked more like a listing of sources which supported the query.  The author would include all the evidence in a source list/discussion but never pull it together and correlate by contrasting and comparing.  They told the story but seemed more interested in the sources than the proof.
Analysis:  The eleven points of MGP continue to guide us in the writing but everyone needs to improve on this. [4]
How I plan to approach it:  I will continue to read NGSQ and study other articles.  I admit I was amazed how much I had learned in the past two years by reading and rereading these articles.  I am a much better consumer of peer reviewed articles than I was before–it’s a bit scarey!

5. Analysis of sources: Am I the only one who doesn’t want to read about whether that will was original or derivative or the information was primary, secondary or undetermined?  The inclusion of source analysis after source analysis which is not additive to the argument makes for difficult reading.  The author has the responsibility to provide informative citations which tell the reader the viability of the source that was used; it is not necessary to do the analysis in such a visible way.  For all the analysis, the evidence could still be wrong.
Analysis: These citations should make obvious whether the author was looking at an original, derivative or authored work; using primary, secondary or undetermined information and providing direct, indirect or negative evidence.  Only when two sources conflict is it reasonable–it seems to me– to expect the author to discuss the quality of the source and then draw a conclusion.   The inclusion of that analysis can happen in one of three places– in the body of the proof, in the footnote of the proof and outside of the paper altogether. Authors who analyze every source and include their analysis in the narrative, make for difficult reading. Note the fifth bullet of the 11 in MGP, “We discuss sources to a lesser extent, because most information about sources belongs in the citations and footnotes.” [5]
How I plan on approach it:  I leave out most and sometime all references to the categories of my source, information and evidence.  I have a tendency to write about the analysis of the source only when it is in conflict, i.e. does the source analysis make one answer more appropriate than another?

6. Style of writing: Some authors wrote a portion of their article in a very familiar style- first person, present tense.
Analysis: The third bullet of the 11 points in MGP states “present-tense verbs refer to extant sources and living people….(consequently, much genealogical writing is in the past tense.) and the tenth bullet “the tone of a proof argument or summary is that of a “defense” in the academic sense.” [6]
How I plan to to approach it:  I have little difficulty using past tense fairly consistently in my writing but occasionally, a present tense verb sneaks in.  I just have to be aware of the issue and address it at the time of writing.  Generally, my writing is rather academic (read: dry) so the use of the first person does not often enter my writing.

So this was, and continues to be, a great exercise. I have written a few proof arguments now and although I cannot say I am comfortable, the efficiency of writing is better and my initial output is stronger.

Happy hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: commented on my classmates proof arguments; got the SGS newsletter out to our membership; campaigned to have our society join FGS; purchased, received and deeply skimmed Applied Genealogy by Eugene A. Stratton and Genealogical Evidence by Noel Stevenson. Both are older books but are still the go-to reference for genealogy fundamentals. Also read the ProGen assignment for next month and 4 NGSQ articles (one is related to my BCG case study, one was written by a friend, one is the Q study article for March and one is about a special schedule of the 1880 census where a great grand uncle was enumerated as he was labeled insane. More about this later—I am doing some deep research on the topic of incarceration in an insane asylum in the late 1800’s.)

[1] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (Nashville: Turner Publishing Company, 2014) p. 1-2.

[2] Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, VA: National Genealogical Society, 2013).

[3] Ibid, p. 88-89.

[4] Ibid, p. 90.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

BCG: Selecting Your Focus for the Case Study

I have been working on my Case Study (proof argument) for my ProGen assignment. This is an assignment requiring a significant commitment of time if one wants to do it well.  In the first month we created a draft document for cohort review and in the second month we incorporate the comments and complete the paper.  We are in the second month; the paper is due to be posted no later than the 25th of this month.

Embed from Getty Images

One of the areas where I struggled was the selection of a topic or focus, both for ProGen and the BCG Case Study. Perhaps you also have that problem, and my struggle and how I overcame it, might help you.

For ProGen, I was very careful in the selection of the individual of focus. It had to be an individual that I would never consider for use in my BCG application.  It could be based on client work but it could not be the client report I was going to use for BCG!  I sifted through all my client reports and picked my best client report at this time.  This one I reserved for BCG. I then looked at all the others and picked a different one for the ProGen assignment.  The problem was to pick one where the research question was a “meaty” enough question that it qualified for a proof argument (complex) and was not a proof statement or summary. [1]

I elected to focus on the determination of the parents of a client’s grandmother, an Irish immigrant in the early 1900’s.

I knew that a problem based on work for a client with only a two month window to write the argument would never rise to the level of a “thorough search” (GPS Element #1) as I was unwilling to approach the client to pay for additional documents and I was uninterested in paying for them myself.  I included that clarification in the ProGen paper and cited the documents that would complete the study.  I obviously do not have that luxury with the BCG Case Study.

But, let’s go back a year or two….

I have been trying to understand what constitutes a good topic/focus for a genealogical proof argument for some time.  At first I thought I had no eligible foci!  They all seemed obvious to me–so what was the big deal?  I kept looking for brick walls that hadn’t been yet solved that I could use for the proof argument.  This was the wrong approach.  I was focusing on filling in a blank on a pedigree chart, rather than writing about the thoughtful analysis of a problem.  I needed to think logically like a mathematician where “if a=b and b=c then c=a.”  So, my writing of a proof argument was the culmination of folloiwng the GPS and presenting the conclusion in a manner that was convincing to other genealogists.  My quality of research would determine the veracity of my work as it would be vetted by other genealogists.

When I made that shift, I realized that every decision we as genealogists record is a proof candidate–whether it is a proof statement (short), proof summary (longer) or proof argument (complex). When I realized the definition of “direct evidence” and “in conflict” could pertain to any individual in my database that had multiple birth years (and I have a lot of those), I realized that I was thinking too small.  And, when I realized that it would pertain to any decision we make as genealogists, I went from having no potential cnaidates for a proof argument to having an overwhelming number of options.

I also realized that when I made that shift, I had completed my shift from a “pedigree blank filler” to a genealogist.  It was a heady moment.

The BCG Application Guide describes the types of proof arguments they will accept:  direct evidence in conflict, uses indirect or negative evidence only or a conflict between direct and indirect/negative evidence.[2]  Here are some thought-provokers as you consider the focus for your BCG Case Study:

  1. Do you have an individual with multiple and different birth/marriage/death dates?  This might qualify for direct evidence in conflict.  (This is the one I am using for my Case Study)
  2. Have you solved a problem about where an individual was born/married or died?  This might quality for direct/indirect/negative evidence in conflict
  3. Do you have an immigrant or someone who moved from one place to another with a relatively common name?  Then you might have the opportunity to use indirect evidence to prove that your guy in location A is the same as the individual in location B.
  4. Do you have a family tradition (event) that you proved true or false? This, too, might qualify.

One of the documents that started opening my mind was the September 1999 NGSQ.  the lead article, “Working with Historical Evidence: Genealogical Principles and Standards” by Elizabeth Shown Mills precedes Evidence Explained by two years but, using a genetic analogy, shares DNA.  The issue follows with an article using each of the BCG options for proof:  conflicting direct evidence, using indirect and negative evidence, and conflicting direct, indirect and negative evidence. [3]

Good luck selecting your focus and…

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: presented the GPS Element #2 to SGS, rewritten the presentation to prepare it for a lecture capture to submit to NGS for consideration of it and others for the 2015 conference, did a literature search in preparation for my major article for APG on gender balance in genealogical peer reviewed journals, and prepped for the SGS Board meeting which I will not attend due to a conference (work related) that I am attending in CA.  I am also gathering background for a paper on my great grand uncle who was “housed” in the Elgin (IL) Asylum for the Insane from c. 1878 to 1906, when he died.  I want to find out what some of his experiences might have been.  In the 1880 DDD census he is listed as a chronic maniac and locked up 24/7.

[1] Part of the reason why I am avoiding using my own family for the ProGen assignment is that I am not completely happy with my selection for my BCG Case Study and may change it.  I want to reserve as many options as I can.

[2] Board for Certification of Genealogists, The BCG Application Guide  ( : accessed 14 March 2014), 6.

[3] National Genealogical Society Quarterly, 87:3 (September 1999) 163-217.