Tuesday, February 9, 2016

$500 Scholarship Available for the Gen-Fed Institute

Are you interested in attending thGenealogical Institute on Federal Records (Gen-Fed)? Are you an experienced researcher holding either a paid or volunteer position in the genealogical community? There is a $500 scholarship available and you may be the lucky person to win it. NIGRAA is still accepting applications, but time is short as the deadline is February 15th. The scholarship application can be found at http://www.gen-fed.org/home/scholarships/

The Genealogical Institute on Federal Records is held at the National Archives in Washington D.C. and provides in-depth instruction on how to use federal records for genealogical research. This includes military, federal land, immigration, court and other federal records. For more information on the institute visit www.gen-fed.org.

The scholarship covers full tuition for the Genealogical Institute on Federal Records, ticket to the alumni dinner; and partial travel, hotel, and meal costs. The application will ask you to list the name of the organization you work or volunteer for, and explain how attending the Institute would benefit the work you do for the genealogical community. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Registration for GRIP Opens Wednesday

Registration will be opening for the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh for the 2016 summer sessions on two separate dates:

Wednesday, February 10 at Noon EST for the six courses to be held June 26 – July 1, 2016.
Wednesday, March 2 at Noon EST for the seven courses to be held July 17-22, 2016.

More details can be found on the GRIP registration page.

Courses June 26 – July 1, 2016:

Mastering Genealogical Documentation 
Thomas W. Jones PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS

German Research Resources
F. Warren Bittner, CG, and Baerbel Johnson, AG

Family Archiving: Heirlooms in the Digital Age 
Denise May Levenick, MA

Fundamentals of Forensic Genealogy for the 21st Century 
Catherine B. W. Desmarais, CG, Kelvin Meyers, Michael Ramage, J.D., CG

Pennsylvania: Research in the Keystone State 
Sharon Cook MacInnes, Ph.D. and Michael D. Lacopo, D.V.M.

Women and Children First! Research Methods for the Hidden Members of the Family
Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

Courses held July 17-22, 2016:

Advanced Research Methods 
Thomas W Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS

Advanced Genetic Genealogy 
CeCe Moore

From Confusion to Conclusion: How to Write Proof Arguments 
Kimberly Powell & Harold Henderson, CG

Diving Deeper into New England: Advanced Strategies for Success 
D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS

Intermediate Genealogy: Tools for Digging Deeper 
Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA

Practical Genetic Genealogy 
Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL

Resources and Strategies for Researching Your Italian Ancestors 
Melanie D. Holtz, CG

Studying the Art of Citation

GPS Element #2 – Source Citations

This is part of my ongoing series on Educational Preparation for BCG Certification. It is not limited to those interested in certification, but provides ideas for any interested genealogist. There are links to the other posts in the series at the bottom of this article.

To understand the second element of the GPS, “complete, accurate citations to the source or sources of each information item,” I recommend the following:

Informal Study Options

1If you only do one thing, it should be:

Read chapter 2 on “Fundamentals of Citation” in Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015).

This chapter explains that “citation is an art, not a science.” It also provides the purpose, format and common practices of creating citations for a wide variety of sources. It will help you understand source citation, and make the practice of crafting citations easier. 

This book is available from Genealogical Publishing Company or Amazon.

2. If you have finished #1 then you are ready to move on.

Elizabeth Shown Mills has provided many resources for helping us learn to craft citations. Now that you have read chapter 2 in Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, you may as well browse the rest of the book. Notice that there are not only QuickCheck Models for many types of citations, but also background information on each type of source and details on what you would need to include in the citation.

3. One of the best resources available online is EvidenceExplained.com.

Elizabeth Shown Mills shares a variety of resources on this website, including:

Evidence Explained Forums – a place for you to ask questions on citation issues, evidence analysis issues, and record usage and interpretation. You should read the archives for answers to many of your questions, or questions you did not know you had.

Evidence Explained QuickLessons -  brief lessons on a variety of source, analysis and citation topics. Here are a few that are relevant to studying source citation:

       QuickTips – the blog at EvidenceExplained.com. Start with these posts:
            Citations: How Much Is Enough?

4. Read chapter 4 of Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013). This chapter on source citations gives a five-part model for creating citations, and several figures with examples of citations created using the model. There are also fifteen exercises to pick apart and create citations for practice.

5. Review chapter 2 on “Standards for Documenting” in Genealogy Standards: 50th Anniversary Edition by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (Nashville: Ancestry, 2014). This chapter contains eight standards for citations including purposes, scope, elements, and format. Standard five provides an easy to remember model of who, what, when, where and wherein as elements of a citation.

Formal Learning Activities:

6. If you are an auditory learner, you might like the following recorded presentations from the 2014 Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) national conference:

     by Elizabeth Shown Mills
     Why should citing sources cause angst or obsession? Learning a few basic rules lets us apply a
     common-sense approach that avoids both frustration and overkill.

     by Thomas W. Jones
     Learn how to document a family history, five characteristics of complete and accurate citations, 
     and a simplified format for citing most sources, both physical and digital.

7. If you have completed all of the above, and still want more, then you might like a full week of “Mastering the Art of Genealogical Documentationwith Thomas W. Jones at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh in June 2016. 

These are just ideas for you to add to your individual education plan as you choose. They are NOT meant to be a checklist where you have to read/study/participate in every option. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

SLIG: Intermediate U.S. Records and Research, Part II

Over the next few weeks I will be posting reviews of the courses offered at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. I am excited to feature guest authors, as friends who attended each course share their perspective on the institute and the education they received.

SLIG: Intermediate U.S. Records and Research, Part II
by Anne Irvine Savo

As part of my ProGen study group, I created an education plan and set goals for myself to build my career as a professional genealogist. One of the goals was to attend at least one institute each year. After looking into SLIG, GRIP, and IGHR, I decided that SLIG was the best choice for me. SLIG offered several courses I was interested in, was held at a time of year that was convenient for me, and had the added benefit of being in Salt Lake City, close to the Family History Library. 

Since this was my first institute, I was unsure of my skill level and felt an intermediate level course would be a good place to start. I chose the U.S. Records and Research course, hoping to expand my knowledge of resources in areas where I hadn’t done much work before. My personal research has been concentrated in Pennsylvania, Scotland, and Germany. As a researcher based in Connecticut, I have experience with New England records, but that still leaves an awful of country left to cover. While this course is the second part of a two-part course, either section can be taken first.

Our instructors were Paula Stuart-Warren, Josh Taylor, and Debbie Mieszala. Some of the topics we covered were: Clustering and Maximizing Online Searches; Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Research; Census Records–Beyond the Basics: Non-Population and Special Schedules; Passport Applications; Lessons and Hints from Public Directories; and Finding Family Gems in Manuscript Repositories and Special Collections. We spent time in the computer lab at the Family History Library exploring some of the online resources we learned about in our lectures. We also had opportunities to bring our own research problems and discuss them with our instructors in a one-on-one consultation.

But it we didn’t just learn from our instructors. When an unusual record was used as an example, a classmate gave the class an introduction to the history of Eclectic Medicine. In addition to our lectures, the class divided up for a group project, which gave us a good chance to get know our classmates and learn from them as well as our instructors. Each of us brought a different skill set and approach to the task. Each group was allowed to choose the direction of their project, and on our last day, we regrouped to discuss our findings.

SLIG also offers several evening events. Sunday night there was a welcome reception with door prizes and light refreshments. On Monday, David McDonald gave an excellent plenary talk and had us all “Thinking Genealogically.” Wednesday was SLIG Night at the FHL. Participants could sign up for consultations or attend lectures, or just gather with other attendees for research and collaboration. All of these are included with your registration fee. Also included with your fee was the Friday night banquet, which featured a moving talk, “Suffer the Little Children,” by keynote speaker Judy Russell. I was excited to win one of the prizes at the banquet, a free course from the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research (VIGR). I’m looking forward to expanding my education plan with this unexpected opportunity. And, of course, another highlight on Friday is the announcement of the course lineup for the following year. Overall, it was a great experience and I can’t wait to go back next year!
* * * * * * *

Anne Irvine Savo is a Connecticut-based genealogist and lineage society junkie. She holds an MA in history from the University of St Andrews in Scotland. She’s currently enrolled in ProGen 26, and is a member of the Association for Professional Genealogists. This was her first SLIG, but it won’t be her last!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Conducting Reasonably Exhaustive Research

This is part of my ongoing series on Educational Preparation for BCG Certification. It is not limited to those interested in certification, but provides ideas for any interested genealogist. There are links to the other articles in this series at the bottom of this post.

GPS Element #1: Conducting Reasonably Exhaustive Research

To understand “reasonably exhaustive research” you may want to study what that phrase means, and all the record types it includes.

Informal study options:

1. Study chapter 3 on “GPS Element 1: Thorough Research” in Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones (Arlington, VA: National Genealogical Society, 2013).  
  • Note that “six criteria help us temper the exhaustive search to make it reasonable.” (pages 23-26).
  • Don’t miss table 1 on page 25 that covers “Suggestions for Identifying Sources to Answer Genealogical Questions.”
2. Read and study The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy by Val D. Greenwood, 3rd edition (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000). You may have already done this early in your genealogy education, but it is an excellent textbook on the basic sources genealogists use. It deserves a fresh reading every year or two. If there are any records mentioned that you do not have personal experience researching, then get to a local repository or archive and spend some serious time with the records.

Another reason to study this book:
The Board for Certification of Genealogists uses rubrics to judge the seven elements of the application portfolio. The rubric RR2 on page 3 reads:

“Research covered commonly used sources relevant to the problem and extended to those that might illuminate or challenge other findings in the time allowed; and it proceeded in a logical sequence.2

            The footnote #2 states: “‘Commonly used sources’ are defined here as those addressed by
            chapter titles in part 2 of Val D. Greenwood, The Researcher’s Guide to American 
            Genealogy, 3rd edition (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000).”

You will want to be familiar with, and have experience working with, all the record types that will be included in the evaluation process. Note that the rubric specifies "sources relevant to the problem." You will use your knowledge and experience to determine which sources are relevant to your specific research question. 

3. Read the following articles by Judy Kellar Fox on SpringBoard, the BCG blog:

            Are You Searching or Researching?
4. Read the following articles by Elizabeth Shown Mills on QuickTips, the blog at Evidence Explained.com:

            Reasonably Exhaustive Research: Quantity or Quality?

Formal study options:

5. Michael Hait, CG presented a webinar on “What is a ‘Reasonably Exhaustive Search?” for Legacy Family Tree Webinars. Since this presentation was given BCG has changed the first element of the GPS to be reasonably exhaustive “research” rather than “search.” The recorded version and handout are available to Legacy Family Tree Webinar subscribers at http://familytreewebinars.com/download.php?webinar_id=88

6. To hear an example of reasonably exhaustive research in a case study, you may want to order a CD of the lecture Reasonably Exhaustive Research: An Immigrant Case Study by F. Warren Bittner, CG, given at the FGS national conference in 2012.  

7. In the past many students took the NGS American Genealogy course (home-study or on CD) to gain experience working with a wide range of genealogical sources. This course is being replaced by a new series of online courses, American Genealogical Studies. This series looks good, but is not yet complete and so does not cover all the records types necessary for reasonably exhaustive research.

There are other courses available, and I would recommend evaluating courses by the thoroughness in the types of records they cover, and if they have assignments to work with records in repositories and archives. Hands-on experience with the records is a better teacher than just reading about each type of record.

8. If you enjoy in-person instruction then I would recommend an intermediate genealogy course at a genealogy institute. These courses generally cover all the records needed to conduct reasonably exhaustive research, and also include some sessions on methodology. Here are some options available in 2016:
  • Intermediate Genealogy course at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) 2016 -- Paula Stuart Warren, CG (coordinator)                                         http://www.gripitt.org/?page_id=1195

These are just ideas for you to add to your individual education plan as you choose. They are NOT meant to be a checklist where you have to read/study/participate in every option. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Studying the Genealogical Proof Standard

I am going to start my new series on "Educational Preparation for BCG Certification" by saying that these posts are not just for those interested in certification. Anyone who wants to learn about becoming a better genealogist could benefit.

For the past ten years I have focused on educating  myself in the field of genealogy. It is a fascinating field where there is always more to learn. In this series we will explore all kinds of educational options, from self-study to webinars to genealogy institutes, and everything in between.

We will start with the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS), and then address each element of the GPS and the certification portfolio in future posts.

The Genealogical Proof Standard, as described on the Board for Certification of Genealogists website, consists of five elements:
  • reasonably exhaustive research;
  • complete, accurate citations to the source or sources of each information item;
  • tests—through processes of analysis and correlation—of all sources, information items, and evidence;
  • resolution of conflicts among evidence items; and
  • a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion.
This blog post focus on options for studying the GPS as a whole.

Informal study options:

1. Study how each element of the GPS contributes to the credibility of a conclusion on the Board for Certification of Genealogists website.

2. Study Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones (Arlington, VA: National Genealogical Socitey, 2013). When I say study, that is what I mean. This is not a book that you just read. It is a book that you read, ponder, discuss, and complete all of the exercises provided. This is one of the best educational options available, and all for $30.00 and a dedication of time. Tom Jones provides practical exercises for understanding and applying each of the elements of the GPS. Get out your highlighter, star the key concepts in each chapter, and challenge yourself to complete each and every one of the exercises.

The paperback book is available from the National Genealogical Society or Amazon, and the Kindle version is available here.

3. Study the book Genealogy Standards produced by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2014). Again, I do not mean just read the book. This one also requires study. This book is essentially a collection of best practices in the field of genealogy. You may need to look up terms in the glossary in the back of the book, as definitions may be slightly different than those used in other fields. You may choose to evaluate your own research process, and add or refine steps as described in the standards. If you apply for certification these are the standards you will be judged by, so be sure you understand each of them, and incorporate them into your work habits.

For further study consider the following:

4. Read Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case by Christine Rose, 4th edition revised (San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2014). Available from CR Publications.  

5. Read Genealogical Standards of Evidence: A Guide for Family Historians by Brenda Dougall Merriman (Toronto, Canada: Dundurn Press, 2010). Available on Amazon.

6. Listen to an interview with Christine Rose on the Genealogical Proof Standard in the Learning Center at FamilySearch.org.

7. Read the article “The Genealogical Proof Standard: How Simple Can It Be?” by Thomas W. Jones from OnBoard, 16 (September 2010). 

8. Listen to “The Genealogical Proof Standard: What It Is and What It Is Not,” a lecture presented by Thomas W. Jones at the 2011 Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference, in Springfield, Illinois. The recording is available through Fleetwood Onsite Conference Recording.

Formal study options:

9. If you would like to study the concepts in Mastering Genealogical Proof  with others, then consider joining a GenProof Study Group. These groups study the book chapter by chapter and then meet online to discuss the concepts and exercises. See more information at  GenProof Study Groups or to get on the waiting list for a future group.

10. Another option is to watch the recorded version of Dear Myrtle's "Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group" archived on YouTube. Here are the links for MGP1 (2013) and MGP2 (2014). 

11. In 2015 Thomas W. Jones taught a course called "Determining Kinship Reliably with the Genealogical Proof Standard" at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. This course may be repeated in the future, and if so, I will post about it. 

Feel free to comment on other resources you have found helpful in studying the Genealogical Proof Standard.

These are just ideas for you to add to your individual education plan as you choose. They are NOT meant to be a checklist where you have to read/study/participate in every option. 

I would like to thank my friend Debra Hoffman, who has agreed to be my editor for this blog series.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Educational Preparation for BCG Certification

I recently completed an application for certification through the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). I had been thinking about writing a few blog posts on my educational preparation (now that I have a little more free time), and this week BCG began including educational preparation as part of the evaluation process.

The announcement by the Board for Certification of Genealogists on January 19, 2016 includes:

"BCG today released a 2016 edition of the BCG Application Guide. The new guide implements two changes for initial applicants approved by the board last May. Two clarifications address common problems in new portfolios.

The most significant change will see applicants evaluated on their genealogically related educational activities. Initial applicants have long been asked to describe the activities that helped them prepare for certification but only now will this information be evaluated. The new practice is meant to stress the importance of development activities as these have been statistically shown to increase an applicant’s chances of attaining certification."

The BCG Application Guide is available at http://www.bcgcertification.org/brochures/BCGAppGuide2016.pdf

I will write a series of blog posts over the next month that include formal educational activities, such as conferences and classes, as well as informal educational activities such as books, webinars and study groups. I will address educational opportunities for the following topics:
  • Understanding the Genealogical Proof Standard
  • Skills necessary to prepare a portfolio, including:
    • Transcripts, abstracts, and research plans 
    • Kinship determination and writing a biographical sketch
    • Writing a proof argument or a case study
    • Preparing research reports
  • BCG suggested areas of study
    • attainment of standards
    • knowledge of genealogical sources and materials
    • skills in reconstructing relationships
    • presenting findings
I will create hotlinks from this page to each of the new blog posts, so there will be a reference to the complete set of posts. Each piece will include educational options that I have found to be useful, and others options that I am aware of, but may not have participated in personally. I hope to stay on a schedule of posting twice a week, so I should be finished with my topics in six weeks. I will invite others to comment on the posts and add educational opportunities for each topic that I may have missed. I think it will be a fun journey.

If you have the book Genealogy Standards you will want to reference Standards # 82 & 83.