So while I was at SLIG 2013 (Salt Lake Institute), I had a chance to ask a few CG’s (Certified Genealogist) including Stefanie Evans and Craig Scott, if they had any advice for a CG hopeful such as myself.
In summary, here is what I heard, and it makes sense:
Read the Instructions. Well, of course, right? But how often do we actually do this? Read the instructions at least enough times so that it makes sense. It is so easy to read them wander off and start doing something and then remember things a little off kilter.One of my classmates at SLIG, forgot her instruction sheet for the first assignment and worked on the wrong problem. I confess, on my first SLIG assignment, I thought I had a really good start until I reread the assignment. I had a really good start on the wrong thing. What was the old NBA public service announcement? Reading is Fundamental. Oh, and not just the assignment. The rubrics as well. They tell you how the judges will grade you. It’s not a secret. No excuses for doing it wrong.
Plan.It is so easy to just wander off willy nilly and start randomly working on projects. My confession: I think this is what I’ve done. I’ve started on my KDP (Kinship Determination Project), but I’ve been wallowing in it. Sure it’s fun. Sure I’m learning things. But what is my plan to finish this big project? Time to step back and WRITE it down I do believe.
Don’t obsess. It is what my cousin describes as “wooling” over things. No one has solved world hunger or come up with the solution for world peace with their BCG (Board for Certification of Genealogists) application. And neither you or I will be the first. Do the projects. Do them to the best of your ability. They aren’t going to be perfect. And no one expects that.
I’m not allowed to discuss the individual cases as they may publish their research or use the cases again. Fair enough, but I did learn some stuff that is worth remembering:
Start with a written question. What problem are you trying to solve. Don’t randomly collect records. Think about what are you trying to do?
Plan! What do you need to look at to answer the question? What are the resources that you need; what is available?
Analyze, think, write and repeat as necessary.
You here this all the time, I know. You read it in blogs. In classes and conferences. But boy, when you work through some challenging projects in 24 hours it really makes a difference.
People must be studied in context. Don’t just search for names, search in context based on who they are and where they are. If you don’t understand what they did, where and when they lived it is way to easy to pick the wrong person or miss something.
Location, location, location. When you find a person in a location, you must explore that location for records and other people.
Examine all resources. Sure Ancestry Member Trees and Find A Grave have errors. But you never know where the next clue will be found. Make a list of sources.
Keep a research log. It doesn’t have to be brilliant or well written, but leave notes to yourself so you can pick up where you left off.
And finally, to paraphrase the ever wonderful Mark Lowe, genealogy is all about pondering and mulling. Back away and think.
I’m currently working on being a Certified Genealogist (CG). There are 7 parts, and the one I’m currently working on is the KDP or Kinship Determination Project. I can’t publish my work as I go along, but I thought if I did a parallel project and published the process it might help me figure out issues with the one I will turn in.
A KDP can be a narrative lineage (the simplest one!) that traces three generations and has at least two proof statements of parentage as well as a narration of the couple’s lives.
I’m going to being with my great grandmother, Laura Cecile Donald Gillespie.
Laura was the youngest living child of James and Elizabeth (Wallace) Donald. She was born in 1877 and lived 87 years.
For certification, you need to trace three couples, and you need to include at least:
General Vital Summary
Proof/Discussion of Parentage
Narrative of Life
Today, let’s look at the General Vital Summary. (There has to be a better name than this, I’m sure.)
1.Laura Cecile Donald was born on 13 February 1877 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, and died 23 August 1864 in Rockbridge County, Virginia.1 On 24 January, 1894 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, Laura married Wyatt Paul Gillespie.2 He was born 15 July 1865 in Amherst County, Virginia, the son of Jeremiah and Mary (Gillespie) Gillespie,3 and died on 19 February 1941 in Rockbridge County, Virginia.4 Laura and Wyatt are buried in Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery. 5
So for any person you describe you need to know AND document:
Name (full name)
Birth date and place
Death date and place (burial place if you have it)
Marriage place, date and spouse’s name.
Spouse’s birth date, parents and death date.
Now I know I have better documentation on some of these facts. I have to go find it. Oh yes, we are digging back into them early genealogy days of bad organization and documentation.
Now these posts are not meant to be definitive answers on what the pieces of a narrative lineage is, but instead and opportunity to allow me to work through the pieces. If you have thoughts, comments or questions, I’d be glad to hear them.
 Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery (Rockbridge County, Virginia), Wyatt Paul and Laura Donald Gillespie Tombstone; photographed by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, 1 August 2010.
 Virginia, Virginia Department of Health, Certification of Vital Records, Marriage Certificate, Wyatt Paul Gillespie, Laura Cecil Donald, 24 Jan 1894, Rockbridge, Virginia; Department of Health – Division of Vital Records, Richmond, Virginia. (Is this citation right?)
 Virginia, Virginia Department of Health, Certification of Vital Records, Marriage Certificate, Wyatt Paul Gillespie, Laura Cecil Donald, 24 Jan 1894, Rockbridge, Virginia; Department of Health – Division of Vital Records, Richmond, Virginia. (What is the short version of this?)
 Stonewall Jackson Cemetery (Rockbridge Co., Virginia), Wyatt Paul tombstone.
 Stonewall Jackson Cemetery (Rockbridge Co., Virginia), Wyatt Paul tombstone.
I knew this was going to happen. Between work and trying to organize my CG stuff, my blogging has fallen behind. But the clock has started.
It sounds like a lot of days, doesn’t it. HA!
I’ve chosen my three couples for my Narrative Lineage and organized the outline of that paper. They are my grandmother’s family and I did them early on. Oh my goodness. What sloppy, sloppy research. But I think I’ve cleaned it up and identified the families and am in the process of creating my initial Research list.
I’ve ordered more books. Turns out my library doesn’t have as much on Smyth County, Virginia as it should. And my husband is giving me those “how many genealogy books does one human being really need?” looks. Do you know those looks?
I’ve got my conflicting evidence problem picked out. And the research is done, it just needs to be written.
My transcript arrived and it doesn’t look too bad. The handwriting was fairly readable. I believe we aren’t suppose to give any details on those, so no more on that!
I’ve picked out a delightful Chancery Case that deals with gambling debts because I would like to delight the reviewers with something different than the same old wills and deeds I’m sure they see. It’s either that or a bible page I have, but I can’t figure out what half of it says at the moment.
A few of you sent me some good case studies, as did a friend, and once I get the rest of this in order, I will respond, I promise!
It all seems doable.
I’m also going to Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana next week to meet with librarians. It’s a work trip, but I should be able to squeeze some research in, so I’m pretty excited about that. I’ll try and post from the road. I’m doing a presentation for patrons while I am there, and once I give it I’ll post the PDF of the presentation on my How To page.
While I was at FGS 2012 in Birmingham, Alabama I took the plunge and started my CG clock. I was being nudged. Mark Lowe said something about steel toed boots! I had been considering doing this since I graduated from my BU course and the time seemed right. I’m also doing this with 3 friends….a little encouragement along the way should be a good thing.
So I have a year to complete the following tasks:
Sign an ethics statement. This seems like a reasonable thing to do.
Write a resume from a genealogical point of view. I can do that.
Do a transcription, abstraction, and research plan for a document selected by BCG. I can do this, I’ve done in class and I get the idea.
Same as #3 but for a document of my choosing. I’ve got an awesome chancery case.
Client Report. Needs to be meat enough to show off my skills. And given that I’ve never had a paying client, it has to be pro bono work. If you’ve got a big southern problem, let me know.
Conflicting or Indirect Evidence. I know how to write a proof, the trick on this one will be selecting something that is complex enough to show off my skills.
Narrative lineage. I’ve picked 3 couples from my tree and I’m looking forward to this one.
After listening to many current CGs talk, I’m looking at this next year as not a OMG I have to prove myself, but a really good learning experience. This is not about being the most brilliant genealogist but about proving to myself I understand the process and how records are used to illustrate the lives of our ancestors.
Oh, and reading instructions. Critical for every application!
So I was at FGS 2012 in Birmingham, Alabama this week and I meant to post. Really I did. But between meeting with librarians, attending classes, spending time with old friends, meeting new friends and maybe spending just a little time at the bar, it just didn’t happen.
My first day was Librarian’s Day and it was great fun.
Great speakers and great company. I ate lunch with Sedalia Gaines and Valencia King Nelson. Valencia is the pioneer in web based African American research; Sedalia also works on Afrigeneas.org and they entertained and educated me with stories on their past and how to do African American research. I will be catching up with these ladies at a later date to learn more!
The next day, I took the plunge and put myself on the clock for certification. I have a year (until the endo of August) submit my application for BCG Certification. There is no going back now. I’m excited, more about that to come.
For me, the highlight of Friday was our focus group with librarians. This was very work related and I learned quite a bit about how they use Ancestry.com in libraries. If you don’t have an subscription to Ancestry.com, check your library, they might.
Saturday, I caught up with more friends, attended more classes, talked to more librarians and then flew home. It was a great conference.
And in case you wondering, how is genealogy like the oldest profession? First you do it for love, first you do it for friends and then you do it for money. (It’s funny if you are a genealogy geek like me!)