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BCG Certification, aka Meeting Standards

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Three important items to review/study: 1) Genealogy Standards book, 2) Rubrics, and 3) Application Guide.

The Genealogy Standards book provides the most up-to-date information on best practices in the genealogy field. The Rubrics are the measurement that is used in evaluating an aspirant's portfolio. The Application Guide includes all the instructions for putting together your seven-part portfolio.

There are many resources out there and communities you can join to assist you in this journey. Every month, on the third Tuesday, BCG hosts a Webinar with tips and tricks. There are a wide-range of records and examples in multiple books and scholarly journals, the highest recommended is the New England Genealogical Quarterly. There are also study groups such as ProGen or GenProof that you can join.Some of these range in expertise and those at a beginning level may feel overwhelmed at first. With this in mind, some of these organizations have started to provide preliminary questions that they ask to assist budding genealogists with connecting them to the right group to grow their expertise.

There are also higher-level institutions that provide formal courses in genealogy research. Of these, the two most reputable are Boston University and Brigham Young University. Keep in mind that if you choose to go the path of more formal education to prepare for the BCG certification, you cannot use any of the reports/case studies that you have put together as part of your application. However, it could provide valulable practice and experience.

Once you submit your application, you have one year to complete your portfolio. As soon as you enter this process, BCG will send you aids to help you through the process. This includes aids to certification testing, interactive online networking, private online group, a forum for questions about the process, discussions, and the Onboard (BCG's) newsletter. But don't panic if you don't make that one-year deadline, you can request another year extension if needed. I was told that there is no limit to how many one-year extensions you request but you will pay the $75 application fee each time.

So, the Portfolio itself. First, it was mentioned that you can submit this physical or electronic. However, the example to demonstrate make-up of this portfolio showed all physical content, with a three-ring binder and tabs to separate each of the seven parts. Each of these parts is not equal in length or in content length:

  1. The Genealogists Code - Basically, you are signing the code of ethics for a professional genealogist.
  2. Genealogy-Related Development Activities - This is a listing of the activities that helped you to improve your skills in working towards the standards. What did you read, study, take a course in, what did you research, learn, analyze according to the standards. The emphasis is on analysis. TIPS: Look at Standard AD3 in the Genealogy Standards book. Check out the "skill building" articles on the BCG website.Document Work - Using your own document.
  3. Document Work - Using document provided by BCG. Both parts 3 and 4 test your skills in transcription, abstraction, research focus, commentary on evidentiary value, and putting together a research plan. TIPS: Study Chapter 16 (Transcripts & Abstracts) in ProGen. Transcribe exactly. Abstract accurately. Develop a thoughtful research plan. See Transcription tips in the Elizabeth Shown Mills' book, Evidence Explained and on page 67 of the Genealogy Standards book.
  4. Research Report - Another name for this is Client Report. This is written for and sent to another person, responding to their request on a specific goal. It represents authorized research, whether paid or pro bono. This can NOT be your family or your spouse's family. This part should show your in-depth and skillful use of a range of sources. Include a conclusion that provides information on whether the objective was met and what the most logical next steps should be. TIPS: Examples are in Appendix C of The BCG Genealogical Standard Manual published in 2000. More examples are on the BCG website, under skill builders. Also, check out Elizabeth Shown Mills' website under the Research tab. Ensure you address the Client's goals. Includes copies of all sources and label these documents. Use a wide range of sources. Include the request for research and permission to use information in this part.
  5. Case Study - Uses conflicting or indirect evidence. It uses application of the GPS to resolve a relationship or identity problem that can't be resolved through original or primary sources. It has to meet the GPS and has to meet one of three standards in the application guide. An uncontested direct evidence scenario cannot be used. It is not a research report...this was mentioned three times in the seminar I attended. Needs to meet standard #54. Best examples in how to structure and methodology to use are in the NGS Quarterly. To deepen your knowledge of GPS, join The book "Mastering Genealogical Proof" provides all five elements of the GPS and provides examples as well. Best problems to resolve are kinship or identity (look at page 8 of Mastering Genealogical Proof. Can use conflicting direct evidence. has some good examples.
  6. Kinship-Determination Project

Final Tips:

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    • Ronald


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    • Ronald


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