Jenny received her accreditation in 1999. She noted that Jimmy Parker signed her original certificate. She stated that: “All along I figured that if I’m going to be a genealogist, I don’t want to be ‘just another hobbyist.’” She was very young at that time…only 22. She was one year out of college and had no idea how much she would actually work as a genealogist. Now, after 17 years and four children, she is so happy that she made the effort to accredit when she did. At her first renewal period, she had two tiny children and she really questioned if she had it in her to create a renewal portfolio. She has never regretted the effort she makes to keep her credentials up to date. She is a full-time mom and a part time genealogist. She loves having a pretty awesome career on the back burner of her life.
Challenging and Unique Aspects of Danish Genealogy
Jenny related that one of the great things about Scandinavian research right now is that so many of the records are available online and free. The access to records is amazing. She feels that with the increased access, more people are trying to do their own research. It’s really easy to become frustrated and overwhelmed when looking at old church records and the old styles of handwriting. She further shares that another unique part of Scandinavian research is the use of patronymics. It really blows people’s minds because it’s very foreign to our naming practices now. Scandinavia basically used every combination of about ten names for males and another ten for females. One very quickly discovers how easy it is to be tangled in a web of Hans Jensens and Jens Hansens. She likes coming in to “save the day” with her expertise.
Advice for Other Pursuing Accreditation
Jenny’s advice: “Work Hard!” She further advises to spend a great deal of time in the records—even more than it seems should be done. She feels that accreditation is really the starting point of becoming an expert. There is so much to learn that one can easily become overwhelmed. Although accreditation is a good measure of proficiency, it does not mean that a person knows everything.
“I always want to be better.” This is Jenny’s stated goal. She feels there are different levels of “expert” and she definitely knows what she does not know. She is looking forward to attending SLIG this year because they are offering an advanced Scandinavian research track with classes about probates and other less-used records. There are several AG researchers in her geographic category that are a generation ahead of her and she admires their depth of knowledge. She looks at that class of genealogists as the “head experts” and she states, “When I grow up I want to be like them.”
Current and Future Research Projects
She is currently involved in work for several clients. Primarily, she is working on filling in old pedigree charts so that they have full family groups. A lot of what she does lies in the oldest church records in Denmark that are written in Gothic script. That provides a unique challenge for learning. She says, “I frequently find myself thinking, ‘There’s a reason that you can’t train monkeys to do this.’” Jenny loves to teach. She feels that over the years of doing this, she has become pretty good at it. While her niche is Scandinavia, she feel that there is something awesome about being in a room full of beginners and seeing their faces as the concept clicks. She said, “It’s a fun vibe.”