What motivated you to pursue accreditation?
I have been fascinated by family history and genealogy since I was a very young child. Some of my happiest memories were formed as I learned about my heritage from my parents and grandparents. I studied History at BYU and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and University Honors in 1993. About half of my coursework was in Family History, which had recently been reintroduced as a major field of study. My senior research paper on Mary Jane Dilworth Hammond, a Mormon missionary wife in Hawaii in the mid-1800s, received an award from the History Department for the best paper in Family History for my graduating class. It was then that I began to consider genealogy as a possible career.
Post-graduation, I thought about becoming an accredited genealogist, but the timing just wasn’t right for me. About fourteen years later, I prepared to return to graduate school, but my intended fields of study—History and Library Science—had both been dropped from BYU, which was the closest university to where I lived. Shortly after this, ICAPGen began holding classes to prepare people to become accredited genealogists. I was drawn to the high standards of excellence and preparation involved in achieving the AG® credential, and I liked the focus of specific geographic areas of study. I also rejoiced in the fact that I didn’t need to pay large sums of money for classes or study in a classroom for a set time over a period of years. I could make a plan for success that fit perfectly with my lifestyle as a very busy mother of eight children. After working for nearly a decade (until I felt I was ready), I finished the ICAPGen testing process in December 2016 and received my credential in the United States Gulf South region.
What are some challenging or unique aspects to researching in your area of accreditation?
Southern research has its own unique challenges, from widely changing jurisdictions to extensive record loss in some locations, to slavery, to displaced Native Americans, and others. Many people trace their roots to the south, but then get lost trying to navigate the records. It is very rewarding to help clients break down their brick walls and connect them to their past.
What advice do you have for those pursuing accreditation?
For those pursuing accreditation, my advice is to never give up. The more you study and prepare, the better genealogist you will be—whether you work for clients or just pursue your own family lines. Some of my future goals include adding additional areas of expertise, specifically the United States Mid-South region and England. I was recently elected to the board of directors of the Utah Genealogical Association and look forward to working with such a great team. I also aim to help as many people as possible catch the spirit of family history so they can find as much joy in it as I do.