What motivated you to pursue accreditation?
While doing family history I came across a grave marker that had the persons name, followed by the Certified Genealogist® designation. Before that, I am sure I was aware that there were credentials for genealogists, but seeing that a family created the final and lasting memorial to acknowledge that accomplishment, above all others, piqued my interest. I looked into becoming a CG® and shortly after that I attended the ICAPGenSM track at the BYU Family History Conference. I choose to become an AG® because at the conference, I learned of a study group opportunity which I joined within a few months. ICAPGen was headquartered in Utah where I live and I hoped I would be able to find mentors to advise me.
The process of becoming accredited is a big education. When I started I wanted to prove to myself that I did “professional level” research. I learned so much more as I completed the process. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, but I know a lot more now.
What are some challenging or unique aspects to researching in your area of accreditation?
I accredited the the U.S. Midwest. Most of the Midwest has abundant census records, both state and federal, but before the 1880’s there are few birth and death records and the marriage records are hit and miss. Probate, court, land records and newspapers help to fill in the gaps.Church records are often hard to access.
What advice do you have for those pursuing accreditation?
Join a study group when you start the process of accreditation. ICAPGen offers them a few times a year and they focus on each of the testing levels. I met other people at the BYU Family History Conference (in the classes offered by ICAPGen) who were also working on accreditation and we formed an in person study group. We met weekly for a while, then once or twice a month for two and a half years. It was so helpful to have friends who were working toward the same goal. We set our own goals but were accountable to each other for our progress.
Learn to write source citations and keep a good log at the beginning. When I finally started recording (and backtracking) my research, I thought I was only doing it to meet the qualifications of the test. Research logs and source citations are a step you really have to follow to learn the value of. Now I use logs consistently and and find them so useful. I will research with a detailed log forever.
Creating my research guides for each of the eight states in the Midwest and quick guides for topics such as: Archive, Libraries and Record Collections, Citation Templates, Federal Census, Land and Property, Language Guide, Military, Migration Trails, Native American, Naturalization and Immigration, Research Plans and Methodology, and Extraction, Transcription, & Abstraction taught me so much. I spent 10-15 hours creating each of my guides. If I had made them at the beginning of my research process they would have helped me find what I needed for my report much more quickly. I use them all the time when I am doing research and I have created guides for several other states as well. I would encourage every person to create their own guides, not buy pre-made ones because them making of them is where you will gain your education.
When working on Level 1, do enough research to confirm the parent to child relationships and then start writing your report. You don’t have to find every single source for your subject, just prove the relationships. Look at the rubric on the ICAPGen website and make sure you can self evaluate that you are meeting all of the requirements.
Do lots of four hour practice tests to prepare for Level 3. Make sure your practice tests cover a variety of time and places in all of your region, in both rural and city. Practice researching immigrants and people of diverse religions.
What are some of your goals as a genealogist?
I am employed in another profession and won’t retire for a few more years. In the meantime, I will do research projects as opportunities come my way but I probably won’t start a business. Another goal I have is to learn more about DNA. I want to watch all 80ish of the webinars about DNA on Legacy Family Tree, and learn to use DNA to work on my own family tree.
What research projects are you involved with now, or have planned for the future?
My Level 1 project was not my family. I am looking forward to getting back to my family and cleaning up work I have done in the past, examining the sources for new clues and using the skills I have developed to break down a few brick walls.
I am also working on a big pro bono project where I am linking the 173 victims of the Bethnal Green Tube Station Disaster, which occurred on 3 Mar 1943, to their families in FamilySearch. Many entire families were killed together, leaving no descendants. I want to link them to several generations of their ancestors so when people do descendancy research they will be found. I welcome anyone interested in London research to help. Names of the victims are easily located online and I have entered about half of them into FamilySearch so far. It has been another super educational opportunity for me.
Do you have a website you would like to have mentioned?
Not yet, although when I get one, I think it will be represented by a pine tree because I love doing descendancy research.
When did you receive your accreditation?
I began working on the research for my Level 1 project 4 years ago. I submitted my Level 1 project on October 4, 2018. I tested in January, March and June and did my Oral Review on Sept 14th, when I finally became an Accredited Genealogy professional!
Is there anything else you want to let us know about your genealogy experience of activities?
The standard we are asked to meet in order to become accredited is high. It is not easy and it takes time. When you start the process, you probably won’t have the education or skills needed for successful completion so you build them as you go. Join Facebook groups for the area of your accreditation and use queries as an opportunity to do research in your area and get feedback. I practiced for my Level 3 by defining research questions found on Facebook and then doing a 4 hour project to try and answer the question. Besides becoming a better researcher, you will need time to up your education through reading, attending conferences and institutes, and watching webinars and listening to podcasts.
There are plenty of people willing to help and encourage you along the way. When you finally become an AG professional, you know you have done something really big. I am very grateful for the help and encouragement I have received and I hope to have the opportunity to mentor others on their journey to becoming Accredited Genealogist® professionals.