Category Archives: ICAPGen

ICAPGen Elections – Time to Vote!

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Check your email inboxes for an invitation to vote in this year’s ICAPGen Commissioner elections.  You should have received something with the subject line “Your Invitation to Vote in the Election: ICAPGen Commissioner Election”. 

The sender is  noreply@electionrunner.com , and last year some of the election invitations were routed to individuals’ spam folders, so be on the lookout!

Please select two from the following list of candidates for Commissioner.  This year’s candidates and their areas of accreditation are:

Tracy Zappala, AG  – United States Mid-South with an African American Specialty

Tracy specializes in Southern United States and African American Genealogy, has experience in teaching and research that spans 20 years. Tracy has worked in Family History Centers in Los Angeles, Oregon, and Utah and is an Accredited Genealogist in Mid- South United States and African American genealogy with ICAPGen. Tracy’s passion for Southern research was driven by her own family roots in Tennessee and South Carolina. She pursued an American Studies major at Brigham Young University. Later at the University of Southern California, she  took courses specializing in African American cinema and history. This gave her a unique perspective that has informed her research on people who were enslaved, and her appreciation for different cultures continues to drive her research interests. She has taken courses  in Family History at Brigham Young University and currently serves on the ICAPGen testing board. Tracy works at AncestryProGenealogists, where she specializes in unique cases, including those related to the South, African American history, Caribbean history, immigration, and numerous other localities and cultures. As a professional genealogist she contributes to the television program, “Who Do You Think You Are” and provides

Lynn Turner, AG – Spain

Lynn graduated from BYU in 2004 with an emphasis in Southern European and Latin American genealogy. In 2006 Lynn became accredited in Spanish genealogy/research. For the last 14 years he has worked for FamilySearch in various roles including support, collection management, partner services, and operations.

Daniel R. Jones, AG – Switzerland

Daniel is an Accredited Genealogist specializing in Swiss and German research. After graduating magna cum laude from Brigham Young University, Daniel worked professionally for over a dozen years in helping several high-profile clients with research all over Europe. He has experience in numerous archives across more than a dozen countries in Europe, North America, Africa, and Australia. Daniel has also presented at multiple national conferences, including FGS, IGHR, SLIG, FEEFHS, and RootsTech. He is currently a research specialist in Germanic and Slavic Europe for the Family History Library.

Daniel is interested in helping ICAPGen modernize its presence in the genealogical community, particularly through establishing guidelines on updating accreditation tests regarding online resources and identifying where DNA best fits in the accreditation process. His extensive research experience in numerous US and Canadian regions, all of the British Isles, and much of Europe give him a unique perspective for the ICAPGen organization as a whole.

Kathy Behling, AG – United States Mid-Atlantic

Kathy is a professional genealogist, conference speaker and consultant. Awarded a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University, she is accredited in the US Mid-Atlantic region. In addition to research in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware, Kathy is also actively engaged in researching Danish, Swedish, and German ancestors and their descendants in North America. A member of the National Genealogical Society and the Association of Professional Genealogists, she also travels internationally for onsite research expeditions. Kathy has more than 30 years of experience finding elusive ancestral families and solving difficult family history cases for both local and international clients.

Evan Christensen, AG – Mexico

Evan Christensen, AG® is a professional genealogist at AncestryProGenealogists specializing in Southwestern U.S., Latin American and Southern European family history research. He is accredited in Mexican genealogy. An Ancestry employee of five years, Evan works full-time for his clients. In addition to this work, he has researched for the TV series Long Lost Family, Biography.com, and Ancestry’s “We’re Related” app. Evan graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in physiology and developmental biology. While studying as an undergraduate, he was captivated by the family history classes offered alongside his courses in genetics and molecular biology, and during his senior year, he completed a two-month genealogical research internship in Spain under the tutelage of Professor George R. Ryskamp, JD, AG®. With the experience gained on that trip, he orchestrates research trips to Mexico, Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico and all over the rest of Latin America. He is fluent in both written and oral Spanish and can also interpret genealogical documents in Portuguese, Italian, and French. Just as he has found fulfillment in researching his own Mexican family lines, Evan is passionate about helping other Hispanic-Americans take pride in their own heritage.

History of ICAPGen (SM) and the Accreditation Program

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by Jill Crandell, AG®

Used by permission ©2014 Jill N. Crandell

[NOTE:  This article, written for the NGS 50 Year booklet, is an abbreviated version of the chapter Jill Crandell wrote for the ICAPGen book, Becoming an Excellent Genealogist.  A Kindle edition of the book is available on Amazon.com.  Jill is one of the original Commissioners for ICAPGen and is Director of the Center for Family History and Genealogy at Brigham Young University, as well as an Assistant Teaching Professor in the History Department.]

The study of history frequently reveals events that have transformed our world, events which may not have seemed momentous at the time they occurred. The early 1960s brought forth several such events in the field of genealogy, culminating in the birth of credentials for professional genealogists. By 1964, two credentialing programs had been developed by two separate sponsoring organizations, forever changing the world of professional genealogy.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints founded the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU) in 1894 for the purpose of assisting church members in identifying their ancestors.1 By 1924, the GSU board established a Research Bureau with responsibilities that included undertaking member research requests at a low cost. However, by October 1961, the volume of requests had overwhelmed the research department, and they were up to five years behind in completing requests. On 19 November 1962, the GSU minutes state, “We are unable to work out our backlog of research orders.”2 The board then suggested that professional researchers outside of the society were needed to relieve the volume of requests, but board members were concerned that GSU should only recommend qualified researchers. In response, “Frank Smith and Henry Christiansen were appointed to meet and prepare suggested testing outlines in order to license researchers for commercial research in [the GSU] library.”3 Almost a year later in April 1964, Eric B. Christensen passed the Danish exam and became the first Accredited Genealogist researcher.4

Professional genealogists responded positively to credentialing, and by the end of 1964, eighteen individuals held a total of twenty-four accreditations.5 Within a two year period, the Accredited Genealogist program quickly relieved the backlog of requests in the GSU research department, and on 13 April 1966, the board decided to discontinue patron research by the end of the calendar year.6 As of 31 December 1966, eighty-eight professional genealogists held 110 accreditations in sixteen testing areas of the world.7

Accreditation exams were administered by GSU for thirty-five years, resulting in a steady increase in the number of genealogists holding the AG credential. However, at the end of 1999, GSU considered various options for ending its sponsorship of the accreditation program. The Utah Genealogical Association (UGA) was asked to submit a proposal for the creation of a non-profit organization to continue maintaining the credential independent of GSU, and on 25 February 2000, the UGA board created an Accreditation Committee.8 The Genealogical Society of Utah officially transferred its sponsorship of accreditation to the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen) on 31 August 2000, with Jimmy B. Parker, Ray T. Clifford, and Jill N. Crandell as founding commissioners.9 During its sponsorship of the accreditation program, GSU granted a total of 546 accreditations to 477 genealogists.10

The articles of incorporation for ICAPGen state the organization’s primary purposes “to promote high standards of genealogical and family history research, and foster expertise and ethical practices among all genealogists; to provide opportunities for the education, instruction, and training of candidates for the accreditation process; to distribute the names and contact information of Accredited Genealogists in good standing; to support the work of local, state, and national genealogical and historical organizations, and to promote and foster the active interest in and scholarly reputation of genealogy.”11

Over the years, the accreditation program has continued to grow and adapt to the progress of technology and today’s research strategies. Techniques for locating and searching digitized sources could not have been imagined in the microfilm era of 1964. Historically, tests administered by the Genealogical Society of Utah were conducted exclusively at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the travel expense prevented some from completing their credentialing process. Today, the ICAPGen commission proctors exams at various repositories around the world, and a number of oral boards have been conducted through electronic meetings. The testing process has been divided into three levels, allowing applicants the opportunity to test in sections, with preparation time between. As we look forward to the next 50 years, it is exciting to anticipate the growth of professionalism and credentialing in the genealogy field.

1 James B. Allen, Jessie L. Embry, and Kahlile B. Mehr, Hearts Turned to the Fathers: A History of the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1894-1994 (Provo, Utah: BYU Studies, Brigham Young University, 1995), 11.

2 Genealogical Society of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah) “Board of Trustees Minutes, 1894-1975,” vol. 7, 19 November 1962.

3 GSU Minutes, 8 May 1963.

4 GSU Minutes, 5 May 1964.

5 1964 annual list of Accredited Genealogist researchers created by the Genealogical Society of Utah and transferred to the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists on 31 August 2000.

6 GSU Minutes, 13 April 1966.

7 Annual lists of AG researchers created by the GSU, 1964-1966.

8 Utah Genealogical Association (Salt Lake City, Utah) Minutes, 25 February 2000.

9 Elder Richard E. Turley, Jr., Salt Lake City, Utah, to Jimmy B. Parker, letter, 15 September 2000; held by ICAPGen, P.O. Box 970204, Orem, UT, 2000.

10 Annual lists of AG researchers created by the GSU, 1964-2000.

11 Articles of Incorporation, no. 4923274-0140 (2001), International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists; Division of Corporations and Commercial Code, Utah.