Beyond Writing, Certification

Back to school

A photorealistic drawing of the Blogger

A photorealistic drawing of the Blogger

I’ve been researching my family – and those of others – since 2006. I’ve grown to truly enjoy the research and writing that goes along with discovery. Although I never thought that I could make a living doing what I love, it seems there may be a market for it. Nevertheless, it won’t be easy. I know that an optimistic stock market does not necessarily equal discretionary income. In other words, even in good times folks will tend to spend their money on food and shelter and not family history.

But there is a market – just Google “family research services” sometime and you’ll see what I mean. You’ll tend to see a number of genealogical businesses that are more than willing to sell you their time. Most are probably very good but are my competition. So what do I do to separate myself from the rest?

NGS-Logo-smThe first thing I need to do is make sure that my products are in line with genealogical standards – specifically, those of the National Genealogical Society (NGS). To that end, I’ve decided to take the plunge and begin an online course of study with NGS called American Genealogical Studies. The course, as currently defined, includes the following modules:

  • The Basics (via Canvas by Instructure – a learning management system)
  • Guide to Documentation and Source Citation (via Canvas by Instructure)
  • Beyond the Basics Part 1 (not yet available but coming soon)

What does this buy me? A certificate. It will not give me a credential or certification. That’s where the Board for Certification of Genealogists comes in. They have a very strict set of criteria that relies on a thorough understanding of the processes and procedures needed to establish something called the Genealogical Proof Standard. This Standard has five elements:

  • A reasonably exhaustive search has been conducted.
  • Each statement of fact has a complete and accurate source citation.
  • The evidence is reliable, and has been skillfully correlated and interpreted.
  • Any contradictory evidence has been resolved.
  • The conclusion has been soundly reasoned.

The good thing is that I’ve been doing each of these consistently. The bad thing is that I’m not confident I’ve been doing them correctly, thus the education.

I’ve enrolled in NGS’ The Basics course to test the waters and I’ll be starting the class soon. My goal is to give you a progress report as I navigate my way towards certification.

Wish me luck!



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