The Ontario Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists (OCAPG) quietly passed its tenth anniversary this year. That’s Ontario as in Canada, not as in California :-D
In February of 1998, the president of APG notified us of our official chapter status. From the group I initially called together two years previously, OCAPG joined the worldwide organization that now numbers well over 2,000 members. Our founding members on the application were myself, Sharon Murphy, Barbara Samson-Willis, Louise St Denis and Jeff Stewart.
What are professional genealogists and what do they do? The answer is almost as varied as the individuals and like many professions has specialties within the field. Genealogical research is the bedrock of our profession whether we work as independent business contractors, for commercial companies, for genealogical societies, libraries, publishers or family organizations. Some of the specialty research areas are heir searching, adoption, DNA and genetics, teaching and writing, lineage society applications and ethnic or geographic concentrations. Some members like to apply their expertise to website design, translation of documents, arranging and leading overseas homeland tours, photography of ancestral sites or the indexing of original records.
Mutual goals are outlined in the APG Code of Ethics: www.apgen.org. The APG mail list, one of the most active genealogy listserves on the Internet, reflects the international nature of our membership and helps provide unique insight to resources not possible ten years ago. The word professional applies not only to those who undertake work for clients. Serious family historian members approach their work with the same dedication to careful scholarship and source citation.
As the first chapter in Canada, OCAPG has seen changes and advancements over the past years. We have expanded our membership to more than 50. Not all can attend regular meetings in Toronto—our chapter mail list exists to stimulate news, information and assistance. Early days saw members who recognized a need and branched out to create the groundbreaking project called APOLROD (Association for the Preservation of Ontario Land Registry Office Documents) and the online National Institute for Genealogical Studies. We’ve had excellent committees to work on our workshops, seminar events and the essay contest. At the annual conference of the Ontario Genealogical Society, we plan special activities: “Ask A Professional” has been a popular venue for free research consultations. And ... like all genealogical groups ... we have cycles in the numbers of volunteers we can call on.
Why am I writing about this? Because the chapter seems to occupy quite a bit of my time. Because the more experienced among us can mentor the newer members. Because we need to encourage self-directed education and support and yes, even socializing. Because I appreciate the time a handful of people invest for the greater good of the membership and the profession. Because we know the value of family history and its sources and must fight, sometimes, for gaining or maintaining access to historical census returns and vital records. Because some day we will see university degree programs in genealogy and family history studies. It’s coming.