15 October 2017

A BCG Honour

A lovely honour came my way. Retired from client research as I am, and having put four personal family histories more or less adequately to paper, I feel a few degrees removed from mainstream genealogy. Nonetheless, the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) has awarded me Emeritus status upon my retirement from the mandatory evaluation system. Not only was it a surprise, it is an honour few receive and honestly I feel not quite worthy.

It's true I was board-certified for thirty-eight years and served six years as a trustee, but so many others contributed much more to BCG than I. Perhaps it has more to do with growing recognition and acceptance in Canada of the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) and other principles promulgated by BCG. It is so pleasing to see increased awareness of the GPS and related standards spreading in this country among local speakers, workshops, and contributors to the various newsletters/journals I see.

And it's not only Canada. The growth of the Association of Professional Genealogists in many countries is influencing professionalism which is not some kind of elite word. Family historians are learning the wisdom of becoming more professional in their research planning, analysis, conclusions, and writing.

At formational meetings to establish the Association for Professional Genealogists, Joy Wade Moulton, CG, was a strong but overruled advocate for calling it Association for Professional Genealogy. The distinction is very clear to me.

It seems eons ago now that the National Institute for Genealogical Studies (NIGS) undertook from its inception to incorporate genealogical standards into the curriculum, not without a great deal of trepidation over how to present it. Teaching online was a new educational ballgame for us and had to include student-instructor interaction. Back around Y2K, we didn't exactly have a model to follow. Teamwork was essential; we had a big team and we pulled!

But it's really BCG behind the drive for principles and standards to raise consciousness in both our own beloved field and in the world of academic social sciences. Besides the board's Genealogy Standards, brilliant publications flow from board-certified peers, to mention only a few ― Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained, Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace; Tom Jones' Mastering Genealogical Proof and Mastering Genealogical Documentation; and Professional Genealogy, a Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians.

The BCG, established in 1964, is based in Washington, DC, but its examination process is open to anyone anywhere in the English language. The skills, competence, and comprehension of applicants are judged by board-certified associates ... see

When I began to do research work for clients, there was just one such regular researcher at the Archives of Ontario — Elizabeth Hancocks, once a board-certified genealogist herself. Libby generously shared her comprehensive knowledge of the records – sometimes even the archivists consulted her – with unfailing good humour. I simply can't list all the inspiring mentors I've had, all the societies that hosted me, all the fun times (and hard work) at so many conferences, and all the exceptional friendships that stay with me.

If I have had any influence at all, I hope it's attesting that we owe it to our families — past, present, and future(and to ourselves!) — to be the best recorders of our heritage we can possibly be.

Only a genealogist will understand this image.

Other pursuits have beckoned but the fire's not out. I may have retired but one never stops being a genealogist and family historian.

© 2017 Brenda Dougall Merriman