Monday, May 16, 2011

More NGS Conference Fun (Day 2)

Day 2 (Thursday, May 12, 2011) was full of BCG skills building with Thomas Jones, case study analysis of deeds and wills with Elizabeth Shown Mills, and Carolina record reviews with Brent Holcomb and Mark Lowe.


The Board for Certified Genealogist accreditation process is something you go through to become a Bard Certified Genealogist. This process is based on standards set forth by experts in the field of genealogy; it encompasses not just genealogy, but professionalism, writing skills, and ethics as well. It incorporates the BCG Standards Manual (picture on the left) and tests your skills in several different areas.  This was not just an information class. This instruction discussed each section of the application, what materials were required to complete them, what skills were tested, and how each section was evaluated.


The instructors recommended to start compiling your materials prior to submitting your preliminary application because you only have 1 year to complete the pocess; they also suggested that you read back issues of the NGSq, the BCG’s OnBoard newsletter, The American Genealogist and relevant chapters from the Professional Genealogy book that apply to each section of the application. You can also download articles, test questions, and examples from the skill building section of the BCG website.

What’s New?

1)      There is no longer a 5 yr waiting period to apply for the Certified Genealogical Lecturer accreditation
2)      Applicants must submit the original manuscripts of works if they’ve been previously published
3)      Each work sample must involve different individuals and families
4)      The case study format is no longer an option for the kinship-determination project

What is the Pass/Fail Rate?

The percentage of applicants who pass is 42 due to an insufficient amount of sources, poorly written citations, and inability to follow directions.  Word to the wise: Make sure you are ready and serious about becoming a Certified Genealogist, have someone check over your work and your citations and read other case studies!

Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA

I See What It Says, But What Does It Mean by Elizabeth Shown Mills

This was my first challenging session of the conference and my introduction to a case study in a classroom environment – Just up my alley! Oh – and of course, my introduction to ESM herself!

The session started with a will that we evaluated line by line. A few things I learned right off the bat:

1)      Most wills were “scribed” by a lawyer and presented to the testator who signed it or left their mark. These “scribed” wills were often templates used by most lawyers to represent basic will drafts. ESM said that all of the religious jargon written in the first paragraph about giving his soul to God, burial in Christian-like and decent manner, etc does not necessarily mean he was a religious man unless this will was holographic and had been written in the testator’s own hand.  
2)      Any will that starts with “In the name of God Amen” was not written or signed by a Quaker as they did not swear to anything.
3)      If the testator requests his slaves be freed, he might be Quaker; however there are other religions that discourage slavery as well like Methodists.
4)      Slave increases followed the mothers, so if “Jessie and Judah and their increase” are to be freed – Jessie and Judah are both mothers, NOT a family unit (mother and father).
5)      “Reputed wife” is a term to describe a woman who is living with a man she is not legally married to probably because she is “making do” with another male’s help; although she and her children have no legal rights to this man’s property.
6)      The “late Mary Smith” is a woman who was formerly known as Mary Smith; she is not deceased.
7)      Many testators gave property to a woman’s children and not to her because she could remarry and the new husband could mismanage the property.
8)      “Trusted friend” was a legal phrase often referring to a non-heir but relative of some sort.
9)      Usually the scribe is the first person who signed the document (witness). You can look for additional docs written by this witness and look for similar spelling errors within each one to determine if he was the scribe. Also, men used distinguishing marks beside their names to tell them apart from other men of the same name.
10)   To “devolve” is to acquire by inheritance

Here are 10 new and important things I learned from the example of a will that we analyzed.

The deed example was equally as difficult to work through, but I was able to follow along the rationale of it. It took good ole genealogy and two or three hypothesis formulation and testing to figure out the most plausible scenario.

Genealogy conferences need to have more case studies like this. I think these kinds of classes help to bridge the gap between the beginner genealogists and the experts.


First up was Brent Holcomb’s talk on land records. He gave a brief history of how land was distributed by the Lord Proprietors and then quickly went through many of the digital images that can be found on the South Carolina Archives website. Everything else kind of either went over my head or way too fast to take in.

Mark Lowe’s presentation on Inheritance Laws and Estate Settlements was a little bit better to manage, but the information was still hard to take in without having actual records or case studies to use as examples. Most of the information was links to save for later for when I encounter a word I an unfamiliar with. Mark tapped into the social media aspect by posting many of his links to his twitter account: @JLowe615.

That sums up the lectures I attended on the 2nd day of the conference.

Photo of the BCG Standards Manual copied from Amazon website
Photo of ESM from NGS Website

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