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The making of a Certified Genealogist

Prehistoric times – end of 2009. Maybe I’ll go for certification someday. When I get a round tuit. And since nobody sells a round tuit, at least not one in my choice of styles and colors, I have plenty of time.

Early 2010. Write a case study to get into Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Advanced Methodology and Analysis course at the Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University. Wonder of wonders, get accepted into course.

June 11-15, 2010. Take the course. Get a gold star certificate (meaning I didn’t flub it entirely).

Board for Certification of Genealogists®

June 20, 2010. Get offered a Walter Lee Sheppard, Jr., prize, which underwrites the costs of applying for certification by the Board for Certification of Genealogists.® The deal: file the initial application within six months of accepting the award and the final portfolio within the next year. Hey, I’m a gold star prizewinner! Sure! I can do this!

June 21, 2010. Take a careful look at the BCG requirements. Document transcription, analysis, research plans. Case study. Kinship determination project (KDP) (full discussion of three generations in one family including two kinship proof arguments). Client report. I don’t even take clients yet. I’m doomed.

June 22, 2010. Realize case study for the IGHR course can be used as portfolio case study. Can ask an in-law or friend to be client. Decide if I stall on the initial application until the very last day, I have 18 months to do this. I can do this. Sure, I can! Well… maybe.

July 2010. Start trying to figure out who I’m going to get to be client to do client report for.

August 2010. Start thinking about a family to write about for the KDP.

September 2010. Start panicking since I haven’t got a client and can’t make up my mind about what family to do for the KDP. Go into usual “when in trouble or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout” mode.

October-December 2010. Make up my mind daily on who to ask to be a client and what to do for the KDP. Change mind daily. Usually more than once.

December 2010. Carefully complete initial application, take it to Post Office and put it in the mail on the last possible day to comply with the terms of award. YIKES! What was 18 months is now 12 months. I’ll never finish on time. I’m doomed!

January 2011. Discover BCG never got initial application. Panic (“when in trouble or in doubt…”). Breathe deeply. Send PDF of application. Okay. All is well. Except I still don’t have a client and can’t decide on the KDP.

February 2011. Get email from BCG, my original initial application was received. Only clue as to its whereabouts since December: a “received” stamp… at the U.S. Department of Justice mailroom. Uh oh… Make final decision to do both client report and KDP on my brother-in-law’s parents’ lines. Which line for which part of portfolio, I have no clue.

March 2011. Document work. Somebody tell me why I picked a four-page document instead of a short one. Change mind on which line is client report and which is KDP. And change again. And again. And again.

April-June 2011. Settle on client report and family for KDP. Run around the east coast like a lunatic gathering records and taking photographs. Almost get shot by property owner getting photo of Civil War tombstone in cemetery on private property. Wonder why I decided this was a good idea anyway. Decide I’m not sure I even like my brother-in-law any more.

June 2011. Finish client report. Brother-in-law likes it. Decide BCG judges will hate it. Too late now. Got to get KDP research done.

July 2011. Finish KDP research. Wish I could rewrite client report. And document work. And even case study which has already been published.

August-September 2011. Start writing KDP final version. And rewriting. And re-rewriting. Conclude that it’s never getting any better, time to wrap it up.

October 2011. Print entire portfolio on three-ring-hole-punched paper. Package it up and send it off. Return home, read what I sent in, spot every typo I missed, every mistake I made. I’m doomed.

November 2011-January 2012. Conclude that every single word I wrote was total crap and the portfolio will be sent back without a single judge voting in favor of certification and an express suggestion that I take up basketweaving.

February 2012. Hyperventilate each time anyone utters the phrase “have you heard from…” in my presence, even if last part of question is “… your brother lately?”

February 24, 2012. Glance at e-mail account on cellphone. Word “Congratulations” appears. Sender: BCG. Freeze. Stop breathing. Summon courage to peek at email. “Congratulations and welcome! I am delighted to be able to tell you that you are Certified Genealogist no. 1026, effective 24 February 2012.”

February 25, 2012. Start looking at recertification requirements.

I’m doomed…

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