by Rocky Macy
A recent letter from a Rootbound reader requesting information on how to become a certified or accredited genealogical researcher has prompted this columnist to do some basic research on the subject of research. Although several paths to becoming a labeled "expert" in the field seem to exist, two stand out as being better indicators of genealogical skills. This week's column will focus on certification programs offered by the Board for Certification of Genealogists and those in accreditation provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The Board for Certification of Genealogists formulates standards of professional genealogical research, establishes a register of people who are qualified to do such work, and provides libraries, societies, and individuals lists of those who have passed certification exams. At present the Board certifies researchers in six areas. Those are explained below:
A Certified Genealogical Record Searcher (CGRS) is one who searches original and published records, has an understanding of all sources of a genealogical nature relating to the areas of work, and provides detailed information concerning the contents of the records examined, but is not certified to construct a pedigree or to prepare a family history.
A Certified American Lineage Specialist (CALS) is one who prepares a single line of descent and is competent to determine the authenticity of evidence and acceptability of original source material and compiled printed material. "American" in this category is not limited in meaning to the United States.
A Certified American Indian Lineage SPECIALIST (CAILS) is one who shows competence in work in the specific records (such as tribal records, etc) dealing with this category. "American" is not limited in meaning to the United States.
A Certified Genealogist (CG) is one who not only conducts research among primary sources and studies secondary works, but also works to solve genealogical problems and constructs genealogies of families based upon investigations of the sources and careful analysis of the evidence.
A Certified Genealogical Lecturer (CGL) is one who lectures on specific genealogical topics. Requirements for certification in this category include the requirements for CGRS certification.
A Certified Genealogical Instructor (CGI) is one who provides instruction in all aspects of geneealogical research techniques and sources. Requirements for certification in this category include the requirements of CG certification.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints offers accreditation related to genealogical research in several geographic areas as well as two specific subjects. Persons applying for and passing the examinations of the LDS Church may become Accredited Genealogists (AG) with expertise in New England States, Eastern States, Southern States, Midwestern States, British Isles, Scandinavia, Canada, Pacific Area, Latin America, Continental Europe, Records of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or American Indian Records.
Both programs mentioned above require extensive knowledge in the areas of interest as well as a good deal of practical experience. Both award recognition of skill based upon successful completion of an examination. For more detailed information, please write to: Board for Certification of Genealogists (P.O. Box 19165, Washington, DC 20036), or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Family History Library, 35 North West Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150).
One good way to prepare for the examinations of both groups is to take course work in genealogy from Brigham Young University. BYU has several genealogy courses and a certificate program in that discipline that are offered through correspondence work. For a catalogue on the BYU program, please write to: BYU Department of Independent Study, 206 Harman Continuing Education Building, Provo, UT 84602.
If you do research, become a professional - and if you hire a researcher, make sure that he or she has the expertise and background to do the job correctly and thoroughly.