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Kimberly Powell

Certification Categories Changed by BCG

By October 18, 2005

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The Board for Certification of Genealogists has, after long debate, decided to consolidate its three different professional research certification categories into a single category, called Certified Genealogist. All those holding a current credential as Certified Genealogical Records Specialist, Certified Lineage Specialist, or Certified Genealogist will hold the designation of Certified Genealogist. The board also established application requirements for the single credential and voted to continue the existing renewal requirements for those already certified.

From the BCG press release:

The Board reached the decisions after extensive talks at the annual meeting of the Board of Trustees in Salt Lake City on October 16. Incoming board president Connie Miller Lenzen, CG, of Portland, Oregon, explained that the change has been made for two reasons. "First, regardless of the type of work they do, all genealogists have the same skills. Second, having three research categories was confusing to both the genealogical community and the general public. The categories were different, but the differences were not well understood. We expect that the public can now more easily hire a certified person without being concerned about the differences. The one thing that will not change is the Board's commitment to excellence in genealogical work."

In May 2004, the Trustees approved the following motion, Lenzen continued: "Anyone demonstrating competence in all general skill areas of research, evidence analysis, kinship determination, and reporting should be eligible for certification as a genealogist, without further distinction or limitation. Upon implementation, all certified persons in any research category would hold the designation Certified Genealogist." After more than a year of discussion, soliciting input, planning, and writing, the Board voted on the final draft of the revised application guide.

The new requirements have been designed to test the four skill areas used by all genealogists. The requirements are: Acceptance of the Genealogist's Code.
  • Background resume
  • Document work with a BCG-supplied document: transcribe, abstract, and evaluate the document, prepare a research plan.
  • Document work with an applicant-supplied document: transcribe, abstract, and evaluate the document, prepare a research plan
  • Research report prepared for a client
  • Case study of conflicting or indirect evidence
  • Kinship determination project. The project is to include at least three couples in successive ancestral generations. The project may be in the form of a narrative genealogy, narrative lineage, or narrative pedigree.

    Complete details for each requirement will be posted on the BCG website, www.bcgcertification.org, by December 1 of this year. Beginning January 1, 2006, only applications using the new requirements will be accepted. The new BCG Application Guide will be available at the National Genealogical Society conference in Chicago in June 2006.

    The trustees also determined that individuals certified by BCG will still need to renew their certification every five years and that requirements for renewal will remain the same as they are now, regardless of the certification category previously held. Those requirements include an updated resume and the submission of up to four work samples. Current holders of the CGRS and CLS credentials will have until November 1, 2006 to make the transition to the CG credential. BCG's teaching categories, Certified Genealogical Lecturer and Certified Genealogical Instructor, are not affected by the change to a single research credential.

    Also unchanged is the two-step application process. Individuals file a preliminary application form and then have up to one year to submit their completed portfolio. Those who have already filed a preliminary application form will have the opportunity to decide whether to continue under the previous requirements or convert to the new requirements. Any preliminary applications filed on or after January 1, 2006 must follow the new requirements.

    Since its founding in 1964, The Board for Certification of Genealogists has promulgated -- in research, lectures, and publications -- attainable, uniform standards of competence and ethics that have become generally accepted throughout the field. Its publication, The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, sets forth the currently accepted standards for all areas of genealogical research.

    10 Steps to Becoming a Professional Genealogist
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