Friday, September 14, 2012

BCG Portfolio Thoughts

One of the main reasons I attended FGS for a day was to take a look at the BCG portfolios. As I've mentioned before, I looked at one a few years ago. At that time I was completely overwhelmed and didn't really understand what I was looking at. Now fast forward a few years, I was still overwhelmed but this time I understood what I was looking at. Progress, right?

I still don't think I'm ready to apply right now. In cooking terms, I need to marinate a bit more. However, I've noticed that this line of thought has the danger of becoming the proverbial hamster wheel. The wonderful thing with genealogy is the constant learning that takes place. The more ancestors you acquire, the more history, laws, and other idiosyncrasies you have to learn. There is no way you will ever know it all. So at what point do you know enough to apply for BCG certification? For you, I don't know what the answer is. For me, the answer is practice.

It is slightly difficult to look at portfolios in the BCG booth at a conference. There is a lot of activity, people see you and stop to say hello, people you don't know start talking to you, you're pressed for time to get to the next lecture, and there is generally a lot of other distractions. Not really the best environment to read a case study, look at the transcription assignment, or study the kinship determination project (KDP). I did the best I could under the circumstances. While looking through all of the portfolio elements I took some notes. These notes were just general observations, nothing specific about any of the portfolios. What surprised me was a singular thought during this process. It was, "I can do this. I just need to practice."

I don't know about you, but I haven't written many (okay, um, zero) kinship determination projects. I've done slightly better with case studies, but then with zero KDP's that's not saying much. In looking at the portfolios, it would be foolhardy to turn in the first or even second attempt of any of the elements. So I just need to practice. While I practice I need to refer often to the BCG rubric, and the genealogical proof standard (GPS). This should set me up pretty good, both for the portfolio and my daily genealogical practice/research.

If you are interested in learning or hearing more talk about BCG portfolios there are a couple of options. First and foremost is the BCG website. Lately there have been some interesting threads on the Transitional Genealogist Forum as well. Today, Harold Henderson posted on his blog, Midwestern Microhistory, the first of a five part series discussing the BCG certification process that is well worth the read and should continue to be.

Have you thought about becoming certified? If so, what is stopping you from starting the clock? One of my pressing concerns is picking people or a case that is interesting enough, uses a nice variety of records, but is not so complex that it becomes too much to handle. Yet I don't want any of the elements to be too simple or boring. It's a fine line. I'm hoping a few of my ancestors will step forward and guide me along the way.


  1. Don't reset the bar from where BCG puts it. When I reviewed at a conference, the woman at the booth kept reminding every one - it's only necessary to pass - no A+ marks are given! I'm totally confident you can do this - and the price goes up in January!