The Board for Certification of Genealogists [BCG] has just released a major upgrade to its book, Genealogy Standards: 50th Anniversary Edition. For the record, that is 50 years of the BCG. The guidebook is 14 years old. The Standards were first released in 2000 after a three year initiative to create a combined and clear standard by which all genealogists, not just those certified by the BCG, could conduct and organize their research. After 14 years of progress, learning, and technical advances it was time for a refresh.
Since my own first real introduction to genealogy, back in high school, I recognized a strong need for evidence and accuracy in research. Though not a certified genealogist myself, my feelings on the matter are reflected by the BCG; or rather, my position reflects that of the BCG where they state in the first lines of the introduction:
“Accuracy is fundamental to genealogical research. Without it, a family’s history would be fiction.”
“This manual presents the standards family historians use to obtain valid results.” I believe this should and does apply to all genealogists, not just those certified or hoping to become so. All genealogists need to follow the basic parameters as addressed by these standards in the areas of:
- research planning and execution,
- reasoning from evidence
- compiling research results
- ongoing development of knowledge and skills
I look at it in terms of what previous family research I have been able to obtain from family members, and the amount of rework necessary to verify the accuracy, and often inaccuracy, of data obtained from non-cited and unverified sources. Why should one of my descendents have to do the work yet again because I fail to follow some basic guidelines in my research practices?
As mentioned above, this guidebook offers an upgrade to the previous standards. This new slimmer package includes changes that better handle Internet and electronic-based resources, as well as other improved practices learned over the years. There are now 83 standards, up from 72; though, most reflect a change in organization where multi-part standards are now broken into their own sections. Following norms practiced in standards development across many research fields, these standards are broken into two main types:
- Product standards – “qualities of useful outcomes”
- Process standards – “activities leading to useful outcomes”
Despite these changes, the guide is much smaller than the millennial version. The slimmer guide simply lists the standards with explanations. The examples are now available on the BCG website instead of in the printed manual. Now the guide is easy to carry around and lighter to thumb through for a quick reference as needed.
The average, everyday, happy-to-have-a-hobby genealogist will find their own research more productive, easier to manage, and ultimately more satisfying if they follow the easy to read and easily applied standards found in this guidebook. Many professional genealogists may already apply most of theses standards to their daily research, but it doesn’t hurt to have a nice compact copy to take with you when you travel about or as a desk reference.
We purchased 80 copies to run on sale this week. When they run out, it will take another week or so to get more in stock – so if you want a copy, order now. There has been a lot of buzz about this book, so we expect to sell our stock quickly.
Your own personal copy of Genealogy Standards: 50th Anniversary Edition is available from Family Roots Publishing at 15% off through Midnight MST Thursday, March 6, 2014.