Are you interested in becoming a professional genealogist? Have you wondered what might be involved in taking clients or what career options are available in the genealogy world? Participating in a ProGen study group can help you find answers to these questions.
I joined ProGen 33 in 2016 as a student and recently completed my second ProGen study group – this time acting as a mentor for ProGen 44. I enjoyed meeting monthly with my peers for a discussion of the month’s assignment. Now based primarily on the 2nd edition of Professional Genealogy: Preparation, Practice & Standards, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills, the assignments range from writing a business contract to creating an education plan.
The monthly discussions take place virtually and one of the advantages is meeting genealogists from all over the country and sometimes the world. Our attendees were in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Utah, and Australia to name a few locations. We came from different backgrounds and experiences and had lively discussions on a variety of professional topics.
If you’re interested in applying for a ProGen study group, be aware that you need to have had some significant research experience. The application form lists several areas to show whether you are ready for the experience. Consider how you measure up in each area listed below. If you are short on experience, make a plan to gain some!
– Have conducted research at four different types of repositories such as archives, courthouses, libraries, etc.
– Experienced at writing research reports complete with source citations documenting the findings
– Knowledge of evidence analysis and an understanding of the terminology for sources, information, and evidence.
– Completed a genealogy research course.
– Attended a genealogical institute
– Other significant education in genealogy or historical research
– Studying scholarly genealogical articles
– Currently taking genealogy clients
The majority of the assignments are designed to help a candidate prepare a portfolio for certification through the Board for Certification of Genealogists. Although, I didn’t follow this path to a credential, submitting the various writing assignments and participating in the peer review helped me improve my writing skills.
ProGen offers many benefits. As already mentioned, increased writing skills and business preparation. But, other benefits might not be so obvious. The professional genealogy field revolves around networking. No one can have experience with every locality or type of research. If you become a professional genealogist, you may be asked to work on projects that are beyond your scope of experience. Perhaps a potential client wants help filling out a lineage society application or needs Jewish research conducted. If these are not in your wheelhouse, you will want to have trusted genealogists whom you can suggest the client contact. Participating monthly in video chats and reviewing each other’s work gives you a good idea of the qualifications of fellow students.
Even if you have no desire to work as a professional genealogist, the ProGen Study Groups can help raise the level of your research. Check it out and see if this is a path you would like to pursue.
Best of luck in all your genealogical endeavors!