One year ago I posted my goal for 2016: to become an Accredited Genealogist. Luckily I gave myself a caveat that if I didn’t get it done in 2016, there was always 2017. Well, it’s officially 2017, and I do need the extra time to meet this goal. What did I learn last year? Where am I in the process? Why would you want to explore accreditation? Good questions that I’ll try to answer.
January of 2016 I had been waffling about whether to really go for accreditation or not. When I took the plunge and wrote a blog post stating my goal, it motivated me to seriously put in the work. I signed up for the study groups sponsored by ICAPGen (International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists) and proceeded to start working on my four-generation project. The level 1 study group went through the spring months and focused on objectives, report writing, citations, analysis, conclusions, and future research. Basically, it was a crash course on writing a research report for a client. I soaked up the information and really enjoyed the process of analyzing and proving my research findings.
At the beginning of summer, I went to work on the second generation and made a plan to finish all four generations and submit my application by the July 1st deadline. But life happens and summer vacations, family reunions, welcoming a new grandbaby into the family and my garden took time, so I decided to shoot for the October 1st deadline instead. I worked diligently through the summer, but by the middle of September, I was still in the middle of writing my third generation. Full of indirect evidence, it was proving to be more difficult to organize than the previous generations. I simply needed more time.
January 7th looked doable, so with my new deadline in mind, I pushed ahead. I determined that I would submit this time, and I did! On January 6th, I turned in a forty-page report (the maximum allowed), forty supporting documents, four research logs (one for each generation), a pedigree chart showing just the four generations, and six family group sheets (one for each generation plus a couple of previous marriages in the fourth generation). Over one hundred pages of blood, sweat, and tears. No wonder it took a year to put together!
The four-generation project is graded by two separate Accredited Genealogists based on a detailed rubric. I will need a score of 90% to pass. I’m hoping for the best and studying for the Level 2 exams scheduled for February 18th. If I pass Level 2, I’ll take the Level 3 exams in May. If I pass those, I’ll do an Oral Review with two Accredited Genealogists, then I’ll have reached my goal!
I haven’t turned in a project to be graded or taken an exam more complicated than a driving test in over thirty years, so why am I subjecting myself to the stress of accreditation? I love learning and I love researching my family. I also feel the need to start a new career and accreditation just feels right.
Throughout 2016, blogging and working on accreditation was a perfect fit. As I discovered new sources, I wrote about them, which helped me better understand the records and what the information proved. I also wrote about new skills that I learned along the way.
Looking back on 2016 here are some of the skills I acquired.
How to properly cite a source.
How to write a report using analysis.
How to make an image of a source with the citation included.
How to put together a client research report with an objective, summary, and conclusion.
How to create a research log that really functions.
I also found amazing new sources of information such as:
The 40+ page widow’s pension file of my great great grandmother dating from 1929-1942.
Three original land case files dated 1841, 1907, and 1915.
A 23-page equity suit from 1812.
Civil war service records for two great great uncles showing the dates and places of death.
The 40+ probate case file of my 3rd great grandfather.
Why would you want to pursue Accreditation? Granted, it can seem overwhelming. But I am proof that slow and steady wins the race. I actually had no idea what was ahead of me when I started, but looking back, I’m grateful for the process. If you love to research and would like to hone your skills, accreditation will stretch you, teach you, and make you a better genealogist and family historian. If you’re interested, take a look at the Guide to Applying for an Accredited Genealogist® Credential on the ICAPGen website. The downloadable PDF gives you all the information you need to get started.
Interested in learning more about my journey? Select “Accreditation” in the drop-down menu under “Research Tips” to access articles about my experiences, plus tips to help along the way.
Best of luck in all your family history endeavors!