Monday, October 14, 2013

Good Morning (Genealogy) World!

I awoke this morning ready to hit the genealogy highway, then took one look at the thick, dense fog outside, and decided to go back to bed. Why face a Monday morning before you have to, right? An hour later, the fog was gone, and I was up, mostly awake from what sounded like a drum line practicing outside. My Big Orange Buddy, all 90 pounds of him, was hiding out in the laundry room. One check of the weather wasn’t enough. I poked my head outside and found that we were having thunder hail! Colorado seasons are especially entertaining. That passed, but the Big Orange Guy still refused to leave his laundry pile.Now, an hour later, the northern windows display a gray-green sky while the ones on the south side show a cloudless sky of beautiful blue. No wait, where did that blue sky go? Welcome to weather in Colorado!

No matter what the weather, I’ve decided (partly out of necessity) that today is perfect day to attack genealogy...from least until the weather changes, again. It’s that or sitting around telling spooky Halloween stories to My Big Orange Buddy and his sidekick, Fat Happy Girl. Since they’re still a bit shaken by the weatherand they are my only live audience, genealogy it is!

Besides, weather like this is best faced with a blazing fire and a stack of books. Today, in preparation to become a certified genealogist (I am still waiting for my “official packet” from the Board for Certification of Genealogists - BCG - and realize that it’s only been 6 days, but the whole “A-student” thing has kicked in), I plan to figure out exactly what books I have and what books I still need to have on my bookshelf. 

The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) makes several suggestions and I already own some of them. In fact, I have been so excited about doing this, I’ve read (parts of) several of them. Yes, I am such a nerd, so noted, so let’s get on with the books!

First on any pro’s list is Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills is what I’m referring to when I wander around the house (in case you’re visiting) muttering, “Where’s my Big Book? Come on I just had it a minute ago...” I call it that because it’s thick (nearly 2 inches), heavy, and, well, big. However, toting it around does not only build arm muscles but also answers typical genealogy questions plus some of “those questions.” Everyone has “those questions” as they’re the ones you want to ask, but are to polite to ask (and sorry to those who had other hopes but these are all G-rated). It covers topics such as “Setting Realistic Fees,” which is a.k.a in my world for, “You mean you don’t have to give it away? There’s money to be made? Whoa...” and other chapter such as “Alternative Careers,” which lists and describes a wide world of things you can do besides basic research for yourself and others. I can be a Superhero and solve crimes! Fat Happy Girl is egging me on but Big Orange Guy looks doubtful. Best to leave that part for later, I guess.

But wait! Yup, there’s a whole lot more! 

I have many, many books that I have purchased in ebook format from Barnes & Noble to use on their Nook application. I have it on many devices, but I use it mostly on my I-pad. At night. Under the covers. You get the picture? I tend to fall asleep cuddling it on occasion, but it has replaced my flashlight since it is backlit and the font size is adjustable. I can also make notes on it, bookmark pages without fear of having the bookmark fall out, and, since much of my library is all on my I-pad, I have fewer stacks of books to dust. (Like I actually do dust my books regularly! Right.) I have been able to find one handy, BCG-recommended book in Nook form and that is The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, published by the Board for Certification of Genealogists in 2000. It is exactly what you might guess: sixty pages of standards for all aspects of certification with zero percent whimsy. I read the entire thing (punctuated by falling asleep snuggling it) in a couple of nights and for a typically dry subject, it is well-written and goes quickly. Having it on my Nook app, on my I-pad means that I can tote easily and refer to it on the go.

While not on the BCG’s must-have list, I also have Genealogical Standards of Evidence by Brenda Dougall Merriman, from 2010, on my Nook for handy reference. This is seventy pages long and the writing is lighter if the content is not. It was an easier read and I managed to read it in one night, much of which was under the covers.

Still, I lack some of the books from BCG’s primary list:

1). Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives of the United States, 3rd Edition, edited by Anne Bruner Eales and Robert M. Kvasnicka.

The BCG web site has no link to purchase this book so I checked with Google. That took me to the National Archives website. Oddly, it says nothing in the publications about being closed for business but it did re-direct me to to purchase their publications, along with all sorts of interesting other goodies, such as neckties with things like the Emancipation Proclamation or the Bill of Rights printed on them. Could be a Gift idea - right? Who knew? But, back to obtaining my book! I reluctantly leave the cool gift items and I click on “Books.” This opens up to all sorts of editions that are not only on genealogy but anything and everything that you might want to learn about American HIstory. On my way to the assigned book, I stumbled across what seems to be a really helpful guide to using and visiting the National Archives (whenever they re-open) called, Genealogy Tool Kit: Getting Started on your Family History at the National Archives, by John P. Deeben. I continued looking for the book I was supposed to be chasing, but finally gave up and placed the name of my book into their search engine to find what I was looking for. It popped up, priced at $39.00 and as of today, in stock. Let me shortcut this for you by supplying the link: On to book #2!

2). The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy. 3rd edition, written by Val D. Greenwood in 2000.

Again, we lack the link but our old friend, Google, shows me  various web sites where it is for sale ranging from approximately $20.00 to $102.00. It can also be rented under textbook plans, but I think that BCG means that it is a book to keep around rather than just rent, read, and (likely in my case) forget. Before I buy, I need to see what I am getting for such a vast range of prices. Book #3 already has me fascinated, anyway!

  1. Mastering Genealogical Proof, by Thomas W. Jones, copyrighted 2013. 

The third book that I need for this adventure is a recent copyright, but again, BCG has no easy link to buy it. I find that it is widely available for roughly $25 to $30. While I run through various sites in my search, I find that it has become something of a cult-slash-bookclub-ish-slash-group-study book all over the place. I wouldn’t doubt it if Oprah has already covered it! Intrigued, I have to order it (meaning also that I really do have to have it, according to the BCG, but now I really want it!) and learn what the fuss is about. Anybody care to enlighten me?

4). Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources From Artifacts to Cyberspace, 2nd Edition, written by Elizabeth Shown Mills, 2009

Fortunately, the BCG has provided a link to purchase this one for $59.95, excluding taxes, shipping, and whatnot. By this point, I am in my version of a dazed, point-and-click mode, but it is a must, so into my cart it goes.

Yes, I realize that none of this is in bibliographic style but it fulfills the rebellious part of me and I think that we all shudder just a little bit at the sight of anything that looks even slightly like a bibliography. Am I right? Care to spend a free afternoon diagraming sentences? I thought not.

I hope this little foray into my beginning bibliographic fun hasn’t put you off pursuing your genealogical future. I’m still determined, especially because now I want to know what the book by Thomas W. Jones has in it to stir everyone up. Enough book shopping for now! I’m off to check this Jones guy out!

P.S. When I was editing this, I accidentally clicked on the website to order from the National Archives (this one: and, in large letters was advised that the National Archives is operating under it’s quite-detailed, “Contingency Plan,” during the shutdown. I saw how complicated it was and decided to leave reading it all for later and just hope that Congress can fix things soon.