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      Carol Sanderson, Editor
      Charles Hansen, Technical Advisor

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Genealogical Alphabet Soup - by Charles Hansen

        If you go to a genealogical seminar, you will see that a lot of the professional speakers have one or more abbreviations behind their names in their biographies. What do the initials mean? How can you become a professional genealogist? Do you want to become an Accredited or Certified genealogist?

        The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) accredits genealogists (AG). It was founded in 1979 by people who recognized the néed for sharing expertise, opinions, concerns, services and products. APG maintains a website 1 which includes their services.

        The two main services listed on the website are How to hire a professional genealogist? and What is required to become accredited? In this article I will deal only with the last.

        What education does one néed, and what experience is néeded to become a professional? APG points out a professional is not just someone who makes money from genealogy, but is someone who does work that meets the standards set by them. Applicants are tested as to their knowledge and skill.

        If you see CG, CGL, CALS, CAILS, CGI or CGRS you know these people are certified:

  • CG - Certified Genealogist
  • CGL - Certified Genealogical Lecturer
  • CALS - Certified American Lineage Specialist
  • CAILS - Certified American Indian Lineage Specialist
  • CGI - Certified Genealogical Instructor
  • CGRS - Certified Genealogical Record Specialist

  •         All of these require certification by the Board for Certification of Genealogists. This is a non-profit organization founded in 1964 to promote excellence in research, teaching, writing, publishing and librarianship by those who pursue genealogy. Their website 2 lists the requirements for each certification, and applicants are judged on examinations and evaluations by other certified genealogists to determine if the applicant reflects the high standards of scholarship and professional practice.

            The above group of abbreviations requires that the applicant have knowledge of genealogy. Applicants are tested and evaluated to make sure they know how to be a professional genealogist and can help others.

            There is another group of credentials you might see:

  • FASG - Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists
  • FNGS - Fellow of the National Genealogical Society
  • FUGA - Fellow of the Utah Genealogical Association
  •         These credentials are bestowed upon genealogists in recognition of exceptional expertise or service to the organization. People are elected to become a Fellow and it is a great honor.

            The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) has published on their website, Guidelines for the Use of Credentials & Postnominals in Professional Genealogy. So if you see PG, Professional Genealogist or RG, Registered Genealogist you know they are not recognized by the APG and are actually meaningless.

    Footnotes, Recommended reading & viewing:
          1 Association of Professional Genealogists (APG)
          2 The Board for Certification of Genealogists

    Facts or Fiction - by Carol Sanderson

            We, as genealogists sometimes encounter stories or legends that have been in the family history for some time. Our family stories are part of what puts flesh on our ancestors. I am not saying that all family stories are fiction or myths, but I would caution you to research these stories to make sure they are true. If you don't you may find yourself wandering off the path that you should be on and perhaps end with a brick wall. I would like to discuss some of these "myths" here.

            Mr. Kory L. Meyerink says 1 that these stories seem to fall into general themes with numerous variations of each theme. Some are:

    1. About the immigrant ancestor,
    2. Elevation of the importance of an ancestor,
    3. About family background.

    1. Fiction About the Immigrant Ancestor

            Under this category we find stories about name changes when entering this country through Ellis Island. These seem to say that the immigration officials changed the name so that it was totally different from the one the immigrant had. This is very unlikely as the officials were familiar with foreign languages and the passenger lists they worked with originated at the ports of embarkation and the native names were understood.

            Another one in this category that I would like to touch on more fully is the one about three brothers coming to America. I am sure you have heard examples or even stories like this. I heard this when I was a youngster and it stuck with me. It even delayed my finding my correct line as I was looking for something else.

            Three brothers come to America. One goes south, another north and the third goes west. This is what I heard about my Grant ancestors. My grandmother had told me the story and then topped it by saying that we were related to President Grant.

            When I started looking for my ancestral line it was with this in mind. I had no one guiding me, no courses in genealogy taken at that time, or any other helps. I kept hitting roadblocks. One day I decided to start with the line of President Grant. I found his first ancestor here had come with his wife and no brothers were involved. Going back to where this ancestor came from I looked for his parents and other siblings. I found only this one person with his parents. No other siblings seemed to exist. On sitting back and reviewing these facts, I decided that someone was wrong and it was probably my grandmother although she wasn't around for me to ask anymore.

            I also decided that I néeded to know more about what I was doing so enrolled in a genealogy course. There I heard about the story of the three brothers, I learned where to start and how to do the research. Since then I have been in the position of trying to help other Grant members find their lines. Many times I had people tell me their ancestor was one of three brothers. They left knowing that it was a story and their lines led down another path.

    2. Ancestral Importance

            These can be about your ancestor being involved in a major historical event. It could be true but there again it could be a story. It néeds to be checked out. It could also be about being related to somebody of importance. The ancestor could have been in the military and his rank was misstated to make him seem more important than he was.

            Then there are those that say our families have a coat-of-arms. A coat-of-arms was given to a single person, not to all of those who bear the same surname. That persons son may be entitled to the coat-of-arms but only if it were changed in some way. You may find that your ancestor is not related to the person with the coat-of-arms at all.

    3. Fiction About Family Background

            Some of these are a relationship to someone of importance with the same surname. This is sort of like my grandmother telling me we were related to President Grant. All I can say today is, that if there is a relationship to him, it lays in Scotland and I haven't found it.

            I néed to caution all of you who have family traditions or stories similar to these to check them. You néed to be sure and that means documentation. Even if you find that you have myths that cannot be documented then accept them for what they may or may not be. We all have ancestors who were colorful people in their time. The stories of their lives may be even better than the myths.

    Footnotes, Recommended reading & viewing:
          1 Myths in Your Family Tree. 20 -25; by Kory L. Meyerink, AG, FUGA in the November/December Ancestry Magazine published by, Inc., 360 W. 4800 North, Provo, UT 84604

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