Webinar~Archivists: Who Are They and What Do They Do?

Hosted by the Association of Professional Genealogists

About the Presenter:
Melissa Barker is a Certified Archives Records Manager currently working as the Houston County, Tennessee archivist. She is also a professional genealogist lecturing, teaching and writing about the genealogy research process, researching in archives and records preservation. She conducts virtual webinar presentations all across the United States for genealogical and historical societies. She writes a popular blog entitled “A Genealogist in the Archives.” She is the Reviews Editor for the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) magazine FORUM. She writes a bi-weekly advice column entitled “The Archive Lady” that can be viewed at www.GeneaBloggers.com. She has been researching her own family history for the past 26 years.

Don’t let age deter you from becoming an archivist!

You know you’re an archivist when working with “old” items (documents, photographs, ephemera, etc.) never gets old!

“Every genealogist should be an archivist and every archivist should be a genealogist!” ~ Melissa Barker ~ “An archivist’s work is never done!”

Archivist: Appraising, acquiring, arranging, describing, preserving, and providing access to records of enduring value

*Some people don’t know what an archivist or archives is; some people are overwhelmed when visiting an archives*

Check for state library and archives organizations for training!

Educational requirements vary from institution to institution.

Certified Archivist (C.A.) Certificate Program (Academy of Certified Archivists)

Society of American Archivists Certificate Program and Graduate Program in Archival Studies

Certified Archivist (C.A.): 1987, set standards for professional certification; today, there are 1,131 archivists in the US

Some have backgrounds in history, art, library science, etc.  Some are historians, archives directors, archives managers, records managers, librarians, etc.

Archivists who specialize: Specific type of collections (manuscripts, photographs), specific geographic location (southern states, midwestern states, Civil War), only work with born digital records (never on paper, electronic, digital photographs) or digitizing archived records, specific genre (women’s history, military history)

How to find a job? ArchivesGig.wordpress.com

Society of American Archivists career center

How to get experience? VOLUNTEER! County, state, and organizational archives.

“Lone Arranger” Succeeding in a Small Repository by Christina Zamon

Job Duties: Obtaining and accessing records, govt records transferred to archives; historical and genealogical records donations; every step of transfer or donation is documented (deed of gift); organize and store records (original order is essential); sorting, labeling, filing, and re-housing of records (archival quality boxes/file folders); create a finding aid; indexing; organizing records and artifacts for display; plan and arrange upcoming exhibits and displays; preservation and conservation (clean and flatten documents); daily statistics (sign-in book, records processed, requests, donations); correspondence; help with walk-in researchers, pull records and help read old handwriting; budget and purchasing (compile and present a budget for approval), take stock and purchase archival materials; apply for grant money (always looking for funding!); outreach (open houses, speak to local groups, host tours for schools and adult leadership groups)

Tools of the trade: White gloves, spatula for removing staples, brush, acid-free products

This was a truly wonderful webinar, very thorough and detailed, including many real-world examples.  I’m so glad I was able to view it live!

New Position

The Association of Professional Genealogists (APGen.org) includes chapters, one of which is the Indiana Chapter.  I have been a member of APG for 2 years and a member of ICHAP for the last year.  Elections were held recently for chapter officers, and I won the Vice-President position.  I am very excited about this…remember my Four Cornerstones post?  One cornerstone is professionalism in genealogy.  And that is exactly what APG and ICHAP promote.  I’m looking forward to taking a more active role in this great group and supporting professionalism as genealogists.  This is a very exciting opportunity!  If you’re in Indiana and a member of APG and would like to become involved, please let me know!  We hold meetings online through GoToMeeting and plan at least one face-to-face get-together a year.

genealogy, genealogists, professionalism

Webinar~Using Technology to Manage Multiple Genealogical Projects

Hosted by APG, presented by Melanie D. Holtz, CG

Asana (cloud based): Project management software

Can be used with:

Harvest Time management


Evernote (use through Zapier)


-Google Drive

Other software (all cloud based):

17Hats (includes invoicing and bookkeeping)

Trello (similar looking to sticky notes all over, looks like Pinterest)

Smartsheet (visually looks like an Excel spreadsheet)


I was interested in this webinar since I do need some sort of project management software regarding the new society, my new business, my education goal, my certification goal, etc.  Ms. Holtz mostly covered Asana since she has used it since its inception.  There is a free version and paid versions, depending on how many people you are communicating with.  I’ve been trying the free version.  Right now, it’s basically just me so I don’t need a lot of bells and whistles.  Once the society gets up and running, I might have to go to the paid version but we’ll see.  I’ve been using Evernote for some time now so I’ve got to see how I can integrate that into Asana, if I even want to.  I also use Dropbox occasionally and Google Drive.

Regarding the other software, I’d like to try 17Hats but it’s out of my price range right now.  I’d like to try it because it also includes bookkeeping and invoice capabilities.  I’ve used Basecamp in the past, and it’s very user friendly.  Trello might be worth a shot; I believe it has a free version too.  As far as Smartsheet goes, I’d never figure it out.  Excel intimidates me for some reason.

After looking at Trello more while writing this post, I believe I might give it a go.  It does have a free version and paid version (more for businesses).  Since I’m just a business of 1, I can go free.

I suppose I need to have one in place by 1 August!

A big thank you to APG for offering another terrific webinar!

APG PMC 2015 Syllabus

I wasn’t able to attend the actual Professional Management Conference (PMC) held by the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) this year (though hopefully I will be there in 2016!), so I splurged and invested in the syllabus.

And am I glad I did.

For $18, I received the syllabi for 12 sessions and 4 workshops.  These aren’t your normal, run-of-the-mill syllabi either.  These are syllabi on steroids!

Sessions included:

“Taxes and the Professional Genealogist” presented by James M. Beidler

“Finding the Law” presented by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

“Mind Maps for Genealogy” presented by Ron Arons

“DNA and Genealogical Proof” presented by Angie Bush, MS

“Get Paid for Your Passion: Setting Fees” presented by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL

“Professional Writing Foundations: Five Ways to Improve Your Writing Today” presented by Anastasia Harman

“Finding Your Niche: Matching Passion, Professionalism, and Pecuniary Interest” presented by James Beidler

“How to have Difficult Conversations with Clients and Colleagues” Presenter not listed

“Get In Print: How Self-Publishing Can Work for the Professional Genealogist” presented by Thomas MacEntee

“Time Management: Successfully Balancing the Demands of Our Many “Clients” presented by Angela Packer McGhie

“Genealogy Professionals Needed: Help Adoptees* Discover Their Genealogical Roots with DNA” presented by CeCe Moore

“Organize Your Writing and Research with Scrivener” presented by Kimberly T. Powell

“So You Want to Be a Genealogical Speaker” presented by Billie Stone Fogarty, M.Ed.

Workshops included:

“You’ve Got Options: Many Ways to Cite Right” presented by Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS (divided into three separate sessions)

“Measure Yourself Against Standards: A Practical Guide for Improving Your Skills” presented by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL


My gut tells me to begin with Jones’ workshop about citations. Will be starting that soon!

My Experience Using a Pro Genealogist for Document Retrieval

Background: I’ve been wanting to order my 3rd-great-GF and 2nd-great-GF’s compiled military service records (CMSR) and Civil War pension records from NARA for some time now.  It was cost-prohibitive to me in that it would take literally months for my request to be filled and even then the people who are contracted to copy do just that, copy what’s in the file in whatever order it’s in (not really reading the article looking for further clues).  Not to mention the fact that I was concerned I’d send the wrong file numbers to NARA and waste my money.  So, on the advice of a member on the APG list to contact fellow APG members in the DC area willing to do lookups and searches at NARA, I did just that.

In 17 days, I had over 230 pages from the files of John Ford and Lyman S. Ford.  The genealogist I hired is Pamela Loos-Noji, Ph.D. who gave permission to share her name and services here.  My copies were sent to me via Dropbox, which I then saved to my computer.  Excellent copies of the documents and in order!  And, really, what I paid to Ms. Loos-Noji is comparable to what I would’ve paid NARA.

To put it mildly, I am thrilled!  So thrilled, in fact, that I will most likely use her services again in the future for my other ancestors with Civil War military history (I’m looking at you, Paul Mayer!).

jf_0046 Written by John Ford himself!

lyman_0078 One image from Lyman S. Ford’s file

I haven’t had time to explore all the images and analyze anything so I chose one of John’s in his own handwriting and a random image from Lyman’s file.

Needless to say, I am extremely pleased with the results.  Check out apgen.org if you need to find a pro to do some work for you!

2016 Plans

I checked my 2016 calendar and it is definitely shaping up to be a banner year!

In April, there is the IGS Conference and Society Management Seminar and the OGS Annual Conference.  In July, Midwestern Roots here in Indiana.  In August, the FGS Conference in Springfield, Illinois.  In September, the APG Professional Management Conference.  This is not counting any DAR functions or special seminars, such as IHS genealogy sessions or the Indiana chapter of PALAM, which I hope to join to strengthen my German knowledge.  I need to start saving!

Something else I’ve been toying with is seeing what kind of interest there is in my neck of woods to have a local genealogy society.  We have a historical society/museum but not anything dedicated to specifically genealogy/family history. Just something I’ve been thinking about.  Not sure about the interest in this area.  At the Society Management Seminar this weekend, the Wabash Valley Genealogy Society stated that they advertised an informational meeting, expecting 5-6 people to show up…they had 60 turn out! WOW! If I do anything like that–and that’s a giant IF–it might be the first of August.  We’ll see!

Webinar~Are You Ready to be a Professional Genealogist?

An APG webinar presented by Paula Stuart-Warren, CG

This is a question I ask myself daily, usually as I slog through hour after hour of back-breaking medical transcription. I love learning new things every day and producing quality documents…the politics of the MT business, though, are wearing on me. I’ve been busy preparing my website for research and hopefully transcribing oral histories. I need my day job, though, to support my hobby-hopefully-turned-new career. I hope to learn something from this webinar, maybe something I’m missing that needs to be done now, not later!

Is a professional genealogist:
* Public image, education, experience
* Certification or accreditation
* Common sense, know right from wrong
* Standards
* Common courtesy
* Ethical behavior, abide by APG Code of Ethics
* Advanced degree? Not necessarily!
* Working as a librarian? Working as medical transcriptionist (lots of daily research)
* Knowing and visiting every courthouse?
* Knowing every single website database? No way!
* Knowing German, Irish, Swedish, French, etc., ethnic groups?
* Knowing colonial research? Not necessarily!
* Knowing when to learn more or seek out referral? Yes!

Think of it in other situations where you might seek out a professional: auto mechanic, art appraiser, quilt maker, hair stylist, for example. Makes sense!

It is:
* Education
* Knowledge
* Experience
* More education…don’t be stagnant!
* Patience
* Networking
* Continuing education…must keep learning!

Learn about business rules and regulations or ask someone who knows!

Volunteer experience!

A genealogy professional is:
* Committed to performing at the highest level
* Committed to standards
* Committed to education
* Can be board-certified
* Can accept payment
* Courageous
* Today!

* Legal ramifications
* Don’t make promises you can’t keep
* Cite sources
* Don’t just “do over”
* Clear reports
* Stay within the limits

Can you:
* Be approached?
* Be followed?
* Still have fun?

Learned a lot from this webinar! It will soon be available to be watched on the APG website, free to the public, along with the handout. I definitely need to learn more about the actual business end of things now, not later.

Personal Historian~APG Webinar

My first webinar of 2015! This one is part of the Careers in Genealogy, about being a personal historian, presented by Linda Coffin, Executive Director of APH, presented for APG. Other archived webinars in this series include lineage specialist, forensic genealogist, and house historian.

In listening to the first 2 minutes of this lecture, I realize I am definitely a personal historian and genealogist!

APH=Association of Personal Historians

Personal Historian v Genealogist: Two paths to the same goal=Fascinating History!

Examples: Books; video; audio; “niche,” such as ‘ethical wills’, cookbooks, quilts, artwork; technology, such as StoryCatcher, GenArk, LegacyStories, genealogy-related story-telling

Interested in people and history. Personal historians come from all walks of life!

Three core components:
* Legal understanding
* Basic understanding of psychology and gerontology
* Business skills and marketing

Tracks: Audio, video, print, and online

Educational Options: APH, NIGS, University of Wisconsin-Superior, International Institute of Reminiscense and Life Review

Collaboration with other professionals (videographer, graphic designer, transcriptionist, photographer, etc.)

Documenting family heirlooms.

Combining genealogy and personal history creates enormous potential for interesting and dynamic family histories…bring that history to life!

Another great webinar…I’ve learned a lot!


I’m sitting in on an APG webinar entitled “Building Your Author Blueprint: Writing Opportunities for the Genealogy Professional” presented by Lisa Alzo. It’s great, so many wonderful tips and information about genealogical writing, including blogging.

It did get me to thinking, though, that I need to keep track of the webinars I attend since I have a generic statement on my genealogical resume that I’ve “attended webinars”…people might want some sort of proof.

What better place to keep track than right here? I’ll start with this one and then go through my notes and add the others. I have registered for a number of upcoming webinars, as well.

*Expect change and make your own opportunities!*
*Keep a running list of ideas and keep motivated!*

Has it seriously been 5 months since I’ve had this blog up?!

German Burials

This is interesting…I’m following a thread on the APG mail list about German burial practices, burying more than one person in a grave with one headstone listing all those interred.

In my post about Paul Mayer, I mention the Two Mary’s. My 2nd-great-GF, Paul Mayer, was married twice before marrying my 2nd-great-GM.  His first and second wives were both named Mary and both died a couple years after they married Paul. He buried them together under one headstone in the same cemetery where he is buried with my 2nd-great-GM. This was in the mid 1860s so I imagine it was a cost effective device for him, not to mention something he was probably familiar with as he immigrated from Germany.