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!

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!

Webinar~How to Keep Your Volunteers Happy, Helpful, and Engaged

Offered through FGS, presented by Amy Johnson Crow, CG

I sat in on this webinar since I’m starting a genealogical society for my area of Indiana (BRVGS).  I wanted to learn more about volunteers of a group.  I have volunteered myself and could relate to a lot of what Ms. Crow discussed.

I hope to meet new interested people for our new local society.  People who have special skills to put to use, people who want to volunteer a little time to support their community, people who want to learn more about their family history and how to document what they find for future generations.

I’ll definitely be reviewing my notes as the first meetings of BRVGS commence!

Webinar~Truth or Fiction: Unraveling a Family Yarn

Another terrific webinar in the BCG series, presented by Teresa Steinkamp McMillin, CG.

This webinar explored taking a family tale, handed down generation by generation, and proving or disproving it.  It was a very fascinating case study to dissect, and Ms. McMillin took us through it step by step.

Start with what you know and use the GPS.

I have a couple family yarns that I’ve been told.  I’ve disproved one of them, which opened up more questions than answered questions.  Another one of my family yarns is going to take some serious in-depth research to unravel.

After recording what you’ve been told, start digging into the resources, any and all that you think might be pertinent to proving the family story.  Newspapers, church records, civil records, land records, etc.  Then, compare what you’ve found to what you’ve been told and see how the story lines up.  Sometimes, you’ll find surprises in the research.

Thanks again to BCG and Ms. McMillin for providing a great educational program!

The Family Tapestry: Integrating Proof Arguments Into The Genealogical Narrative~Webinar

Another webinar in the BCG series, presented by Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG

Ms. Bloom used the analogy of creating a proof argument as in creating a tapestry, a family tapestry if you will.

In her analogy, she tells us that:

Genealogy Standards form the loom, or framework, of our proof argument.
Reasonably Exhaustive Research includes the warp threads.  Warp threads are strong and run up and down the length of the tapestry.
Argument is the woof threads.  Woof threads are woven using the direct, indirect, negative, and conflicting evidence.
Conclusion is your tapestry.  It meets the Genealogical Proof Standard and combines the five elements into a connected whole (who, what, when, where, and why).

Where the assertion of kinship is first introduced in your report is where you weave in the written and documented conclusion.

I have been considering this as I begin to put together my KDP, how to include my arguments.

Another great learning session!

Scrivener…To Do or Not To Do??

What is Scrivener? Short answer, project management software: outline, edit, and writing. I’ve been considering this and watched a webinar/mini boot camp about it recently, presented by Lisa Alzo, hosted by Thomas MacEntee.


* A great place to get your writing done, being able to import your information from other spots and have it handy.  Great tool for editing.
* 30-day free trial period is not consecutive days. If you use it one day and then let it sit dormant a few days, the next time you use it will be your second trial day and so forth.
* Relatively inexpensive. For Windows, $40 license.

Cons: Learning curve, big learning curve. It can seem a bit overwhelming at times with different screens, corkboards, the binder, files, folders, etc.

Along with the boot camp webinar, I’m also checking out some of the YouTube demos.

One of the reasons I’m considering this is to possibly be able to transcribe oral interviews for personal historians (more info here). I’d like to join their association and possibly offer my services to those who need interviews transcribed. Still in an embryonic stage, though!

Fast forward a couple months…

I took the plunge and started my free trial.

I’m beginning to write up the findings of the research I’ve done for my friend. She wanted to know more about her 2nd-great-GM, so I’ve been working on tracing that lady back. I have the info in RootsMagic7, which will give me a dandy narrative report of this lady’s ancestors. I’m going to use that as the outline and add what I can from newspaper articles and social history of the time/place that that particular ancestor lived in. I’m going to use Scrivener to create that.

The first part of the report will be about this lady and her life, Then her parents and their parents, as far back as I can document with certainty. Right now, I’ve taken this lady’s life and broken it down into different sections using the corkboard and notecards. I think I’m going to do a direct-line narrative, focusing on my friend’s direct ancestors, but will add what vital statistics I can find on the collateral relatives. What I think I’m going to like is being able to add the supporting documents to the report for my friend to have, instead of saying I found this info on a marriage license in this county, now you go get a copy of the original. I’ll put the citation, of course, but I’ll procure a copy of the document and add it to the report. This excites me! Basically, I’m doing this work pro bono for my friend to 1) gain the experience and 2) use in my BCG portfolio. It looks like I’m going to have to travel to 2 counties here in Indiana and possibly 2-3 counties in Ohio for documents.

So, I’ve committed to this. I hope to get a good amount done during the free trial and finish this up before summer ends. Lofty goals!

Webinar~Certified or Certifiable? Why A Genealogist Would Go Through All That Trouble

Another great webinar in the BCG series, presented by Jean Wilcox Hibben, PhD, MA, CG http://www.circlemending.org

BCG website

* Certification: Evaluation of competence of work samples in a portfolio based on:

Documenting, researching, and writing.

Benefits of being certified, higher standards, efforts to reap rewards (personal and financial), preparing to go “on the clock,” second round for some applicants. If you submit a second portfolio, you start from the ground up, a complete re-do of your portfolio.

Be measured by those who know the field.

Turn in application to go “on the clock” aka 1 year to turn in portfolio. Submit preliminary application along with a fee. “Time is literally money.”

Take classes to prepare properly for certification.

Take time to do some work before going “on the clock.”

Obtain the aid of a mentor (email list through BCG once you’re “on the clock”).

Clarify anything that confuses you. Ask questions.

Take the quiz to see if you’re ready (readiness quiz).

Look at sample portfolios at major conferences at the BCG booth.

Attend what conferences/seminars you can and visit the BCG booth when there.

Read On Board! It’s time for me to subscribe.

Pursue certification to ‘prove’ or test oneself, advance career, validation of skills.

Preparing to go “on the clock”, create a timeline! See the BCG website for an example.

Join APG and NGS!

*Failure first time around:

Failure to follow all instructions.

Failure to read the rubrics that the judges use.

Lack of understanding of the terminology and genealogy scholarship.

Not enough experience, turning in application before you’re ready.

Portfolio can now be submitted electronically.

**I have found the BCG webinars to be exceptionally insightful. It was announced that archived webinars will be on the BCG website soon!**

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!