Saturday, September 15, 2012

Portfolio Choices for BCG Certification, Part 2 of 5: The Document

Requirement #4 in a BCG portfolio is to do a document. We get to choose it, and then we have to cite it, transcribe it, abstract it, analyze it, identify a focus person in it, and make a brief research plan based on it.

The word is "document," not deed, but most deeds are a handy size. A will or a marriage record would do fine.

I had trouble making this choice because I'm not used to looking at records from this angle. My first inclination was to choose a deed that had something cool in it that most don't have, like a description of the building on the lot, or a statement of relationship. But eventually I realized that what I wanted was a document that would be interesting to analyze and that would lead to interesting research, not necessarily one that told me something unusual. For a while I was tempted to use a very long deed from central Indiana that included metes and bounds (just because that surprises people and it provided a chance to deal with both major kinds of land description), but it turned out to be Really Long and thus a major transcription headache. In the end, for my second portfolio I chose a deed that had been part of a larger project (not used anywhere else in the portfolio), because in that case I had a clearer idea of how I had used it and where the research plan should go. There is no requirement to pull a document from thin air. The equivalent of that is requirement #3, where BCG supplies their choice of document for you to work up.

Compared to the other parts of the portfolio, this task may seem like an afterthought. It is small, but only in size! Analyzing and using documents is basic. Failing to meet standards on this portfolio item is at least as serious as on any other. Check out the "skillbuilding" articles on the BCG site, and the work in the sample portfolios at the BCG booth at major conferences. Note how much explaining goes on in them -- explanations that an instructor might give a class, but not explanations that would normally appear in your own notes to yourself, or in a quality genealogy journal (where readers are expected to know the basics). So explain! A portfolio in many ways is a unique animal.

Tomorrow: the client report (requirement #5).

Harold Henderson, "Portfolio Choices for BCG Certification, Part 2 of 5: The Document," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 15 September 2012 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

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