Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Portfolio Choices for BCG Certification, Part 5 of 5: Kinship Determination Project

The kinship determination project is often the longest single piece in a BCG portfolio. Strictly speaking, it doesn't have to be. The specific requirements are to prove the two connections between three generations of the same family, and to place them in historical context. My second KDP was 71 pages long; a friend's was 13. We both passed.

The KDP can be deceptive, because we tend to identify it with the Complete Family History many of us aspire to write. In fact, a KDP doesn't have to encompass all of a family's children [NOT QUITE ACCURATE, FOR CORRECTION SEE JUDY RUSSELL'S FULL STATEMENT IN THE COMMENTS] and it doesn't have to contain all imaginable information about the family. (It is supposed to be a narrative -- in other words a story, and not a great pile of facts.) When you choose a family in your own direct line, however, the temptation to throw everything in is very great!

Another temptation is to put far more effort into it than into any other part of the portfolio, on the implicit assumption that it must be the most important item. But it's only just as important as any other.

Choosing a family for a KDP should not be as hard as some other choices. While we are required to connect generations, those proofs do not have to involve conflicting evidence (as does the case study). They do need to involve good-quality evidence of various kinds. This is the main thing the KDP has in common with the complex-evidence case study and even the client report: ideally they will all show off our skill at finding the relevant information, and analyzing and correlating different kinds of information from different kinds of records. That's what it's all about. Check out the work samples on the BCG site; just don't think that you have to do everything exactly the way those authors did it.

Harold Henderson, "Portfolio Choices for BCG Certification, Part 5 of 5: Kinship Determination Project," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 18 September 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]


Judy G. Russell said...

A word of caution on the statement that "a KDP doesn't have to encompass all of a family's children." The Application Guide specifies that you're documenting relationships for "at least three couples in successive generations." Let's call them GenOne for the oldest couple, GenTwo for the middle couple, and GenThree for the youngest couple. The Guide then says you must include "names and known vital data of the children of each couple" you're writing about. So you do have to include at least the birth - marriage - death data for all of GenOne's children (siblings to one of the GenTwo folks), all of GenTwo's children (siblings to one of the GenThree folks) and all of GenThree's children.

Harold Henderson said...

As usual, Judy is correct.

Michelle Goodrum said...

Thanks Harold for a thought provoking series. It's given me a lot to think about!

Fred said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fred said...

Is the requirement to identify all children of each of the generations, or provide all information that has been obtained for the identified children? My example:

The 1900 census for the GenOne couple indicates that the wife was mother of ten children with only two surviving. This is the only source of information that indicates there were ten children for the GenOne couple. One of the children is obviously part of the GenTwo couple. I can identify only four of the other GenOne children, and it is likely the remaining died in infancy at a time when infant morality was not well documented. Even though the potential (assuming the census information is correct) children are not necessary to prove kinship of the three couples, if I cannot identify the other five children of the GenOne couple, would this be an unacceptable relationship for my KDP?

Harold Henderson said...

Fred --
First of all, don't take my word for anything. If and when you're on the clock, I would ask this question on the BCG ACTION list for a more authoritative answer. But you need to ask the question in a general format; nobody will advise you on your particular situation.
Second,the rubrics do not seem to call on the judges to deal with this question. Check them out yourself at http://www.bcgcertification.org/certification/BCGNewAppRubricsMar2012.pdf and form your own judgment.
Third, the application guide (downloadable at http://www.bcgcertification.org/catalog/index.html) at pages 7-8 does seem to expect names for all children of each couple. So we appear to have a conflict that needs to be resolved.
My non-authoritative opinion is that if you explain the situation and show that you consulted a wide variety of sources and correlated and analyzed them, and convincingly concluded (for instance) that the woman did have nine children but names of only five can be ascertained, then you would be meeting standards. I would imagine that relevant sources could include newspapers, grave markers and sexton's records in relevant cemeteries, coffinmakers' business accounts if available, church records if applicable, bible and other family records, military pension records, and whatever vital records may be available (in Cook County, Illinois, many birth records give the number of the birth to that mother) -- not to mention the wife's 1910 census information if she lived that long. Good luck and hope this helps!
-- Harold

Fred said...


Thank you for your quick and detailed reply. I understand the points you are making and agree with you. I have just started looking at BCG certification and am a long ways from applying. I was just looking at what you and Judy discussed and relating it to my own research , and how it might apply to a future KDP. Your prior posts on this series were also helpful.

I am planning my first trip to the National Archives in Washington in two weeks to look at land patent case files, an option I only recently found out was available to me.
As most of my ancestors were Scandinavian immigrants who homesteaded in the Mid-west, I am hoping to glean some useful information while learning from the experience. I live in the area so I am certain this will be the first of several trips.

Thanks again,