As the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! expo in Glasgow was winding down, the professional genealogists and a number of other interested persons and organizations were invited to attend a presentation and discussion concerning the potential need for a framework for genealogical education, licensing, and/or regulation in the British Isles. While I certainly am not a professional genealogist, I was lucky enough to be invited as well. I think that was because I was able to be the “genealogy journalist” who would report on the proceedings.
Many of the issues discussed in the symposium are similar to issues in other countries but a number of the issues, especially in dealing with governmental bodies, appear to be unique to the U.K. Here are my notes from the Symposium:
Welcoming comments were made by Phil Astley, Aberdeen City Archivist.
An introduction was offered by Dr. Bruce Durie, a professional genealogist with an academic position as Chair of Genealogy and Palaeography at the American School of Genealogy, Heraldry and Documentary Sciences. He is also the Sennachie (Genealogist and Historian) to the Chief of the Durie family. He spoke on “Pros, Cons and Contingencies of Regulation and Registration” He focused on one question: “How do you find a qualified genealogist?” Some other organizations, especially in the legal field, prefer to deal only with QUALIFIED professionals. The question is: What constitutes “qualified?”
Issue: Today, there is no generally-accepted definition of a “qualified genealogist.”
Following Dr. Durie, Simon Edwards, Director of Professional Services at CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals), spoke on “Benefits, downsides and a road-map to becoming a more organised profession.” Simon used CILIP as an example of what could be accomplished to define a definition of qualified professionals. He pointed out that the primary benefits include a well known “seal of approval” as well as providing a path to training and education for present and future members of the organization.
Downsides: It is more difficult to make changes to an organization’s charter and (what I would call the) operating by-laws. Being a registered charity also entails more paperwork and administrative tasks.
Next, Carol Bannister, Genealogist and Tutor at the University of Strathclyde, and Rosemary Morgan, a professional genealogist specializing in researching ancestors in London, including metropolitan and non metropolitan Surrey, spoke on “Existing Certification/Qualification Schemes” – Rosemary described several certification organizations (AGRA, ASGRA, and BCG). Carol spoke primarily about the principles of genealogy education. Most other professions require a university of college validated and approved programmes of learning. Courses are based on measurement and assessment of learning outcomes. All require rigorous peer review assessments, both practical and academic skills. Carol provided descriptions of several existing genealogy certifying bodies.
The formal presentations were followed by discussion by the audience and the panel, moderated by Dr. Ian Macdonald.
I tried to take notes during the discussions but quickly fell behind, hampered by my rudimentary keyboard techniques. The event was videotaped and will be made available for viewing in about a week or ten days from now. If you have an interest in the topics discussed, I strongly suggest you watch the 90+ minute video when it becomes available at http://www.strath.ac.uk/genealogy/symposium_2014/.
If you are a professional genealogist or someone working to become a professional genealogist in the U.K. or are involved in an allied field, please take a survey that is available now at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RZVT593.