Professional Genealogy, PPS Review Part 2: Front Matter and Chapter 1


2001 Version: by James L. Hansen, FASG–1 page

2018 Version: by Angela Packer Mcghie, CG–1 page plus 1 small paragraph (McGhie is founder of the ProGen Study Group program)

Comparison: Where the 2001 describes the reason for the book’s existence, the 2018 foreward explains why a new and separate edition exists.

Content: Neither contains any reference material that one might necessarily deem crucial to a genealogy program of instruction, though readers deciding whether or not to purchase the book will want to read these before purchasing (especially if Amazon preview feature is enabled)


2002 Version: by Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG

2018 Version: Does not contain a preface

Content: This preface, while not necessarily required reading for a genealogy education course, is a valuable reference for genealogy consumers because of the rich context it provides for the book. It recounts both the book’s history as well as a list of underwriters and sponsors of the project that spurred its publication. From this preface, a clear pattern emerges that explains the disparity between author credentials described in this blog’s first comparison-review post. The author of this blog earned a genealogy degree in 2002, the year after this book’s publication, in the classrooms of genealogy scholars with terminal degrees, genealogy credentials, and multiple scholarly publications to their name (i.e., Kathryn M. Daynes, Kip Sperry, George Ryskamp, and Gerald Haslam), while attending weekend conferences with the likes of Kory Meyerink, Arlene Eakle, and David Rencher. These scholars received some mention in the acknowledgments of the 2001 ProGen text as reviewers, but they did not write for the 2001 book, despite being professors of America’s only accredited university program of genealogy at the time. The 2001 book’s preface is recommended reading because it gives readers a better understanding as to why the doctoral-level, credentialed, multi-published genealogy professors at America’s only accredited university program of genealogy (at the time) were not included in the Professional Genealogy text.

Chapter 1: Defining Professionalism

2001 Version: by Donn Devine, J.D., CG, CGI–divided into three sections that discuss three aspects of professionalism. First section has four brief bullet points, then moves on to the next section. Second section has six sub-sections (Knowledge, Experience, Communication, Conventions, Credentials, Professional Memberships, and Standards), each expanding on its aspect of the profession. Two of those sub-sections have either a few bulleted points or a few additional sub-sections, but nothing so weighty as to lose the reader. The last section contains three brief paragraphs. Writing is tight, clear, and to the point–entire chapter is only seven pages long. Concrete, specific examples, applicable to genealogist’s craft, are offered throughout. Language is eloquent, and author of this blog has used several quotes from this chapter in presentations/lectures as a result. Donn Devine mentions APG and BCG’s postnomials, but omits those of ICAPGen. Conclusion consists of one very small paragraph, followed by 1.5 pages of citations, plus a “Further Study” section, one paragraph in length.

2018 Version: by Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, GCL, FASG–Divided into two topics, which are then further divided into many sub-topics and sub-sub topics across a span of twenty pages. Careful study of the font makes discerning categories from sub-categories possible, for although font sizes are very similar, caps versus lower case is the best way to determine at which level of the hierarchy one is reading.

First article topic–Individual Professionalism–contains five bullets (Attributes of Professionalism), followed by a category (Expertise) containing five bullets and two more sub-categories with four bullets (the GPS) and seven bullets in two separate sub-sub sections (about citations) apiece, two more sub-categories (bullet-free), and then another category (Integrity) with two sub-categories and four longer bulleted lists discussing the four groups to whom professionals are accountable. The next category (Other Personal Traits) has five rather brief categories (spanning two pages), only one of which has seven equally brief bullets (genealogist’s practices). The next category (Other Personal Traits) contains five equally brief sub-categories, spans about two and a half pages, and contains no bullets or sub-sub categories.

The second topic of the article–on group professionalism–starts off with a bulleted list (characteristics of professions), followed by a category with two brief sub-categories about why professions are necessary (spans about a page and a half). The next category (Why Have a Profession?) contains two long sub-categories; the longest composed of ten paragraph-length bullets with multi-bullet discussions in between.

The category that follows (Genealogy’s Professionalism) is comprised of three sub-categories roughly a page apiece, one of which contains a six-bullet list. The conclusion that follows is one page in length, capped off by a little less two and a half pages of citations.

Comparison: the 2001 version is cleaner, tighter, crisply written seven-page reference work. The 2018 chapter spends twenty pages not only revisiting the same bullet points in the 2001 version, but also reiterates multiple points already covered extensively in the BCG’s Genealogy Standards manual. Readers who already own both the 2001 ProGen text and Genealogy Standards will likely find this chapter redundant. The 2001 chapter contains genealogy-specific content that readers will likely refer back to as a reference from time to time as part of their workday, whereas the 2018 chapter contains mostly lengthy exposition that is neither reference material nor of practical work-day use for a professional genealogist.

Content: In the 2001 chapter, aspiring and professional genealogists alike won’t want to miss the section that lays out the average number of years that researchers have under their proverbial belts before successfully earning certification, as well as the average years of experience among the body of CGs in general, both before and after they earned their credential. This is extremely helpful data for those preparing to earn a credential. The section on date and calendar usage in the 2001 chapter also constitutes a helpful reference for researchers unfamiliar with how the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendars affect research in different countries, a section that readers will want to revisit often before dating certain kinds of reports. The “Further Reading” section at the end can also be referred to frequently by readers/researchers. The 2018 chapter, while devoid of content to refer back to, proffers quotes about management and professionalism in general, expounds on the GPS, citations, and multiple other sections of the BCG’s Genealogy Standards manual. It also quotes a 1955 management theory text and dedicated almost ten pages to the theory of professions. Towards the end of the 2018 chapter, that chapter’s author writes about why it is necessary to professionalize the field of genealogy (page 40), a topic that would make an excellent chapter in and of itself, albeit with specific examples to guide the reader (the author of this blog used to list the different characteristics distinguishing hobbyist genealogy from professional genealogy for university students, because delineating those boundaries helps give aspiring professionals more clear-cut objectives as they set research and education goals).


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