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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Professional Genealogy Text Review/Comparison


The release of Genealogical Publishing Company’s new Professional Genealogy: Preparation, Practice & Standards coincided with my serving as mentor to a ProGen group (ProGen 36), so I’ve been re-reading the original Professional Genealogy (2001) text regularly since last October. As a ProGen graduate, ProGen mentor, former university adjunct of genealogy, and practicing professional genealogist, I feel obligated to review this new 2018 ProGen book for researchers and potential readers out there who might be wondering whether they should buy the 2018 version if they already own the 2001 text, or if they want to know how much it differs from the original 2001 text before buying what appears to be the same book (I certainly want to know, too).

I’ve heard lots of questions in this regard. Should they skip the 2001 text now that this new volume has been released, or do they need both? Certainly, at $50 apiece, purchasing both would be a steep price to pay if there was too much overlap between the two, but if buying the new and eschewing the older title meant missing out on valuable wisdom from great minds of the past, that would be a shame, too. Therefore, I will be offering a side-by-side review to help genealogy consumers/aspiring professionals in our field get a better sense of how these two titles might fit into their genealogy libraries and career preparation. I will do so in a series of chapter-by-chapter blog posts.

To kick off this series of review-posts, I’ll start with a look at the books themselves. I begin with this overview that I made of the books’ contents:

Most Notable Format Changes:

–This newer book offers fewer chapters by fewer authors with not as much of a diversity of credentials. Total author credentials are about equal (37 credentials in the 2001 text, with 38 credentials featured in the 2018 version), but my table shows that one credential dominated the rest, as if that credentialing body had produced the book, and that there are no authors with MLS or MLIS degrees, nor any FUGA, FBGS, or FNGS titles among the ranks of either book’s authors.

–As far as author diversity goes, I am not well enough acquainted with the names of the 2018 book’s authors to know the identity of all who penned those chapters, but it is hopefully safe to assume that our industry is socially conscious enough to have ensured that this slate of authors was diverse and inclusive–that perhaps one of the reasons for updating to this newer text was to give the guide greater relevance among our globally minded profession.

–The 2001 book has more chapters, but the 2018 book has more pages. Note the page lengths that I included in my chart.

–Page numbers varied widely in the 2001 version, while they hover almost religiously at the 20-25 page mark in the 2018 text (see page counts on my inventory). One gets the impression, from these differences, that authors in the first version were simply sharing what they wanted to say in the time that it naturally took them to say it, then stopped when they were done. Some took 10 pages to say it, while others took up to 30 pages. With the 2018 version, there is more of an impression of everybody trying to arrive at an assigned page count (20-25 pages, to be exact–with only a couple of exceptions), which gives the 2001 text a more organic vibe and the 2018 version a more forced, overly-structured feel.

–The number of “Career Management” chapters is reduced by half in the 2018 edition, while there are two more Professional Research Skills chapters in the newer edition. “Time Management” and “Marketing” chapters were eliminated from the 2018 text, both of which are ProGen Study Group assignment chapters.

–The 2018 version now features research skills chapters on forensic genealogy, genetics, and lineage research specialties. (Adoption research is notably absent). This is surprising because genetics research/technology is always updating; one might easily predict multiple new editions of this 2018 book in the future as things change in the field of genetic research, depending on how specific/detailed that chapter turns out to be (stay tuned!)

–A chapter category was eliminated. Where the 2001 text had six chapters in the “Writing and Composition” category plus three chapters in a separate”Editing and Publishing” category, the 2018 PPS text now has seven chapters under the heading of “Writing, Editing, and Publishing.”

My next posts will review, contrast, and compare the chapters within the books. What I learned from them, how they applied to my genealogy business over the years, and what I think of this new book. Stay tuned!


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© Jenny Tonks, 2009-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.