Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

ICAPGen Emeritus Status

In a recent post, I related as experience I had with my wife's 94 year old cousin, a former Accredited Genealogist (AG). Apparently, some of my comments were felt to be very inaccurate. Here is the comment from the ICAPGen Chair, Linda Turner AG®:
It’s unfortunate that facts were not checked by the author of this blog before posting it. As chair of the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional GenealogistsSM, also known as ICAPGen, I would like to enlighten your readers with some real facts about our organization and its renewal process. First, ICAPGen does require a completion of specific renewal requirements every five years to retain an Accredited Genealogist® credential. These requirements are in keeping with standard practices and renewal requirements of many professional organizations, including certain educational requirements and a brief report with supporting documents that demonstrates their practical research skills. Our renewal requirements are given at our website,, and as you will see, they do NOT require members to “extend anyone’s pedigree by two generations during the year” nor for any other time period.

Second, if someone decides to not renew their credential, they are not automatically “dropped from the list” or “out on the street”. They are given an option to “retire,” so to speak, by becoming an Emeritus AG professional, with no requirements other than an agreement to refrain from professional paid work using their AG credential. Why this particular 94-year-old cousin of the author opted not to become an Emeritus AG professional is not certain, but the fact remains that she had every opportunity to do so.

My greater concern with this blog is that the author, who describes himself as an experienced, seasoned attorney, did not take the time to investigate some facts first before publishing his comments through a very public medium. A quick browse on the Internet or one phone call to our organization could have provided a very different perspective of this situation. In future blogs, I would hope for a fair assessment of any situation that is based on facts, rather than emotion.

Linda K. Turner, AG®
Chair, ICAPGen
 I certainly apologize for any mis-information. But, here are a few more facts. The ICAPGen website apparently makes no mention at all of the "Emeritus" status other than to have a list of some eleven people who are identified as having Emeritus status. It is nice that they allow such a status, but seem to provide no information to the public about this status and about these Emeritus members other than their names. There Frequently Asked Questions -- Renewal Questions, makes no mention of an Emeritus status.  In addition, I reported my wife's cousin's characterization of why she was dropped, I did not say that it was the reason. I have no idea if she "had every opportunity" to become an Emeritus member or even knew there was such a category. I was reporting her impression. By the way, it appears that the word "retire" does not appear on their website.

I am also aware that the requirements for accreditation have changed over the years and she may have referred to some earlier understanding of a requirement. To be more specific, the current renewal requirements provide for a "letter of Education and Skills Application: A letter that summarizes your genealogical activities during the previous five years, both in general and specific to your area of accreditation under renewal, including a brief summary of TWO activities completed from the Education and Skills Application List in your area of accreditation under renewal."

 The Education and Skills Application List is apparently a newer requirement. Comparing the present requirements with those outlined in Clifford, Karen. Becoming an Accredited Genealogist: Plus 100 Tips to Ensure Your Success! Salt Lake City, UT: Ancestry, 1998, it is readily apparent that there has been a significant increase in the number of requirements and their specificity since the earlier book was written.  By the way, the Clifford book is still available new on the Internet.

A "quick browse of the Internet" would not have changed my opinion very much, if at all.  I have noted before an interesting fact, there is only one AG listed for the entire state of Arizona and she is accredited for the Mid-South States. Also a search for AG Professionals by Regions shows that there are no AGs listed for the Mountain West Region (which includes Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming). In fact there appear to be no AG® Researchers for any of the western states at all.

I am not advocating the removal of qualifications for licensure or accreditation or whatever you want to call it, but I am concerned that the process not be arbitrary and capricious especially in an area like genealogy where there are no clear education requirements (unlike law, medicine, etc.) and the certification procedures are ad hoc with no clear national standards.  By the way, this same issue applies to building contractors and a lot of other professions. For example, there are specific standards in Arizona for a contractor's license, but the qualifications and regulation are extremely varied from state to state.

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate the inclusion of my earlier statement on this blog website. I presume that this blog author is working from honest assumptions based on the evidence he has gathered. Unfortunately, I am concerned that hearsay, rather than primary sources, have been the contributing evidence. I would like to clarify a few points of his latest blog article.

    Our testing development standards at ICAPGen are based on a table of test specifications developed by a panel of professional genealogists and approved by an internationally recognized expert in testing standards. Rather than testing through an “arbitrary or capricious” process, we are investing enormous amounts of time and effort to ensure that each test administered by our organization reflects a fair, objective, and impartial standard. We are also developing new tests for other regions that will appear on the website as they become ready.

    ICAPGen’s renewal requirements have changed in recent years, although they have never included any requirement to “extend anyone’s pedigree by two generations.” ICAPGen has supported changes to our renewal requirements for one major reason: to protect the consumer who hires an AG professional on good faith, assuming that an AG® genealogist has achieved a certain standard of competency in his or her work and has maintained current skills and practices. Our organization would be acting irresponsibly if we did not address improvements of professional performance, and we would become stagnant and out-of-touch with the public needs.

    Karen Clifford’s book was an excellent source of information on the ICAPGen testing process at the time it was published in 1998. It still provides valuable general information on the accreditation process, although some changes have occurred since that time.

    At the present time, the professional genealogist is not held to the same standard of educational requirements as that of law or medicine. These latter professions have existed for centuries, and their educational standards have evolved over time. The field of professional genealogy is much younger by comparison and is continually evolving to higher standards of competence and professionalism. Should we, as working professionals in the genealogy community, wait until this profession has developed clear “educational requirements” before we uphold a certain level of professional competency? Or, do we strive for those goals as professionals now, and in the process, develop richer educational standards? My personal feeling is that, in the best of all worlds, both areas of development occur in tandem, which I think is happening today.

    Concerning our Emeritus policy: ICAPGen launched a new website three months ago and is still adding content. Given that our organization consists entirely of volunteer help with limited time and resources, we have accomplished a phenomenal amount in this task. Also, our board is currently discussing some minor changes to our Emeritus policy, and we felt it would be less confusing to post our Emeritus section after changes were finalized. Our Emeritus AG policy always has and will offer active AG professionals the option of Emeritus status rather than surrendering their credential.

    I would like to reiterate that a phone call or email to our organization for explanations or clarifications can resolve many questions and concerns concerning our organization. We invite anyone with questions not addressed on our website to contact us. Please see under “About ICAPGen”. To both our genealogical community and to this blog author, we appreciate valid input and feedback that helps us better serve others within our genealogical community.

    Linda K. Turner, AG®
    Chair, ICAPGen