[APG Public List] Forensic Genealogy

eshown at comcast.net eshown at comcast.net
Thu Jan 20 17:18:51 MST 2011

Leslie wrote:
>One of the lead supervisors for a project being done by the City of Chicago
contacted me this morning with a problem.  She has contacted me in the past
for advice on various matters for finding family members the city would like
to contact - but this time, she had a request that I didn't have an answer
for.  Well, I thought, I should just post it to the APG list, and I KNOW
someone there will have the answer.  So here goes:

>Where does one get certification for the title of Forensic Genealogist?  I
have checked the BCG page and there is really nothing there that helped... I
know that there are forensic genealogists out there that do this kind of
thing for lawyers and such, but I am stumped as to how you get that
professional title (what schooling is involved and where?) - if it is even a
title - and what would the post nominal be?

Leslie, those who earn the credential Certified Genealogist (granted by the
D. C. based Board for Certification of Genealogists) must demonstrate
significant skill in four areas:
1. problem analysis and problem *resolution*
2. research (i.e., expertise with both sources and methodology) 
3. evidence evaluation (thoroughly grounded in evidentiary distinctions that
hold up in a court of law)
4. reporting (specifically, the ability to present findings and build cases)

Successful applicants demonstrate these skills through projects that focus
upon the geographic or subject area in which they specialize, projects that
are expected to reflect a knowledge of the law that governed each legal

The term "forensic genealogist" is one that embraces a variety of
activities. Some track living individuals but are never called upon to
appear in court as an expert witness. Others are called upon to build cases
for identity, kinship, and legitimacy and to defend on the stand. Depending
upon the region in which they work, they may need a knowledge of other
languages, as well as local judicial preferences for the style in which they
report their findings. 

In any case, their effectiveness to attorneys and the courts depends upon
their skills in those four core areas in which Board-certified genealogists
are tested.

Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
BCG Outreach Committee 
(And a court-approved "expert witness" with a successful track record,
although I do not advertise as a "Forensic Genealogist")

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