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From the 20th Anniversary Issue of APG Quarterly, August 1999
Compiled by Tanya Kelley, with contributions from Robert C. Anderson, CG, FASG, Roger D. Joslyn, CG, FUGA, FASG, Suzanne McVetty, CG, Eileen Polakoff, Shirley Langdon Wilcox, CG, Kay Germain Ingalls, CGRS

In the early months of 1979, a group of members of the Professional Chapter of the Utah Genealogical Association joined to begin an independent organization, whose goals were to support professional genealogists in all phases of their work, from the amateur genealogist wishing to turn knowledge and skill into a vocation, to the experienced professional seeking to exchange ideas with colleagues and to upgrade the profession as a whole. Although they were all residing in Utah, the goal was to make it a national, if not an international organization.

The Association of Professional Genealogists was organized on 5 February. The first President was Alan J. Phipps, and the first Board of Trustees was made up entirely of Salt Lake City professionals, appointed on an interim basis. The first thirteen members were Phipps (president), Richard W. Price, (vice president), Georgia Weber (executive secretary), Wilma Adkins (treasurer), Roger Scanland, Adele M. Austin, Adelia Baird, Bruce Despain, Arlene Eakle, Sue McKean, Dean McLeod, George Ott, Larry Piatt, and later Kendall Williams.

A monthly newsletter was initiated in July 1979, with Roger Scanland as the editor. A conference was planned, to be held at the beginning of the week of the Second World Conference on Records, held in Salt Lake City in August 1980, and a writing contest was announced. During its first year, APG published a 100-page Directory of Professional Genealogists and Related Services. Edited by Wilma Adkins, it included information on hundreds of persons and businesses engaged in genealogy professionally, obviously extending far beyond the APG membership at the time. Actual membership was listed at 148 in the May/June 1980 issue of the APG Newsletter.


The Association began reaching beyond Salt Lake City for its members and leaders. In January 1980 a new interim Board of Trustees was announced, with Richard W. Price as President, and with several distinguished genealogists from outside Salt Lake City included, such as John Insley Coddington and John Frederick Dorman.

APG entered a new era on 11 August 1980, when it held its first conference, and announced the first elected Board of Trustees, which included several persons from around the United States, as well as from Canada and England. Arlene Eakle was the first president elected by the membership. Georgia Weber replaced Roger Scanland as editor of the APG Newsletter.


As an adjunct to the APG Newsletter, Arlene Eakle began preparing a separate item, known as the APG Green Sheet, the first issue of which was published in March 1981. This brief item, beginning as just a single page, was intended to explore the nitty-gritty of doing professional genealogy, covering such items as marketing and running an office.

A second APG conference was held in Atlanta on 7 May 1981, in conjunction with the first National Genealogical Society (NGS) Conference in the States.

At a Board meeting in Salt Lake City on 25 September 1981, the new slate of officers and trustees was announced, with Arlene Eakle continuing as president. Also, the first Grahame T. Smallwood Jr. Award for service to APG was given to its namesake, Grahame T. Smallwood Jr. "Chips" Smallwood also gave the dinner speech at this meeting, giving a brief history of APG to that date.

In 1981 William Thorndale replaced Georgia Weber as editor of the APG Newsletter.


By May 1982, the membership of APG had risen to 219. The Association published a second Directory of Professional Genealogists and Related Services. Planning took place for the participation of APG in the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference to be held at Buena Park, California, in October 1982, with APG being given an entire day for its own programs. This conference-within-a-conference resulted in a very important APG publication-a syllabus of the lectures delivered that day.

After more than three years of existence, APG began to reconsider itself, appointing a Long Range Planning Committee to address such points as the future of the newsletter and the desired composition of the APG membership.

In the 1982 elections, Wilma Adkins was elected president, her term of office beginning in October of that year. Arlene Eakle, having served her term as president, took on the job of APG Newsletter editor.


Wilma Adkins was unable to complete her term as president. In May 1983 Robert Charles Anderson, vice president for the United States and chairman of the Long Range Planning Committee, took over as acting president. His administration was largely devoted to such maintenance operations as consolidating bank accounts and getting the nomination and election process back on track. Also during this period much of the work on the Long Range Plan was carried out. Between March 1982 and March 1983, APG membership increased from 194 to 278.

In the elections of 1983, Jimmy B. Parker, who had been executive secretary and an important part of the interim administration of mid-1983, was chosen president. Not long after this election, in November 1983, the Long Range Planning Committee submitted its report. The committee recommended that, beginning in January 1984, the APG Newsletter be issued six times a year rather than twelve. (This recommendation was implemented, with the continued publication of the Green Sheet in the alternate months.)


Complicated issues regarding structure of the board and elections elicited a recommendation, based on suggestions made by Glade I. Nelson. It was recommended that the country be divided into regions, and that all the members of the Executive Committee come from one region, with a rotation from term to term among the regions. This required extensive changes to the by-laws, and so the recommendation was made that a By-Laws Committee be appointed, to produce by-laws incorporating the new electoral and constitutional system, in time for a vote at the 1985 annual meeting and implementation for the 1985 elections. Furthermore, the recommendation was made that APG headquarters remain in Salt Lake City, and that a part-time, paid administrative assistant be hired.


In the 1984 elections, Glade I. Nelson was elected president, his term of office to begin in January 1985. At about this time Alice Eichholz was hired as editor of the APG Newsletter. A third Directory of Professional Genealogists and Related Services was issued during 1985.

Much of the time of the Board and the Executive Committee was consumed by the by-laws changes necessary to implement the new election procedure and Board structure. At the APG annual meeting, held in August 1985 (in conjunction with the NGS Conference in the States in Salt Lake City), an open meeting was held, during which the many ramifications and complications of the by-law changes were discussed and voted on. At the end of that meeting, a new set of by-laws was accepted, with elections to be held in 1986 and a newly constituted Executive Committee to be installed in January 1987.

In the 1985 elections, Glade I. Nelson was again elected president. Aside from the usual run of business, the two most important activities of 1986 involved the newsletter and the election process. The decision was made in late 1985 to change from the old newsletter format to a quarterly journal, which would be more substantial than the newsletter.


In 1986 the APG Quarterly was unveiled. Pursuant to the by-laws promulgated in August 1985, Glade Nelson appointed a redistribution committee to draw up the APG regions upon which the election process would be based, and also an election committee, to collect nominations and prepare a slate of candidates.

On 2 December 1986, at an APG Executive Committee meeting, ballots were counted and an Executive Committee from New England was elected, the first Executive Committee not consisting of Salt Lake City professionals, launching the Association of Professional Genealogists into a new era. William Schoeffler took over as president in January 1987.


At the 1987 NGS Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, APG held several events, one for the first time. Elizabeth Shown Mills spoke at a special session on "Preponderance of the Evidence: How to Build a Case When There's No Document to Solve Your Problem." For the first time, APG held a reception open to conference participants. The annual meeting and APG luncheon were also held, with luncheon speaker Grahame T. Smallwood Jr.


The 1988 NGS Conference in Biloxi, Mississippi, saw APG events including a talk on "Billing the Client" by Grahame T. Smallwood Jr. and Mary N. Speakman, the annual luncheon with speaker Johni Cerny, and the now annual reception. APG also held a luncheon panel presentation at the 1988 FGS Conference in Boston. Membership at this point was just under 300.


In March 1989 Roger D. Joslyn took over as president. During the same year, Sharon DeBartolo Carmack replaced Alice Eichholz as editor of the APG Quarterly. It was suggested that there be a 10th anniversary issue of the quarterly. Ruth Hatten and Elizabeth Mills worked together to put together a collection of the articles published during the previous ten years. At the first board meeting the idea of a professional manual was proposed. At the next board meeting the APG pledged start-up money.

A new logo, created by a professional advertising designer, was implemented. The membership brochure and "How to Hire a Professional Genealogist" brochure were updated and presented at the APG luncheon at the NGS Conference in Arlington, Virginia. For the APG-sponsored presentation, a panel discussed "Vital Records: Should Genealogists Have Access to Them?" Near the end of the conference there was discussion that later led to the creation of the Geneal al Speakers Guild.


In 1990, at the FGS Conference in Salt Lake City, Gordon Remington moderated a panel of experts for the APG luncheon. The subject was "One for All, and All for One: Mutual Support through Genealogical Discussion Groups."

During the years 1989 and 1990, membership doubled from about 300 members to more than 600. The Executive Committee focused on membership growth through mass mailings. Other plans to increase membership included creating regional chapters to help attract and get members more involved in APG and encouraging APG presence at regional conferences and other genealogical get-togethers. The new directory was improved and updated by gathering detailed information from members and included biographies, specialties, advertising, and other features.

A three-member arbitration board was installed, replacing the former one-man position. A committee was asked to re-draw the regional boundaries to better accommodate the shifting concentration of membership around the country. The Executive Committee determined that the Washington, D.C., area was an appropriate choice for the next region to form the next Executive Committee.


Shirley Langdon Wilcox, CG, APG's tenth president served from 1991-93. Glade Nelson was executive secretary in 1991, followed by Barbara Strickland from 1992-95.

In order to accomplish a lengthy list of goals, the Executive Committee met twenty-eight times. Post card balloting was initiated so that time-sensitive business was not delayed until the next Board meeting. During Wilcox's tenure, some much needed business practices were initiated, services to members were increased, dues were kept steady, and there was an increase in visibility of members. Membership went from 550 to more than 700. In late fall 1993, shortly before the Executive Committee would be going out of office, a direct mail solicitation to 716 potential members was completed. This helped boost membership in 1994.

Two membership directories were mailed - one in the spring of 1991, compiled by Eileen Polakoff, and the other in the spring of 1993, compiled by Desmond Walls Allen. This established the publication of a directory every two years. Prior to this, issues of the Directory had been sporadic. New ideas in marketing and promotion were tried and copies of the Directory were sent to societies, private investigators, adoption groups and others.

Revisions were made to the membership brochure and an outdated eleven-year-old Standards of Conduct was streamlined into a new Code of Ethics, which is still in use. New by-laws were passed in May 1991 which changed the term of officers from one to two years. Then in 1993 another bylaws change provided for the formation of chapters and dropped some items that belonged instead in policy or procedure manuals.

Large-scale efforts were made to promote the organization. Using the new logo, celluloid APG buttons and APG business cards were distributed at the May 1991 NGS Conference. The buttons were a big hit and helped advertise the organization. A new APG banner, first displayed that summer, drew attention to the APG conference booth. In addition, paperwork was submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark office to obtain a trademark for the new logo.

The first APG round table was held in the summer of 1992 and it subsequently became a yearly event. Conferences were a busy time as there was a luncheon and annual membership meeting, a lecture and an evening reception in addition to the board meeting.

To put the organization on a more professional footing, competitive bidding for the purchase of products and services was initiated. Job descriptions and contracts were developed and signed with the executive secretary, the APGQ editor, and contributors to the Quarterly. Written procedures to assist trustees and committees were developed with the result being two manuals, one for Policy and the other for Procedures. In addition, a permanent notebook of Board and Executive Committee minutes since 1987 was assembled. This was to be updated by each administration and passed to the incoming president.


In January 1994 James L. Hansen took the reins as APG president. APG expanded its reach during 1994, having booths and round tables at both national conferences, as well as at two regional events, the New England Regional Genealogical Conference and the Great Lakes Conference, and two local conferences. Membership passed 800 that year. A Chapter Committee was created to review applications for prospective APG chapters. The first five chapters were approved - Salt Lake, Louisiana, New York Metro, Southern California, and National Capital Area.


The 1995-96 APG Directory of Professional Genealogists was published in early 1995, with Elizabeth Kelley Kerstens as editor. A revised and updated policy manual was approved by the Board of Trustees, which then required modification of by-laws. The Board also approved a new APG policy on the use of postnominals and credentials in genealogy.


The California Executive Committee started its term on 1 January 1996. Both the Executive Committee, led by Kay Germain Ingalls as president, and the independent contractors came together as a new team. Kathleen W. Hinckley, was the new executive secretary and Elizabeth Kelley Kerstens, was the new editor of the APGQ. The EC concentrated on continuing the expansion of services. Membership numbered over the 1,000 member mark and quickly moved to 1,100.

Policies and procedures codified by previous Executive Committees were fine tuned and it became common practice to invite all chairmen to attend the Board meetings to better enable the chairs to know how their activities and decisions affect APG as a whole. Several standing committees or positions were added: Booth Liaison, Chapter Liaison, Publications Advisory Committee, and Web Site Committee. The position of Booth Liaison was created to respond to increasing requests for APG exhibits or contributions to regional and local genealogical events. There was a need for one individual to study the requests, make recommendations to the Executive Committee, and to control and coordinate all exhibit materials.

The idea and appeal of APG chapters grew. To facilitate communication between APG leadership and the chapters, duties of the Chapter Review Committee were expanded and added an overall Chapter Liaison to the committee structure. With more chapters, members, and volunteers, APG needed an oversight method for all official APG material. One new chapter was added during 1996 and 1997 - Colorado.

The Publications Advisory Committee was established to review and verify that all publication material represents the standards and policies of the organization.


The 1997-98 APG Directory of Professional Genealogists was published in early 1997, with Elizabeth Kelley Kerstens and Kathleen W. Hinckley as co-editors.

The Board approved a Web presence for APG and a Web Site Committee began to develop plans, policies, and content for APG Internet participation. By mid-1997 APG was on the Internet. One reward was an immediate surge in applications with forms downloaded from the Web site.

At APG conference booths one of the most frequently asked questions is "How do you get to be a professional genealogist?" In order to address that question a new brochure was designed in August 1997. "Are You Ready to Become a Professional?" joined "So You're Going to Hire a Professional Genealogist" as a sought-after handout at the conference booths.

International trustees worked hard to increase APG presence throughout the world. Members readily volunteered for booth stints, committees, literature revision and development, proofreading, writing, and the myriad other jobs necessary in a volunteer-run professional association. The independent contractors helped APG become more business-like and, as members of the association, not all of the hours they contributed to APG were "on the clock."


In January 1998, Vaughn L. Simon became APG president. For the first time, members of the new Executive Committee were too far removed from each other, although within the same region, to hold face-to-face meetings. With the prevalence of e-mail, EC members now hold meetings electronically. Membership in 1998 neared the 1,200 mark.

John Forster Holt, of Victoria, Australia, was appointed as the first official APG Webmaster. With John's resignation later in 1998, the EC appointed Peter van der Heijden as Webmaster. In early 1999, the APG membership list was posted on APG's Web site at for the first time.

During this year, APG held its first Professional Management Track at the FGS Conference in Cincinnati. Following on the success of the first year, a second track will be held in St. Louis at the 1999 FGS Conference.

Six new chapters were added in 1998 - Ontario, St. Louis Mid-America, Arizona, North Carolina, Oregon, and Idaho. An APG e-mail mailing list was created for those online who want to share ideas. Subscribe by sending an e-mail to and put only the word subscribe in the body of the message.


The 1999-2000 APG Directory of Professional Genealogists was published in early 1999, with Kathleen W. Hinckley as editor, and containing about 200 pages.

A 20th Anniversary Committee was created in 1998 to attend to celebrations surrounding APG's 20th Anniversary in 1999. At both national conferences during the year, APG held open receptions that were very well attended. This anniversary issue of the APG Quarterly was part of the celebration, and the issue was generously paid for by The Learning Company.

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