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APG gives expertise for ABC News series

What do you do when you need to find an expert in family history? You contact the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG).... or watch for one on television.

This is what happened recently as four APG members provided on-and-off air expertise for a series of the ABC News' television program "Good Morning America" (GMA). The series, called "Shaking the Tree: Great Family Reunions," aired June 21-24, 2004 and was hosted by parenting expert Ann Pleshette Murphy.

News picture

"Good Morning America" host Ann Pleshette Murphy
interviews APG member Dan Lynch.


A series of cross country referrals involved five APG members in the project. A GMA producer first contacted Daniel M. Lynch of Connecticut. He contacted Executive Director Kathleen W. Hinckley, a Certified Genealogical Records Specialist (CGRS), in Colorado to locate a professional in Texas. She suggested John V. and Barbara Brixey Wylie in Texas. They then asked Robert Velke in Maryland for assistance. Hinckley coordinated the APG team.

For two weeks, the Wylies researched the Davis-Cross family of Houston, Texas, entered data into a software program and then gave them a large mounted descendants' chart going back to 1790. The 36-by-66 inch, color chart was presented as a surprise to 78-year-old family historian Ulysses Cross and was displayed at the family's reunion in the series finale.

Series host Murphy said that Cross worked 10 years on the family history, "couldn't get very far with it, and we asked a historian [the Wylies] to do it for him." John Wylie, an APG board member, said he Barbara Wylie discovered several previously unknown descendants of John Cross, a "Negro, born free" about 1783 in Virginia.

Wylie said the chart, containing photos and a watermarked group photo background, was superb and "wowed the 60 people at the reunion." The Wylies and Velke created the chart in The Master Genealogist (version 5.14) software. Velke, whose company produces the software, printed the chart and shipped it to Texas.

In the second part of the series, Lynch was interviewed on how to start and research a family tree. He said, "It's really kind of embarking on what amounts to a treasure hunt. Looking around the home for those news clippings, postcards, letters-any item that might contain a clue for family history research."

He also provided some family artifacts as on-camera examples and wrote, for the ABC GMA Web site (, a related story under the link, "Crash Course in Finding Family Roots." It lists helpful Web sites for beginners, including APG's Web site, Anyone can locate professional help in the APG online, searchable directory of members by city, geographic and research specialties and services and name.

APG, the leading worldwide professional organization of genealogists and related professionals, is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2004. Devoted to supporting high standards in the field, the group has 21 chapters and more than 1,400 members in all populated continents. It is based in Westminster, Colorado, near Denver.

Prepared by: Richard F. Robinson, CGRS, Information Officer,
Association of Professional Genealogists,


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