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1.  Do I have to travel to Salt Lake City to take the exam?

Not necessarily. Arrangements may be made to take the exam at a location near you.

2.  How do I choose an area for Accreditation?

  • Think of an area in which you enjoy doing research. It must be a place in which you have had extensive research experience. You must have 1,000 hours of research experience and education to qualify for testing. At least 500 of these hours should be in the region of interest.
  • If you do not have any direct ancestors who lived very long in your chosen geographic area, you may gain experience by researching descendants of a family who did stay in one place. Researching individuals who are not related to you, but lived in your chosen area, could also give you experience that would be valuable on the examination.

3.  Why the regional focus?

The regional focus allows you to demonstrate your depth of knowledge of the key records, history, geography, and language of the region of interest in measurable ways.

4.  What does prior to 1900 mean?

Person #1 on the pedigree must have a birth date on or before 1900. Other children in the family may have later birth dates.

5.  What do you mean by turning in a “four-generation project?”

  • The research project requires a minimum of four individuals in a direct lineal ancestry, e.g., child, parent, grandparent, and great-grandparent.
  • You may follow the male or female ancestral lines or it can be a combination of both.
  • In addition, you must include well-researched, documented family group records for each spouse and all children of these four individuals.
  • The family group records for the families selected for research must reflect your research competence.
  • Family group records should have proper notes and source citations, in a standard format of your choice for each individual family member.
  • The person of interest on the most recent generation must have been born on or before 1900.
  • Since you are applying for your credential in a specific geographic area, the families you are submitting must have lived in that area.
  • All sources researched must be entered on a research calendar.
  • Photocopies of the supporting documents that prove the link between each generation must be included with the submission.
  • Also include a pedigree chart showing the relationship to the families selected for the submission, and prepare a report of your research on these families.

See Level 1 Part B: The Four-generation Project for additional help.

6.  Do the people I submit have to be my relatives?

No, you may choose any family that you have personally researched and that meets the requirements of the project.

7.  How do I find qualifying people for my project?

Here are some options:

  • If your subject was born after 1900, did he/she have a sibling born before that date? Select any sibling born on or before 1900 as the first person in the study.
  • Look for siblings of the people in generations two and three. They may have descendants born on or before 1900 in the geographical area.
  • If all else fails, choose another family entirely. One way to fulfill this requirement is to pick a family that is known to have lived in the region of interest for several generations and research and report on them.

8.  Do I have to research all of the children of each direct-line couple?

A complete family group record would include research on each of the children in the family as well as the parents. The evidence obtained for each child should be listed in the “sources” or “notes” section of the family group record. However, only the evidence that documents linkage between the direct-line individuals needs to be submitted with the project and discussed in the report…unless a sibling is needed to indirectly provide the relationship clues.

While it is true that raters can ask questions about the siblings, this is rarely done unless the evidence is pointing to those siblings. Even if an applicant left off the siblings, the raters could ask questions and would expect answers if they saw that children had been omitted when they could have provided clues to the relationships. This is also true of additional spouses. While it is not required to complete full research on all additional spouses, the spouse’s basic identifiers should be included such as names, dates of birth, marriage, and death, and locations for those events.

9.  How much information should be included for other children in the family (siblings of the direct line ancestor) if they have no direct bearing? Their marriages? Their military service? Probate even if it doesn’t name other siblings/the direct line ancestor? Or can I just say “they were born x date and place; maybe research them in the future.”

You don’t need to go into great detail but at least give names and report on completion status of the family analysis. Primary focus is on generational links. But show that you know complete research involves the entire family. You may refer reader to “See family group sheet” unless it’s key to proving the linkages, of course. Related to the next question.

10.  I’ve been researching my family for several years, but when I began my research I didn’t keep a research calendar. Should I try to re-create my calendar or research a new family for my accreditation project?

Here are some options:

Treat the project as an “update” of previous research. Use your own family and recreate your research calendar. Your approach to research has likely evolved and access to records has changed. Also it has been found that when researching our own lines, there are emotional ties that sometimes cloud our good research judgment.

Use a recent client project. You can showcase your best work in a recent project. You will not have to reconstruct anything and you will be using current resources. The ICAPGen written exam is designed to test the competency of a genealogist who researches for clients under a timed constraint. This type of project will give you the best preparation for the written exam.

11.  What method of source citation should I use?

ICAPGen does not require the use of one particular source citation method, but expects that applicants will select and consistently use a method that contains all the primary source elements. Those elements usually include: who wrote or compiled it, what it was titled, where it can be found, its specific call numbers in that repository, and the publication information.

12.  What if I have conflicting information about a significant event, such as a birth, marriage, or death?

Genealogists know that there are times when two or more sources give conflicting information. Be sure you have thoroughly researched as many sources as possible to resolve this conflict. In your report, provide all the information you have and where the information was found. If you believe one source is more reliable than another, give your reasons.

13.  May I use the published research of other people?

Many secondary lineages contain errors, and a good researcher uses these lineages only as guides to begin the project. If you find that the secondary source is correct, you must cite the documents used to prove its accuracy. Be sure to include the secondary source on your research log to show your research process.

14.  Will I be required to translate documents?

If your area of accreditation is a country that uses another language besides English, you should be able to translate a document from that language into English. You should also be able to request a record from that country in their language. In some cases you will need to translate a few lines in Latin if your area of accreditation uses Latin consistently in its work. Remember the tests are open-book tests so you can bring with you any printed aids with which you feel comfortable.

15.  What documents should I be able to recognize?

It is expected that the candidate has had sufficient experience in the key documents of each state/or region represented in their selected geographic area. In addition, they should be familiar with the key general United States (or foreign federal government if their area is not in the U.S.) documents to recognize the document on sight, and to know the value of those documents in genealogy. Refer to our recommended record types pages.

16.  How does your examination process determine how well a candidate transcribes and abstracts a sample document?

You will be given documents to transcribe and abstract. A distinction is made between a transcription and an abstraction. When the candidate is asked to “transcribe” a document, every letter is expected to be written as it appears in the original document. To be true to the original document, no updates such as spelling or grammatical changes are made. When “abstracting” a document, it is important that a test candidate captures the information that would be useful to a genealogical researcher including names, dates, relationships, or items that could prove a name, date, or relationship.

17.  If I don’t pass a section of the exam, do I have to start over at the beginning?

No. You do not have to start at the beginning of the process again. Retakes are given on the section of the exam for which you did not pass with 90% or better. Link to explanation of Levels.

18.  When researching a line where adoption is involved, do we need to include information on the biological family?

Information about the biological family would not be required. If you choose to trace the court-appointed parents of an adopted child, it is the same as if the child was a blood descendant. Be sure to include information in your research report to show the child was adopted or lived in a guardianship relationship.

Renewal Questions

In a rapidly evolving field with new technology and increasing access to records and resources, new or evolving standards are a major focus of Accredited Genealogist renewals. The Accredited Genealogist credential provides an assurance to the consumer and public that the individual who has earned that credential is also dedicated to maintaining and improving their professional skills in the field of genealogical research.

Specifically, ICAPGen wants to know three things about renewal applicants:

  1. Are the renewal applicants keeping up-to-date regarding sources and research techniques in their geographic (or subject) areas, and in what ways?
  2. Is their conduct professional?
  3. Are they willing to abide by the ICAPGen Professional Ethics Agreement agreed between the Accredited Genealogist researcher and ICAPGen?

Among other things, the Professional Ethics Agreement that Accredited Genealogist renewal applicants are asked to sign requires their adherence to the provisions set forth in the “Code of Ethics” published as Appendix B on pages 608 and 609 of Professional Genealogy edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2001). This edition of the code was specifically chosen and cited by the ICAPGen Commission as a standard of conduct for the Accredited Genealogist professional, for the explicit purpose of avoiding confusion that might arise from wording changes over time.

ICAPGen reviews the professionalism of renewal applicants in three ways. They are requested to submit the following—

  1. A completed Accreditation Renewal form.
  2. A letter of education and skills application that summarizes your genealogical activities during the previous five years, which includes a brief summary of TWO activities taken from the Education and Skills Application List specific to the area of accreditation under renewal.
  3. A research report (or article).
  4. A signed ICAPGen Professional Ethics Agreement.

ICAPGen also reviews its files to ensure that no unprofessional conduct, such as unresolved complaints from clients, remain pending or unresolved.

The AG credential stands as a symbol of excellence and quality to the world. The Accredited Genealogist professional represents one of a unique group within the genealogical community who are committed to excellent and outstanding work in their field.


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