Memories of Grandma Myrtle’s Kitchen

Our paternal grandmother Myrtle Eliza (Weiser) Player Severinson was quite the cook. She “put up” food every summer and fall to last till the next year. I remember her bare dirt floor basement in the cottage on 2nd in Puyallup. Jars of jams, jellies mustard pickles, corn relish, sweet gherkins and watermelon pickles were arranged in neat rows on shelves near the bottom of the stairs.

In the 1950s, Grandma’s gardens were filled mostly ornamentals like dahlias, so she bought quarts and bushels of fruits and vegetables from the local farm stand. It was owned by Hazel and Al Duris at 6012 Riverside Road, Puyallup, Washington. I know this because I shopped with her, and Grandma’s mustard pickle recipe was published in a small 3×5 inch Duris farm stand booklet that has somehow survived through the years and is now in my possession. (1)

Blackberries and raspberries used to grow wild in those days, so I imagine she picked those much as I did 20 years later when stocking my own shelves for the winter.

On the Sundays we’d visit, she’d serve tender fried chicken with mounds of mashed potatoes and a side of carrots sweetened with a light glaze of buttery brown sugar.

In the last month of Dad’s life he asked the local crepe restaurant cook to add the carrots to her menu. I provided Grandma Myrtle’s recipe and the proprietor surprised dad the next time we visited.

My favorite was Grandma Myrtle’s apricot preserves and I longed for her secret recipe. Before she passed away in 1972 from Lou Gehrig’s disease, she sent a short letter admitting it wasn’t a secret after all. The recipe is easily found on the back of the Certo label. (Certo liquid pectin is used to thicken the fruit for jam or jelly.) 💕

(1) See “Food Traditions & Gramma Myrtle” posted 16 Sept 2010 in DearMYRTLE’s Genealogy Blog. ( : viewed 16 Nov 2018.) Grandma’s

BCG adopts standards for DNA evidence

For immediate release 27 October 2018

News Release, Board for Certification of Genealogists

Board for Certification of Genealogists Adopts Standards for DNA Evidence

On 21 October 2018, the Board for the Certification of Genealogists (BCG) approved five modified and seven new standards relating to the use of DNA evidence in genealogical work. BCG also updated the Genealogist’s Code to address the protection of people who provide DNA samples.

The new measures are intended to assist the millions of family historians who now turn to genetic sources to establish kinships. The action followed a public comment period on proposed standards released by BCG earlier this year.

“BCG firmly believes the standards must evolve to incorporate this new type of evidence,” according to BCG President Richard G. Sayre. “Associates, applicants, and the public should know BCG respects DNA evidence. It respects the complexity of the evidence and the corresponding need for professional standards. BCG does not expect use of DNA to be demonstrated in every application for certification. However, all genealogists, including applicants, need to make sound decisions about when DNA can or should be used, and any work products that incorporate it should meet the new standards and ethical provisions.”

“Standards for Using DNA Evidence,” a new chapter to be incorporated in Genealogy Standards, introduces the issues this way:

“Meeting the Genealogical Proof Standard requires using all available and relevant types of evidence. DNA evidence both differs from and shares commonalities with documentary evidence. Like other types of evidence, DNA evidence is not always available, relevant, or usable for a specific problem, is not used alone, and involves planning, analyzing, drawing conclusions, and reporting. Unlike other types of evidence, DNA evidence usually comes from people now living.”

In brief[1], the new standards address seven areas:

Planning DNA tests. The first genetic standard describes the qualities of an effective plan for DNA testing including types of tests, testing companies, and analytical tools. It also calls for selecting the individuals based on their DNA’s potential to answer a research question.

Analyzing DNA test results. The second genetic standard covers factors that might impact a genetic relationship conclusion, including analysis of pedigrees, documentary research, chromosomal segments, and mutations, markers or regions; also, composition of selected comparative test takers and genetic groups.

Extent of DNA evidence. The third genetic standard describes the qualities needed for sufficiently extensive DNA data.

Sufficient verifiable data. The fourth genetic standard addresses the verifiability of data used to support conclusions.

Integrating DNA and documentary evidence. The fifth genetic standard calls for a combination of DNA and documentary evidence to support a conclusion about a genetic relationship. It also calls for analysis of all types of evidence.

Conclusions about genetic relationships. The sixth genetic standard defines the parameters of a genetic relationship and the need for accurate representation of genealogical conclusions.

Respect for privacy rights. The seventh genetic standard describes the parameters of informed consent.

The modifications made to several existing standards call for:

• Documentation of sources for each parent-child link.

• Where appropriate, distinction among adoptive, foster, genetic, step, and other kinds of familial relationships.

• Use of graphics as aids, for example: genealogical charts and diagrams to depict proved or hypothesized relationships; or lists and tables to facilitate correlation of data and demonstrate patterns or conflicts in evidence.

• Explanations of deficiencies when research is insufficient to reach a conclusion.

A new edition of Genealogy Standards is expected to be ready by next March. A new application guide and judging rubrics incorporating the new standards will be released at about the same time. In the interim, portfolios submitted for consideration for certification will be evaluated using the existing Genealogy Standards.


[1] The Board for Certification of Genealogists® (BCG) contractually granted the publisher of  Genealogy Standards the exclusive right to copy, publish and distribute the standards including amendments. However, BCG-certified associates have the contractual right to include reasonable portions of the standards in presentations, articles, blog posts, social media, and the like. In no case may BCG or its associates allow the standards to be published in their entirety because the publisher deems that competitive to its publication rights.

The words Certified Genealogist and the designation CG are registered certification marks and the designations Certified Genealogical Lecturer and CGL are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by board-certified associates after periodic competency evaluations, and the board name is registered in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

An Open Letter to an Archivist

Dear Melissa LeMaster Barker, The Archive Lady

Got some questions about filing photos and unusual family papers in acid-free metal edge Hollinger boxes.

  • I have the pencil you recommend.
  • I have acid-free archival file folders.
  • Do I need acid free tissue paper?
Hollinger document storage box

IMAGE: Courtesy Hollinger Metal Edge flip top document storage case.

1. With my father’s 1918 baby book, should I insert acid-free tissue paper between each page before placing in the file folder?

2. When an old photo has a cover, should it be stored with the cover open to view the image? It is flatter that way.

3. Should these rare late 19th and early 20th century photos be inserted in those archival photo sleeves or will the acid-free file folder suffice? Note I plan to store late 20th century photos in sleeves in photo filing boxes.

4. Is there a naming/numbering protocol for labeling each folder that’s generally accepted by archivists?

5. Is there some type of inventory log I should create for each Hollinger box? This could possibly be more descriptive than the hand written label on each file folder tab.

6. Years ago I made a frame for an old family photo, but isn’t it best to remove the old photo from the frame and store it in a file folder in a Hollinger box? Right now the photo is out of direct sunlight on a darkened corner of a climate controlled bedroom.

7. You have taught me to remove all staples and paper clips before storing a document. Should something be inserted between pages of a particularly fragile multi-page document? What about encapsulation of particularly thin paper or messy carbon copy tissue paper?

8. The important middle pages of a heavy 1890s family bible are tearing apart down the center. How should I prevent further damage if someone wishes to view and turn the pages? I know Scotch tape is out.

8. Is there some sort of finding aid I should create, summarizing what’s in each box in this family archive? There will be about 6 vertical and three horizontal Hollinger boxes, 2 custom bible boxes and several photo filing boxes when I’m done.

9. Do you have a brand of printer paper you’d recommend for printing my inventories and finding aids? I’d hate to go to all this trouble only to put high acid, easily degradable paper into my beautifully preserved collection. Also, will laser printed info pages last longer than inkjet?

10. Is there an accepted protocol for labeling the spines of my Hollinger boxes?

As you can see, I’m getting serious about archiving precious family items in my collection. Maybe these 10 questions would make good fodder for 10 blog posts?

Thank you for all the advice and training you’ve given us about preservation and using archives.

If my descendants don’t want to keep this family archive, I’d like it to be readily processed into a regional archive collection with minimal fuss for the accession archivist.

(That’s a whole lotta archiving going on.) 🤗

Laura G. Prescott SLIG Scholarship

In recognition of the professional accomplishments of our friend and colleague, Laura G. Prescott, and her contributions to the area of education in genealogy, a scholarship for tuition to the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) has been established. The scholarship will be funded through tax-deductible donations.

Laura is known throughout the genealogical community for her passion for genealogical education in the areas of teaching, writing, research, and more. She worked for the New England Historic Genealogical Society for seven years before starting her own research business, was a lecturer at conferences, seminars, and workshops at all levels, and has written articles on a wide range of genealogical topics for the field’s journals. She served as president of the Association of Professional Genealogists and was director of Ancestry Academy, Ancestry’s collection of educational webinars presented by leading genealogical educators.

The Laura G. Prescott SLIG Scholarship is open to amateur, transitional, and professional genealogists who exhibit a passion for genealogy and appreciate the importance of education in our field. Desirable candidates will be those seeking to maintain high standards in genealogy, while also giving back to the community through volunteerism within the genealogical community (serving on society boards, conference committees, family associations) or through promoting genealogy in the world at large (through pro bono projects in cemeteries, adoption research, unclaimed persons, e.g.). Applicants will be asked to explain their reason for taking a particular SLIG course, and also to list education and experience, both paid and volunteer.

A committee will evaluate scholarship applications and choose one winner annually to receive full tuition to his or her choice of course at the traditional Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy in Salt Lake City, Utah, or to one of its alternative programs during the year. Details about applying for the scholarship for attendance at SLIG in January 2020 will be forthcoming.

The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, facilitated by the Utah Genealogical Association, is a five-day program of instruction and practical exercises featuring in-depth study of specific aspects of genealogical research. It occurs each January in Salt Lake City and the instructional tracks are coordinated and taught by leaders in the field. SLIG also offers the SLIG Academy for Professionals onsite in January, and several virtual learning programs.

Those wishing to donate to the Laura G. Prescott SLIG Scholarship may do so in one of these ways:

▪ Via Facebook

▪ By mailing a check to the Utah Genealogical Association, Attn: Laura G. Prescott SLIG Scholarship, PO Box 1144, Salt Lake City, UT 84110 (make checks payable to the Utah Genealogical Association), or

▪ Via PayPal, to with “Laura G. Prescott SLIG Scholarship” on the line labeled “Add a note.”

Why I need your research notes

Beginning family historians haven’t yet been warned to be wary of accepting an online tree as 100% accurate. Why be cautious?

We cannot readily evaluate the reliability of an online tree.

For example, though the tree may have a variety of unique sources attached, it is impossible to determine if the researcher successfully eliminated same-named individuals in the area at the time.

It took me 8 years to distinctly identify a Union Civil War veteran from several others in two states who each married women named Eliza/Elizabeth. Yet the number of unique sources attached to that ancestor in my online tree is small compared to the total number of documents I reviewed that belonged to other men with similar profiles.

Genealogical research is much more than a “quick click” to match your William Smith (1840-1916 Indiana) with a 1865 record mentioning William Smith in Indiana. The document could be about your William Smith’s same-named uncle, father, grandfather or cousin. Or this man could be no relation whatsoever.

Without the ability to review someone’s research notes, it is unclear if “reasonably exhaustive research” and other elements of the GPS have been taken into consideration.

What’s the GPS?

In a nutshell, the Genealogical Proof Standard is a set of scholarly research guidelines hammered out by leaders in the genealogy community, most recently codified by the Board for Certification of Genealogists in Genealogy Standards, fiftieth-anniversary edition. (1)

A brief review of the Genealogy Standardstable of contents reminds us to consider subtle yet important research elements like:

  • Distinction between content and comments
  • Evidence inconsistencies
  • Evidence independence
  • plus 80 others

Being “scholarly” isn’t being uppity

If we want to correctly identify our ancestors we must make a concerted effort. Life itself takes a scholarly approach.

  • When baking a cake, we follow a recipe. If we forget to add sweetener, the result won’t be palatable.
  • When purchasing a new car we study price, available options, gas mileage, frequency of repair ratios and potential resale value to avoid buying a lemon.
  • When purchasing a home, an inspection is required to ensure the home is structurally sound and free from things like termites and rusty pipes, thus saving us expensive surprises once we receive the keys.

Shouldn’t a family tree be as carefully considered?

Mr. Myrt says “It sounds like more work, but the effort is essential. We must be similarly diligent with each data point – birth, marriage, military service, birth of children, when and where they moved, etc.” He suggested online trees may or may not be accurate, but:

Without the ability to review someone’s research notes, it is unclear if “reasonably exhaustive research” and other elements of the GPS have been taken into consideration.


(1) Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, fiftieth-anniversary edition (Nashville, TN: Ancestry, 2014).