The ProGen Study Groups are organized to encourage professional and aspiring genealogists. ProGen is a self-study program enhanced by peer-review of assignments based on chapters from Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills. This program employs an innovative method of collaborative learning focused on developing genealogical writing skills and business practices.
The ProGen Study Program is not based on typical classroom-teacher interactions. Each ProGen study group has either an Accredited Genealogist® or a Certified Genealogist® mentoring the group. These volunteer mentors participate in the monthly discussions to answer questions and offer guidance; they do not review all students’ assignments. The strength of the program relies on peer-review and discussion.
Each month group members study one or two chapters of Professional Genealogy and complete a practical assignment relating to the material. They meet online to discuss the topic in small group discussions. Members review each other’s assignments and offer constructive feedback. Students sometimes learn more from reviewing each other’s work than what they gleaned from completing the assignment. The study program covers all of the chapters in the book, including research procedures and business practices. This program requires a huge time commitment, but provides a unique opportunity for constructive feedback from colleagues.
The ProGen Study Program does not teach basic genealogy research skills. It assumes that participants already have taken a course such as the NGS American Genealogical Studies course, the Boston University Certificate in Genealogical Research course, an intermediate genealogy course at IGHR, SLIG or GRIP, or have the equivalent experience researching in a wide variety of original records and repositories. The ProGen study groups are for those who already have strong research skills and are ready to further develop their professional business, writing and analysis skills.
One of the beneficial aspects of the ProGen Study Program is the joint focus on genealogical skill development and professional business issues. Monthly projects include writing contracts, business plans, and client reports; creating research plans and locality guides; analyzing evidence, and constructing proof arguments. Members learn both by completing their own assignments and by reviewing the work of their group members. Participants must complete all the assignments, including the business oriented assignments, even if they are not practicing professional genealogy as a business.
Over four hundred genealogists from the United States, Canada, Australia, England, Ireland and France have participated in the ProGen Study Program. They each have their own area of specialization, knowledge, and experience that they bring to the group. This program is based on collaboration between group members. Everyone must work together in this learning process.
A major benefit of the ProGen Study Groups has been developing a network of colleagues. Members consult with each other on a variety of issues and enjoy gathering at national conferences and institutes (see the ProGen Events page). They have seen the work of their colleagues and feel confident referring work to or subcontracting with each other.
Key Elements of the ProGen Study Program
- Quality textbooks (Professional Genealogy & Evidence Explained!) written by experts in the field
- Guidance from a Certified Genealogist® or an Accredited Genealogist®
- In-depth study and application of each topic
- Peer review of monthly assignments
- Live interaction through on-line discussions
- Joint focus on business development and research practices
- Collaborative learning environment
- Twelve month study program