ProGen is a self-study program enhanced by peer-review of assignments based on chapters from Professional Genealogy: Preparation, Practice & Standards. This program employs an innovative method of collaborative learning focused on developing genealogical skills and business practices. Read more about the program in these areas:
The ProGen program is based on the book Professional Genealogy. Each month group members read and study one or two chapters. Genealogy Standards is also frequently used. HOW TO PURCHASE
Live Video Chats
Study groups of about eight ProGen participants meet during the first week of every month for a live one-hour virtual meeting. During this on-line video meeting, the previous month's assignment is reviewed, assigned questions are discussed, and the group mentor provides industry insights.
Monthly assignments are based on the reading. The assignments vary and include both business related and genealogical writing related topics.
Monthly Time Commitment
Each session of the ProGen Study Program runs for fourteen months. Each month's time commitment varies, but plan on spending an average of twenty-five hours per month on the assignments and the peer feedback combined.
Study group members receive written feedback from peers for each assignment, and give feedback to peers for each assignment. Additionally, the group mentor may provide feedback on key assignments.
To complete, graduate and earn a Certificate of Completion from the ProGen Study Groups, each student must complete all assignments, peer feedback and live monthly discussion.
Hear From Alumni
Wendy Rawson Sheppard
Purchasing these textbooks using the above links to Amazon reduces the overall ProGen program cost through the Amazon affiliate program.
One of the beneficial aspects of the ProGen Study Program is the joint focus on genealogical skill development and professional business issues. Monthly assignments 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.
Below is an example Study Schedule; Click on the link for "Evidence Analysis" to review what one month's detailed assignment might look like.
15-Month Example Study Schedule
Unless otherwise indicated, study chapters come from Professional Genealogy PPS (2018 edition), edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills or other books as indicated. The assignments are posted on the 1st day of each month and are due on the 25th of the month. Peer review feedback is due by the next chat day.
Completion of all assignments and feedback are required for graduation.
ProGen Curriculum Overview
Who participates in the ProGen study groups?
The ProGen Study Groups are made up of professional genealogists, individuals with excellent research skills working to become professional genealogists, and other serious researchers who want to do professional level research. While not all participants are currently taking clients or want to, each student is required to complete all the assignments, including the ones focusing on business practices as well as those targeting genealogical research skills and writing. Each member has unique experiences and skills that they bring to the group.
What education is necessary prior to joining a ProGen Study Group?
- The Boston University (BU) Genealogical Principles Course and Certificate in Genealogical Research Course - DETAILS
- NGS American Genealogy course (all 16 lessons) - DETAILS
- NGS Continuing Genealogical Studies (all 4 courses online) - DETAILS
- NGS Family History Skills Course
- The National Institute for Genealogical Studies (NIGS) certificate courses - DETAILS
At least two methodology or writing courses from institutes such as:
- SLIG - Advanced Genealogical Methods
- SLIG - Applied Genealogical Methods Workshop: Hands-On Skillbuilding
- SLIG - Evidence-Based Writing for Genealogists
- IGHR - Intermediate Genealogy and Historical Studies
- IGHR - Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis
- IGHR - Writing and Publishing for Genealogists
- GRIP - Principles of Genealogical Writing
What preparation should I do in advance of the course once I am approved?
- Research Report. This is a client-focused report. You may use a report you have already written for a client, and update it using what you learned from the book and discussion. If you have not done a report for a client previously, you can offer a pro bono project to someone, or just pretend you are writing a report for a client and follow the guidelines in the assignment and book chapter.
- Proof Argument. A proof argument uses indirect, negative and/or conflicting evidence to typically prove a relationship, although it can be something else. Identifying this early on will help save time when the assignment arises. You likely have many of these occurrences within the research you have completed to-date, and looking through that research now will help identify the one you can use when the assignment occurs.
- Family Narrative. A family narrative provides kinship proof between generations and also adds in rich contextual detail about a family. Any research you’ve done, or can do in advance of the program, along those lines will save research time, so that your time can be spent writing.
What does the ProGen Study Program cost?
The ProGen study program is a cooperative learning program run entirely by volunteers. Both the mentors and the group coordinators volunteer their time to help others learn professional genealogy skills. There is a fee for the study program that is announced with registration and it covers the expenses of managing the program, including the Basecamp project management website, the ProGen Study Groups website, and the Zoom meeting seats for live video conferencing.
How often do study groups start?
Groups are formed two times a year. More than one group can launch at a time. Each of the ProGen study groups has about twenty to thirty people. After you apply to the program you will either be approved to enroll or asked to obtain more education and experience. If you are approved, you then will be given a code or special URL to enroll during open private registration. That open registration will be on a first come, first served basis.
What kind of feedback am I expected to give to my group members on their assignments?
When you review the work of your group members each month you are expected to provide constructive feedback on how to improve the work and on specifics of what makes the work good. Just providing feedback that says “good job” doesn’t help anyone learn what was good, what was bad, and where to try to improve. You should provide at least three specific comments or suggestions, and for some projects there will be additional detailed feedback instructions.
Will the ProGen Study Program help me prepare for a credential?
Applicants applying for certification through the Board for Certification of Genealogists who have successfully completed ProGen pass at a 76% rate compared to those with no formal education who pass at a 16% rate. Those applying for certification through BCG generally have broad experience with both research and educational programs. The ProGen program contains assignments similar to the BCG requirements that may help applicants gain experience in the skills necessary to prepare a successful portfolio. Many participants use the ProGen Study Groups as a part of their preparation for applying to BCG. ProGen Study Groups have been shown to improve an applicant’s success rate for certification as shown in the statistics on this page: https://bcgcertification.org/learning/education/
Study group members that plan to apply to BCG need to be careful NOT to use any families or projects they would like to include in their BCG portfolio for their ProGen Study Group assignments because the elements in a submitted BCG portfolio cannot have been reviewed by anyone including ProGen group members. While we practice the skills necessary in ProGen, your BCG portfolio must be entirely your own work.
Like those applying for BCG certification, those applying for accreditation through ICAPGen would likely also benefit from the ProGen Study Groups. The study program contains assignments and elements that are similar to the ICAPGen level submissions and tests.
How many people are in each study group?
Each of the ProGen study groups has about twenty people. They are divided into two cohorts of about ten members each who meet in a monthly online video discussion and to review each others’ work on a monthly basis.
How do I join a ProGen study group?
Read the participation requirements on the Program pages and go through the readiness checklist. If you determine that you are prepared to participate in a professional genealogy study group, then complete the online application form.
How long do I have to complete each assignment?
Generally, the assignments are posted on the first day of each month and then due on the 25th of the month. It is important to meet this deadline to give your colleagues time to review your assignment before the next group discussion. Then it is typical to give feedback to your peers between the 25th of the month and the first week of the following month on the day when your discussion day group meets via live video chat.
How long does it take to complete the assignments?
Plan on an average of 25 hours a month. The assignments vary in complexity and the time required will depend on the experience level of each individual. Previous participants have reported taking between four and twenty hours to complete assignments. Some assignments, such as evidence analysis, research reports, business plans, and proof arguments are complex and take longer to complete. After you complete assignments, then it may take another two to eight hours to provide peer feedback.
What do I need to do to earn a Certificate of Completion?
In order to earn a Certificate of Completion in the ProGen Study Groups Program you need to complete ALL of the practical assignments. Participation in monthly discussions and reviewing the work of group members is also required.
Where can I get the required books?
These books are available from Amazon.com. If you buy them through the links below, it helps support the low cost of the ProGen Study Groups Program:
Is Internet access required?
Yes! You will need reliable internet service often to access and download homework assignments, upload your completed assignment, give and receive peer feedback and join the monthly video call.
Do I need any software?
Yes, the program requires that you be able to complete your assignments in a recent version of Microsoft Word that allows the use of the .docx format and change tracking. There may be an assignment or two that requires PDF but if you cannot save your document as a PDF, then it is fine to submit it in Microsoft Word.
What happens at the ProGen events?
Study group members get together at national and regional genealogical conferences and institutes to network with colleagues. Sometimes we meet for dinner, and other times we gather and visit. We have ProGen ribbons so that it is easy to identify other group members.
If I want to just research for myself, and not take clients, is a ProGen study group still beneficial?
Yes! Many chapters and assignments in the program focus on research and writing skills, both of which are critical to enhancing your own research.
Do people repeat participating in a ProGen Study Group?
No. The program is not set-up to have participants repeat it due to the demand of the course, the length of the program, and the nature of the assignments.
What is the role of a ProGen study group mentor?
A mentor is a CG or AG who attends each monthly discussion, answers questions and guides the group. The mentor may provide feedback on assignments to the group as a whole, or to individuals when s/he has time.
What is the role of a ProGen study group coordinator?
A coordinator is a ProGen alumni who wants to give back. S/he guides group participants for engagement and completion of assignments and tracks all assignment to completion, peer feedback and discussion engagement.
What is the role of a student discussion leader?
Each student enrolled in a ProGen Study Group will take a turn as a Discussion Leader. The Discussion Leader moderates monthly discussions in a his/her own group of approximately eight study group members by asking the predetermined questions on the monthly calls and keeping the conversation moving.
Where can I learn even more about the ProGen Study Groups?
You may listen to a podcast by Diana Elder and Nicole Dyer of the Research Like a Pro Podcast on the Family Locket website. That specific podcast is found here: https://familylocket.com/rlp-
How can I stay apprised of what is going on with ProGen?
If you are not yet a student or alumnus, following us on the program Facebook page is a good way to stay in touch. You can find us here: www.facebook.com/