Steal This Job
Fact Checker: DAR Genealogist
Monday, January 30, 2006; 4:43 PM
BETSY WARDNER, 33
JOB: Genealogist for the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, in Northwest D.C.
SALARY: Genealogists at DAR earn $25,000 to $39,000.
EDUCATION: Associate's degree in arts from Cayuga Community College in Auburn, N.Y.
WHAT SHE DOES: Wardner climbs through family trees to verify that would-be DAR members can prove that a blood relative was a "patriot" -- someone who aided in the American Revolution, either with military service or as a civilian. Applications include supporting documents and can be approved in a few minutes if everything's in order. Certain quirks call for further investigation, however, such as a Quaker relative listed as a military man (a rarity, though some did serve, she said) or several colonists in the same town with the same name. Wardner researches such cases using the DAR library, a haven for old letters and Bible records, and Web sites such as ancestry.com. Occasionally she might uncover disqualifying information, such as evidence that a supposed patriot aided the British. "Sometimes it does get a little tricky," she said. If that's the case, she'll look for other patriots in "another branch of their tree that's not so full of issues."
WOULD YOU WANT HER JOB? You need to be a hardcore details person who can deal with a measure of uncertainty. Even the best efforts to trace a blood line may add up to only an educated guess. Only the women of the time will ever know for sure, said Wardner.
HOW YOU CAN GET HER JOB: You'll need to rack up experience gathering family histories and analyzing the findings (your own family tree can be a good place to start). Professional certifications can lend credibility, but aren't necessary to get a job at DAR (Wardner landed her job after working 15 years in the field). While many genealogists end up with jobs in related fields, such as in libraries or archives, Wardner said the D.C. area is one of the few places where genealogists can get staff jobs doing lineage research.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Job openings at DAR are listed at dar.org. The Board for Certification of Genealogists (bcgcertification.org) and the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (icapgen.org) offer professional credentials. Information on getting started can be found through the Association of Professional Genealogists (apgen.org) and the National Genealogical Society (ngsgenealogy.org).
This article first appeared in the Express on September 26, 2005.