Are you thinking of a career in genealogy?

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Are you thinking of a career in genealogy?

An excellent starting place for information is Paul Gorry’s book, Credentials for Genealogists: Proof of the Professional (first published Ireland, 2018; second edition, 2021).

AAGRA President, Dr Dianne Snowden AM, (pictured with Paul Gorry in Baltinglass, Wicklow, Ireland in 2019) suggests that general readers and those considering a career in genealogy will find the following sections of the book particularly useful: Sections 2 ‘Genealogy, Academia and Education’ and Section 3 ‘Developing a Career in Genealogical Research’.

Paul Gorry has worked in genealogy professionally since 1979 and is a credentialled Member of Accredited Genealogists Ireland (MAGI).

For more information, read the following review of Paul’s book:

Paul Gorry, Credentials for Genealogists: Proof of the Professional (1st published Ireland, 2018;

In the second edition of his book, first published in 2018, Paul Gorry identifies the five hallmarks of a true professional genealogist as Ethics; Knowledge; Skill; Experience; and Professional Credentials. Gorry unapologetically advocates for credentials for professional genealogists. The book highlights the work of the various accrediting bodies worldwide, which have long provided such credentials. Today the majority of practitioners do not have accreditation and appear not to think it necessary to their careers. Gorry acknowledges that relevant credentials are not open to every genealogist, largely due to linguistic or geographical restrictions. He also acknowledges that there are many expert practitioners who have never felt it necessary to seek confirmation of their skills. However, he believes that credentials are essential for the sake of genealogy as a profession, for the integrity of the conscientious practitioner and for safeguarding clients’ interests. Given that genealogy is unusual as a profession, with most practitioners starting out as hobbyists, in the past many in the field recognised that it lacked respect from academia. Much energy has been put into attempts to gain such respect. In some cases, this has led to moves to exclude from the profession those whose training is not through academic courses. Gorry argues against such limitations. Credentials attest to a practitioner’s skills and experience, regardless of the career path that has been taken. The book provides background on the various accrediting bodies, as well as guidance on developing a career in genealogy, on training courses and on organisations that provide support for professional genealogists. Paul Gorry has worked in genealogy professionally since 1979. The credential he holds is from AGI, i.e., he is a Member of Accredited Genealogists Ireland. Apart from AGI, the other bodies offering credentials throughout the world are the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA), the Association of Scottish Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (ASGRA), the Australasian Association of Genealogists and Record Agents (AAGRA), the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), the Bureau quebecois d’attestation de competence en genealogie (BQACG), the Genealogical Institute of the Maritimes (GIM) and the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen). Additionally, Genealogistes de France is a licensing organisation. These bodies provide credentials, or accreditation, for truly professional genealogists, regardless of the career path taken to acquire the necessary knowledge, skill and 2nd Edition on the website. [Source:]

Introducing Phoebe Wilkens of ‘Born & Bred Historical Research’

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I was always intrigued about the past. As a family when I was growing up we would sit around after dinner and Mum and Dad would regale us with stories of quirky ancestors and family myths and legends. I also loved leafing through old photos and papers that told stories about my family (and still do).

I had no idea what I wanted to do when I finished school and it wasn’t until a few years later that I had an epiphany and decided that I was so intrigued with history and family history more specifically, that I should pursue that more closely. I went on to study two history degrees and also volunteered at a number of historical societies. Shortly after finishing my first degree I started working at the Geelong Heritage Centre and then went on to work at the Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) – the state government archives. This really helped to whet my appetite when it came to perusing historical records of all shapes, sizes and depths.

Phoebe with a family tree

It was when I was working at PROV that I decided I wanted to pursue history on my own time and in my own capacity and thus ‘Born & Bred Historical Research’ was…born. The business was born out of a love of historical research and a passion for uncovering mysteries.

‘Born and Bred’ offer a range of services including family history research and building family trees, as well as delving into all historical avenues, including researching your home, property or business, in-depth historical research and capturing family history for posterity with oral histories and narratives. We also research and provide copies of public records, work alongside legal and accounting teams and professional services. We have worked with ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ and researched a number of celebrities as well as with a number of authors for assistance with research.

My passion is genealogy, discovering a love of researching families, their origins and finding skeletons in the closest. I love being able to uncover family mysteries and find missing ancestors as well as research and write about historical events and relish in discovering treasures in the archives.

My main inspiration and drive to uncover historical mysteries has been because of my own family and my paternal grandfather in particular. He migrated to Australia in the 1950s during the post-World War II mass migration from Europe. He was Dutch and had spent his formative years living with his family in the Dutch East Indies, whereby they had all lived for several generations. He had lived a fascinating life and died when I was very young. No one thought to ask him many questions when he was alive, so I have been filling in the gaps for the last decade. Being able to tell his story, now that he no longer can has been a big driving force.

My grandfather, Hendrik (Hank) with his parents Helena, holding his brother Louis and father (holding him) in the Dutch East Indies in c1922

I am also passionate about women’s history and the little or unknown stories surrounding their lives – the trials, tribulations and adversity they faced and how we might be able to bring some of those stories to life and give people an understanding about who they were.

Phoebe Wilkens

Introducing Caroline Haigh

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A post from Caroline Haigh, one of our Tasmanian members.


After a diverse career of teaching, Commonwealth public service and establishing a retail business, I took early retirement in 2008. What to do with my new found freedom?! I’d always had an interest in Tasmania’s convict past and out of curiosity, I chose a family line at random and began searching for a convict in my tree. No particular convict, just any convict! At that time, I only knew the names of my grandparents: my parents were able to fill in my great-grandparent’s names, but that is all we knew about them.  I found a convict but more intriguing for me, I found an unknown son of this convict, with a very large family. I was able to tell my father that his mother, Edith Shelton, had nine aunts and uncles, and numerous first cousins, unknown to us. This was a revelation and instantly I became hooked on genealogy!


In 2011, I returned to university to further study English and History, while still researching my own family tree during my free time. When UTAS offered its inaugural Diploma of Family History in 2016, the time was right to take my personal interest to another level.


I have deep Tasmanian and UK roots: all of my great-great-grandparents, bar one, came from the UK to Tasmania as convicts or free settlers. The exception was Jesse Haigh, a young soldier with the 99th Regiment of Foot, who arrived on a convict ship in 1842. I have a passion for Tasmania’s convict and Aboriginal colonial-era history and this is my key research area as an historian. I am a member of the Professional Historians Association (VIC/TAS). Within this time period, I also have a particular interest in the fate of women and children impacted by destitution. I am committed to bringing their stories to light.


As a genealogist, I am a strong advocate for utilising genetic genealogy with traditional genealogical methods and offer this service to all my clients. My enthusiasm for DNA analysis came from my own experience of identifying the parents of my great-grandmother, Annie Jones. There was no family knowledge about Annie, only that her father’s name was Walter. There was no birth certificate for her. It took two years of working collaboratively with other Ancestry members but we eventually struck gold: a new DNA match had documented oral history which explained the family history which was then verified. I discovered that Annie’s mother was convict Isabella Buckley, who had four children with husband George Hodgetts, before having three more children with convict Walter Jones. There is no official paperwork regarding the Jones children, just the oral history report – and unequivocal DNA evidence that Walter Jones was indeed Annie’s father.

My great-grandmother Annie Jones and her daughter Edith Shelton, c. 1914.


My own family history experience has shaped my interest and specialisations as a genealogist: Tasmanian history, particularly convicts and their children, as well as Tasmanian Aboriginal heritage and DNA analysis.  I also have extensive experience with South Australian records and offer research services for people interested in exploring their UK heritage.

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