Notes on Application for Membership

Prerequisites

To apply for Membership of AGRA a candidate should be operating or intending to operate a genealogical research service using English or Welsh records, for which fees will be charged. Use of original sources and research prior to 1837 is expected.

There is an application fee of £50 for entry to the organisation as a Member, or £20 if transferring from Associate to Member status.

Requirements

Candidates for Membership must:

1

Demonstrate good knowledge of English and Welsh genealogical sources by complying with either A or B below:

  1. Possess a qualification in genealogy, recognised by AGRA i.e.
    Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies (IHGS) Higher Certificate or higher qualification, or University of Strathclyde’s Postgraduate Certificate in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies or a higher qualification. See Which Course for Genealogists?

    AND

    Demonstrate that they can apply their knowledge in the pursuit of genealogy and family history, conveying their findings clearly and act professionally in communicating with their clients.
    They should do this by submitting ONE example of a paid client report, the associated communication with the client and a drop-line family tree. This example must include the use of a wide range of relevant 18th century original sources.

    OR
  2. Submit THREE examples of paid client reports with associated communication with the client and at least one drop-line family tree.

    At least one of these examples should include pre-1837 research and demonstrate the scope of the candidate’s knowledge showing a good range of relevant 18th century original sources (not just transcripts) and techniques, including: probate documents (pre and post 1858) and parish registers / bishop's transcripts.

    In either case, at least one example must include a drop-line family tree. If this was not prepared for the client, it may be prepared specifically for the purpose of this application.

For more information on the requirements for client reports, family trees and client communications [click here].

Reports and Drop-Line Family Trees and Client Communications [Hide]

The following guidelines must be complied with when compiling client reports, and the associated documents, for submission as part of the application to become a Member:

  1. Client Instructions

    Submitted reports must include copies of relevant correspondence between themselves and their client (names can be redacted for confidentiality purposes), in regard to instructions for research. Applicants need to demonstrate that they have followed clients' instructions correctly and in a timely manner; that expenditure was appropriate and fully accounted for; and that sound professional advice and service was provided. This relationship with clients is at least as important as knowledge, use of sources, and academic qualifications.
  2. Reports

    Reports should be clearly laid out and well written. They should include, as a minimum:
    • An outline of the aims or objectives of the research
    • The research report
    • A summary of the findings
    • Suggestions for further work, if appropriate.
    It is imperative that adequate source information is provided:
    • The nature and scope of sources;
    • Document locations and references (e.g. for a census return: piece, folio and page);
    • Description (e.g. original manuscript, typescript copy, extracts etc.);
    • Periods searched, noting any obvious gaps and impaired legibility of the source;
    • Variants of surname covered;
    • Whether searches were made of the full document or by index, calendar, or otherwise;
    • Full results, both positive and negative.
  3. Family Trees

    At least one report submitted must include a drop-line working family tree showing distinctly what positive or hypothetical identification has been established by the research. It may be handwritten, typed or computer-created, and should typically include details discovered of dates and places of birth, baptism, marriage, death and burial, occupations, places of residence. It will not necessarily have been sent to the client but should reflect the candidate's research technique.
2

All applicants, except those who have been awarded the IHGS Diploma in Genealogy, must undertake a research assignment [click for details] set by the Board of Assessors.

Research Assignment [Hide]

All applicants for AGRA Member status will be required to complete a research assignment to demonstrate their knowledge of genealogical sources, ability to comply with client instructions, ability to work within a set budget and report writing skills.

On applying for Member status candidates will be given the opportunity to select in which county they wish the assignment to be based.

The assignment will typically take the form of a birth certificate from the mid-19th century and a request to research and progress the family line back as far as possible from the starting point.

The purchase of additional BMD certificates will not be required but there is an expectation that searches will be conducted for birth (or baptism), marriage and death (or burial) events of the starting individual and at least their direct ancestors.

The research should be undertaken within a maximum 20 hour period, to include the time taken for report writing.

There will be an opportunity to respond to the Board of Assessors for clarification as to what is required, in a similar manner as to how one would work with any client.

During your research you should construct a drop-line family tree and thereafter provide the Board of Assessors with a report, as though reporting to a client. The report should contain as a minimum:

  • An outline of the aims or objectives of the research
  • The research report
  • A summary of the findings
  • Suggestions for further work

It is imperative that adequate source information is provided:

  • The nature and scope of sources;
  • Document locations and references (e.g. for a census return: piece, folio and page);
  • Description (e.g. original manuscript, typescript copy, extracts etc.);
  • Periods searched, noting any obvious gaps and impaired legibility of the source;
  • Variants of surname covered;
  • Whether searches were made of the full document or by index, calendar, or otherwise;
  • Full results, both positive and negative.

You must also provide an account of the time spent on each part of the assignment.

Candidates should submit their completed research assignment at least one month before the next Board of Assessors' meeting.

3

Those applicants moving from Associate to Member status must provide evidence of continuing professional development (CPD) in accordance with AGRA's published regulations. [click for details]

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) [Hide]

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is the means by which both Associates and Members maintain, improve and broaden their knowledge and skills and develop the personal qualities required in their professional lives as genealogists and archive researchers.

AGRA aims to maintain and promote professional standards and, as such, encourages its Members and Associates to keep abreast of developments in the fast moving worlds of genealogical research and business practices. CPD is not just restricted to genealogical practices but may relate to IT, authorship, learning Latin, improving our palaeography skills, business skills and marketing.

CPD is compulsory for Associates, who need to show they have the ability and insight to manage their own professional growth. In order to become Members of AGRA they will have to follow a structured path of CPD and submit their log with their full Member application.

More details of the AGRA CPD program are made available to Associates and new Members, including templates for recording CPD, once they have been accepted into the organisation.

4

All applicants must attend an interview with the Board of Assessors which will (unless there are exceptional circumstances) be held in London and include discussion of the candidate's research assignment.

Interviews take place twice yearly, approximately in March and September. Places at the interview days are limited. Applications should be submitted at least two months in advance of a meeting date, to enable completion and submission of the required research assignment.

The process of transferring from Associate to Member of AGRA was illustrated in a presentation to the Study Day at the AGM in 2016.

Assessment of Applications

Upon receipt of all the documentation supporting an application, the Board of Assessors will undertake an initial assessment.

The candidate will then be notified of the date and location of his or her interview and be given the guidelines and starting point for the research assignment.

During the interview the candidate will undergo a short exercise to assess his or her ability to read an example of the handwriting that a researcher might be expected to encounter within the period of his or her proposed competence. Knowledge of Latin and of medieval palaeography will not be expected unless the candidate has indicated that he or she is offering these as a specialism. All candidates will be expected to be able to read the style of handwriting used in PCC wills and 18th century deeds and the various styles to be found in 19th century documents.

All applications are considered by the Board of Assessors, made up of AGRA members with extensive experience. The Board may also consult non-members to comment on applications received from candidates offering an expertise in a subject with which Board members are not familiar. The Board reserves the right to request additional evidence of experience or competence.

If accepted as a Member, the candidate will be required to agree to the Code of Practice and make the first subscription payment. On receipt of this he or she will receive a welcome pack and his or her name will be entered onto the membership register, with details added to the Members section of the website.

Subscriptions

The subscription fee for Members is £85. The membership year starts on 1st January. Any candidate attaining Membership during the year will pay fees according to the quarter in which their application was accepted, e.g. those joining as a Member in June will pay £42.50.

AGRA
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London EC1M 7BA