Tuesday, 26 August 2014

AGRA updates membership criteria

AGRA, the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives, is a body representing professional genies based in England and Wales. It has just announced a major change to its membership criteria - here's the release:

AGRA, the body representing professional genealogists in England and Wales, has recently announced radical changes to both its Membership and Associateship criteria.

All applicants wishing to join the association will now have to attend an interview and in most cases will also be asked to undergo practical tests. The new rules also attach greater importance to formal qualifications and ongoing learning.

Under the new procedure, prospective Members and Associates will have a “face to face” discussion with AGRA’s Board of Assessors to determine their genealogical knowledge and business approach. Membership candidates may be set a research assignment, while Associates will be asked to demonstrate basic genealogical skills.

The Board has been deliberating for some time how the application process could be improved to keep pace with the changing nature of the field. Rising interest in family history has resulted in many more people entering the profession, drawn from a wider range of backgrounds. Potential Members will still be required to submit a portfolio of completed client work, as before, but the Board has come to the conclusion that this alone is no longer a sufficient basis on which to select Members.

Said Geoff Swinfield (member of the Board of Assessors): “AGRA plays a key role in setting standards within the profession. If AGRA is to be relevant in the future it must give its Members the opportunity to demonstrate that they meet the exacting standards which fit them to offer their services to the fee-paying public.”

The new criteria also take into account the growing availability and importance of formal qualifications within the genealogy profession. The Board feels that anyone setting out to become a professional genealogist with genuine commitment should already have, or be actively studying towards, a qualification in genealogy; this has therefore been made part of the minimum requirement for acceptance into the Associate scheme. Membership candidates who hold certain higher level qualifications, currently from IHGS (the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies) and Strathclyde University, will have the added advantage of being exempt from some of the entrance criteria.

In recognition of the importance of ongoing learning within this fast-changing profession, all candidates will be expected to provide evidence that they are engaging in continuing professional development.

These changes will ensure that AGRA Membership remains a hallmark of quality for professional genealogists practising in England & Wales, and that the Associate scheme attracts committed and able candidates with the potential to progress to Membership.

The new criteria take effect from 1st September 2014. Documents describing the new criteria in detail can be found by following the “membership application” link on the Join AGRA page of the website: www.AGRA.org.uk


Now available for UK research is the new second edition of the best selling Tracing Your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, whilst my new book British and Irish Newspapers is also now out. And please consider purchasing the great new version of Caledonia by The Libations at 79p via www.caledonia2014.com - all profits go to help fund Scottish foodbanks


  1. Yet another organisation that favours those who live close to London! The cost of travelling and staying overnight costs more than the AGRA membership - and then I might not pass! Membership might be nice but not that important.

    Good news about the CPD and Strathclyde Post Grad qualifications though, but why is IHGS suitable for full membership and Strathclyde diploma not?

    Will current members have to get the qualifications and pass the palaeography test as well? If not then it is not really very fair is it - you will have a two tier membership.

  2. All good questions for AGRA, I'm afraid I'm not a member...!