There were two major mistakes I made in my application materials. They were broad conceptual mistakes that lead to my rejection. The first was to submit finished articles as my work. In my mind I reasoned that these articles were accepted by editors, all of whom were Fellows of the American Society of Genealogists, the highest honor in U.S. genealogy. The fellows adhere to the highest standards in genealogy. So, if my articles were good enough for them, they should have been good enough for the BCG. As we now know that is not true. I have to laugh that my submitted transcription of a 1680 English will was printed as is in the New England Genealogical & Historical Register, after being peer-reviewed by no less than six gifted genealogists, and yet the BCG judges had to find fault with it. Because, that's their job--to find fault, not to find good genealogists.
The second mistake was essentially the same as the first, but it had a different impact. Do you remember high school math classes like algebra, trig, and calculus? You could never just do the math in your head, which I could always do. You needed to plod out the equations line by line.
You couldn't say 4 or -1; you had to:
That's what you have to do for BCG applications. My articles were the first answers. They were sleek, well-written and well reasoned out. They were thorough. What BCG wants is their famous proof standards. You need to write out in 3rd grade English, a plodding explanation of how you have proven two people are related. The remarkable thing is that my articles did just that. The judges just weren't bright enough to understand it. And that was my fault. I needed to jump through their hoops the way they wanted. And I didn't.
Interestingly, the BCG warns people not to apply too soon. Make sure you learn your craft they advise. My mistake was applying too late. Most of genealogy had become rote for me and I'd forgotten how to explain my methodology in the slow and belabored way they wanted.
Those are the main reasons for the rejection. There are smaller mistakes that I don't think would have caused my rejection in and of themselves. They are very unclear about their transcription criteria. You need to transcribe something they send to you. I did. I didn't include all the information that they gave to me, describing where the deed was found. I thought that was given to me, personally, and not necessary for their transcription [I mean it was typed on the deed, why did I need to transcribe that which was already typed?]. Evidently it was (at least for me). I gave them all the information anyone would need to find the original deed.
Because I was thinking articles, I didn't include my two best works because they were 75 and 50 pages in length. BCG is adamant about the materials not weighing more than one pound. If it weighs between 2 and 3 pounds you are assessed a surcharge. If it weighs more than three pounds you are rejected outright. Of course, what I ought to have done was take one of those articles and pare it down.
Another unclear part, were the instructions to the Kinship Determination Project which says you must provide "linkages among individuals through at least three ancestral generations ascending or descending. The project is to include at least three couples in successive ancestral generations." To me that meant at least three generations IN ALL LINES. Well, my speciality was colonial genealogy. Try to find a family with less than six to ten children. Most of the third generation were between forty and one hundred grandchildren. As you balloon up, the weight of the report grows. Now I realize I could have just done three successive generations with scant mention of the collateral lines. This was another mental mistake of thinking like an article writer and not the BCG applicant they wanted me to be. Or so I'm guessing. I found a great family which is why I submitted my Rider article. And we all know how well that turned out.
Lastly, you need to submit a client report. They give you leave to submit a fictitious one, that is, do one for a friend or family member pro bono as an example. I had done two heir searching cases and I thought that a real example was better than a fake example. Again, I was wrong. It was too short. That sunk me for one judge (the same that didn't like my transcriptions).
So what's laughable is: of the two judges that dinged me, one hated the transcriptions and client report and loved the articles--rejection. The other loved the transcriptions and hated the articles--rejection.