Northeast Professional Geneology
About your geneaologist
Dr. Robert L. Rafford

Perhaps my story is similar to yours...

I became interested in studying my family's history while living in Massachusetts in October 1973. A Town Clerk was very helpful to me on my first visit, and before the day was out, I was hooked! I did not know I was pursuing something called "genealogy," but simply wanted to learn as much as possible about my ancestry. Before a few weeks had passed I realized there were millions of people doing the same thing; there were whole libraries devoted to genealogy, as well as commercial companies that compile the indexes, publish the books and keep us in supplies.

I believe the fact that I began as so many others gives me an advantage in my research service and teaching. I understand the excitement of discovery, the despair of running into that brick wall, the importance of patience and acceptance and the determination to find the "lost sheep" of the family. Most of all, I know what good, patient and competent research entails.

I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York in 1968, a Master of Divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School in 1970 and a Doctor of Ministry degree from there in 1972 in psychology and clinical studies.

Professional genealogy is a second career for me. I am a retired ordained minister, having been certified by the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, Inc. (Diplomate), the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (Clinical Member, licensed by the State of Connecticut), the Association of Professional Chaplains (Board Certified) and the American Mental Health Clergy, Inc.

I began my formal training in genealogy with classes taught by David Stoddard, CGRS, in 1975 and 1976 at the University of Connecticut. In June 2000 I studied with Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, FASG, and received a certificate at the Institute on Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama; in July 2000 I received a certificate at the National Institute for Genealogical Research in Washington, D.C., principally studying the records of the National Archives and Records Administration.

In January 2001, I received a certificate from the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, studying with Karen Clifford, AG, and others focusing on computer technology and genealogy. Since January 1997 I have been on the list of professional researchers familiar with the collections of the Connecticut State Library.

I have taught genealogy courses in Community Colleges throughout Connecticut since 1995, covering Basic, Intermediate, Internet, International and Computer Genealogy. I have had the privilege of teaching hundreds of rising genealogists and have learned a wealth of information from them. The schools at which I have taught include Naugatuck Valley (Waterbury), Tunxis (Farmington), Northwestern (Winsted), Middlesex (Middletown), Manchester (Manchester) and Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.

In addition, I continue to teach courses for librarians throughout the state through the Connecticut State Library in how to assist customers conducting genealogical research. I lecture on genealogical subjects at museums, libraries, schools, genealogical and historical societies, senior centers, continuing education programs, and to interested groups.

I am a charter member and past president of the Connecticut Professional Genealogists Council, a group of over 70 professional genealogists in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and elsewhere. In 1996 I joined forces with Senator Tim Upson (R-15, Waterbury, Connecticut) to introduce a new state statute that makes genealogical research easier for all in Connecticut. Our Connecticut Professional Genealogists Council crafted the final wording for this legislation.

In 1998 I founded the Naugatuck Valley Community College Genealogy Club, now the Naugatuck Valley Genealogy Club, and continue to be the Advisor. In 2001 I founded, along with members of the CPGC, the Town Clerks and Genealogists Action Group which strives to be a bridge between our two professions.

I am a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society in New York City, the Association of Professional Genealogists (and I adhere to its Code of Ethics), the Connecticut Gravestone Network, Connecticut Ancestry Society and I am a life-member of the Connecticut Society of Genealogists, Inc.

In 2003 I was inducted into the National Society of Sons of the American Revolution and the Order of the Founders and Patriots of America.

In addition, I am the president of the Middlebury Historical Society and am the Municipal Historian for Middlebury. In 2003 I was honored to have been chosen as the Donna Holt Siemiatkoski Genealogy Volunteer of the Year by the New England Regional Conference Committee.