Saturday, June 25, 2011

Genealogy Education - Enhance Your Research

Genealogy Education - Enhance Your Research

Susan LeBlanc, BGS/FH, AG®[i]

In trying to understand the concept of genealogy education, we turn to the Merriam-Webster Thesaurus, which provides the following definitions of the words.
Genealogy: the line of ancestors from whom a person is descended.
Education: the act or process of imparting knowledge or skills to another.
In combining the two, we can develop a reasonable definition for the focus of this paper.

Genealogy Education: the study of the line of ancestors, from whom a person is descended, and the act or process of imparting that knowledge or skills to another.

A recent email discussion provided the following components for genealogy education, to which I added experience. Without experience, true education will not exist.

Education = Knowledge, Experience, Quality Work, Credentials

The process of gaining knowledge through various avenues of learning, leads to experience in testing the knowledge gained, that leads to a level of quality work, which can then lead to gaining formal recognition of the knowledge gained through the granting of credentials. This process will evolve over many years of learning, employing what we learn and eventually producing a quality product exemplifying that which we have learned. The final step is an evaluation of that product in pier reviews, which will further define what we do not know or need to learn more indepthly. The entire process is key to using genealogy education to enhance your research.
            Another key piece is to understand the importance of being both Self Educated and Professionally Educated. We can learn much independently, in the comfort of our home. This will require a motivation to learn and an understanding of the need to constantly update that which we know. The professional education often falls under the classification of financial obligations. There may be a few classes and other presentations that you can attend at no cost, but these do not provide the consistent training as found in a professional setting. Before proceeding to discuss the various types of education available, ask yourself the following questions:

Who is going to benefit from this genealogy education?

What do I already know and what do I want to know?

When can I make time to learn?

Where did I learn what I already know and where do I go to learn more?

How do I learn best?

Why do I need genealogy education to enhance my research?

You need to understand how you want to use what you will learn, what you want to learn, when you will have time to learn, where you have learned before, where there are present learning opportunities, how you learn best and how it will help your research. Setting specific goals in education is important to having success in the process. It is important to realize that educational material becomes dated very quickly, so it is crucial to learn from sources that are current in their teaching. Reading is the first step in defining our goals and understanding how to meet those goals. Look for these materials in local libraries and societies, online, or purchase them to help build a home library. Building a home library of reference materials should be the focus of all serious researchers. This library can be on the computer, but if the electricity goes out the printed material might come in handy.

Read, Read, Read…

Genealogy How to Books
Reference Books
Histories: County, Town, Family, etc.
Published Case Studies
Libraries- Public, Private, Societies, Universities
Inter-library loan
Audio recordings of lectures

Online Educational Resources

Online educational resources are growing every day. To keep abreast of these changes one needs to maintain contacts that provide updates about such changes. In a search of for ‘Genealogy Classes’, there were over 1,820,000 hits. Below are just a few resources that will provide information and may link you to additional resources. Many of these web sites offer free classes that will expand your knowledge for genealogy research. If no web address is given, go to the web site listed and follow the tabs at the top to the indicated areas of the web site.

Basic Online Educational Resources – Research Help –
Research Online Classes
(There are eleven topics; under the topic US Research there are seventeen classes.)
Genealogical Presentations Online
(There are three APG classes, a BCG Seminar, seven classes from ICAPGen, and twelve classes from the Midwest Genealogical Center of the Mid-Continent Public Library.)[ii]
(There are free classes that include seven genealogy classes, seven classes on French research, 7 classes on German research and five classes on Scandinavian research. There are also additional paid classes.)
RootsWeb Guides to Tracing Family Trees -
(There are thirty-one research guides.) – Learning Center – Webinars: Online Seminars; TV Shows (There are thirty eight webinars.) - (There is an online courses list.) – (There are seven classes.) - (There are nine classes.)
New England Historic and Genealogical Society - American Ancestors -  (There are sixteen seminars.)
Family Genealogy and History Internet Education Directory - (References to genealogy classes offered worldwide.)
US Department of Education - (Varied topics.)

The following lists are a select assortment of additional Internet connections grouped by types of topics. Email groups are one of the best resources for learning about the current trends and best used web sites. They may be specific to a surname or location. Newsletters and blogs formatted specifically to gather and present information are usually subscription based and are updated daily, weekly or monthly. Using the digest mode will limit the amount of emails received on a daily basis. Companies or facilities that have research related information provide these communications to draw people to their web sites and available products. Wikis, podcasts and webinars, are more recent educational opportunities, produced by companies or people who wish to share information on a large scale. The wikis are like an encyclopedia for the specific topics they cover. Individuals can contribute their knowledge and then it is available to viewers who access the wiki. The podcasts are live video presentations, often of personal interviews, that usually allow for interaction from the viewers. Webinars are online seminars where you hear the presenters voice and view the PowerPoint or live Internet connection. They require a signup for access, and often have opportunities for the viewers to ask questions or take surveys. Many of these items are archived on the web site of the original producer and are free for access later.

Additional Online Resources:

v     Email Groups

Association of Professional Genealogists –
APGPublicList Digest-
APGMembersOnlyList Digest-
Transitional Genealogists support group - TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM
Illinois Genealogy Trails Digest-
Rootsweb hosts 31, 899 different lists.
ORForum is just one of them-
Hertfordshire, England research group –
Tidd family research group -

v     Newsletters and Blogs
Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter (Free and paid subscriptions.)-
GeneaNet Newsletter (News, events, articles.) - Blog (Updates, alerts, product use.)-
Genealogy Gems: News from the Fort Wayne Library (Articles and upcoming events.)-
Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau, Genealogy Update (News, local events, discounts.) -
Scandinavian Heritage Foundation's weekly Scandinavian Events, Oregon (Events, local activities.) - (Information of interest from various Blogs.) - 

v     Wikis (For listing of wikis.) - – Research Helps – Search the Wiki – Learning Center – Family History Wiki
WeRelate -
Familypedia - The Genealogy Wiki-

v     Podcasts
Dear Myrtle Podcasts -
Dick Eastman Podcasts -
Genealogy Guys Podcasts -

v     Webinars
Legacy Family Tree Webinars - (There are five webinars.) – Learning Center – Webinars:Online Seminars (There are thirty eight webinars.)

Educational Courses Available/Cost Varies

There are colleges and universities that offer a wide range of courses in genealogy. These may lead to certificates in their programs or associate, bachelor, and master degrees. The certificates are not to be confused with certification by BCG or accreditation by ICAPGen, which are national programs of proficiency and pier review. The key to education is whether a school is accredited or not, and whether those credits will transfer to another school if a change in institution is desired. A basic course of study is similar in many ways for most underclassman and then there will be areas of focus that are determined by the type of degree of interest. Genealogy classes usually fall under the History department, which may only offer degrees in History. Many institutions allow for auditing of classes if one is not working towards a degree. In some states, senior citizens may take classes at no cost.

Local Community College/ Community Education Classes

Clackamas Community College (Five classes offered fall term.)
Portland Community College (One class offered fall term.)
Mount Hood Community College
Clark County Community College

College and University Level Courses
Brigham Young University (Certificate program, associate and bachelor degrees, accredited.) -
Brigham Young University Independent Study (Free online courses, paid University online courses, accredited.) -
National Genealogical Society (One free and three paid classes, home study program.) -
University of Washington (Certificate program.) -
National Institute for Genealogical Studies (Paid courses, Canadian University.) -
International Internet Genealogical Society University (Free classes.) - Online University (Karen Clifford and Marthe Arends.) -
Genealogy Research Associates Courses (Karen Clifford) -
Salt Lake Community College (Certificate program.) -
Heritage Genealogical College (Salt Lake City, Utah, certificate program, associate and bachelor degrees, not accredited.) -
The American School of Genealogy (Boston University, certificate program.) -

Conferences, Fairs, Seminars, Workshops, Online Event Information

            These organizations offer educational conferences, fairs, seminars, and workshops, which are open to the community at large. Many of the classes are free and others charge based on membership status. They often advertise in local newspapers, through the organizations and through email lists. All day seminars offered by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are free and there may even be a free lunch. Local societies charge a nominal fee to cover the cost of bringing in speakers. These are fun events where genealogists can mingle with their friends and acquaintances that share a common interest. For more information on these groups do a google search of their names to locate their web site.

v     Family History Centers

To see a list of local centers go to:

v     Local for Oregon/Washington
Public Libraries, Community Schools, Colleges
Portland Area Personal Ancestral File Users Group (Monthly membership meetings with classes.)- PAPAFUG
Genealogical Council of Oregon (Biannual conference, quarterly meetings.) - GCO
Genealogical Forum of Oregon (Seminars, monthly meetings with classes, additional classes.)  - GFO
                        Oregon Genealogical Society (Monthly meetings with classes.) - OGS
                        Oregon Historical Society (Occasional classes.)- OHS
Genealogical Society of Washington County Oregon (Monthly meetings.) - WCGS
Clark County Genealogical Society (Monthly meetings with classes, fall seminar.) - CCGS

These conferences are available to everyone. The costs vary for each event and location.

v     Regional
Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree – held in the summer, in Los Angeles,
New England Regional Genealogy Conference – held in the spring, locations vary,
Allen County Public Library – various events during the year,
Family History Expos – various events during the year, locations vary,

v     National – 3 to 5 days
Usually series of classes taught in tracks, but you may attend any class.
Luncheons and Banquets for interacting with piers.
Great exhibit halls.
Local community activities are available.
Local research facility available for extended hours.

Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference– FGS, held in the fall, locations vary,
APG Professional Management Conference – during FGS conference,

National Genealogical Society Conference – NGS, held in late spring, locations vary,
BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy – held in the summer,

Roots Tech Conference/BYU Conference on Computerized Family History and Genealogy – held in early spring,

ICAPGen Conference – held in the fall,

Syllabus material may be available for some of these conferences.

v     Online Event Information

Cyndislist Events and Activities -

Dick Eastman Upcoming Events -

FGS Calendar of Events - Genforum Events -

Institutes and Cruises

These are enhanced learning opportunities. Institutes provide intense classes, with professional instructors. Cruises offer classes and time to mingle with professional instructors, while still enjoying the benefits of vacation time. The costs vary for each event and location.

v     Institutes
Choose courses for the week based on a specific track.
Class fill quickly and sizes vary.
Major institutes held in the United States  

Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy – held in Salt Lake City, Utah, in December,

National Institute on Genealogical Research – held in Washington D.C., in July,

Samford Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research – held in Birmingham, Alabama, in June,

v     Cruises

Wholly Genes -
Legacy Family Tree -

The intent of this article, is not to leave you feeling overwhelmed, but to encourage you to look for opportunities to enhance what you know and to continue to learn throughout your life. The content of the world of genealogical and family history research changes on a daily basis and staying abreast of those changes is what will make us successful in our research.

[i] AG® certification marks are the sole property of the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists. All Rights Reserved. Last modified August 2008
[ii] APG – Association of Professional Genealogists
  BCG – Board for Certification of Genealogists
  ICAPGen – International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists

First published in The Bulletin, by the Genealogical Forum of Oregon, December 2010.
All rights reserved by Susan LeBlanc

1 comment:

  1. A great deal of information to think about and take advantage of - thanks for putting it all in one place.