Take a Class

Most people who take up a new hobby begin by buying a good beginner book or two or signing up for a class. You've already begun by reading this book, but if you're the type who likes more hands-on feedback, you might want to sign up for an online genealogy course. Prices vary from free to several hundred dollars, and the topics and lessons range from beginning research to advanced paleography or methodology. Most of the online genealogy courses are self-paced, and many offer quizzes, tests, and/or instructor feedback.

The National Genealogical Society offers an excellent set of guidelines and standards for individuals wishing to improve their skills and performance in genealogy. Their “Standards for Sharing Information with Others” (www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/standards_for_sharing_information) discusses the responsibility of family historians when exchanging data, while “Guidelines for Genealogical Self-Improvement and Growth” (www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/guidelines_for_genealogical_self-improvement) provides recommendations concerning ongoing education in family history.

Get Started for Free

Several free beginner genealogy classes with enough information to get you through the basics of family tree research are available online through various websites. About.com Genealogy offers an Intro to Genealogy class (http://genealogy.about.com/od/lessons), with self-paced lessons and selfgrading quizzes. Genealogy.com offers a series of tutorials (www.genealogy.com/university.html) created by several genealogists, covering topics ranging from beginner genealogy to immigrant origins. Additional online learning opportunities are available from the National Genealogical Society which offers a free Family History Skills course (www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/educational_courses/online_courses/family_history_skills) for members, and Brigham Young University (http://ce.byu.edu/is/site/courses/freecourses.cfm), which offers over a dozen free mini genealogy tutorials online.

Learn from the National Genealogical Society (NGS)

In addition to their acclaimed home-study course, American Genealogy: A Basic Course, NGS offers several online courses (www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/educational_courses) including two U.S. census courses, and more in-depth courses such as Transcribing, Extracting, and Abstracting Genealogical Records and Working with Deeds. The online courses are self-paced, although they do have a six-month time limit, and offer a final self-grading exam upon completion. NGS members receive a member discount.

Enjoy an Online School Setting with Family Tree University

Experienced instructors at Family Tree University (www.familytreeuniversity.com) offer a variety of self-paced genealogy classes on topics such as finding ancestors in the U.S. census to Google Earth for genealogists. Each class is self-paced and includes a detailed course curriculum and instructor feedback. Individual classes run about $100 each.

Earn College Credit or Enroll in a Certificate Program

A number of universities offer a variety of fee-based family history courses online. The National Institute for Genealogical Studies (www.genealogicalstudies.com), in association with the University of Toronto, offers a certificate of genealogical studies in American, Canadian, Scottish, Irish, and German records, as well as more general areas such as genealogy methodology and librarianship. You can also elect to take classes purely for personal enrichment. In addition to its free classes, Brigham Young University offers several expanded low-fee genealogy courses through its independent study department (http://ce.byu.edu/is/site/courses/freecourses.cfm). Boston University has a thirty-five-hour intensive, and somewhat expensive, program that leads to a “Certificate in Genealogical Research” (http://professional.bu.edu/cpe/Genealogy.asp). The instructors are top-notch, and the program is offered in both a classroom setting at Boston University and online.

To find even more genealogy classes, both fee-based and free, enter a phrase such as online genealogy class in an Internet search engine, or browse the listings at Cyndi's List (www.cyndislist.com/educate.htm) or About.com Genealogy (http://genealogy.about.com/od/education).

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