Wednesday, April 20, 2011

140 Free Online Genealogy Research Courses

140 Free Online Genealogy Research Courses
Growing Course Catalog Makes It Easier to Expand Family History Skills

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH—Ever found yourself researching your family tree and discovering a new branch that extended to another country—and you are not familiar with that country’s records or language? Or perhaps you are a fan of the popular reality show Who Do You Think You Are? and wonder, “How do the producers know what public records to search to find all of those cool stories about that celebrity’s ancestors?” Maybe you’d like to learn more about how to do your family history research but don’t think you can afford to take a class. Thousands of individuals are now satisfying many of those needs through FamilySearch’s growing collection of free online genealogy courses.

In just one year, the number of free FamilySearch courses has grown to over 140—and new courses are added monthly. Most recently, over 25 courses were added for Australia, England, Germany, and the U.S. Additional courses were added that focus on basic tools and techniques for anyone just getting started in family history research, as well as courses for intermediate and advanced researchers.  

“The goal of the initiative is to educate more people worldwide about how to find their ancestors. We do it by filming theexperts teaching a particular class of interest and then offering free access to that presentation online—complete with the PowerPoint used and anyelectronic handouts that the user can download or print for future reference,” said Candace Turpan, FamilySearch instructional designer.  

Turpan’s team films presentations made by its staff from the FamilySearch Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, as well as special guests (the library is frequented by accredited researchers from all over the world). They also travel to industry conferences or other venues where record and research specialists gather. There they film specialists’ presentations and make them available online.

Of course, you don’t have to be into genealogy to find presentations of interest. Fans of The Da Vinci Code or National Treasure might find the Cemetery Art course by Ellen Miller of the Mid-Continent Public Library System in Independence, Missouri, very intriguing and enlightening. Miller’s course teaches about funerary traditions and cemetery iconography. “[Tombstone] practices differ from country to country, culture to culture, and religion to religion. As funeral ceremonies differ, so do the burial practices,” said Miller. Those elements often influence the types of funeral markers and symbols used on headstones, footstones, and tablet stones and can therefore tell important facts about the person they help identify. The key is in understanding the messages behind the symbolism.

FamilySearch uses viewing software that splits the viewing screen (sort of like the picture-in-picture features on some televisions) so the user can watch the video of the presenter while also seeing the PowerPoint presentation. Most courses are 30 minutes in length. You canalso fast forward through the presentation or presentation slides or stop and pick up later where you left off—a luxury you don’t get in the live presentation.

“Maybe you enjoy the thrill of deciphering or reading old records in other languages. FamilySearch also has free courses to help genealogy students understand key words and terms of older foreign alphabets and handwriting, including Gothic,” added Turpin. The intent behind all of these courses is to give people the keys they need to successfully find their elusive ancestors in historic records. “Sometimes they just need a new sleuthing skill or resource. These genealogy courses are perfect for those personal development needs,” concluded Turpin.

Whatever your motivation or objective, bookmark and make regular visits to the growing catalog of free courses at FamilySearch.org.

And if you or someone you know currently teaches a class that would be of value to the genealogy community and wants to share it, find out how online at FamilySearch’s genealogy classes online.

Latest Course Additions:

?       Australia BDM Civil Registration Index
?       New South Wales Early Church Records 1788–1886
?       Using the New South Wales Birth, Death, Marriage Index
?       Getting the Most from the National Archives Website
?       Researching in the British Isles
?       What Is Britain?
?       My Experiences in German Family Research
?       Cemetery Art
?       Finding Your Way: Locating and Using Maps in Your Research
?       How to Find More at a Genealogy Library
?       If I’d Only Known: Beginner Genealogy Mistakes
?       Managing Your Family Records on the Internet
?       Basic U.S. Military Records with Tiff
?       Beginning Census Research and Record Keeping
?       Colonial Immigration
?       Colonial Land
?       County Histories and Your Family
?       Finding the Slave Generation
?       Locating Ancestors on the Final Rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes
?       See You on Sunday! Church Records in Genealogy
?       Some Underused Online Resources
?       U.S. Courthouse Research
?       Welcome to the World of Periodicals
?       Mentoring Class: Introduction to ICAPGen
?       Mentoring Class: Research Binder
?       Mentoring Class: Evidence Analysis Part II
?       Mentoring Class: Written Exam and Oral Review

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer–driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in SaltLake City, Utah.