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October 16, 2017

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Classes in genealogy abound across the nation

Stefani Evans

Stefani Evans

Most genealogists would like to take more genealogy classes.

Three popular annual, weeklong institutes include: Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR) ( in Birmingham, Ala., in mid-June; National Institute of Genealogical Research (NIGR) ( at the National Archives in mid-July; and Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) ( the second week of January. This column will focus on lesser-known educational options.

Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, offers the only accredited university-based degree program in family history ( Therefore, most genealogists are self-taught and come to genealogy from other academic disciplines. You may check the varied backgrounds of genealogists who have been certified by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (, accredited by the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (, or are members of the Association of Professional Genealogists (

For the first time (January 2009) Boston University is offering a 14-week on-site Genealogical Research Certificate program in Ancestral Research and Genealogy ( The new program is taught by a selection of top genealogists and welcomes self-taught genealogists who approach their work in a professional or serious manner; this course is not for beginners.

The Genealogy and Family History Certificate program at the University of Washington, Seattle (, offers a certificate program through three courses — Genealogy and Family History (autumn); Research Sources and Strategies (winter); and Research Seminar in Genealogy and Family History (spring). Classes meet weekly on the UW campus.

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies offers a three-year, online Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies (PLCGS) program through the Professional Learning Centre, Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto National Institute for Genealogical Studies through the University of Toronto ( Students select from the following major fields of study: American Records, Canadian Records, English Records, General Methodology, German Records, Irish Records, Librarianship, or Scottish Records.

The National Genealogical Society (NGS) offers American Genealogy: A Home Study Course ( Written by the field's top genealogists, the course was introduced in 1981 and last updated October 2007. It is structured into 16 lessons on three CDs; students may select the graded option (for all 16 lessons), or the non-graded option for the first two CDs with mandatory graded lessons 12 through 16 on the third CD. Each lesson includes instruction, self-graded quiz, assignment(s), and selected bibliography for further study. Grading-optional lessons include Introduction; Family Traditions and Family Records; Interviews, Correspondence, and Queries; Library Resources; Census Records; and Vital Records; Church and Cemetery Records; Probate and Other Court Records; State and Federal Land Records; Local Land and Tax Records; Migration Studies & Resources. The graded-option only courses on CD No. 3 include Passenger Arrival Records; Naturalization Records; Military and Veterans Benefit Records; Interpreting and Evaluating Evidence; and What Next? Write The Story. The comprehensive topics and the mandatory graded-option only lessons enhance student success.

Genealogists expand their education by interacting with other genealogists at institutes, seminars, conferences, and monthly meetings of local genealogical societies. A less costly, avenue is to participate in an online genealogical study group. I participate in a group which is organized around Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills. Organized by Lee Anders and administered by Angela McGhie, the groups meet monthly for organized on-line chats after completing assignments based on chapter readings. See discussion regarding ProGen study groups on the Transitional Genealogists Forum listserv (

Stefani Evans is a board-certified genealogist and a volunteer at the Regional Family History Center. She can be reached c/o the Home News, 2360 Corporate Circle, Third Floor, Henderson, NV 89074, or

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