Continuing education for genealogists

Continuing education is a very important aspect of being a professional genealogist, or becoming one. When this post appears a few days after my writing it, I will be knee-deep in the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, where I will be presenting nine lectures in two courses and a tenth evening lecture.

On January 22, registration will begin for the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University.

In May the National Genealogical Society conference will be held in Las Vegas. June will see IGHR and the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree, July brings the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh and the National Institute of Genealogical Research, and August has the Federation of Genealogical Societies annual conference in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

In the meantime, dozens of webinars will be offered where genealogists can learn from the comfort of their living room. Other opportunities for distance learning include the certificate programs offered by the National Institute of Genealogical Studies, and the National Genealogical Society’s Home Study Course and other free and online courses.

For many genealogists, these opportunities and others are well-known.

Did you know that a number of prestigious universities around the United States now offer free non-credit online history courses taught by esteemed professors and historians?

Take a look at a few that have piqued my interest:

Open Yale Courses (Yale University)

  • “African American History: From Emancipation to the Present,” Jonathan Holloway
  • “The American Revolution,” Joanne Freeman
  • “The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877,” David W. Blight
  • “European Civilization, 1648-1945,” John Merriman
  • “Early Modern England: Politics, Religion, and Society under the Tudors and Stuarts,” Keith E. Wrightson
  • “France Since 1871,” John Merriman

BYU Independent Study (Brigham Young University)

  • “Introduction to Family History Research”
  • “Writing Family History”
  • “Helping Children Love Your Family History”
  • “Family Records”
  • “Vital Records”
  • “Military Records”
  • “French Research”
  • “Germany Research”
  • “Huguenot Research”
  • “Scandinavia Research”

OpenCourseWare, Utah State University

Open Courses @ Illinois Springfield (University of Illinois-Springfield)

New York University

University of California-Berkeley (via Internet Archive)


There are a lot of other courses available online in addition to these. If you know of some that I have missed, please feel free to include a link in the comments below.


12 thoughts on “Continuing education for genealogists

  1. At iTunes U, “Colonial and Revolutionary America,” by Jack Rakove at Stanford. Also The Teaching Company ( offers excellent lecture sets including history, carried by many libraries.

    • iTunes U has a great number of university courses. The only reason that I did not discuss these is that I do not have an iAnything (pad, pod, phone, etc.), so I am not sure that they would be universally available.

  2. I second Cheryll’s mention of Coursera. I’m signed up for Immigration and US Citizenship starting in April. Thinking about English Common Law Introduction in June. I would add edX with the caveat that their course offerings do not yet include history or other social sciences. But, I just posted today about my acceptance to the Copyright pilot course. Not directly genealogy but certainly important to genealogist.

  3. I don’t think Boston University has been mentioned? They offer two online genealogy courses, a 4 week Genealogical Essentials course and the full 15 week Boston University Certificate in Genealogical Research. I’m not a graduate but it’s definitely on my to do list!

    Here’s the link:

    I’m glad the National Institute of Genealogical Studies (with the University of Toronto)was mentioned, I’m currently studying the US Records Certificate program and am really getting a lot out of it.

  4. Although I’m not familiar with any other program, I can tell you that I am enrolled in the 15 week BU course. So far, I’m very impressed with the instructors, the subject matter and the processes. We just got started last week and I’ll be posting at my blog

  5. Pingback: Murder! Name Dropping! Reinventing Genealogy? It’s Follow Friday | finding forgotten stories

  6. Another educational option is the Family History Certificate that is offered through Brigham Young University. I completed the 18 hours this past December and it was an excellent learning experience that increased by genealogical knowledge and was well worth the investment in time and money!

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