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Online course

Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree

Develop your understanding of genealogy. Uncover your ancestors’ past and create a meaningful family history or family tree.

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree

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Find and analyse genealogical sources, and tell your family’s forgotten story

This online course will develop your understanding of genealogy techniques and how to communicate your family history.

You’ll start by defining what you want to research, before considering the best ways to find and analyse sources, and store and record what you find. You’ll look at the challenge of locating the right ancestor, including the potential of DNA testing in genealogy.

Finally, we’ll introduce the main tools that genealogists use to communicate their research, including creating a family tree, and show you how to write a meaningful family history, incorporating historical context.

Download video: standard or HD

What topics will you cover?

  • A consideration of the differences between primary, derived primary and secondary sources.
  • An understanding of the importance of knowing who made a document and why and how they were created.
  • Lateral ways to approach research including the FAN/cluster technique and mind mapping.
  • Primary source databases including searching techniques to deal with name change or spelling differences; these include the use of wildcards.
  • An introduction to main source types including civil, church, census and military records to give a sense of the typical type of data these records contain and how to use them.
  • Review the content of major international and selected local and specialised databases and consider ways to evaluate datebases.
  • The principles of the Genealogical Proof Standard including how to establish proof and how to evaluate evidence.
  • The use of DNA testing in genealogical research with a focus on Y-testing techniques.
  • An exploration of secondary and primary sources which provide historic and social context, considering their quality and how to find them.
  • The importance of providing evidence of the sources used in family history research and an exploration of the various systems of referencing in use.
  • A consideration of tools used to store, track and analyse genealogical data; various types of family trees and reports including paper based resources, software programs and online tools.
  • What are the best ways to begin writing a family history?
  • Ways to protect and preserve physical records and digital data.

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Design a research plan for tracing family history.
  • Apply key techniques used when searching for and analysing genealogical records.
  • Describe the differences between genealogical source types and why they may cause problems for the researcher.
  • Develop an awareness of the use of historic and social context in family history research.
  • Develop an understanding of the ways in which genealogical information can be recorded and communicated.

Who is the course for?

This online genealogy course does not concentrate on a specific country’s records or how to source these, so it will be useful for anyone around the world. It is ideal if you:

  • have no experience with genealogy or family history research;
  • have some experience with genealogical research, but want to develop your skills and knowledge further;
  • are a more experienced genealogical researcher with limited access to training and development, who wants to learn new techniques.

The knowledge you gain from Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree may prompt you to explore family history research more deeply or consider a career as a professional genealogist.

You may even wish to take your learning further, with the University of Strathclyde’s online MSc in Genealogical Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies.

Who will you learn with?

Tahitia McCabe

I am a genealogist and educator based at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland and am Course Leader for the MSc in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies (distance learning).

Who developed the course?

The University of Strathclyde is a leading international technological university located in Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city, commited to useful learning.

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Get extra benefits, upgrade this course. For $94 you'll get:

Unlimited access

Upgrading will mean you get unlimited access to the course.

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  • Take the course at your own pace
  • Refer to the material at any point in future

If you’re taking a course for free you have access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join. If you upgrade the course you have access for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn.

Certificate of Achievement

Upgrading means you’ll receive a Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course.

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  • Prove your success when applying for jobs or courses
  • Celebrate your hard work
  • Display on your LinkedIn or CV

To receive a Certificate of Achievement you need to mark 90% of the steps on the course as complete.

Upgrade


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