• University of Strathclyde

Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree

Develop an understanding of genealogy and learn how to research your family tree and share the results with this online course.

102,801 enrolled on this course

Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree
  • Duration6 weeks
  • Weekly study4 hours
  • LearnFree
  • Extra BenefitsFrom $99Find out more

Discover the basics of genealogy and build your own family tree

On this free online course, you’ll develop an understanding of basic genealogy techniques and how to communicate your family history.

We do not concentrate on a specific country’s records so it should be useful to anyone around the world.

You’ll consider how to effectively find and analyse sources and explore the potential of DNA testing as applied to genealogy.

We’ll help you add historical context to your family history and discuss how to record and communicate research findings in a clear fashion.

Download video: standard or HD

Syllabus

  • Week 1

    Analysing documents

    • Welcome to the course

      An introduction to the course, who we are and what you'll be learning about.

    • Welcome to Week 1

      This week our focus is on the nature and importance of documentary evidence.

    • The basics

      Guidance for the absolute beginner.

    • Documentary evidence

      Using documented data in family history research. Why knowing about the documents you use can help you become a better researcher.

    • Transcriptions and indexes

      What are transcriptions, abstracts and indexes and how do they get created?

    • What's in a name?: 'An unusual name'

      The first part of the story following Chris as she researches her family history.

    • End of week tasks

      Activities to conclude the first week of the course.

  • Week 2

    Effective searching techniques

    • Welcome to Week 2

      This week you will learn how to focus your research and we will examine different ways to work around brick walls and how to consider naming issues.

    • Research strategies

      What is a research strategy and how can you approach research questions? We'll consider what an effective search is and look at different ways to look for ancestors.

    • Names

      Name changes can cause real issues for genealogists. How can we work around these and find people?

    • Genealogy databases and wildcards

      An introduction to genealogy databases and the use of wildcards to overcome name issues.

    • What's in a Name?: 'The Riepenhausens'

      The second part of the story following Chris as she researches her family history

    • End of week tasks

      Activities to conclude the second week of the course.

  • Week 3

    Using major source types

    • Welcome to Week 3

      This week we'll explore major types of genealogical sources.

    • Major source types

      The main source types used by genealogists across the world are civil, religious and census records.

    • Using sources and sources in archives

      A look at how to use documents to fill in your family tree. We explore different types of records at a physical archive.

    • Evaluating genealogy databases

      What to consider when deciding to choose a databases to use.

    • What's in a Name?: 'Land and sea'

      Part three of the story which follows Chris as she researches her family history

    • End of week tasks

      Activities to conclude the third week of the course.

  • Week 4

    Genealogical proof and DNA testing

    • Welcome to Week 4

      This week we'll look at the issue of genealogical proof and explore the use of DNA testing in genealogical research.

    • Principles of Genealogical Proof

      Understanding the Genealogical Proof Standard and evaluating sources.

    • Genetic Genealogy

      An introduction to the use of DNA testing in genealogical research practice.

    • What's in a name?: 'The Patersons'

      The fourth part of the story following Chris as she researches her family history

    • End of week tasks

      Activities to conclude the fourth week of the course.

  • Week 5

    Putting your research into context

    • Welcome to Week 5

      This week we'll examine secondary and other sources that bring an ancestor to life

    • Turning genealogy into family history

      Many sources can provide details and add colour to your family's story.

    • Accessing sources for context

      There are many ways to access secondary and primary sources you can use for context.

    • What's in a name?: 'Voices from the Past'

      The fifth part of the story following Chris as she researches her family history

    • End of week tasks

      Activities to conclude the fifth week of the course.

  • Week 6

    Documenting and communicating your research results and sources

    • Welcome to Week 6

      This week we'll introduce the main types of tools used by genealogists to store, track and analyse data along with an overview as to why such tools are useful.

    • Recording and organising research

      How can research findings be documented? Various tools will be discussed

    • Documenting and protecting

      Why referencing is important. How to organise and safeguard your research and documents.

    • Creating a family history

      What to consider when writing a family history.

    • What's in a name?: 'Sharing the story'

      The concluding part of the story following Chris as she researches her family tree

    • End of course tasks

      Final activities to bring our course to its conclusion.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

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 course is designed for anyone with an interest in genealogy.

The course will be suitable 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 but want to learn new searching, analytical or communication techniques or
  • find it difficult to access opportunities for training and development.

What do people say about this course?

The Genealogy course was brilliant, it updated my knowledge in the general area of Genealogy which I have been studying as a hobbyist since 1962, but most importantly it dealt with very modern systems such as DNA research which had been a closed book for my research and now I have embraced those new technologies freely and feel very empowered to take my hobby into a new, refreshed ‘second wind’.

Neil Spurgeon

Who will you learn with?

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).

Graham is the Principal Tutor on the MSc in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies by Distance Learning at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland

Who developed the course?

University of Strathclyde

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

Learner reviews

Join this course

Start this course for free, upgrade for extra benefits, or buy Unlimited to access this course and hundreds of other short courses for a year.

Free
$0

Join free and you will get:

  • Access to this course for 8 weeks

Upgrade
$99

Upgrade this course and you will get:

  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
  • A print and digital Certificate of Achievement once you’re eligible

Unlimited (New!)
$279.99 for one year

Buy Unlimited and you will get:

  • Access to this course, and hundreds of other FutureLearn short courses and tests for a year
  • A printable digital Certificate of Achievement on all short courses once you’re eligible
  • The freedom to keep access to any course you've achieved a digital Certificate of Achievement on, for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn
  • The flexibility to complete your choice of short courses in your own time within the year
Find out more about upgrades or Unlimited.