Online course in History

Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree

Develop a deeper understanding of genealogy and learn how to research your family tree and share the results.

Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree

  • Duration 6 weeks
  • Weekly study 4 hours

Learn to analyse genealogy sources and write a comprehensive family history

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

You will consider how to effectively find and analyse sources, and explore the potential of DNA testing as applied to genealogy. You will be able to add historical context to your family history and learn how to record and communicate research findings clearly.

There is no focus on a specific country’s records, so the course will be useful to anyone around the world.

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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.

*A key challenge of genealogy – finding the right person among a number of possible candidates, with ever-changing spellings of surnames – will be considered.

  • 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 databases.

  • 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 autosomal (‘cousin-matching’) and 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
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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?

No special knowledge or previous experience of studying is required.

This 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?

Tahitia McCabe

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).

Graham Holton (Educator)

Graham Holton (Educator)

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?

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