Get a Genealogy Education Online

By April Leigh Helm, Matthew L. Helm

Digital libraries and accessing printed materials isn’t the only form of self-help. There are online courses available too. You might consider the resources available at two sites that deliver instructional material over the web: the Family History Guide and Ancestry Academy.

The Family History Guide is a free resource from FamilySearch.com. The learning content at this site is divided into nine projects: Family Tree, Memories, Descendancy, Discover, Indexing, Help, Technology, DNA, and Countries and Ethnic Groups. From there, you can drill down to more specific topics, each of which has a training plan with links to research projects, tips, videos, and records.

Explore how to use the Family History Guide. Say we need assistance in learning how to research Native American ancestors. Follow these steps to see what the Family History Guide offers:

  1. Using your web browser, go to Family History Guide.
  2. Click the link Countries and Ethnic about mid-way down the main page.
  3. Scroll down and click on the link for Native American in the Ethnic section at the bottom of the Countries/Ethnic page.

    The resulting page, Project 9: Native American, is divided into four sections, or Goals: Get Started (Learn About Native American Research), Special Topics, Search Records, and Get Help. Read through the guide and follow any links to additional resources and records that look useful.

    The figure shows Goal 1: Learn About Native American Research in the Family History Guide.

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    The Get Started section of the Native American research project at the Family History Guide.

Similar to FamilySearch.com, Ancestry.com also offers online instructions for researching. Ancestry Academy offers video courses online for a variety of topics, including getting started, documenting findings in Ancestry family trees, how to use specific types of records, and DNA research.