Posted in Online learning

Improve Your Research Skills in 2017 with Free Online Classes

Ah, a new year is on its way!  What are your goals?  Is this the year you take your research skills up another notch? I feel I’ve been at a plateau the last few years and it’s time to make an effort to improve. One of my strategies is to watch genealogy classes online while I am on the treadmill at the gym, thus killing two birds with one stone.

A number of years ago I had a brilliant idea along those lines—hook up treadmills to the microfilm readers at the Family History Library. Running forward would crank the film ahead, and running backward would crank it back. What do you think? In the meantime, I’ll get my exercise with the help of webinars, YouTube videos, podcasts and a pair of earbuds.

Here are links to some of the sites with instructive genealogy presentations:

  • BYU Family History Library – The BYU Family History Library has emerged in recent years as an excellent source for free online presentations.  They have a YouTube channel that hosts many of these presentations, but also have links to past webinars available. There are hundreds of excellent classes available.
  • YouTube – Search for “Genealogy Research”– Entering “Genealogy Research” in the search bar for YouTube will bring up 69,000 results, so you will want to become familiar with the filtering options.  I like filtering by channel and then subscribing to channels that I find useful.  I like Ancestry, FamilySearch, BYU Family History Library, Genealogy Gems, US National Archives, and Dear Myrtle, to name a few. When you subscribe you can be alerted to new videos when they are posted.
  • ICAPGen mentoring online classes – ICAPGen (SM) is a credentialing organization for professional genealogists, and they offer a series of excellent tutorials on research methodology. This include Working with Documents, Citing Sources, Evidence Analysis, Writing a Quality Research Report, Pedigree Analysis, and a class on History, Geography, and Timelines.
  • FamilySearch Learning Center– There are hundreds of options for genealogy presentations at the FamilySearch Learning Center.  They are categorized by locality, skill level, or subject.  Many are taught by research consultants at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, but they also include classes from other expert instructors.
  • Mesa FamilySearch Library– The Mesa FamilySearch Library has archived many of the webcasts they presented live at their training center, and they are available for you to watch at your convenience.  Don’t forget to download the handouts for each class, too!
  • Association of Professional Genealogists – Professional Management Conference (PMC) presentations by the APG feature five classes focusing on the business aspects of professional genealogy.  If you are thinking of starting your own research business or would like to know how to get published in a genealogy journal, these will be helpful resources.

Here are two more options for sharpening your skills this year–courses from BYU Independent Study and classes from Genealogy Research Associates. These can’t be done on a treadmill, but they will give your brain a good workout:

  • BYU Independent Study – Free family history courses – BYU offers ten quality family history courses, complete with homework assignments and feedback from a professor.  Just register by entering an email address and you’ll be on your way.
  • classes from Genealogy Research Associates– Karen Clifford’s GRA provides a series of classes in research fundamentals which are self-paced.  They are not videos, but are written lessons which require no registration. Although the classes were developed some time ago and there are some outdated technologies mentioned, there are some worthwhile principles taught.




I am an Accredited Genealogist® professional living in California. I have been researching and teaching since 1988.

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