Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Best Online Genealogy Tutorial

In our Research Group today we started on our "Internet Genealogy Boot Camp" effort to introduce online databases and web sites to some of our less experienced members.

Of the 14 attendees today, only three of us had explored the SSDI and WorldConnect databases on The group had a range of experience, from beginner to long-time traditional researcher. All who attended have a computer, use email, and occasionally surf the web, but most do not use the web routinely for genealogy research. I believe that this is typical of many local genealogy societies with a fairly elderly membership (the exception being a computer-related genealogy society like CGSSD in San Diego).

We visited the web site today. This site has an online genealogy tutorial that is excellent for both beginner and veteran Internet researchers. The tutorial is in six modules:

I- Getting Started (Home Sources, Charts, Recording Information, Citing Resources)

II - Using Online Resources (Online Databases, Search Engines, Directories)

III - Gathering Key Records (Vital Records, Federal Census Records)

IV - Exploring Further (Probate Records, Church Records, Military Records, Newspapers)

V - Sharing Information (Discussion Lists, Message Boards, Software Programs)

VI - Quiz

We started in Module II, which provides tutorials for:

1) Social Security Death Index

2) Rootsweb WorldConnect Project Database

3) LDS FamilySearch Databases

4) Ellis Island Database

5) (only the 1880 Census)

6) Google

7) Cyndi's List

8) USGenWeb Project

In each tutorial, there is a summary of the database or web site, and links for Demonstration or Practice.

If you click on Demonstration, you will get step-by-step directions in the left-hand frame for how to use the database of web site with examples shown in the right-hand frame.

If you click on Practice, then the step-by-step directions appear in the left-hand frame, the actual web site input boxes and results are in the right hand frame, and you can input your own ancestors into the databases.

It works beautifully. And it is free!

The whole tutorial can be used to provide a fairly complete course on how to effectively pursue genealogy research on the Internet. IMHO, it is much better than any static lecture course because the student can see a demonstration and then practice using the databases with the step-by-step directions on the screen.

If your local society is struggling to provide online genealogy research instruction to your members, this is by far the best online tutorial I have found.

We are going to continue to use this online tutorial in our Computer Lab classes because we see how effective it is in bringing hesitant researchers into the online genealogy world.

If anyone knows of other online tutorials with different or better qualities, I would appreciate knowing about them.

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