Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Beginning Genealogy Helps - Post 1

It has been an interesting experience teaching my "Beginning Computer Genealogy" class at OASIS in San Diego, a mature adult education opportunity. The class is four two-hour sessions held in a computer laboratory with ten student work stations (Windows PC, IE7, etc.). The instructor has a laptop and an LCD projector to work with, and the laptop has RootsMagic 3, Legacy 6, Family Tree Maker 16 and Personal Ancestral File loaded on it.

My ten students have little or no genealogy research experience and their computer skills range from limited to extensive. Most of them had family papers and some genealogy reports or books prepared by relatives or other persons. Most of them had poked around on the Internet searching for their ancestors with limited results.

As part of the class curriculum, I did an introduction to genealogy research techniques, and provided a pedigree chart, family group sheets, a research log and lists of record types, local repositories, and genealogy web sites to visit and search.

In each class, I make a short presentation about genealogy research, genealogy software and Internet web sites and searching, and then try to help the students one-on-one with their research problems. The two hours go really fast! At the end, I give a homework assignment. I provide a handout for each class with a text summary of my presentation and additional information that I've developed over the years. I also provide a PDF version of the handout so that the students can click on the links in the handout.

As part of my curriculum, I provided a list of online "Beginning Genealogy Research" tutorials, including:

1) Four lesson study “Introduction to Genealogy” at

2) The “Rootsweb Guide to Tracing Your Family Tree” at

3) The 13 article series of “A Beginner’s Guide to Family History Research” at

4) The online interactive tutorial "Researching Your Family Tree” with five modules at

I would appreciate knowing about other Beginning Genealogy tutorials in text, audio or video formats. I will review more of these tutorials in future posts. I will also make some comments on my experiences working with beginning genealogists using Internet databases and search engines.


Geoff said...

Randy, we just posted some new "beginning" articles for getting started with Legacy at

Eileen said...

I've heavily used the articles and classes at They have free online classes. The Beginner's classes are divided into two parts: Part 1 - 6 lessons and Part 2: 8 lessons. The URL is