Genealogy Basics

Genealogy Basics

Learn to trace your family history and make it come alive. This course provides hands-on examples that help you dig deeper into your family's past using several subscription-based websites that you will be able to access during the course.

6 Weeks Access / 24 Course Hrs
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  • Syllabus
  • Requirements
  • Instructor
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Tracing your family's history is a fascinating journey. Genealogy Basics will help you understand the genealogy research process and how to interpret the information you find. This course guides you through the search process for family names using several subscription-based websites, which you can access while enrolled in this class.

You will learn through hands-on examples that help you dig deeper into your family's past. You will develop a strategy to accomplish your objectives, evaluate the results, and share that information with others. You will discover where to look, who to contact, and how to make your family history come alive!


In the first lesson, you'll learn how to gather family information and organize your collection of materials. You will discover which sources provide the best information and explore standard collection methods and interview techniques. You will be provided with a PDF toolkit that includes all the forms you'll need to get started. Each lesson ends with a small crossword puzzle to help you remember important genealogy terms.

In this lesson, you'll answer the question, What's missing in my family tree? You'll organize your findings using research timelines, then determine which records will be the most helpful. You will also use different Internet search techniques including an online search of the Social Security Death Index.

In this lesson, you'll explore and analyze vital records such as Birth, Death, and Marriage. You will also learn how to request copies for your research and what to look for in those records. This lesson uses several easy-to-follow examples for finding vital records in databases on the Internet.

This is perhaps the most important of all the lessons. You will learn the value of census records and discover that spelling really doesn't count! You will learn which census records are available, where to find them, and how to analyze them. This lesson uses three hands-on examples you can try for searching the complete 1880 US Census and the 1881 Census for Canada and Great Britain, without leaving your house or renting microfilm.

In this lesson, you'll hear some of the reasons why you may not be able to find an elusive ancestor. Contrary to what you may think, they're not in a witness protection program! You'll explore the Soundex system and learn its value in solving some mysteries. You'll also learn how to analyze old handwriting.

In this lesson, you'll learn how computers search, both on and off the Internet. Local and distant searches—when done properly—can answer many of your questions. You'll also learn how to use the LDS Library website to find published information, saving you hours or days of research time.

In this lesson, you'll explore writing styles, unusual resources, and the value of email. You'll discover the value of mailing lists and learn how to subscribe, unsubscribe, and post messages. You'll also learn how to search past archives for messages that might help fill in missing branches on your family tree.

In this lesson, you'll learn what resources are available for researching military records and where to find them. The example in this lesson walks you through a search of the US Civil War database and explains how valuable pension records can be in learning more about your ancestors.

In this lesson, you'll learn to research maps, deeds, and grants for genealogy. You will investigate abstracting deeds and do a search of the Bureau of Land Management website for Land Grants and Homesteading Patents.

This lesson explains how your ancestors immigrated. You will learn about America's immigration patterns and discover how to use naturalization and passport documents to find the information you need. Your class has an account already set up on the Ellis Island website for you to use. The assignment will walk you through a real example and eventually show you the actual ships manifest.

In this lesson, you'll learn about some of the exciting things that can come from researching newspapers, city directories, periodicals, and wills. You'll also learn a great way to find collateral lines (cousins), and perhaps fill in some middle names or reveal new locations by sharing your work with others.

In the last lesson, you'll explore more genealogy tools, sources, and software. This lesson will show you the best genealogy software programs and will review each one. By using a software program, you can discover how easy it is to put it all together.



There are no prerequisites to take this course.


Hardware Requirements:

  • This course can be taken on either a PC, Mac, or Chromebook.

Software Requirements:

  • PC: Windows 8 or later.
  • Mac: macOS 10.6 or later.
  • Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are preferred. Microsoft Edge and Safari are also compatible.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • Software must be installed and fully operational before the course begins.


  • Email capabilities and access to a personal email account.

Instructional Material Requirements:

The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment and will be available online.


Carrie Ehrfurth

Carrie Ehrfurth is a historic preservation specialist and works to place buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in art history, a graduate certificate in historic preservation, and a master's degree in business administration. Ehrfurth also researches family genealogy and takes great joy in weaving together historic information to create a complete picture of one's past.

Bob Moyer

Bob Moyer (deceased) was a college instructor, graphic designer, technical writer, and author of this course. Bob held degrees in education, business, and Civil Engineering. He had more than 12 years of experience as an instructor and developed genealogy courses for several colleges. His passion for research and family history resulted in several genealogy-related books and speaking engagements.


I have enjoyed this course very much. It was easy for me to fit into a busy lifestyle. My thanks to the instructor for "infecting me with Genealosis"! This course has helped me in my quest to learn more about my family and it's history! Will be looking for follow up classes.

I have learned a lot, both about genealogy and about my family, in the weeks we have been in this course. I have a long way to go, but the journey is the part I love. While it is great to document that these are MY ancestors, once I know that, I want to know so much more about them, and this class has shown me ways to find that information.

I really enjoyed taking this course. I learned a lot about researching my family that I didn't know. Through this course, I discovered ways to research that I hadn't even thought about before or that I hadn't heard of. Thanks for a job well done!!

I really liked this course. Website info is outstanding. I have been working on my family genealogy since 1971. I wish I had this course back then--and that there was an Internet then!

I thought the information and supplementary material was very informative. What a rush of adrenalin when I found my first ancestor with your guidance. All my ancestors have passed away without my knowing to ask any questions of their heritage so my task is quite difficult. I work full time now and have made sure to copy everything so the material will be available to me as I have more time to work on our genealogy. Thanks for all your guidance, and I look forward to taking additional internet courses.

The content and benefits of taking this course exceeded my expectations. I wanted a refresher course with a very great emphasis in online research information and sites to use as I am very weak in the online research area. This course did that, and more. I'm very pleased with this course.

This course has really hooked me on the task of finding my ancestors. I now have a much clearer idea of how to go about this job, particularly with regard to using the Internet.

I am new to Genealogy and feel this "Basic" course is more than enough to get me started and keep me going for years. Genealogy Basics is a must for beginners and old timers will delight at the abundance of new ways to approach "brick walls". I loved Bob's discussion areas which were full of extra resources and research tips. I cannot imagine starting genealogy without this course. I highly recommend Genealogy Basics, take the course you will not regret your choice.

I enjoyed this course tremendously! The lessons were well-developed and interesting, and the activities and resources were amazing! I am thrilled with all that I learned along with the extensive resources shared throughout the course. I have already recommended this course to several people. Thank you so much for getting me on the right track to researching my ancestors. I truly appreciate all that has been offered here!

I found this course very informative and done in an interesting and fun way. Not only were the lessons very informative, the discussions and assignments really brought it home. The examples showed how to work it and then I continued on looking for my ancestors. The crossword puzzles were a fun way to learn things and the quizzes being interactive were very good. The information was not spoon-fed but helped start my brain in a "Detective mode" which will help searching for information. This has shown me many areas and ways to find information and I'm really excited to be re-starting my search for my ancestors. Thanks very much!

Self-Guided Course Code: T9843
Instructor-Moderated Course Code: gen