May 14th, 2013

Don’t Let Opportunity Pass You By – Take Advantage of These Free Genealogy Courses!

There’s no reason anyone should struggle with genealogy issues anymore. I recently decided to put one of my New Year’s Resolutions into practice and take a genealogy course. I jumped on Google, and as frugal as I am typed “free genealogy courses” into the search window. You wouldn’t believe how many courses I found, many of them taught by college professors and professional genealogists! I couldn’t believe that such quality instruction was for free, so I started investigating! Lo and behold, they deliver what they advertise. I found so many that I thought I had to share the ones I thought best with you. It would really be a shame not to take advantage of these excellent free genealogy resources.

It is no surprise that the LDS-run Brigham Young University offers a variety of genealogy courses. The courses are courtesy of their Independent Study department, a non-profit branch of the school. The study department’s courses range from beginning genealogy to courses specializing in individual record types (military, vital, and family records), and also regional and ethnic focused courses such as French and German research. The University has its own Center for Family History and Genealogy which hosts links to a number of online tutorials and helpful websites.

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology doesn’t offer genealogy-specific courses, but some such as American History to 1865, The Places of Migration in United States History, and the Economic History of Work and Family can be very useful to family historians.

Similarly, Yale University offers genealogy-relevant courses covering topics such as; The American Revolution,  African American History: From Emancipation to Present, and European Civilization, 1648-1945 can all be of immense value to genealogical researchers. The courses are offered through the Yale Open Courses program, which provides materials and lectures from variousYaleCollege courses to anyone with a computer and internet access for free.

There is a group known as Coursera which is a conglomerate of 62 Universities which offers a huge amount of course that are of interest to genealogists. Many of the courses are led by qualified instructors that are scheduled to begin and end at specific times, so you’ll have to sign it on time to “attend” them. There is plenty of pre-recorded material however, and many of the courses are graded and offer certification. Some of the genealogy related courses on offer are Immigration and US Citizenship, Useful Genetics, Women and The Civil Rights Movement, and The Camera Never Lies.

Another site that also offers excellent, high-calibre learning resources is Evidence Explained, developed by Elizabeth Shown Mills to assist researchers and historians of every kind. In the Quick Lessons section of the website you can find tutorials on a number of relevant topics such as; Census Instructions, Who Needs Instructions?, Chasing an Online Record into its Rabbit Hole, and What Constitutes Proof? All of the subjects are presented in tutorial form, so can be taken at your leisure.

At the Canvas Network website you will find a catalogue of free online courses that cover a number of topics. Many of them are of little use to the genealogist, but there are courses such as U.S. History: First Peoples to the Civil War and Reconstruction, and US History which may be of benefit to historical researchers.

There are definitely many additional free online learning opportunities out there, but I thought these were some of the highest quality. You can even tell your friends and family you’re taking a college course! Have a look for yourself at each of them, browse through the courses, and if you decide to take one, come back and tell us your thoughts and how you made out in our comments section!