Free Genealogy Courses

by Marc McDermott on

This article discusses different websites offering free genealogy courses. Each website listed will contain a summary of what that site has to offer. 

The majority of these courses are self-paced. For genealogists who may be seasonal or weekend-warriors, this is perfect! Through the many different routes available, these courses offer a way for people to perfect their craft. 

The FamilySearch Learning Center

FamilySearch is a non-profit organization owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). Because the library is a non-profit, their online video presentations are free! Their online Learning Center contains over 2000 educational videos. The Presenters are professional genealogists who discuss a wide variety of different topics. From “Intermediate Dutch Handwriting 1 Introduction” to “Immigration—Crossing the Pond, Pt. 1: Collect Records”, these presentations can help you make the most of your research. Most videos are in English. There are a variety of presentations offered in most Latin languages.

You can find their online collection here: https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Classes_in_the_Learning_Center

These online presentations offer researchers self-paced learning experiences to help genealogists hone in on new skill sets. Some videos are to help researchers navigate the collections at FamilySearch. FamilySearch offers more international records for free than any other company. It is because of this fact that many people are intimidated by the collection. From language barriers to different record types, these presentations will help you get over those concerns. 

Ancestry Academy

Ancestry.com has a collection of educational videos. Many of these high-definition presentations are free. The videos offer insight to help researchers use the online collections most efficiently. These in-depth courses allow the user to learn at their own pace. You can access these courses on your smartphone through the Ancestry Academy app. This is offered on both iOS and Android devices. 

These videos offer beginners and intermediates to strengthen their research skills. From learning how to use the census to locating an incorrectly indexed death certificate, the courses are plentiful. Ancestry’s Crista Cowan hosts weekly live streams in which she discusses new content. Crista Cowan, also called the “barefoot genealogist,” can be found on Youtube as well. She has been making videos for Ancestry for years, and many of her presentations are groundbreaking. We will get to Youtube in a later part of this post. 

Legacy Family Tree Webinars

FamilyTreeWebinars.com offers a wide variety of online presentations. Registering for these presentations before they go live is free (most of the time). After the live webinars are over, they are still viewable for free for a limited amount of time. After this time is up, most webinars go into the Webinar Library. Viewing presentations in the Webinar Library can only be done through a subscription. Subscriptions also allow access to webinars that are not free. Subscriptions are currently $49.94 per year.

There are a plethora of free webinars that are available in the Webinar Library.

The American Ancestors 

This website was organized by the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS). Online events include lectures, educational courses, and events from different genealogical authors. You can view their upcoming online events here: https://www.americanancestors.org/education/online-classes

You can watch archived tutorials and lectures by viewing their archive. You must be registered, but registration is free. 

The UK National Archives

If you are an individual with extensive family history in the United Kingdom, the UK National Archives is a place you must check out! Free webinars are offered by the UK National Archives nearly every couple of weeks. These webinars range from announcements of new collections to tips and tricks into locating your UK ancestors. All of the past webinars can be found online through the Archive’s Youtube channel. They can also be watched through the Archives Media Player. 

BYU Independent Study

Brigham Young University (BYU) has a variety of free academic courses. These courses also include “The Family Historian’s Craft.” This course is an independent study that introduces genealogical methods for family research. As the University is owned and administered by the LDS church, genealogy is critical to them. The other online courses found online here are related to the church doctrines.

Genealogical Societies 

Many genealogical societies host lectures and they likely maintain a collection of recordings. Recordings will probably be available on their website, and many societies upload them to Youtube and other social media. It is not likely that recordings from historical societies will be behind a paywall. 

Youtube

We all know that you can find anything on Youtube, and this is also true for genealogical videos. There are hundreds of genealogists who have Youtube channels. Each person has their unique way of researching. They all have something unique to offer. Professional and hobbyist genealogists specialize in all kinds of genealogical topics, from researching your southern roots to understanding immigration patterns. 

Ancestry and FamilySearch also have Youtube channels which can be beneficial to learn more about research. Family Tree Magazine posts regularly about the best practices for maintaining organization and overcoming brick walls. One of the most in-depth channels is that of the Family History Fanatics. Three members of the Lee family run this channel for the sole purpose of sharing tips and tricks for genealogy research. They also have numerous how-to videos for beginners.

Facebook

Facebook Groups are a place where people all around the world can come together. Generally tailored to specific hobbies, there are dozens of Genealogy groups. These groups can range from specifics such as Jewish genealogy and genetic genealogy. Many of these groups host online lectures and events to help their researchers grow in their skill sets. Unlike most self-paced courses, the online events are live, which allows interaction with fellow researchers. This can be incredibly beneficial for growing and networking.

Final thoughts

It is essential to know what is available as far as free online courses are concerned. We can never know everything, and I think that the sheer number of online resources proves that point. Researching in the US can be entirely different than exploring another country. It is essential to know how to research in other places. Attending lectures, online events, or enrolling in a free course can only do you good. Skills are meant to be improved and maintained. This should be no different for genealogy, whether you are a beginner or a professional.

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