a monthly column by Shelley Bishop
Are you looking for a comprehensive, step-by-step way to learn more about American genealogy? Have you been collecting information on your family tree, but want to get deeper into records that aren’t available online? Would you welcome the chance to take a time-tested course in genealogy from the comfort of your own home?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you may want to consider the National Genealogical Society’s Home Study Course in American Genealogy.
The 16-part Home Study Course (HSC) provides an overview of American records and the essential principles of evidence analysis in a structured format. It’s available on a series of three CDs that are compatible with both PC and Mac computers. You can start at any time and proceed at your own pace. You also have the option to have your assignments reviewed and evaluated (generally as “complete” or “incomplete”) by experts in the field.
Each of the 16 segments consists of a lesson, recommended readings, a glossary, a self-graded quiz, assignments, and supplemental resource materials. Many of the assignments encourage you to explore courthouses, archives, and other facilities in your area. You can use your own family research for the assignments.
Lessons begin by exploring topics such as family traditions and records, interviews, queries, and library resources. They then examine the various types of American records in detail: census, vital (birth, marriage, and death), church, cemetery, probate, other court, state and federal land, local land, tax, migration, passenger lists, naturalization, and military and veterans’ benefit records. At the end of the course, students are asked to submit assignments showing their understanding of evidence analysis and kinship, as well as their ability to write a biographical ancestor narrative.
Students can purchase each CD of five or six lessons separately, or bundled together for a slight cost savings. As a graduate of the course, I would recommend buying them individually, unless you expect to complete them all very quickly. The course is continually updated, and by buying each CD when you’re actually ready for it, you can be assured of getting the most current version. You have one year to complete each CD, but may get an extension if needed. An online mailing list provides support for student questions.
So if you’re looking for solid instruction in using American records and resources, while doing hands-on research, check out the Home Study Course. For more information, see the National Genealogical Society’s website and click on the “Educational Courses” tab.
© Shelley Bishop 2012
This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of The In-Depth Genealogist. Receive The In-Depth Genealogist free by subscribing HERE.