Monday, 11 June 2018

Online: Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree

Aimed at the beginner to intermediate level FutureLearn and the University of Strathclyde offer a free MOCC to help you develop an understanding of basic genealogy techniques and how to communicate your family history.
The course covers:

  • A consideration of the differences between primary, derived primary and secondary sources.
  • An understanding of the importance of knowing who made a document and why and how they were created. *A key challenge of genealogy – finding the right person among a number of possible candidates, with ever-changing spellings of surnames – will be considered.
  • Lateral ways to approach research including the FAN/cluster technique and mind mapping.
  • Primary source databases including searching techniques to deal with name change or spelling differences; these include the use of wildcards.
  • An introduction to main source types including civil, church, census and military records to give a sense of the typical type of data these records contain and how to use them.
  • Review the content of major international and selected local and specialised databases and consider ways to evaluate databases.
  • The principles of the Genealogical Proof Standard including how to establish proof and how to evaluate evidence.
  • The use of DNA testing in genealogical research with a focus on autosomal (‘cousin-matching’) and Y-testing techniques.
  • An exploration of secondary and primary sources which provide historic and social context, considering their quality and how to find them.
  • The importance of providing evidence of the sources used in family history research and an exploration of the various systems of referencing in use.
  • A consideration of tools used to store, track and analyse genealogical data; various types of family trees and reports including paper based resources, software programs and online tools.
  • What are the best ways to begin writing a family history?
  • Ways to protect and preserve physical records and digital data.
Although the course is described as not geographically specific it is given in English and there is likely to be a UK perspective.
Learn more and register at


Anonymous said...

I took this course when it was first offered and found it excellent, both as an introduction for beginners, and as a refresher for more experienced researchers. It is sponsored by a Scottish University and (at the time I took the course) the lead professor was an American. The student body was diverse in both national origin and level of experience.

The examples used to illustrate the lessons were mostly drawn from US and UK sources, but the lessons themselves emphasized general general principles and approaches underlying good research practices, knowledge which is transferable to other systems of record keeping. One of the best features of the course was the opportunity to read comments from fellow learners and engage in ongoing discussion as the course went along.

Susan said...

I enjoy many of the Future Learn courses, this one included. They had one on Early Modern Scottish Palaeography, which was well done.