Ruth's Genealogy

“I don't know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.” -Abraham Lincoln

Last week we paid tribute to local genealogical and historical societies. This week we’re going to think bigger. For which state, provincial or national society are you most thankful? What makes this society special? How do the publications and events of this group assist in your family history research?

Though not a member of any state or national genealogical society, I do keep up with the activities of many such groups, including the Texas State Genealogical Society and the National Genealogical Society. These groups are, of course, instrumental in preserving historical and genealogical documents and making them more accessible to family historians.

But another very important task that these larger societies are responsible for is the education and subsequent certification of researchers as trained, competent genealogists.

The National Genealogical Society has an excellent set of online courses:

  • Family History Skills- Learn the basics or refresh your skills in family history research with this online self-paced, self-graded course available only to NGS members—free of charge.
  • Census Records in Genealogical Research- Long considered a basic building block for most family historians, federal population schedules provide a wealth of personal information about the family. This study covers individual censuses back to 1790.
  • Special Federal Census Schedules- Learn facts about special groups such as slaves, Native Americans, veterans, the handicapped, farmers, and manufacturers and their products—even the deceased.
  • Transcribing, Extracting, and Abstracting Genealogical Records- To understand records, researchers must know how to read and accurately record what they find in documents and hand-written manuscripts. This course provides those skills.
  • Working with Deeds- Researchers often find answers to numerous family history questions in an ancestor’s property sale and purchase transactions. This self-graded course provides an understanding of deeds, their unique terminology, and the meaning of the transactions.
  • Introduction to Religious Records- Researchers often find answers to numerous family history questions in records kept by religious institutions. This course presents instruction on how to find and use these valuable records.
  • Social Security Sleuthing- This course familiarizes you with the history of the Social Security Act in the United States and how this determines when and where someone may have obtained a Social Security number. It also briefly describes the Social Security numbering system and the clues a number may hold for a genealogist.
  • Introduction to Civil War Records- In Introduction to Civil War Records, Craig introduces you to numerous records created for, during, and after the war and provides you strategies to identify and locate information on an ancestor living at the time of the Civil War.

The renowned NGS Home Study Course (HSC) is available on CD. It provides a solid foundation for someone just starting out and new possibilities for experienced researchers’ more difficult problems.

  • instruction about a variety of genealogical resources;
  • strategies for conducting family history research on the Internet and in libraries, courthouses, and archives;
  • analyzing documents to get the most out of sources;
  • the principles of evidence analysis;
  • explanations of source citation, including examples;
  • tips for writing narratives;
  • assignments with examples of how they should be completed;
  • self-correcting exams;
  • bibliographies and reference lists; and
  • an online mail list for advice and research help.

These courses are all available either free of charge of at discount to NGS members.


52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2012) that invite genealogists and others to discuss resources in the genealogy community including websites, applications, libraries, archives, genealogical societies and more. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your thoughts on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.

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