The National Institute for Genealogical Studies


The National Institute for Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

2019 Ontario Genealogical Society Annual Conference

OGS Conference

Canada’s largest annual gathering of family historians, the Ontario Genealogical Society’s Annual Conference, will be in London, Ontario from June 21st to the 23rd at the London Convention Center.

via Ontario Genealogical Society

So many activities are planned… Opening Ceremonies begin Friday evening, followed by a jam-packed program with lecture streams for Saturday and Sunday. Don’t forget about Marketplace, as it is a vital stop for attendees to network with OGS branches, OGS special interest groups, and vendors alike.

There’s something for everyone at this conference…

Do you have ancestors from England, Ireland, Scotland, The United States, Eastern Europe, The Netherlands, Spain, Mexico, or Southern America and naturally Canada?  There are lectures on each of these countries!

Do you know what treasures can be found at Library & Archives Canada or in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, or how to plan a trip to your ancestral village? Yup! There will be lectures on these topics also.

Do you know how to share your family history findings through blogging, publishing or using YouTube, or what about holding a virtual family reunion? Lots of information about newspapers records, death & burial records, English asylum records & health records in Canada, WW1 and vets.

You are right, there will be sessions on each of these topics.

And naturally, no conference would be complete without figuring out what you need to know about Y-DNA, Y-Haplogroups, and DNA matches.

While at the conference, you might also meet many students from The National Institute for Genealogical Studies’ program. Half of the presenters at this year’s conference are either students, past and current, graduates, consultants or authors for our course materials. You may have taken a course prepared by Ruth Blair PLCGS, Kirsty Gray, Marian Press, John Reid or Glenn Wright, or you may have attended our Canadian virtual meetings lead by Kathryn Lake Hogan PLCGS. John Boeren from The Netherlands is in our 2019 Graduation class! Others have taken courses in the past.

Drop by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies’ booth in Marketplace to say hi, and meet the newest addition to our team, Angela Rodesky.

For more details:

June 2019 Virtual Meetings

Have questions about your courses or your research? Virtual Meetings are a way for you to communicate with an instructor. These meetings are NOT mandatory, but a fun & interactive way to ask questions about courses/research. Below are the June scheduled sessions. Join us!

“Month” by arztsamui/Courtesy of

Wednesday, June 12th at 8:00 PM EDT – Canadian courses with Kathryn Lake Hogan         Time zones:
Wednesday, June 12th – 8:00 PM Eastern; 7:00 PM Central; 5:00 PM Pacific;    Thursday, June 13th – 1:00 AM in London, England; 10:00 AM in Sydney, Australia
(Note: “Enter as a Guest”)

Thursday, June 13th at 5:00 AM EDT – Methodology courses with Brenda Wheeler
Time zones:
Thursday, June 13th – 5:00 AM Eastern; 4:00 AM Central; 2:00 AM Pacific; 10:00 AM in London, England; 7:00 PM in Sydney, Australia
(Note: “Enter as a Guest”)

Saturday, June 15th at 10:00 AM EDT – American Record courses with Gena Philibert-Ortega
Time zones:
Saturday, June 15th – 10:00 AM Eastern; 9:00 AM Central; 7:00 AM Pacific; 3:00 PM in London, England;
Sunday, June 16th – midnight in Sydney, Australia
(Note: “Enter as a Guest”)

Saturday, June 15th at 11:30 AM EDT – Methodology courses with Gena Philibert-Ortega
Time zones:
Saturday, June 15th – 11:30 AM Eastern; 10:30 AM Central; 8:30 AM Pacific; 4:30 PM in London, England;
Sunday, June 16th – 1:30 AM in Sydney, Australia
(Note: “Enter as a Guest”)

Sunday, June 16th at 8:00 PM EDT – English Records courses with Brenda Wheeler           Time zones:
Sunday, June 16th – 8:00 PM Eastern; 7:00 PM Central; 5:00 PM Pacific;
Monday, June 17th – 1:00 AM in London, England; 10:00 AM in Sydney, Australia
(Note: “Enter as a Guest”)

Sunday, June 23rd at 7:00 PM EDT – Analysis and Skills Mentoring Program – GENERAL with Gena Philibert-Ortega  
Time zones:
Sunday, June 23rd – 7:00 PM Eastern; 6:00 PM Central; 4:00 PM Pacific;
Monday, June 17th – midnight in London, England; 9:00 AM in Sydney, Australia
(Note: “Enter as a Guest”)

Sunday, June 23rd at 8:30 PM EDT – Internet Tools with Gena Philibert-Ortega
Time zones:
Sunday, June 23rd – 8:30 PM Eastern; 7:30 PM Central; 5:30 PM Pacific;
Monday, June 17th – 1:30 AM in London, England; 10:30 AM in Sydney, Australia
(Note: “Enter as a Guest”)

Tuesday, June 25th at 6:30 PM EDT – Analysis and Skills Mentoring Program-Part 3 – ARTICLE REVIEW with Gena Philibert-Ortega   
Please follow the directions found in your course material and read the article.
Time zones:
Tuesday, June 25th – 6:30 PM Eastern; 5:30 PM Central; 3:30 PM Pacific; 11:30 PM in London, England;
Wednesday, June 26th – 8:30 AM in Sydney, Australia
(Note: “Enter as a Guest”)

Wednesday June 26th at 8:00 PM EDT – Student Presentation with host Kathy Holland
Presenter: Bev MacCulloch; Topic: Ontario’s Township Papers

Time zones:
Wednesday June 26th – 8:00 PM Eastern; 7:00 PM Central; 5:00 PM Pacific;
Thursday, June 27th – 1:00 AM in London, England; 10:00 AM in Sydney, Australia
(Note: “Enter as a Guest”)


Calendar of Virtual Meetings is at; top menu > INFORMATION > VIRTUAL LEARNING ROOM.

If you have not attended a Virtual Meeting before, read the Instructions at

Keeping In Touch With The National Institute For Genealogical Studies

In the genealogy world we need to communicate with each other to keep abreast of the constantly evolving research methods and resources. The same is true within The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. As a student of the National Institute, there are various ways you can communicate with us and your fellow students. Here is how:

#1 By email to the National Institute

NOTE: When contacting us please include your FIRST & LAST NAME and the COURSE TITLE, including the COUNTRY the course applies to. It is also helpful if you include the module number and section title you are referring to.

i) – for general questions;

ii) – to advise us of broken links in your course materials and assignments–please be specific as to where problem is;

iii) – questions pertaining to your course exam.

#2 By email to a fellow student

When you view a fellow student’s public assignment SUBMISSION/ANSWER and you would like to contact them about something in their posting, simply click on the envelope icon to the right of the student’s name. A new window will open where you can type your message. For privacy reasons, you will not see the recipient’s email address and they have the option to reply or not.

#3 Attend a Virtual Meeting

VIRTUAL MEETINGS ARE THE BEST PLACE TO COMMUNICATE with an instructor and fellow students. Anyone can participate! You do not have to be registered in the course to attend. When attending virtual meetings, please bring questions applicable to the topic being discussed.

Watch for our emails outlining upcoming virtual meetings dates and times. Or visit our website at, click on Information in the top menu bar, and then Virtual Learning Room for the full schedule.

#4 Follow the National Institute’s Blog

Go to and scroll down. On the right hand side of the page you will see Subscribe to Blog via Email. In the text box, enter your email address and click on the Subscribe button. Once subscribed, you will receive an email each time we post an article. Each blog article includes a link to write a comment or share via social media. Look for these options at the end of each blog post.

#5 Follow us on Twitter

Once signed into your Twitter account, search for us on Twitter by our Twitter name @GeneaStudies. On our Twitter page, click on the Follow button to subscribe to our tweets. Not a member of Twitter? No problem, just go to Twitter and join. Membership is free.

#6 Follow the National Institute on Facebook

To follow us on Facebook you must be a member. To join Facebook go to and sign up. Find us on Facebook at and click on the Like button on the top right of our page.

#7 Join a GenealogyWise group to communicate with your fellow students

Go to and Sign Up. There are groups set up for each of the National Institute’s country streams; i.e. American, Australian, Canadian, English, German, Irish, and Scottish, as well as Methodology, Librarianship, Alumni, and First Timer FAQs.

#8 Follow GenealogyWise on Facebook

To follow us on Facebook you must be a member. To join Facebook go to and sign up. Find us on Facebook at and click on the Like button on the top right of our page.

#9 Consultation with an instructor ($)

If you want to have a one-on-one consultation with an instructor this can be arranged. Please email to request an appointment. When emailing please provide some information as to what course and some background details you would like to discuss so we can recommend a consultation with an appropriate instructor. The consultation with an instructor is available for a modest fee.


Good luck with your studies and research!

Post-Mortem Photography

Photographing the Recently Deceased

Post-mortem photography, photographing the recently deceased, may seem like a rather macabre Victorian era practice. Post-mortem photographs were still being made, though less frequently, during the early years of the 20th century up through the present day.

Photography: Clues Pictures Hold, Editing, Digitizing and Various Projects

Recognizing post-mortem photographs is not always easy. In most cases, the deceased are photographed lying in bed or propped up on a chair or sofa, appearing to be asleep. The poses of the deceased were usually orchestrated so that they appeared as natural and life-like as possible.

The dead were not usually photographed in a casket until the very late 1800s or early 1900s. Some memorial portraits featured an array of flowers surrounding the deceased. Memorial portraits are easy to date because they were generally made in the home immediately after passing.

With our Photography: Clues Pictures Hold, Editing, Digitizing and Various Projects course you will learn about examining photographs and identifying important details.

2019 Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations Graduates!!!

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies invites you to come celebrate with us, with our students, our graduates and our instructors. Anyone can attend. Graduates: invite your family – everyone is welcome!

Join us for our 2019 graduation ceremony on Friday the 21st of June as we honor GRADUATES of the National Institute for Genealogical Studies’ Certificate in Genealogical Studies program. This year, it will be late in the afternoon (4:00pm), in London Ontario, at the start of the Ontario Genealogical Society’s annual conference.

Our students and graduates are from all around the world. Naturally, because of the far away distances, many graduates cannot attend in person. For the last many years, through the use of a Virtual Meeting Room, we were able to reach a much greater number of students and graduates. Again, this year, we will use a ‘virtual’ meeting room for those who cannot attend locally, and let’s hope, once again, the technology will co-operate! We will give you more details later as to how to connect.

ALL GRADUATES (in-person and virtually): it is very important that you let us know if you will be attending. Please send an e-mail to: with a copy to indicating your intention to attend either in-person or virtually. You will receive a confirmation message indicating that we’ve received your email. Further information will be included. If you DO NOT receive this confirmation message from Sue, please call 1-800-580-0165 ext. 1 or 2 to let us know. If you cannot attend, please also let us know.

When you arrive, ask at the OGS registration desk for the room location.

If you would like to attend ‘virtually’ please watch our blog for detail to come later:

If you plan on attending in person or virtually, please let us know at and We will send you by email the final details.

Hope to see you, online or in-person, on Friday, June 21st…

Family History Research

Before you start your family history research

What can be better than researching your family history?! While it is a fulfilling pursuit it is also a lot of work. You should expect to run into some problems along the way. It’s important though, that you not create your own frustrations by making mistakes in the initial stages of your research.

A couple of don’ts

  • Don’t make any assumptions.
  • Don’t believe anything you are told unless it can be confirmed by documentation.

Beware of stories suggesting royal or noble descent. Most of our first ancestors had occupations connected to agriculture and the land. The most important order of action is to always start with the known and find your way to the unknown.


Whose genealogy do you want to trace?

As early on as you can in your project, you should try to make this decision. You may want to trace just your father’s ancestor, or perhaps a maternal line, or all of your children’s ancestors. If you research all four grandparents’ families, then you are tracing your complete lineage, both female and male ancestors. The number of ancestors you will find will double for each generation completed. If you are successful in researching 10 generations, you will have 1022 ancestors.

Our course, Methodology-Part 1: Getting Started, will assist you in using correct research methodology as you trace your family tree.

Who has Grandma’s Photo?

 Family Albums, Friends and Neighbors

Obviously, knowing where a photograph came from is always helpful. Because of social media and genealogy websites, you may have access to family photographs posted by a family member or even a friend of the family. That person’s photograph collection may include more pictures of the same ancestor taken at different times or with other relatives.

Family albums are repositories of photographs of friends, neighbors, and relatives by marriage. It is possible that a photograph of your grandmother may turn up in an album belonging to her former neighbors. Those neighbor’s grandchildren may now have that photograph album in their possession.

Photography: Clues Pictures Hold, Editing, Digitizing and Various Projects

As you document that photograph and its provenance, you might also want to note the photographer who took the image. The names of photographers and their studio locations are sometimes indicated inside old union cases. In later studio portraits this information is sometimes printed right below the image. This is often the case with Cabinet Cards. These photos can include quite an ornate photographer identification or it may simply state, Merchison Studios, Eligin, Illinois. Most people did not travel far to have their picture taken, so their photographer of choice was right in their neighborhood.

Learning how to examine the content and identifying a photograph is a must for the family historian. With our Photography: Clues Pictures Hold, Editing, Digitizing and Various Projects course you will learn more on how to accomplish this.


What does Genealogy mean?

A definition found in the dictionary states that “genealogy is the science of tracing your family back through the centuries.” Genealogies record the descent of an individual or a family from a certain ancestor.  It is the study of your pedigree.


What the dictionary does not explain is the fun and the challenge you can have as you climb your family tree. Think of genealogy as a big, huge puzzle. And you are but one piece of that puzzle.

The mystery in this puzzle is that once you get started, you never know where you’re going or what you’ll find once you get there. With our Methodology-Part 1: Getting Started course you will learn more about these genealogy puzzle pieces. 


National Genealogical Society Conference

The National Genealogical Society Family History Conference, “Journey of Discovery”, will be taking place May 7th 11th and we here at The National Institute for Genealogical Studies are excited. Why are we excited? Because we will be attending! 

Image courtesy of Angela Rodesky

We enjoy meeting with our current students, those who have graduated, and new students. No matter where you are at in your genealogy education, we have courses for you. I’m sure you have questions for us so please stop by our booth and visit with Louise St Denis and Angela Rodesky they will be more than happy to answer all of your questions.  

Plus, while there don’t forget to register for your FREE complimentary course just for attending the conference. 

Who, What and Why?

Basic Questions

How do you learn more about a photograph? Here are some basic questions to help get started.

Photography: Clues Pictures Hold, Editing, Digitizing and Various Projects

WHO is in the photograph?

It would seem that this is a simple question to answer, but identifying people in photographs is not always that easy, especially if there are no other photographs of that person and no living person is around to make the identification. In that case, it may be necessary to rely on a name written on the photograph.

WHAT is in the photograph?

Some photographs have clues that can help identify the subject and the place, even the date, of the photograph. There are numerous things that can appear in a photograph:

  • Houses
  • Commercial buildings
  • Schools
  • Storefronts
  • Cars
  • Street signs

Even Mother Nature can help out if the landscape is studied.

  • Are the trees bare?
  • Is the ground covered in snow?

All of these items are clues to the time of year in which the photo was taken.

WHY was the photograph taken?

Before snapshot cameras became popular around 1900 or so, people did not usually have their photographs taken very often (if at all). So when they did have their photograph taken is was for something special such as a birthday, an engagement or wedding, their arrival in America or in a new town, or a funeral.

Keep in mind that 19th and early 20th century engagement photographs can look almost identical to wedding photographs as most women wore their best Sunday dresses when they married.

It is very helpful to know the basic history of people, places, and things when examining old photographs. These are just some of the topics covered in our Photography: Clues Pictures Hold, Editing, Digitizing and Various Projects course

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