The National Institute for Genealogical Studies


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

Genealogy Black Friday Starting NOW!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Have you ate some turkey, green bean casserole, and pie ? Done with the dishes and clean-up? Wondering to yourself, “what’s next?”

How about a genealogy sale?

It’s Black Friday at The National Institute for Genealogical Studies and that means a sale on the courses you need. 30% off all course packages (save up to $800) and 50% off your choice of one course (save up to $80).

To take advantage of this sale use the following  codes at checkout:

30% off any course package = 16Holiday30

50% off any one course = 16Holiday50


Like any Black Friday sale this sale ends soon. Take advantage of these savings by Monday, November 28th at midnight EST.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Changes Effective February 1

In 1997, the National Institute for Genealogical Studies started offering a basic genealogy classroom program at The University of Toronto. Two years later, we expanded to offer online courses. Since then courses have been offered to students worldwide and our programs has grown. The National Institute is the leader in genealogy education offering over 200 courses, 7 Country Specific Certificate Programs (Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, United States) and 3 Specialist Certificate Programs (Librarianship, Methodology and Professional Development). 2016 will bring new exciting courses and Certificate Programs.

We have been committed from the beginning to keep our courses and Certificate Programs affordable. We’ve done this by keeping our registration fees low and offering convenient payment plans.

When the US economy dropped a few years ago, we made the decision to help our students by freezing fees. For 8 years our registration fees have remained the same, despite rising operating costs.

As we start a new year, it’s time to adjust fees to keep in line with expenses. Registration fees will increase 10-15% effective February 1, 2016.

In order to prepare for this increase, we want to give you the opportunity to lock-in current fees for courses and packages. Here are a few things you can do today:

  1. Pre-register for the courses you’re planning on taking.
  2. Call us to see if we can convert your existing package or courses to a package that would be more economical.
  3. Is money tight? Ask about our Payment Plan options. We do NOT charge interest or service fees and you can spread payments over several months.
  4. Discount. For one week (to January 22), we are offering a 10% discount on all package registrations, or conversion to packages. Use coupon code 2016PKG10 at the registration checkout. For conversions, we will need to process the discount for you.

If you would like to discuss your educational objectives and how to best achieve them, please let us know. You will be surprised how sometimes what you think can’t happen, does!

Contact us by email at: In your email, let us know your objectives, your telephone number, where you live and when we can reach you. If you don’t get a response within 2 days, please call us. We will make ourselves available to speak with you regardless of where you are in the world.You can also call us toll free in North America at 1-800-580-0165 ext 1. All others or local calls 416-861-0165 ext 1.

We look forward to speaking with you…

My Favorite Course: Career Development – Choosing a Niche

Chilling Time For Writing The Plan  by punsayaporn/Courtesy

Chilling Time For Writing The Plan by punsayaporn/Courtesy

By John Boeren, Student

The first thing I did when I decided to become a professional genealogist, was to register for a membership of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG). Quickly, I found out that (ongoing) education and certification are extremely important to the (international) professional genealogy business.

It worried me at first: would I be able to get some kind of degree in genealogy? In the Netherlands professional genealogy is still a rare phenomenon. Genealogy is very popular, but most people consider it a nice hobby and nothing more. The consequence of this line of thought is that we have lots of courses for beginners, but we lack education for Dutch professional genealogists.

After a while I started to see the challenge. I was convinced that I wanted to take courses to improve both my research and business skills. So I searched the Internet for information on genealogical studies. I found a couple in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. After reading all the available information and reviews on these courses, I was still doubting between two. In the end I chose for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. Why? Mainly, because I was very excited about the Professional Development Certificate, a rather new program that “will benefit those who wish to pursue a career in genealogy, create a genealogy business or to augment their income potential by adding niche areas to their business plan.” After a good conversation with Louise St. Denis I registered for this certificate.

My first course was called Business Skills: Creating a Genealogy Business. It was scheduled for the 2nd of March. From the very first beginning, I liked the course. I read the course materials and made the assignments. In less then two weeks I finished all the modules and passed the exam. I was even disappointed that I did not register for a second course, because I had to wait more than two weeks before I could start with a new course!

At this moment I have finished six courses, including the research course Dutch Ancestors in the Netherlands. It is difficult to say already which course I liked best, there are still 34 courses to come! However, if I had to choose one right now, it would be Business Skills: Career Development – Choosing a Niche (part 1 and 2). The course made me think about my own genealogy business: what kind of income streams would I like to add? Would I like to be a writer of articles, columns or blogposts? Would I like to publish books, or be an editor? Could I be a forensic genealogist, a family archivist, a conference planner or a house historian? While I was answering the questions in the assignments, I realized that I have already done a lot of these things before but that I never made a clear choice. That is a thought I really have to give some extra attention.

After completing the course, I drew the conclusion that there are many options for a genealogist. It is still too early to say what path in genealogy world I will take. To my opinion the title of the course should be changed into Finding a Niche. Why? Because I think it is rather difficult to really choose a niche. You need time to find out what your skills are, what you like best in genealogy. A specialty is something you need to develop. And sometimes a niche just comes on your way. I think it is more a matter of finding a niche than choosing one.

There is one more thing I really want to recommend, especially to new students. Take part in the virtual meetings! These meetings give you the opportunity to ask about difficult topics, to have conversations about genealogy in different countries and to speak about your own experiences. But it is also a nice way to meet teachers and students of the institute.


John Boeren. Used with permission.

John Boeren. Used with permission.

John Boeren is a genealogist, researcher and writer, who is living in Tilburg, the Netherlands. He holds a master’s degree in Dutch Law (Constitutional Law and History of Law) and studied at the School for Archivists in The Hague. For almost ten years he worked for the Regional Archives in Tilburg, mainly as a manager of the Department for Research and Education Services. Nowadays he works as a part-time consultant for local governments.

He has been involved with genealogy since 1988. In his private research he focuses on the families of his four grandparents. His main research project is a one-place study on Loon op Zand, a smaller village in the Tilburg area.

In January 2015 he started his own genealogy business, called Antecedentia. He conducts genealogical research in commission (in the Netherlands and the Flemish part of Belgium), gives lectures, teaches beginners courses and publishes in books and journals.

John is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), of the Dutch Central Bureau for Genealogy (CBG), of the Dutch Genealogical Association (NGV), and of local historical societies. He serves as vice-president of one of the NGV chapters.


Antecedentia website logo. Used with permission.

Antecedentia website logo. Used with permission.





Graduation 2015!

Doctorate Hat With Degree by digitalart/Courtesy

Doctorate Hat With Degree by digitalart/Courtesy

It’s that time of the year! Congratulations to our graduates! They’ve worked hard and it’s time to celebrate!

Please join us as we honor the Class of 2015. You can join us in person or virtually.

Attending the Ontario Genealogical Society conference in Barrie, Ontario? Join us there as we conduct the graduation ceremony live.

Or, join us online at  4:30 PM EDT on Friday, May 29th to celebrate the achievements of your fellow students . Everyone is welcome.

Time zones:
Friday, May 29th4:30 PM Eastern; 3:30 PM Central; 1:30 PM Pacific; 9:30 PM in London, England;
Saturday, May 30th6:30 AM in Sydney, Australia

(NOTE: No user name or password required. Please type in your first and last name; then click “Enter as a Guest”.)

Show your support for the graduates of 2015! See you there!

Congratulations to – me!

Colleen Murray. Used with permission.

Colleen Murray. Used with permission.

By Colleen Murray, Student

Last week marked a major milestone in my genealogical education. I finished my 40 courses required to earn the PLCGS (Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies) from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies! Though immersed in celebration this week, I have returned to my computer to write this account of my experiences and reflect on how I got here.

I was always a business-minded individual. I initially thought I’d be an accountant, and completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree. But finding myself at a soul-sucking job after graduation, I quit to follow my dream of opening a retail tea shop in Edmonton, Canada. Six years later, I sold it when our family moved to Ontario. Small children took up most of my day, and I happened on genealogy as a hobby that I could do in spare moments to maintain my sanity.

In 2010, having moved back to Edmonton, I started researching genealogy educational programs. I wondered if perhaps my hobby could be translated into a career?  I settled on the National Institute for Genealogical Studies because of its Canadian stream of courses. It was very important to me that my education be relevant to my location. It also allowed me to take Irish courses, which is where my cultural heritage lies. And best of all, I could work at my own pace.

I started out the program very slowly, trying out Methodology parts 1 & 2 before moving on to the beginner level Canadian package. I look back with some amusement on that first year, I did not usually tackle more than one course at a time, and did not usually submit more than one module per week.  Part of this was due to being a bit of a perfectionist, and part due to family commitments. My slow start may explain why it took me five more years to complete my 40 courses!

By 2011, I was fully committed to becoming a professional genealogist, and I decided to pursue the PLCGS.  The 40 course requirement would allow me to finish up to the advanced level of Canadian courses, and up to the intermediate level of Irish courses, while of course still taking the methodology, analysis and other required courses.  I still completed my classes slowly, but really picked up the pace when my family spent a year travelling on sabbatical in Ireland and Australia.  With few other obligations, it’s amazing what you can get done!  I also spent a lot of time upgrading my previous research, using practices I had learned in class- fixing source citations, producing reports, and implementing a better system to organize my online documents.

The advanced courses that I took in later years were the toughest, but in retrospect, the most valuable. The Canadian: Geography & Maps challenged me, but the result was a different way of tackling research.  The Palaeography: Reading & Understanding Historical Documents class took a LOT of  time, but by the end my skills had really improved dramatically. I still refer back to those notes regularly.

Having finally completed all of my PLCGS courses, I know that my education is not finished.  In fact, I know that professional genealogists have an obligation to keep current and continually upgrade their knowledge of record sets, methodologies, business and technology, and also study journals that include the work of others.  I do plan to do all this, and am on the waiting list for ProGen, as suggested by my instructor Brenda Wheeler (who put up with me through all three of my Analyses classes!)  The National Institute’s Professional Development courses will also no doubt be useful to me.  Right now, I am going to spend some time working on my business plan and use some of those Bachelor of Commerce skills to map out where I want to go from here.

I want to say thank you to all my instructors, especially to Brenda Wheeler & Ruth Blair, who have been great mentors to me.  I want to say to all the prospective and current students out there to keep at it!  Even if it takes you longer than you’d hope, when you finish, it feels so sweet.

You can contact Colleen and keep up with her genealogical adventures at


Join Genealogist Kirsty Gray in Canada!

Director of English Records Kirsty Gray is on a speaking tour of Canada. Don’t miss the chance to see her present on some great English research topics.

November 1: The Ontario Genealogical Society, Toronto Branch Workshop “Industrial England.” Come hear Kirsty provide the keynote address on How the Industrial Revolution Changed the World. For more information, see the OGS website.

November 2: At the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa she will be presenting two lectures, Searching for Names: Challenges, Pitfalls and the Downright Ridiculous and Solving Problems Through Family Reconstruction.

To check out a calendar of Kirsty’s presentations, see her website.

Blogging about German Courses: Meet Michele Simmons Lewis

Michele Lewis. Used with permission.

Michele Lewis. Used with permission.

We are happy to announce that Michele Simmons Lewis is joining The National Institute as a blogger. She’ll be blogging her thoughts as she proceeds through the German Records Certificate program. Before you read her posts, we thought we’d sit down and ask her a few questions.

The National Institute: How long have you been doing genealogy? What got you started?

Michele: I have been doing research for 23 years. My dad accidentally let a family skeleton slip and I was determined to either prove or disprove what he said. I ended up disproving it and I haven’t stopped researching since. What amazes me is how much things have changed in those 23 years. When I first started everything was done on paper and the only way you found information was by doing onsite research.

The National Institute: Do you have a favorite research project ?

Michele: One of the biggest projects I am working on is determining the parents of James Simmons of South Carolina. He migrated with his family to the Mississippi Territory in about 1798. Right now I am plotting out all of the original land owners in Perry County, Mississippi. I am tackling it one township at a time using the records at the Bureau of Land Management. James had three parcels of land and I want to analyze all of his neighbors to see if I can find any sort of familial links. Perry County is a burned county as was its parent county, Greene County. It goes downhill from there because Greene County’s parent county, Wayne County, is also a burned county. There are very few records to go on. Getting James back to the correct county in South Carolina is a challenge. There are several James Simmons’ in South Carolina in the 1790 census. I am hoping that the people I uncover in the land records also migrated from South Carolina (people tended to travel in groups). If I can associate James’ neighbors to a particular county in South Carolina I might discover which of the James’ in the 1790 census is the correct one.

The National Institute: Why did you decide to take courses from The National Institute for Genealogical Studies?

Michele: I was born in Germany as was my mother so we are the first immigrants in her line. All of my relatives, both living and dead, are in Germany. Most of the research I have done has been on my father’s side because it was just easier to do (US and UK). Even though I speak German and can read the records I am not very familiar with the types of records that are available nor the laws that affect the vital records. When I first started doing research the only German records available were on microfilm and this only included a very small percentage of the German records that existed. Traveling back to Germany to do research was out of the question because I was raising five children. My mother was able to get some documents for me from her relatives and from the local government office when she went back to Germany for a visit. She is not a genealogist and I had to limit what I asked for to things that would be easy for her to find. Today there are many more records available online and I have better access to German repositories via the Internet. I am also not as well-versed in Germany history and geography as I should be. I left Germany when I was only 6 years old so my formal German schooling stopped there. I am taking the German courses to fill in the gaps in my knowledge of German research so that I can research my German side more competently.

The National Institute: Where can others find your writings?

Michele: My Ancestoring blog is at . I also write articles for various genealogical magazines. I am active on Facebook, Google+ and Linkedin and I always love connecting with researchers from all over the world. I work for Millennia, makers of the Legacy Family Tree software program. I do a fair bit of writing for them as well.

Thanks Michele! Look for Michele’s posts starting next week.


Happy Graduation!

Join us for our 2014 graduation ceremony, on Friday the 2nd of May as we honor Graduates of the Certificate in Genealogical Studies program. This year, it will be held at St. Catharines, Ontario at the start of the Ontario Genealogical Society’s Annual Conference between 3:30 and 5:30 pm (Eastern Daylight Savings Time).


 Image courtesy of  renjith krishnan/

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/

Our students and graduates are from all around the world. Naturally, because of the far away distances, many graduates have difficulty attending this ceremony. For the last two years, through the use of our Virtual Meeting Room, we were able to reach a much greater number of students and graduates virtually. Again this year, we will use the Virtual Meeting Room for those who cannot attend locally.

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies invites you to come celebrate with us,  our students, our graduates and our instructors. Everyone is invited.

May 2, 2014 at 3:30pm (EDT)
Brock University
500 Glenridge Avenue
St. Catharines, Ontario (90 minutes south-west of Toronto)

If you would like to attend virtually :

(NOTE: No user name or password required. Please type in your first and last name; then click “Enter as a Guest”.)

If you have never attended a Virtual Meeting, see the Instructions link on the right hand side of the Virtual Learning Room page.

Hope to see you online or in person on Friday, May 2nd.



Canada’s largest annual gathering of family historians, the Ontario Genealogical Society’s Annual Conference will be held in St Catharines, Ontario from May 2nd to the 4th 2014.

This year’s theme, “Genealogy Without Borders,” is based on the simple idea that genealogical research can be done almost without ever having to leave your home. Whether you’re looking for a headstone picture in England or a 1921 Canadian Census data image, the Internet provides access to thousands of documents to thousands of people. More recently, there has been an explosion in the use of social media sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, to connect family researchers to both sources of information and family members – around the globe.

Hear some of The National Institute instructors ‘How can I Create an eBook to Share Family History in no Time’ with Luana Darby from Utah; or ‘Local History Online-Adding Social Context to your Family History’ with Marian Press from Toronto; Kirsty Gray, Director of the English Records program will present ‘Child Migration to Canada’ and Glenn Wright from Ottawa will discuss ‘Silence No More: Researching Canada’s War Dead’. And naturally, there will be many many more lectures on a variety of topics.

Come by and say hi to us at our booth and find out what’s new at The National Institute for Genealogical Studies.


The National Institute for Genealogical Studies Introduces The New Professional Development Certificate




To help their students meet the expectations of a growing genealogical consumer community, The National Institute for Genealogical Studies announced today their new certificate program in Professional Development.

“This certificate fills an important niche for the genealogy community” says Louise St Denis, Managing Director of The National Institute. Louise adds, “After 15 years of providing genealogical education we felt it was time to expand our offerings to include an eleventh certificate especially designed for those working in the field of genealogy.”

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