The National Institute for Genealogical Studies

LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

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

How Far Back Can I Go?

Everyone’s Research is Different

One of the most frequently asked genealogy questions is “How far back can I go?” This is a very difficult question to answer. Everyone’s research is different. Accessibility and the availability of documents as well as the possible destruction of records means that the answer to the above question might be different even for the same person tracing two different families on their tree.

There are so many factors involved. Some will deal with your own family’s history and other factors may include the impact of local events. For example, if your ancestors were from the southern United States, the Civil War may have led to the destruction of some records. Fires have affected many records throughout history including the 1890 US Federal Census.

You will find that, as you get involved in your new hobby, your parameters may change. You should initially be concerned with documenting the generations closest to you such as your parents and grandparents which will eventually lead you to “jump the pond” and research an immigrant ancestor.

It won’t take long for you to notice that both the study of genealogy and the study of history are very closely related. Some find it to be a lifelong pursuit and the challenge is, no matter how far back you go, you can always attempt to go further.

Through our Methodology-Part 1: Getting Started” course you will discover more about this common question and how you can achieve your objective.

 

Credits

How are Credits Assigned? 

Many students taking courses from The National Institute for Genealogical Studies will do so for personal enjoyment or to enhance their genealogical knowledge. For these students, earning course credits may not be important.  

For students earning a Certificate in Genealogical Studies, course credits are required.  

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Each course is worth a specific number of credits, typically one credit per course. To receive a credit for a course you must meet the following requirements:  

  • Be enrolled in the course. 
  • Submit assignments and exams posted in the course materials. 
  • Submit the final exam and assignments by the due date.  
  • Receive a grade of no less than a D on the final exam and assignments.  
  • Within six weeks of the class end date, your grade and credits will appear in your student Briefcase. Click My Briefcase to access your grades and credits for all the course you have taken.  
  • If you would like a paper confirmation of your grades and credits, please request this after the course end date. A $5.00 fee is charged for all hard copy transcripts. Payment may be made by cheque, PayPal or credit card. 

Newspapers and Your Local News

Local News 

Over the years, local news found in hometown newspapers has run the gambit, from the very serious to news that isn’t necessarily hard-core journalism.

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Some of the articles you might find relevant to your genealogy includes: 

  • Family News – Newspapers of the 1800s feature more family news in them than what we find today, with the exception of smaller city newspapers. These articles provide insight into the character and sometimes even interactions between family members.
  • Voter Lists and Tax Lists – Voting and taxation happened more frequently than census enumerations and they can help you determine when your ancestors arrived or moved out of an area. In the case of tax lists, they may help you determine if your ancestor owned land.
  • Jury Lists – Jury lists are not always posted for every trial or group of trials in a given community. In some counties, the jury for the given term was published in the newspaper. The town from which the jurors came from might also be listed.
  • Social News and Events – One thing that appears to be common in most newspapers is the comings and goings of the residents of the town. Learning who is gone to visit family or who is returning from vacation adds to your ancestral timeline.
  • Fraternal Organization News and Events – Our ancestors often joined fraternal organizations. They may have joined one because of their religious beliefs or as a result of their occupation. If you know that your ancestor was involved with the temperance movement in Pennsylvania, then it is possible that he was a member of either the International Order of Good Templars or the Sons of  Temperance, which were both temperance societies.

With our “US: Newspaper Records” course, you will learn more about including newspapers in your research.

Clues in Photographs: Women’s Clothing

Women’s Clothing 1830 – 1890 

When researching the lives of our ancestors in photographs it’s hard not to notice all of the changes happening through time. Some changes were big while others were small and may go unrecognized.  Take for instance women’s clothing during the 1800s.  

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

1830s – It was the ending of the “romantic” era, and women were wearing the hourglass silhouette, which consisted of very full sleeves, very wide necklines, a v-shaped bodice, and wide ankle-length skirts.  

1840s – The styles of this decade were still feminine but more conservative, with colors becoming darker and more somber at first before turning to prints and plaids by the end of the decade. Sleeves were now fitted to the arm, skirts were fuller and floor length. 

1850s – In the mid-1850s, the crinoline (a lightweight, hoop-like cage) expanded skirt width even more. Shawls and capes were worn. 

1860s – The bodice was shortened more during this time, but the shoulders were the same as in the 1850s. Square necklines became popular for daytime wear. The neckline was embellished with ruffles, lace, shirring, and or braid.  

1870s – In the early part of this decade, shoulders and sleeves joined at the point where they normally do to this day. Necklines remained high. The bodice was a cuirass, which was a long-wasted, form-fitting corset composed of whale bones or stiff bonelike structures that extended down to the hips. Cloaks and short capelets were worn as outerwear.  

1880s – The cuirass bodice continued in the 1880s, as did the high neckline and the tight sleeves. The skirt was pleated, draped, layered, aproned and often had a train in back.  

1890s – Evening gowns had elbow-length sleeves. Necklines were very high and were supported by boned collars. While the bustle was gone, layers of gathered fabric remained in its place throughout the 1890s. The skit eventually become slim over the hips and then were gored and flared out for a more circular appearance.  

Something as simple as the style of sleeves or even the placement of buttons can offer clues in historic family photographs. With our “Photography: Clues Pictures Hold Editing, Digitizing and Various Projects” course you will learn more about those hidden clues in your ancestral photos.  

Your Grades

 How do I get my grades? 

Within six weeks of the course end date, your grade will appear in your student Briefcase. Click My Briefcase to access your grades for all the courses you have taken.  

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The National Institute for Genealogical Studies instructors use a standard scale to grade exams and assignments: 

A+ 

A- 

B+ 

B- 

C+ 

C- 

D+ 

D- 

 

If you would like a paper confirmation of your grade and credits, please request this after your course completion date. A $5.00 fee is required for all hard copy transcripts. Payment by Cheque, PayPal or credit card is accepted.   

Identifying Military Uniforms in Photographs

Military Uniforms in Photographs 

To correctly identify military uniforms in photographs, it is necessary to read reference books and related websites about the particular branch of the military in its specific country during the correct historical time period. There are absolutely no rules about how a military designed its uniforms over time, although there are a few observations that can be made about military uniforms in general.  

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

A country did not always automatically give uniforms to its military personnel. In some cases, a soldier or sailor had to supply his own uniform, as was done in the case of the Confederate Army during the U.S. Civil War. Uniforms, like other clothing during the early years of photography, were often handed down from father to son.  

More often than not, the higher the rank of the individual, the more ornate the uniform was. The uniform almost always included headwear, so the style of the hat or helmet is a further indication of rank. The insignias worn on uniforms provide further information about the individual. 

It’s easy to miss clues when viewing the photograph of an ancestor in military uniform. With our “Photography: Clues Pictures Hold, Editing, Digitizing and Various Projects” course you will learn more about locating and identifying some of those clues within your photographs.    

Course Registration

How do I register for a course?  

Simply click Subscribe and complete the form. Make sure all information is complete and accurate then click the Submit button. You will receive a message confirming receipt of your registration.  

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When your course registration fee is received, your student Briefcase will be activated.  You will receive an email confirming your course registration and the start date for your courses.  

You may register for as many courses as your wish. Your Student Login (email address and password) will allow you to access your Briefcase which contains your course information. You can access your student Briefcase by selecting Briefcase at the top menu toolbar and then My Briefcase. 

Newspapers Offer Insight

Valuable New Stories 

Newspapers give us insight into life as it was during our ancestor’s time. While still driven by advertising, the newspapers of old often held more personal information than we find in today’s equivalent.  

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In addition to vital statistic type data you will find that historical newspapers also contain other genealogical relevant information including:  

  • Local News – Depending on the size of the newspaper or the number of towns it covered, you may find that there are separate sections for townships or unincorporated towns near the larger city in which the newspaper is published.  
  • Biographical Sketches and Historical Items – May times you will find biographical sketches of those who have been in a community for a long time. In some instances, the sketch comes as a result of the death of the individual, and as such it is important to remember that such information is sometimes flawed or not completely accurate.  
  • Legal Notices – The courts have long used the newspaper to disperse information. Even today the newspaper is used to publish information from courts about pending cases, unpaid taxed, or attempts to notify heirs in a probate case.  
  • Public Announcements – You will see announcements from individuals who are in essence declaring bankruptcy, by applying to the court for the “benefit of the Insolvent laws.” 
  • Shipping and Business News – The newspapers in port towns would mention arrivals and other shipping news. This may prove useful in your research as you learn which ships arrived at the town or what they brought with them. 

With our “US: Newspaper Records” course, you will learn more about all of the information you can include in your research.

How do I get a Certificate in Genealogical Studies?

So you want a Certificate in Genealogical Studies

Upon successful completion of  40 courses in your Certificate Program and achieving a minimum grade of D, you will receive a Certificate in Genealogical Studies. 

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 Students who complete a 40 course Certificate are awarded the postnomials PLCGS (Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies). Students must complete a 40 course certificate program to receive these postnomials. 

Why did you Trace Your Ancestors?

Why would you want to trace your ancestors?

Well, there are a number of good reasons, but let’s face it, most people trace their ancestors for curiosity’s sake. Others trace their ancestors because they want to know about their different ethnic backgrounds. Others want to trace their roots simply for an increased understanding of just who they are and where they came from. Someone else may need proof of their heritage to gain special benefits from their government.

Tracing your ancestors should not be considered a tedious task. Do not think it’s an overnight project either. It could be a worthwhile hobby that you find interesting and fulfilling. There are many reasons why you may want to research your roots, but whatever your reasons are you will find that, as time moves on, what started out as an interesting little hobby will become a  passion and you will enjoy every minute of it.

With our Methodology-Part 1: Getting Started course you will receive the knowledge and steps moving forward in your adventure. 

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