The National Institute for Genealogical Studies


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

Virtual Meetings February 2021

Do you have any questions about your courses or research? Attend an applicable virtual meeting for answers. Virtual Meetings provide a way to communicate with an instructor & your fellow students. They are NOT mandatory, but a fun and interactive way to connect.

Below are the scheduled sessions for the month of February.

Note: To join a virtual meeting, simply enter the URL provided in your browser. When joining a session, NO USER NAME or PASSWORD required. Please type in your first name & surname initial, along with your geographical location; then click Enter as a Guest.
For Time Zone Convertor (see instructions below) 

Analysis & Skills Mentoring Program – GENERAL DISCUSSION: Navigate Analysis & Skills Courses with Gena Philibert-Ortega MA, MAR
Thursday, February 11th
at 7 PM EST

Methodology: The “How To” Courses with Gena Philibert-Ortega MA, MAR
Thursday, February 11th at 8:30 PM EST

Analysis & Skills Mentoring Program Part 3 – ARTICLE REVIEW with Gena Philibert-Ortega MA, MAR
Please follow the directions found in your course material and read the article.
Saturday, February 13th at 11:30 AM EST

Pop into the Student Lounge for a genealogy coffee break with your fellow students.
Saturday, February 13th at 1 PM EST

Methodology: The “How To” Courses with Brenda Wheeler PLCGS
Tuesday, February 16th at 5:30 PM EST

United Kingdom & Ireland Records (English, Welsh, Scottish & Irish) Records courses with Brenda Wheeler PLCGS
Tuesday, February 16th
at 7 PM EST

American Records courses with Gena Philibert-Ortega MA, MAR
Wednesday, February 17th at 7 PM EST

Internet Tools with Gena Philibert-Ortega MA, MAR
Wednesday, February 17th at 8:30 PM EST

Canadian Records courses with Cheryl Levy PLCGS
Thursday, February 18th at 3 PM EST

Have a question about your course/research you want answered at a virtual meeting? Email us your question at least 4 days in advance of the session so the instructor can prepare.

Guidelines for submitting questions:
1. Email:
2. SUBJECT LINE: Virtual Meeting Question
3. In the email body:
a) State the question. Be specific & short!
b) If the question pertains to a course, give full title. If specific to course content, include module number & section name (this helps to understand what you are asking).
c) If the question pertains to a record group, include location (i.e. country, state/province, county, town/city) & time period.

Send questions regarding Virtual Meetings or the schedule to:
Sue de Groot, PLCGS
National Institute for Genealogical Studies
If you have not attended a Virtual Meeting before, read the Instructions at

Visit our website for a complete list of online courses offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. Check our Course Calendar here.
Follow us on Social Media: BlogFacebookTwitter, Pinterest.
*Note: Please be aware our social media accounts are monitored regularly, but NOT 24/7. If you have any questions, please contact the office directly.

Contact information:
1 (800) 580-0165


Business Skills Courses

Are you interested in developing Business Skills to take your genealogical research to the next level? The National Institute for Genealogical Studies offers a Business Skills Package that includes 18 courses to give students a good understanding of how to start and manage a genealogical business.

Business Skills Courses – The Foundation – 4 courses
Business Skills: Creating a Business
Business Skills: Business Administration
Business Skills: Establishing & Promoting Your Website
Business Skills: Marketing Your Services & Products

These four courses form the basic foundation to increase the skills needed for a successful business. The step-by-step process ensures you have covered all the requirements. From set up, to day-to-day management, to finding your online distinction, to letting the world know of your existence, your mandatory business practices will be covered.

Business Skills Courses – Finding Your Niche – 2 courses
Business Skills: Career Development: Choosing a Niche – Part 1
Business Skills: Career Development: Choosing a Niche – Part 2

An integral part of your Career Development involves Choosing a Niche. These two courses feature excellent suggestions for possible business opportunities available to genealogists. Course materials and assignments allow you to examine the requirements relating to a variety of research themes. After analyzing these results, you will easily see how you can draw from your own unique skill set to enhance your genealogical research strategies for your clients.

Business Skills Package – Researcher Essentials – 12 additional courses
Creating Genealogy Programs for Adults & the Younger Generation
Demystifying Culture & Folklore
Forensic Genealogy
Genealogy Society Creation & Management
Lecturing Skills Including Preparation 
Organising a One-Name Study
Organising a One-Place Study
Personal Historian: Telling the Stories
Photography: Clues Pictures Hold, Editing, Digitizing and Various Projects
Research: House & Farm Histories
Writing for Genealogy: Articles, Blogs, Research Reports and so much more 
Plus add one elective course of your choice.

The remaining twelve courses in the Business Skills Package each focuses on a specific aspect of research or expertise applicable to many genealogists. Some of these subjects will expand on topics that were suggested in the two Niche courses. Whether taken individually or as part of this package, these in-depth courses instruct students in the prerequisites required to enter each area of a particular field with a genealogical emphasis. Genealogists currently have countless career options beyond simply completing client research projects. Explore your options as you investigate to see which program will suit your needs as you develop your career as a genealogist.

Please Note: All of the Business Skills Package (18 courses) are included in our Professional Development Certificate (40 courses)

Check our Course Calendar for when these courses are scheduled to begin and register today!

Full List of Packages:

Complete List of Courses:

Contact information:
1 (800) 580-0165


Follow us on Pinterest

Do you use Pinterest? It is a free social media website where you can create a collection of visual bookmarks on whatever topic you are interested in. This quickly became very popular, but…. Did you know that it is NOT just for Recipes and Crafts? You can actually use it for Genealogy! It can become a useful online tool. The National Institute for Genealogical Studies has a Pinterest account and you can follow us HERE.

As you are researching online, you visit many websites while working on your research projects – how can you organize and keep track of them? Where can you keep them all in one place and have access to them wherever you are? In our Social Media Tools for the Wise Genealogist course, you will learn that Pinterest is a visual bookmarking website. It allows you to create “Boards” for various topics, which are like Bulletin Boards. You can “Pin” various website bookmarks to the appropriate topical board to be referenced later. These pins capture an image from that webpage and display it inside the board, along with a short description. The URL is linked so that when the image is clicked, that website will open. Boards are created with a title, which reflects your research topics and are usually displayed alphabetically. Inside your board, choose one of the pins with an image that best expresses what that board is about and save it to be displayed as the “cover” of that board. This provides a quick visual prompt as to what each board is about and builds a virtual library of your bookmarks.

Pinterest Research Tips

1. When you pin all the websites you used for a specific genealogy project to one designated board, it is a great way to check back for all of the URL sources for your bibliography or reference materials. 

2. When discussing a genealogy topic and you want to share a great resource site or database, you can quickly access it through the Pinterest app and share it on the spot.

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies has created boards with links to many of our courses, packages and programs. For those who are visual learners, this is a way to quickly get an overview of what is being offered. New Boards and Pins will continue to be added until all of our courses are covered. Click on the course pins to access their course description.

The second way we are using our Pinterest account is to access our National Institute for Genealogical Studies Blog posts. We have many articles that have been written in reference to our course materials, but it can sometimes be a challenge to find a specific topic quickly. Our Blog Posts have been pinned to our Pinterest Boards under the appropriate course topics for easy access. Are you thinking about the next course you will choose? Check the Pinterest Board to see if there has been a blog post about it, and read a summary or highlights of other students’ experiences. Then click the course pin to read the course description on our website.

Be sure to follow The National Institute for Genealogical Studies on Social Media:


Visit our website for a complete list of online courses offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies.

Contact information:
1 (800) 580-0165


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.


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. 

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.


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. 


Recording Your Information

Recording your information

The Pedigree Chart (or Ancestral Chart) will record your direct line ancestors’ information. In other words, you will record the dates and locations of births, marriages, deaths and burials from one father and mother to the next father and mother. While the potential is there for an endless number of ancestors, most of us in the beginning only have knowledge of two or three generations.

Genealogical Numbering Systems

The Sosa-Stradonitz genealogical numbering system is very common. This system assigns a number to ancestors, beginning with the descendant. So your pedigree charts start with the first line, labeled number 1. Number 1 is the name of the person whose genealogy you are doing. So, if you’re doing your own genealogy, your name will be on line number 1. The abbreviations used on the form to record places and dates include:

  • B for date of birth
  • M for date of marriage
  • D for date of death
  • P for place or W for where (location of above events)

The number 2 person on your chart, if number one is yourself, will be your father’s name and his factual information. Number 3 will be your mother’s name and her information. Number 4 is your father’s father, in other words, your paternal grandfather and number 5 your paternal grandmother. Numbers 6 and 7 are your maternal grandparents. Numbers 8-15 are your great-grandparents.  Notice that all the even numbers indicate your male ancestors and all the odd numbers indicate your female ancestors.

Taking our course Methodology-Part 1: Getting Started will help with you learn more the charts and reports used in genealogical research.

The Business of Learning: Methodology 6

By Shannon Combs-Bennett, Student

Well, I have finally reached it.  The last methodology course in the certificate program. Methodology Part 6: Professional Preparation and Practice concentrates on professional development and further educational opportunities.  This is a topic  I am always looking into, so I was very excited to jump into the information provided.

Unlike many professions, there really is not a standard way a person becomes a professional genealogist.  Sure, you can take programs like the one from The National Institute for Genealogical Studies and others. You could go for certification or accreditation.  Maybe you decide after 30 years of researching your own family tree that you now want to try your hand at someone else’s. However, no matter your path, genealogists are left to learning about being a professional on their own.

Anytime I am offered insight from a course, webinar, lecture, etc. that gives me a clue to what it means to be a professional (or just bring myself up to that level) I am all ears. You know what? You should be too. Even if you never “hang your shingle” you should still strive to be as professional as possible in your research. It will make your descendants very, very happy.  Trust me.

Through the course I learned about:

  • Setting up a business
  • Managing clients
  • Writing reports
  • Teaching others

These are all things that I do, nearly every day, and I still was able to pick up new pointers. Especially in the aspect of working for others (aka client work).  Even if your “clients” are friends or family (and they  may or may not be paying you), the ideas and skills taught in this course were outstanding and will be beneficial.  In fact, I have already started to use them.

But, if you are like me, and have no business skills but want to make a living at your hobby then you will want to take this course purely for Module 2. It walks you through everything you need to consider when setting up your business.  I found the part on office planning (in the home or out of) to be very insightful.  Along with setting up your work area and marketing yourself.  There is so much that goes into creating a business from scratch!

Most importantly is the section on ethics. Being the best, and most ethical, genealogist is always my goal. I hope that it is yours too. The last module in the course covers the Association for Professional Genealogists code of ethics and a discussion of what we should all be doing to cover our bases.  It is a section that we should all take to heart.

Overall,  Methodology Part 6: Professional Preparation and Practice had excellent information, even if you never take money for genealogy work. It is good to know what is out there and how to stay on top of the game. Plus, if you are not a lecturer it will give you a lot of insight into all the preparation we go through to bring you our topics. Hours and hours of planning.

Well, off to the next course!  See you online!


Chat About Methodology With Shannon

Female Writing On Notebook  by adamr/Courtesy of

Female Writing On Notebook by adamr/Courtesy of

At the National Institute for Genealogical Studies we occasionally have virtual meetings where our students are the focus of the session.

Are you interested in taking either Methodology-Part 3: More Strategies, Methodology-Part 4: Effective Searching and Recording, or Methodology-Part 5: How To Prove It but not sure what to expect? Shannon Bennett discusses with Gena Philibert-Ortega her experience with these courses. Join Gena and Shannon for a special student discussion on Monday, July 27th at 2:00 PM EDT. You will have the opportunity to ask Shannon Bennett about these courses.

Time zones:
Monday, July 27th – 2:00 PM Eastern; 1:00 PM Central; 11:00 AM Pacific; 7:00 PM in London, England;
Tuesday, July 28th – 4:00 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”.)

Methodology-Part 3: More Strategies
The objective of this course is to teach you how to manage your genealogical project.

Methodology-Part 3: More Strategies consists of an intensive study of types of information and how to gather it. We shall look at how to organize the information, the research process, and even your genealogical office. Strategies for planning your project and for using original records complete the course.

Methodology – Part 4: Effective Searching and Recording
The objective of this course is to teach you how to effectively search and record your information.

Methodology-Part 4: Effective Searching and Recording deals with what to look for in the main sources and how to record it. We then discuss the many methods of synthesizing your research results for presentation and preservation.

Methodology – Part 5: How To Prove It
The objective of this course is to teach you how to make an effective research plan. It builds on the skills learned during the basic and intermediate level Methodology courses.

Methodology-Part 5: How to Prove considers in depth the many possibilities and pitfalls involved in proving your pedigree in a professional manner. The first two modules on Theory concentrates on the meaning of proof in genealogy, delves deeply into sources, information and evidence and concludes with construction of hypotheses and theories. The third and fourth modules are involved with Technique including pedigree analysis, family reconstruction, use and abuse of indexes, negative proof, documentation and the phenomena of serendipity and intuition. The final modules are devoted to Problem Solving where we learn how to deal with problems with starting information, assumptions, problems with records, conflicting evidence, name changes, finding the right parish, migration, age problems, illegitimacy, bigamy & other marital anomalies, female ancestors and the disappearance of paupers. This comprehensive treatment prepares the student exceptionally well for the research process.


If you have not attended a Virtual Meeting before, read the Instructions available at If this URL does not open, please go to, click on Information in the top menu bar, and then Virtual Learning Room in the drop down menu. The link to the Instructions (in PDF format) will be at the top right of the page (you may need to scroll over to the right side of the page).

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