Online Class: Genealogy 101

In this course, we will present tips and strategies for beginning the process of constructing your family tree, study basic genealogy terms and tools, as well as describe the various records and sources available for finding information.

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Course Description

Unraveling Roots: Dive Deep into Genealogy

The desire to understand our past and connect with our ancestors is a timeless and universal one. In recent years, this curiosity has transformed genealogy into one of the most pursued hobbies, especially in the United States. The allure of unearthing stories, tracing back origins, or simply understanding the path that led to our existence today is undeniably powerful. Recent surveys suggest that close to 75% of Americans express a keen interest in discovering their family's past, a statistic that bears testament to the deep-seated desire to connect with one's roots.

This interest in genealogy isn't just about uncovering names or dates. It's a journey that reveals tales of migration, love, hardship, triumph, and myriad other human experiences. Some enthusiasts are driven by the desire to reconnect with their cultural or ethnic heritage, while others view this as an invaluable gift of knowledge and narrative for future generations. Engaging with elderly family members, hearing their stories, and understanding their perspectives can further deepen these connections, making genealogy as much about forging bonds in the present as it is about discovering the past.

The explosion of digital resources, ranging from databases to specialized software, has significantly simplified the once challenging process of tracing one's lineage. Whereas earlier, one might have had to travel to remote archives or sift through physical records, much of this exploration can now be conducted online, from the comfort of one's home.

Course Outline:

This course offers a structured and insightful journey into genealogy. We'll equip you with the knowledge, tools, and strategies to effectively chart your family's unique story. Here's a glimpse into our detailed curriculum:

  1. Introduction to Genealogy: An overview of the field and its significance in understanding personal and collective histories.

  2. Getting Started: Initial steps, gathering known data, and setting clear research goals.

  3. Sorting It All Out: Organizing information, deciphering jargon, and using genealogical tools effectively.

  4. Looking for Clues: Employing strategies to uncover hidden or obscure details about your ancestors.

  5. Official Records (Parts 1, 2, & 3): Navigating different official documents, from birth and marriage certificates to migration and employment records. Learn the nuances and potential information each type can yield.

  6. Learning from Others: Collaborating with family members, utilizing public family trees, and leveraging the work of fellow researchers.

  7. Avoiding Common Mistakes: A guide to ensuring accuracy and authenticity in your research.

  8. Dealing With Dead Ends: Strategies for overcoming roadblocks and challenges in your research journey.

  9. Handling Special Situations: Addressing unique scenarios, such as adopted family members or historically undocumented communities.

  10. Keeping It All Organized: Effective methods to catalog and store your findings for easy retrieval and future reference.

  11. Family Histories: Crafting narratives and preserving your family's unique tales for future generations.

Real-World Applications:

Imagine stumbling upon a long-lost letter from a great-great-grandparent, detailing their voyage to a new country. Or perhaps you discover a family connection to a significant historical event, shedding light on personal stories amidst larger narratives. Genealogy often reveals such unexpected and deeply personal connections, making the past come alive in a tangible, impactful way.

Who Should Enroll?

  • History Buffs: Anyone with a love for history and storytelling will find genealogy to be an immensely rewarding extension of their passion.

  • Family Archivists: Those entrusted with preserving family memories and histories will gain invaluable skills to enhance their archives.

  • Curious Minds: If you've ever wondered about your ancestors or wanted to understand your family's journey through time, this course is for you.

In essence, our course aims to make the intricate tapestry of genealogy accessible, enjoyable, and deeply personal. As we delve into the past, we not only understand where we come from but also gain insights into who we are today. Join us in this captivating exploration of histories, stories, and connections.

Course Motivation

What is Genealogy?

Simply put, genealogy is the study of family history. Make no mistake however, genealogy is anything but simple.  

When one undertakes the task of researching their family history, they will delve into the personal histories of their ancestors, and learn about the way in which these people lived. They will look at the connections that exist between individuals in an effort to understand the relationships that were formed over the course of time. As various documents and records are analyzed for clues, there will be lessons in economics, geography, law, politics, and religion.  

When we think of genealogy, it is usually in the context of researching our family trees. It may surprise you to learn that for many, genealogy is a scholarly pursuit, with genealogists specializing in areas of research such as military, immigration, and legal records. There are others whose expertise is in the area of DNA and its application to genealogical research.  

Why Are People Interested in Genealogy?

By some accounts, genealogy is the second most popular hobby in the United States with approximately 70 percent of Americans expressing some interest in constructing their family tree. Their reasons are varied; some people simply want to know more about the people who came before them, others may be trying to decipher some obscure clues left behind in a box of old letters or photographs, while others may be hoping to find a connection to a famous historical figure. Some people begin their research with the hope of providing their children and future generations with a written family history. Whatever the reason, it seems as though once people delve into genealogical research, they find it difficult to stop.  

What Are We Looking For?

Obviously, the more information we can uncover during our research, the better. At its basic level, however, researching a family tree should yield the following information for each person:
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Parents' names
  • Date and location of marriage
  • Names and birthdates of children
  • Date and place of death 
With these basic facts in hand, it is possible to do more extensive research which will help you to learn more about your ancestors and what their lives may have been like. 

Where Do We Find It?




Before the miracle we call the Internet was available, most genealogical research was painstakingly conducted in libraries, city halls, cemeteries, and other places that may have contained records that held the clues to one's past. And while the resources that are available on the Internet will make your research infinitely easier, it will not completely replace the need to visit some - or all - of the locations mentioned above. This is because, while great progress has been made with respect to making this information available online, there are still countless records that exist only in their original, paper form. As we progress through this course, we will provide tips and information for locating the information you are seeking.  

If you are fortunate to have some elderly relatives still living, you may be able to tap into them for information. We will cover interview techniques in a later lesson.  

A Word of Caution

Before we go any further, you should know that researching your family's history will probably not be an easy task. Depending on a number of factors, including how far back you wish to go, how much information you have to start with and the countries from which your ancestors originate, you may find yourself often frustrated and wanting to give up. The key thing to remember is that this type of research cannot be conducted overnight.  In fact, it may take you years to fully complete your research. Don't despair; if you are like the majority of people who take on this type of project, you will quickly find yourself engrossed in the task at hand and will work through the many roadblocks you are sure to encounter. 

Ready? Let's get started. 

  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • Printable Lessons
  • Full HD Video  
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.4 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(4,030 votes)

Lesson 1: Introduction to Genealogy

Simply put, genealogy is the study of family history. Make no mistake however, genealogy is anything but simple. Additional lesson topics: Starting your family History 28 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video A
  • Lesson 1 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Lesson discussions: Why Genealogy?; Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete: Lesson 1 Assignment: Why Genealogy
  • Assessment: Lesson 1: Introduction

Lesson 2: Getting Started

Chances are, you didn't wake up this morning and think, "Gee, I think I'll take an online genealogy course today." Additional lesson topics: IRB Certification 30 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video A
  • Lesson 2 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Lesson discussions: New or Seasoned?
  • Complete: Lesson 2 Assignment: Planning it Out
  • Assessment: Lesson 2 : Getting Started

Lesson 3: Sorting It All Out

Feeling overwhelmed yet? If you are, don't despair, because in this lesson, we will show you how to begin to get a handle on the information you have gathered so far and begin to get it organized. Additional lesson topics: Pedigree Chart Video 29 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video A
  • Lesson 3 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 3 Assignment: Charting it Out
  • Assessment: Lesson 3 : Sorting it all Out

Lesson 4: Looking for Clues

Contrary to what you may believe, it is not always necessary to conduct an extensive search for information about your family's past. Additional lesson topics: Overlooked Clues in Genealogical Research 28 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video A
  • Lesson 4 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 4 Assignment: Photographs galore
  • Assessment: Lesson 4 :Looking for Clues

Lesson 5: Official Records (Part 1)

Official records-those records kept by local municipalities, churches, and other entities, represent the most accurate source of information. 29 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video A
  • Lesson 5 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 5 Assignment: Record Sources
  • Assessment: Lesson 5 : Official Records: Part 1

Lesson 6: Official Records (Part 2)

In this lesson, we continue looking at some of the most common sources of information that can help you piece together your family tree. Additional lesson topics: Immigration Records 27 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video A
  • Lesson 6 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 6 Assignment: Search Practice
  • Assessment: Lesson 6 : Official Records, Part 2

Lesson 7: Official Records (Part 3)

As you may have guessed based on the amount of time we have devoted to this topic, there is a wealth of information available in official records. Additional lesson topics: Land Records Video 30 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video A
  • Lesson 7 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 7 Assignment: Land Records Search
  • Assessment: Lesson 7 : Official Records, Part 3

Lesson 8: Learning from Others

As you can probably imagine, the Internet has made networking with genealogists from around the world nearly effortless. 30 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video A
  • Lesson 8 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 8 Assignment: Joining Lists
  • Assessment: Lesson 8 : Learning from Others

Lesson 9: Avoiding Common Mistakes

Let's face it, if you're new to all of this, you are bound to make a few mistakes along the road to filling out your family tree. And if you do, don't worry - most of them are fixable. 30 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video A
  • Lesson 9 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment: Making Mistakes
  • Assessment: Lesson 9 : Avoiding Common Mistakes

Lesson 10: Dealing With Dead Ends

Even with all the resources available, chances are that you are going to hit at least one roadblock in your quest to fill in your family tree. Additional lesson topics: Overcoming Brick Walls 28 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video A
  • Lesson 10 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Lesson discussions: Road Blocks
  • Complete: Lesson 10 Assignment: Problems Encountered
  • Assessment: Lesson 10 : Dealing with Dead-ends

Lesson 11: Handling Special Situations

Up to this point, we've been proceeding with the "one size fits all" approach -- meaning that there is nothing atypical about your family tree. But, we all know that the world - and its inhabitants - are far from "one size fits all." 29 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video A
  • Lesson 11 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 11 Assignment: Handling Special Situations
  • Assessment: Lesson 11 : Handling Special Situations

Lesson 12: Keeping It All Organized

In the last 11 lessons, we've covered a great deal of ground, and have given you plenty of direction for researching your family tree. 30 Total Points
  • Lesson 12 Video A
  • Lesson 12 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 12 Assignment: Organization
  • Assessment: Lesson 12 : Keeping it All Organized

Lesson 13: Family Histories

For many genealogists, the ultimate goal is writing a family history. As daunting as that task may sound, there are ways to turn that goal into a reality. In this lesson, we will discuss how to write and publish your family history. 108 Total Points
  • Lesson 13 Video A
  • Lesson 13 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Lesson discussions: Let us know what you think of this course; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course); Course Comments
  • Complete: Lesson 13 Assignment: Making a Plan
  • Complete Assignment: Discovery at Family Gatherings
  • Assessment: Lesson 13: Family Histories
  • Assessment: The Final Exam
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Describe how to begin the process of researching your genealogy.
  • Describe where to look for clues.
  • Describe where and how to find official records kept by local municipalities, churches, and other entities.
  • Describe using technology to connect with other people that have information you need.
  • Describe how to avoid common mistakes.
  • Summarize how to write and publish your family history.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
  • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
  • Earn an Official Certificate Documenting Course Hours and CEUs
  • Verify Your Certificate with a Unique Serial Number Online
  • View and Share Your Certificate Online or Download/Print as PDF
  • Display Your Certificate on Your Resume and Promote Your Achievements Using Social Media
Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: Genealogy 101
Course Number: 7550451
Lessons Rating: 4.4 / 5 Stars (4,030 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Availability: This course is online and available in all 50 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas.
Last Updated: October 2023
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
CEU Value: 0.9 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Course Fee: $120.00 U.S. dollars

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Student Testimonials

  • "I greatly enjoyed taking this course. It has helped me to refocus my family research and to remind me not to overlook certain areas of interest. I plan on keeping my notes with my genealogy files so I can return to them and make sure I'm staying on track. Thank you for this course!" -- Erin D.
  • "This class was fantastic. I couldn't believe how quickly I was learning and finding things about my family. I am SO glad I took this class. Incredibly helpful class, really enjoyed it." -- Carina Z.
  • "Professor McKenna's enjoyment of teaching encouraged me to enjoy learning. The lesson assignments helped me apply what I learned. A no-nonsense, well-structured course!" -- Mary R.
  • "I would definitely take another course taught by this instructor. His lessons were very informative and his presentations were well thought out." -- Ginger H.
  • "The instructional videos by C. Michael McKenna were superb : they tied in brilliantly to the lesson topic, were hugely informative and beneficial to me. His personal anecdotes about his experiences added a whole lot of extra value to the course. Mr. McKenna shares his knowledge with enthusiasm, passion and vigour. You could read dozens of books and not benefit to the same extent as taking this course. I wholeheartedly recommend this course to others. Mr. McKenna covered a vast range of topics - and gave expert tips - in 13 lessons. He is both an awesome and inspiring instructor. I cannot praise enough for taking the time to share his comments on my assignment submissions. An encouraging word makes all the difference. His sincerity and personal integrity shine through. An exceptional man. I would like to sign up for additional courses by Mr. McKenna." -- Martina B.
  • "The instructor was great. Grades were very quickly completed. The class covered a lot of very important topics." -- Linda W.
  • "It was very helpful and pointed out ways to correct my research mistakes. It seemed to cover everything related to the topic I would like to know." -- Rey B.
  • "I enjoyed hearing back from Mac. He was very punctual with getting your papers and tests graded." -- Bobbi jo G.
  • "I appreciated the instructor's comments after each assignment. Very helpful." -- Peter C.
  • "The instructor was very good. I would take other classes from this instructor." -- Mary L.
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