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Courses in Geneology are they worth it?

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    Courses in Geneology are they worth it?

    I know that a lot of people on this forum have been into geneology for years and wonder if you would recommend any courses to further our knowledge.
    I found one that to be honest sounded like they were saying"here is an egg, suck it", maybe this is a little harsh. You can invest quite a bit of time finding yourself tracing out another family with the same name, even the professionals seem to fall into these traps, but would a course help you not make these costly mistakes? What do you think?

    I would say it depends on whether you like courses. I started with some information from relatives and three books from the library. I made some obvious mistakes to start with but I have learned "on the job" so to speak and now consider myself reasonably experienced.



      If you are into "doing things together", joining a local family history society might be a less costly and perhaps more focused option.

      I have just soldiered on alone, though I had a massive starting boost from my late uncle's work on the family.
      Last edited by Uncle John; 21-03-13, 18:12.
      Uncle John


        How about the local library, do they not have a family history group?
        We have one but I have yet to attend as they are mainly at night and I have a phobia of being outside at night.
        Lennon. Phillips. Thomas. Peacock. Tubridy. Burton.

        I am the girl from that town & I'm darn proud of it.


          I have been at this lark for a very long time. I did join a family history group many years ago and really enjoyed the meetings and learned a lot from others esp as it was in the region my family came from. When I moved area I didnt bother to join another group. BUT eventually along came the internet and my interest renewed. I have learned more from reading the posts on this forum than anything else and rooting about in the research section to see what comes up.
          If you have the cash, time and ability to write well then yes then try a course but what will you get from it - a certificate of attendance or real knowledge? I think a few decent genealogy books from the library like Anne said is a very good idea and a basic grasp of history and geography for your ancestors. you will probably find that you know more than you think.
          personally if i could afford to do a course i would spend the money on buying bmd certificates or renewing my sub to ancestry or scotlands people or fmp.


            I agree with Angelina - spend your money on certs and subs, rather than on a course. You would almost certainly find you knew everything they could teach you, because most courses are aimed at beginners - why would they be aimed any higher?

            I am self taught, like many others. Trial and error and experience. Mistakes are the greatest teacher of all and you don't make the same mistakes twice (unless you are incredibly dim, lol).

            Read read read - every family history book you can get hold of, all are different, all have some nugget you didn't already know. Read forum posts - in my opinion, forums are fantastic resources for the pooling of expertise and knowledge and I could cit you many examples on this forum alone of the solving of apparently insoluble mysteries, simply because so many people pooled their knowledge and efforts. You will never get that from a course, no matter how good it is.



              Even if you had the highest genealogy qualification in the world, you will still make mistakes.

              Ultimately every conclusion we come to is a best guess; it should be a very well researched and supported guess, but it will still be a guess. Unless you were there when your 3 x GGF was born, or at the wedding of your 4 x GGM you do not know for definate that you have the right people. You make a decision based on the evidence you have, and often that is no more than a BMD certificate and a census return, which may be transcriptions from a church register or from a form to an enumerator's book.

              I have had the situation where I had to make a choice between the births of two people with the same first, middle and surname, born in the same month, in the same parish with the same father's name with the same occupation, and I picked the wrong one! I had to base my decision on some flimsy circumstantial evidence, and I only found I had the wrong one when the 1911 census came out and I found an extended family member I already had in my tree visiting the one I didn't pick!

              As OC says, keep your money for subs and certificates; that way you may be able to afford both certificates when there is a choice!
              Co-ordinator for PoW project Southern Region 08
              Researching:- Wieland, Habbes, Saettele, Bowinkelmann, Freckenhauser, Dilger in Germany
              Kincaid, Warner, Hitchman, Collie, Curtis, Pocock, Stanley, Nixey, McDonald in London, Berks, Bucks, Oxon and West Midlands
              Drake, Beals, Pritchard in Kent
              Devine in Ireland


                all very correct, good answers. oc is quite right, just read up on stuff posted in forums. i read all the new responses in the family history research section everyday. not only do you keep up with lines of thought, and progress, but you also learn so much you wouldn't normally if you've never come across that situation yourself.

                many times i have remembered something i read here, that has solved my problems.


                  I started off a couple of years ago and found my family fairly easily apart from the usual brick wall (Irish) but then the others were Scottish so got lots of great info from certs there and the English lot never moved. I did not find I needed to go on any courses but found it very important in the early stages to invest a bit of cash in certs and a Scottish pay as you go site. My wider education came from using the forums and I am still learning adding useful sites to my favourites all the time.

                  I agree spend your money on the certs and the sites.



                    Simply it yourself, there's plenty of help on this Site when you need it. I'm always amazed at the speed in which various helpers find the Relative being searched.


                      I had been researching for about six years and had read masses of books, learnt from forums and had 'hands on' experience from doing my tree but found myself eager to learn even more.

                      I decided to take a short course in Family History at my local college (6? x two hour classes) that cost about £40 and was aimed at those who had some experience and I throughly enjoyed it, partly due to the fact I was with liked minded people and their eyes didn't glaze over when the subject was raised.

                      It was with the encouragement of the tutor that I decided to embark on a course with the IHGS that could lead to recognised qualification if I choose to take it that far. When I looked at the course content I thought it would be fairly straight forward in the early stages but how wrong I was! The Paleography assignments had me almost in tears and at the point of giving up and viewing the student boards I wasn't alone in the feeling. I struggled through and was delighted with my mark but even more pleased with how reading wills etc no longer fills me with dread.

                      I have learnt alot, even in subjects I thought I 'knew', and continue to do so as I have found I am researching each lecture subject in far greater depth than I had already had and would have done on my own.

                      So I am all for courses but I can fully appreciate how other people think differently....Perhaps I am a course junkie?

                      Last edited by Chris in Sussex; 22-03-13, 07:33.
                      Avatar....My darling mum, Irene June Robinson nee Pearson 1931-2019.

                      'Take nothing on its looks, take everything on evidence. There is no better rule' Charles Dickens, Great Expectations.


                        Tucked away at the bottom of our own Getting Started page, we have a list of other online courses/tutorials which are also handy for hints and tips:

                        Caroline's Family History Pages
                        Do not do to others what angers you if done to you by others. Socrates


                          I have been into genealogy since the mid '70's and have learned by experience. Initially it involved a lot of letter writing, travelling overseas etc and was rather

                          a slow process, but since the expansion of the web things have become much easier. I would rather put my money into a genealogy website that sit down at

                          lectures being told esentially what I have already learned. Tis a bit like these places that advertise on how to become rich etc, the only real winners are the

                          ones doing the lecturing.

                          The final thing is join a good forum (this one of course) where one has the help of many, many knowledgeable and friendly folk.
                          Whoever said Seek and Ye shall find was not a genealogist.



                            And consider what resources beyond library books and online references you may have: does your local Gen Soc have workshops, or provide access to a genealogist for little or no cost? Could you use that tuition money to hire a good genealogist in a place you can't get to? I have learned much from some of the professionals I've connected with. The breadth and depth of their knowledge of resources and customs has amazed me!

                            Any of the ftf members who do consult have comments?
                            My Families
                            London-area Coverly Family Finder DNA Project


                              I have to say I started Genealogy/Family History many years ago before there were even photocopying facilties!! I have learnt as I have gone along and am still learning on the job. I have taken many courses in other subjects, which I have enjoyed, as you meet like minded people during the course of studying your chosen subject. However, I do feel genealogy is different, in that I am personally more intetested in the Family History and the Social History rather than in just the tree, though you have to have a tree of sorts before you can start on the Social History side. But then, even the Social History can be broken down into Countries ie England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland and further broken down into Counties, so I am very unsure that a genealogy course would cover all that. I prefer to spend my time with a local Family History Society where I can talk to like minded people, listen to a monthly lecture and get a lot of help from other experienced Family historians, as well as borrowing books from their library.

                              I also belong to other Family History Societies more pertinent to where my ancestors came from like Cork Genealogy Society, Tipperary Historical Socety, Devon, Northamptonshire, Huntingdonshire and East of London FHS, attending some of their annual meet ups, though I have not attended these for a while! Then if you want something more you can offer to run a Family History Group and I run two Family History Groups for our local U3A.

                              To take a course or not to take a course is going to be a very personal decision. If you want to make a career out of it, then most probably you will need a qualification to show people that you are qualified to do someone else's research.

                              I suppose one of the problems with courses is that you often learn some things that you may never need or use, whereas if you are self teaching you will learn the things that you personally need and want.

                              Last edited by Janet; 22-03-13, 14:44.


                                I remember finding a parish entry that seemed to match my g'g'grandmother's estimated DOB (calculated from the yr/m/d age in her death certificate). I went to a genealogist to ask her if I should consider that a match, and she gave me the simple advice to check for a death in the same register for a person with the same name. That seems obvious now, but it was a great lesson to me, then a complete novice! I'm sure professional training teaches many such insights.

                                And, of course, genealogy is specialized by area and era. Finding a course to meet your specific needs isn't easy either.
                                My Families
                                London-area Coverly Family Finder DNA Project


                                  Originally posted by PhotoFamily View Post
                                  I remember finding a parish entry that seemed to match my g'g'grandmother's estimated DOB (calculated from the yr/m/d age in her death certificate). I went to a genealogist to ask her if I should consider that a match, and she gave me the simple advice to check for a death in the same register for a person with the same name. That seems obvious now, but it was a great lesson to me, then a complete novice! I'm sure professional training teaches many such insights.

                                  And, of course, genealogy is specialized by area and era. Finding a course to meet your specific needs isn't easy either.
                                  Sometimes your own intuition will get you to delve deeper whether you have done a course or not. Having completed a course in genealogy will not necessarily help you with your ownresearch any more than the research techniques you have learnt "on the job".

                                  When I was researching parish registers I initially found one person baptised 1805 and immediately thought he was my man, but my intuition made me delve further into the registers and soon found another one of the same name baptised 1803. So who was who and which one was mine? Admittedly I had been researching for a few years before this happened but I was new to Parish Registers at this point and was unsure of the parents' names. I had to delve quite deeply, as in actual fact both are probably mine, but have different mothers!! I know which one is definitely mine, but I wonder how many other people searching those registers have found both of these people and realise the possible significance. I do know others researching the same family and none of them have ever mentioned the illegitimate one of 1803.



                                    I have nothing against courses for specifics, such as researching in Ireland, or palaontology (sp?)for instance, or any other course which meets your own specific needs. But I do feel that basic beginners courses in How To Do Your Family History are probably of very little use really.

                                    I would certainly consider using a professional researcher who had focused skills in one particular area, such as military research, because I have very little military knowledge and not much inclination to learn!



                                      i think using proffessionals is only something to do, if you can't access the records yourself. i only use a researche rin berlin because the lds have not filmed the towns i need, and i cannot go to germany or read german script. likewise i had a researcher in dublin look for my family in a small village in clare. he found nothing, even though he should have found something.

                                      so if it's to help you with your tree, i think you can just google and find what you need. or if you think starting up proffessional research is your thing, i would think of what research you would do that is more unique.