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Lifelong learning opportunities

Of all the things The Legal Genealogist is grateful for, right at the top of the list genealogically is the opportunity to learn to be a better genealogist.

School or university building. Vector flat education conceptFiguring out what records exist, and then where to find them, and then how to use them to reconstruct our family history is a lifelong, ongoing process… a path we all need to walk if we want to do a good job for ourselves and for our families.

And it’s a path we need not walk alone.

There are so many ways we can walk that path, in the company of others of like mind.

Today, let’s talk about just the places where we can go in person to spend time with other like-minded folks to travel as a team down the road of lifelong genealogical learning.

Let’s talk about the institutes.

What I like to call summer camp for genealogists — even if the classes are in the middle of winter — or, alternatively, total immersion therapy, these multi-day to one-week residential institutes offer an opportunity for in-depth study of a single topic such as land research or genealogical methodology guided and directed by an expert faculty.

They are also about the most fun you can have as a genealogist and still be legal.

Here are the major options as of 2017:

Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy

Utah Genealogical Society, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Multi-track residential institute offering 10-12 courses each year, in January (2017: 22-27 January). Courses rotate on a more or less regular basis. Offerings in 2016 ranged from legal records to DNA testing; planned courses in 2017 that still have seats available include Refining Internet and Digital Skills for Genealogy, coordinated by Cyndi Ingle, Diving Deeper into New England coordinated by D. Joshua Taylor, Utilizing a Full Array of Sources for Researching your Norwegian, Danish, and Icelandic Ancestors. coordinated by Elaine E. Hasleton and Jeff Svare, Settlers in the New World and Immigrants to a New Nation: Researching Ancestors from Overseas coordinate by John Phillip Colletta, Researching in Washington, D.C., Without Leaving Home coordinate by Pamela Boyer Sayre, and The Coaching Lab: Forensic Genealogy from Inquiry to Affidavit coordinated by Catherine B. W. Desmarais and Amber Goodpaster Tauscher/


Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research

Georgia Genealogical Society, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia.

Multi-track residential institute offering 10-12 courses each year, usually in June (note in 2017: 23-28 July). Courses offered each year include Course 1 (Methods and Sources), Course 2 (Intermediate Genealogy & Historical Studies) and Course 3 (Advanced Methodology & Evidence Analysis). Other courses rotate on a more or less regular basis and include topics such as Research in the South, Genealogy as a Profession, Virginia Research, Military Records, Land Platting, Researching African-American Ancestors, English, Irish and Scottish Research, and more.


Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh

LaRoche College, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Multi-track residential institute offering 6-8 courses in each of two one-week sessions. The 2017 institute’s first session will be held 25-30 June, and will include courses on genealogical documentation, writing and sharing family history, eastern european research and more. The second session will be held 16-21 July 2017 with courses on New Jersey research, practical and advanced genetic genealogy, Irish research, law and genealogy and more.


Genealogical Institute on Federal Records

U.S. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Formerly known as the National Institute on Genealogical Research, a single-track residential institute held at the U.S. National Archives in Washington, D.C., each year in July, and focusing on the records held principally at Archives I and Archives II. The 2017 institute will be held 9-14 July.


Forensic Genealogy institute

Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy, Dallas, Texas.

Three-day multi-track residential institute focusing on methodology and techniques in modern forensic genealogy. The 2017 institute will be held 7-9 March 2017 in San Antonio, Texas, and will offered a forensic genealogy master practicum; and tracks focusing on DNA and on law for forensic genealogy.


Midwest African American Genealogy Institute – MAAGI

Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne Indiana

Going into its fifth year, this multi-track residential institute offers 4-6 courses each year, focusing on genealogical research skills for the African American community ranging from DNA testing to writing family history to basic skills. The 2017 institute will be held 11-13 July at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana.


The British Institute – ISBGFH

International Society for British Genealogy and Family History, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Multi-track residential institute offering 4-6 courses each year, in the fall, in Salt Lake City. The 2017 institute will be held 18-22 September 2017 at the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel and courses will focus on English, Irish and Scottish research, but adds a new course on DNA as a Genealogical Tool.


There are also two new localized research institutes that might be just what you’re looking for:

• The Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia held its first-ever multi-day program — Researching Family in Pennsylvania — in 2016, and will reprise the offerings the fitrst week in August 2017. Keep an eye on the HSP news announcements ( for more information.

• The Texas State Genealogical Society will also be offering its first-ever residential program in 2017. Scheduled for 22-25 May 2017 in Austin, the Texas Institute of Genealogical Research will focus on Texas research from its earliest days to today. Look for more information on the TxSGS website ( — more details may be available as early as next week.

So… Summer camp for genealogists… you know you want to…

Get started on that path of lifelong learning… with friends.

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