Select Page

Institute courses that deserve another look

Registration is already open for one of this year’s summer institutes for genealogical education, and registration will open for another on Saturday.

These two — what The Legal Genealogist calls “summer camps for genealogists” — offer a wide variety of courses, some of which are well known and tend to fill up very quickly. My own courses, at both the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) where registration is already open, and at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) where registration opens this Friday, March 9, tend to be in that “fill up quickly” category.

summer camp institutes

And then there are those that have to be considered the overlooked gems: the ones where folks really ought to take another look and see if they don’t offer just exactly the kind of focus that we need at a particular point in our family history learning.

Let me offer a few suggestions for courses I myself would love to take:

At GRIP virtually June 23-28

Registration is open now for the all-virtual courses in this first GRIP week so take a closer look, if you haven’t yet, at these:

Digging Deeper: Records, Tools, and Skills, coordinated by Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA. I would take this course in a heartbeat if my schedule allowed. Going back to build a better, depper, more thorough foundation in my research would help so much.

Ireland and Northern Ireland Genealogical Research, PT II, coordinated by David E. Rencher, AG, CG, FUGA, FIGRS. Yeah, it’s Part II, but you can start anywhere — and anyone with Irish ancestry can sure use the help understanding the records and the research techniques needed to break through those brick walls.

Genealogical Organization: Increase Your Productivity, coordinated by Kelli Jo Bergheimer. This is another course I would take in a heartbeat. My research would be so much better if my records and record-keeping techniques weren’t so scatter-brained.

Mastering the Art of Genealogical Documentation, coordinated by Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, FASG. This is a course I have taken — and would take again. We cite sources as genealogists not just to find records again, but to begin analyzing why a record is — or isn’t — credible. There’s no-one better to help us do that than the guy who wrote the book…

Imaging – Its Past, Present and Future (as we now see it), coordinated by Maureen Taylor and Rick Voight. This isn’t just an overview. It’s a how-to, including a session from me on doing it legally (copyright, y’know). Images add so much to genealogy.

At GRIP in person July 14-19

Registration is also open now for the in-person courses at GRIP’s second week so take a closer look, if you haven’t yet, at these:

Introduction to Ashkenazic Jewish Genealogy, coordinated by Emily H. Garber. With surnames adopted late in history, and endogamy complicating DNA use in this research, getting a better handle on researching our Jewish ancestors is a big help.

Marching Off to War: Advanced Military Research and Methodology, coordinated by Michael L. Strauss, AG. All of us have ancestors who’ve served, and understanding the records better can break through brick walls.

Using US Church Records for Family History, coordinated by Sunny J. Morton. I’m going to be teaching a session in this one, and wish I could sit in for every lecture. Church records were the earliest records for most of our families and are exquisitely helpful.

Records Loss: Overcoming Destroyed, Missing, or Non-Extant Records, coordinated by Kelvin L. Meyers. This is another course I’ll be teaching in — and anybody who’s ever hit up against an important county where records have been destroyed needs this course.

At IGHR virtually July 21-26

Registration opens Saturday, March 9, for the 13 all-virtual courses at IGHR this summer, and you can read about all of them on the IGHR website. Ones that may tend to be overlooked at first that I strongly recommend include:

Course One – Methods and Sources, coordinated by Rebecca Whitman Koford, CG, CGL. Getting started the right way is so so so important, and this is a great way to do it.

Course Eight – Understanding Land Records, coordinated by Angela Packer McGhie, CG, FUGA. Location, location, location. Boy is land important in our family history. Finding it, understanding how it was transferred — critical. This is a great course to get a handle on it.

Course Ten – Advanced Library Research: Law Libraries and Government Documents, coordinated by Ben Spratling, JD and Patricia Walls Stamm CG, CGL. Yep, I’m teaching in this one too — and it’s a course that can help any genealogist better use the law and documents created because of the law in researching their famillies.

Course Eleven – Researching African American Ancestors: Government Records and Beyond, coordinated by Deborah A. Abbott, PhD. Descendants of the enslaved, the enslavers, or both, can all benefit from a more in-depth understanding of the records and methodology for this research.

Course Thirteen — Researching French Ancestors, coordinated by Forrest R. Hansen, JD. A brand new course put together by an expert, this is a must-have for anybody whose ancestry goes back to France.

And yes — if you insist — you can probably still snag a slot in one of my two courses this summer at GRIP (in the June virtual week, Women and Children First! Research Methods for the Hidden Half of the Family may still have a seat or two, and the same is true of the hands-on in-person course Putting Those Records to Work) or my course at IGHR (Course Three – Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis usually fills up fast so be ready Saturday!!).

But you’ll regret it for sure if you don’t take a close look at courses you may have overlooked so far. C’mon out and play — summer camp for genealogists is great fun, and a great way to learn to be a better researcher.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Overlooked gems,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 4 Mar 2024).

Print Friendly, PDF & Email