Tuesday, October 18, 2011

FamilySearch's Genealogy Courses - Review Part 1

While participating in the Inferential Genealogy Course with my fellow SecondLife genealogists, I realized that FamilySearch has a plethora of genealogy courses available, and I thought I would take a look and see which ones I wanted to do (this would also allow me to mark something off my to-do list).

Since the Inferential Genealogy course, FamilySearch has redesigned the site for the Learning Center, which I applaud.  It's much easier to navigate now.

When you first "arrive" at the Center, you have options.  You can choose your courses by place, skill level, subject, format, or language.

I chose skill level, beginner.  I figured I would just start at the beginning and see where it took me.

What I found was a list of 56 results, specifically for beginners.  These include 17 episodes of "5 Minute Genealogy," the "Ancestors" series Seasons 1 and 2 (BYU television),  "Getting Started in Genealogy" and "Getting Started in Family History."  There are other random courses as well that seem pretty interesting, including "Principles for Beginning Genealogy" by Dr. Tom Jones.

I decided to take a look at a couple of the series to see what they're all about.  The first one I clicked was "5 Minute Genealogy: Episode 1 - Find a record in 5 minutes."  According to the handout (yes, there is a PDF handout), this video series is "designed to help you quickly discover your family history.  Each episode guides you through basic research principles that will help you have success finding your ancestors."  Let's see.

I was greeted by host Jessie Davis, who tells me she will take me from zero to a family record in 5 minutes.  She recommends viewing the episodes sequentially, and in each episode I'll learn what to do with the records that I find.
This is Jessie telling me what she will do in 5 minutes.  I want one of those sweaters.
She began at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City (what better place to start?).  She got some tips from one of the librarians there, and found a death record for her great grandfather in less than 5 minutes.  She then took herself to a local deli to see if she could do the same for some random people.  I won't tell you how it ends, but I think you can probably guess.  The second episode sort of summarizes what the series is all about, but it's very cleverly done ... as a movie.  
... which was very reminiscent of one of my all-time favorites, Mystery Science Theater 3000:
When I started watching the series, I was afraid it was going to follow the "you don't have to know what you're looking for ..." mantra.  Fortunately, it does exactly the opposite.  The series literally walks you through the process from the initial pedigree chart to organizing to sharing your research.

I never got past the 5 minute series, mainly because I found it so entertaining and informative that I couldn't stop watching.  I highly recommend this series for beginners, but intermediate and even advanced genealogists may get something out of it as well.  And because each of the episodes is about 5 minutes long, you don't have to be glued to your computer for extended periods of time.  (Psst ... they're also downloadable, so you could even watch them on your laptop while you're vacationing on a desert island!)


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