Genealogy Courses

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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What is it

At its most basic level, genealogy is the study of family history. While the discipline has long been used by those seeking to trace their lineage for the sake of discovering inherited titles, properties or rulership, it is now also used to serve the more intimate function of allowing individuals to connect to past generations as a means of assisting self-discovery and establishing a greater sense of place.

For many, this can mean reconnecting with surviving relatives with whom they may have lost contact (or, indeed, never met) due to a variety of circumstances such as generational emigration or adoption. For others, the discipline of genealogy affords an invaluable opportunity to explore the rich tapestry of their own family history and to uncover the near-infinite supply of fascinating stories that are embedded in the past.

What does it involve

Like all research-based activities, genealogy requires a familiarity with records, a capacity to locate the relevant details and the ability to separate facts from possibilities. Thankfully, these are skills that can be learned, and those who complete a part-time course in Genealogy will be well equipped to embark on their own personal journeys of investigation.

Short-term Genealogy courses (that is, those that do not offer a qualification at the end) will give students the skills necessary to select, locate and use the appropriate sources for basic genealogy searches. This means learning how to access and assess census, church, property and registry office records. Learners will also be shown how to use online research tools, which means that at least a basic level of computer literacy is required.

Those looking to develop a more in-depth knowledge of genealogy may be interested in taking a Diploma in Family History a course which is delivered in conjunction with The Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland (APGI). Though not strictly vocational, the course has a highly professional sheen and will give students a comprehensive understanding of genealogical practices through modules on administrative procedures; applying oral, folklore and local histories; and record-keeping including citation, family tree formats and writing family history. Participant will also take orientation trips to two record repositories.

Another excellent option is the part-time Diploma in Genealogy, which combines practical skills with portfolio-based assessments that are designed to equip learners with transferable skills suitable for genealogy, heritage and tourism employment. Among the modules offered by the programme are Concepts and Strategies, Fieldwork in Genealogy, and Genealogy Sources and Collection Care Techniques. Due to the depth of training provided, the programme duration is two years; however, course participants who complete one year and do not wish to attend the second may exit the course with a Certificate in Genealogy.

Why do it

The genealogical research industry has experienced a boom in recent years and it continues to grow as a result of developments in online research and the accessibility of resources. It has now become something of a leisure industry, with television programmes and internet databases bringing about an increased awareness of the discipline, resulting in a growth in the number of employment opportunities in the area.

However, the quest for personal and cultural identity remains the main reason for enrolling on a Genealogy course. Graduates will come away from their programmes with the tools to not only research their pasts, but to record and preserve them for future generations too.

What comes next

Genealogy students may go on to work as professional genealogists, historical researchers, or within the tourism industry.

At a glance

Short-term courses in Genealogy last for between 5 and 10 weeks, and cost from 65 to 200.
The part-time Diploma in Family History programme runs for 12 weeks and costs 895, while the Diploma in Genealogy is a 2-year course costing 1360 (per year of study).


*Image courtesy of digitalart/freedigitalphotography. net

Frank Bolger

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