The Organized Genealogist

How to Organize & File Your Genealogy Records ~ It's All About Systematically Tracking and Recording Your Discoveries
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Instructed by Michele Boyer Lifestyle / Other
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  • Lectures 20
  • Length 2.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 10/2014 English

Course Description

Genealogy is such an absorbing pastime that most of us don't get organized until we’re buried in information, legends, vital statistics, phantom relatives, and all of the vast hodgepodge of documents we find.

In "The Organized Genealogist," one of our "Everything Olde is New Again!" series of genealogy courses, you'll learn how to navigate through the obstacles most of us run into sooner or later. In this course, you'll unravel the maze of forms and fundamentals to help you organize your research.

Get and keep your genealogy research under control whether you are just starting this adventure, or a seasoned family historian.

When two pieces of information disagree, you'll have a way to determine which is more likely to be correct? You'll know where you found your ancestry information and have a better idea of it's accuracy.

Get organized and stay organized with:

  • Family data tracking forms
  • Common searches to find basic genealogy evidence
  • What to look for on primary and secondary evidence
  • How to spot errors, even on official documents
  • What's a third cousin twice removed
  • Genealogy filing systems
  • Ancestral numbering systems
  • Easy citations
  • Copyright violations to avoid

Spend your time researching and discovering, not retracing

Avoid wracking your memory. You'll have your research all written down, and nicely organized. You'll be able to find those sites you didn't think you'll ever need again.

You'll have access to examples of the types of inaccuracies you might come across, even in official documents. But YOU won't get discouraged by these because you'll know how to manage that information. More importantly, you'll learn techniques for analyzing conflicting information, or how to uncover previously elusive information (or ancestors.)

Content and Overview

I designed this course because I learned, personally, what a mess all these documents and artifacts could become.

You'll learn:

  • Where to find forms at no cost, including one interactive set designed in Excel
  • How to fill out the forms using common records.
  • Where to look for records
  • How to distinguish between primary, secondary and best evidence
  • What is considered proof
  • How to connect the dots between different pieces of evidence
  • How to make use of incorrect information found on official documents
  • What numbering systems are and how to use them
  • Why you don't mix your mom's family photos with your dad's
  • How copyright law affects your decisions to share what you find

You'll, also, get a full 53-page textbook with links to every site we visit, downloads and assignments for practice and discussion.

And you will learn enough to be able to determine whether or not you really are related to Kevin Bacon. Isn't everyone?

What my classroom students say about my genealogy courses ~

Exceeded my expectations. Micki was a wonderful instructor who came to class with years of research experience which she shared with us. I found her to be very encouraging and very helpful and was generous with help even when class wasn’t in session. ~ Allenda Elam

Learned useful ways to approach brick walls. ~ William Sadler

Wonderful Class. I’d like to take it again. ~ Nancy Copple

The course was great. ~ Anonymous

I am very pleased with the guidance course materials and helpfulness of the instructor. ~ Glen Crain

Really appreciate your research, printed and DVD package. ~ Bonnie Sadler

What are the requirements?

  • A computer with Internet access and ability to read PDF and DOC documents is needed to use the course materials. You should be comfortable using a computer and the Internet, know how to save files and keep them organized on your computer, and to print so you can print out the forms. You’ll spend quite a bit of time independently browsing the sites I show you. If you have genealogy software, great! You’re that much further ahead. BUT, you don’t need software to take this course. Manual systems still work nicely.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • • Keep your genealogy documents organized and do your research in a systematic manner. • Document everything as you discover it, and to stay organized from the start. • Interpret common genealogy terms, facts, occupations, and abbreviations. • Explain what a second cousin twice removed is. • Get and use standard genealogy documentation and tracking form. • Determine which information is accurate and which needs further investigation. • Cite sources accurately for reference. • Use the copyright laws that apply to genealogy hobbyists. • Apply standard genealogy ethics and expectations in using information. • Identify primary and secondary evidence, and what to do with each type.

Who is the target audience?

  • • If you are new to genealogy, this course is for you. • If your records are in a glorious mess, this course is for you. • If you never took the time to learn how to write citations consistently, this course is for you. • If you don’t know that there ARE copyrights you could violate, this course is for you. • If you’d like to know more about what things were called way back when, this course is for you. • If you need a system of documenting and filing your records, this course is for you. • If you currently use the shotgun approach, or simply follow the impulsive "next-link-you-find" method for research, this course is for you. • If you don’t know the difference between primary or secondary evidence, this course is for you. • If you document every find, systematically and with clarity, and know exactly what your next search will be, have an efficient set of tracking forms and a filing system the IRS would envy, this probably isn’t the course for you. In fact, you should be teaching this course instead of me.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Welcome to Clan Management: Organize Your Genealogy Research

A welcome and brief summary of what you will learn in this course.


"The Organized Genealogist" is your text for this course. It contains the links to all the websites we visit during the lecture along with other notes and comments, some not mentioned in the lecture.

Section 2: Genealogy Fundamentals: Things That Will Simplify Your Research

As with any specialized field, genealogy has its own language. It includes both niche-related terminology and historical terminology. This lesson covers the general terminology, abbreviations and a touch of Latin which influenced most of the western European languages for the last 2,000 years.


Occupations and diseases are just two of the things that were known by different names in past generations. This lesson will show you were to find out what those names mean in language we can understand today.


This lesson explains what is meant by a 1st, 2nd, etc. cousin and what is meant by "removed" as in once or twice removed.


You'll learn about a number of forms that will help you record and track the research you've done and that you still need to do. I'll show you where to download free copies you can use for your research, which also takes you to a number of valuable genealogy resource sites, full of links to other resources and tools.


Pedigree and Fan Charts, Research Process Form, Records Inventory Form, Research Planner, Research Record, and Correspondence Log Illustrated


Census, Immigration, and Military Forms Illustrated


This assignment will help you use the information you learned in Section 2 to become familiar with these forms and their functions, and to prepare for Section 3, where you will start your Family Tree Plan and plan your approach.

Section 3: Starting Your Family Tree

Use basic documenting standards to make everything clear at a glance. Set your goals with a formula to stay organized.


Not all evidence is equal. Here you'll learn how to rate your evidence as primary, secondary, and best evidence, and determine whether it is proof of any fact.


Lesson 12 will help you get started in your searches by describing some of the most common sources for evidence and clues about your ancestors along with some links to important resource sites.


Lesson 13 picks up where Lesson 12 leaves off, covering more common search sites and basic sources for facts, along with many more links to indexes and source information to verify facts.


Lesson 14 is your assignment for section 3. Please download the lyrics and pedigree chart, and post your comments in the discussion area. I'm sure you'll have a few.

Section 4: Organizing a Systematic Filing System

Genealogy uses numbering systems to identify each ancestral member. You'll learn why these are used at all, and how to use three of these systems.


There are several ways to file your ancestral artifacts and genealogy documents. You'll learn about each and will choose one to use to get started. You can change filing systems, so it's good to know a variety of ways to organize your family history treasures and evidence.


After completing this assignment you'll be ready to manage your clan, your clan's documents and your clan's artifacts like a pro.

Section 5: Citing Genealogical Sources

By citing genealogy sources consistently you will keep your research organized and even cross-referenced to other ancestors. But how do you write a citation for everything, like an autograph book, or a letter? It's easier than you think!

With these assignments, you will have completed this course and practiced a little of everything you learned. Please use the discussion board liberally, keep in touch, and help one another work out any gray areas in your documentation. It is my hope that your new skills make your research more enjoyable and organize your Clan Management.

Here is where you can find additional resources that were added since this course was published. I've set this to be downloadable, so you don't have to write out these URLs or other titles.

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Instructor Biography

Michele Boyer, Genealogist and genealogy teacher

I began working on my family genealogy in the mid 1980s, picking up where my Mom left off. Soon, I learned that my cousin had picked up where his Mom left off, and we combined our trees. My first challenge was a brick wall: who were my maternal great-grandparents and why did they put their children in an orphanage. My next challenge was a family legend about how the Hearst empire took ownership of my great-great-uncle's Homestake Mines. While the legends were far more exciting than the facts, it turned out to be a very interesting story, anyway.

Since then, we've uncovered the truth behind family legends and revealed our ancestors adventurous lives so thoroughly that we just published one biography in a local history publication, and are planning a few more writings.

Through research, I was invited to start genealogy clubs and teach genealogy through local history museums and community educations programs. When searching for further education on family history research I discovered there were no ancestry related courses on Udemy, and thought there just needed to be a few. So, I am adapting my classroom courses to Udemy's online format, and hope to maintain the "Genealogy Research Group" relationships through Udemy's discussion board that accompanies each course.

Please join us for the adventure that's literally "of your life."

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