National Genealogical Society

Educational Courses

Family History Skills

Start your family history quest or brush up on genealogy basics by reviewing our free online course for members of the National Genealogical Society. You may wish to try this shorter course first and then delve into some of the other NGS online courses or the in-depth Home Study Course.

What is Covered?

Students will learn how to

  • record genealogical information;
  • get started with information found in family and published sources;
  • find twentieth- and twenty-first-century vital records;
  • find birth, death, and marriage information for ancestors who lived in earlier centuries;
  • use online finding aids and library catalogs; and
  • write source citations for birth, death, and marriage information.

Using the Internet for genealogical research is not a course objective. The course does, however, include links to websites that are relevant to the lessons. Some of these sites provide research aids, while others illustrate the information that can be found in the records discussed in the lessons.

To learn more about Family History Skills, see the course syllabus.

Requirements & Fees

Free to members of the National Genealogical Society. Not available to non-members. 

When Can I Start the Course?

The course is currently available to members of the National Genealogical Society. Access now.

Certificate of Completion

Because the Family History Skills course is self-graded, no certificate of completion will be issued. The National Genealogical Society is not a licensing body, so no certification or accreditation is implied.


Contact the NGS Course Administrator at

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Home Study Course on CD

NGS offers American Genealogy: Home Study Course, a sixteen-lesson course on three CDs, for the more experienced genealogist who wants an in-depth independent study course. Learn more.

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