AGS: Beyond the Basics

American Genealogical Studies (AGS): Beyond the Basics

Course Overview

AGS: Beyond the Basics is the third course in the four-part AGS series of genealogy courses. It is self-paced, online, and in the cloud. Beyond the Basics teaches you how to investigate your family history using a variety of genealogical materials. You advance your genealogical research in suggested steps. As you work through this course, you improve your genealogical skills through reading, deciphering, and citing numerous genealogical documents and expand your family history knowledge. You become proficient in collecting, interpreting, analyzing, and evaluating genealogical information. You learn to write a genealogical report.

Author: NGS
Prerequisites: None
Course: Online, cloud based
Price: NGS Members $175 Non-members $200

Course Description

AGS: The Beyond the Basics teaches how to determine the type of sources, information, or evidence contained in genealogical records and how to gain an understanding of evidence analysis. You will learn how to find different types of materials in genealogical collections. This course will help you to use and evaluate all the information in federal population schedules; to use all aspects of; and to use different types of civil registration records. Your skills will be challenged in a final written assignment and graded by a professional genealogist.

The course is divided into modules with multiple sections, which include reading and reference lists, videos, examples, web links, self-correcting quizzes, a glossary, and a required written assignment that will be graded. A full syllabus is provided to course registrants. The course modules are as follows.

  • Module 1—Evidence Analysis
  • Module 2—The Library: A Research Repository
  • Module 3—The Federal Population Schedules
  • Module 4—
  • Module 5—Civil Registration Records Research


American Genealogical Studies series NGS Members Non-Members
AGS: Beyond the Basic $175 $200
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Since the American Genealogical Studies: Beyond the Basics is a cloud-based course, you need either a computer or tablet with an internet connection to access the lessons, examples, exercises, and quizzes. No software or material is loaded onto your computer or tablet.

To optimize your online learning experience, see more about the Canvas system

NGS grants a license to an individual to take the course shown above. This grants the individual a personal, nonexclusive, nontransferable right to the course materials for that student’s personal educational use only. All students work independently.

Do I Need Anything Further?

NGS strongly recommends the book Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace and QuickSheet: Citing Databases and Images by Elizabeth Shown Mills1.

Note: If you plan to take AGS: Guide to Documentation and Source Citation or AGS: Branching Out, Evidence Explained is required.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Course?

The American Genealogical Studies series courses have no set time or date for weekly attendance. These online courses are geared toward individuals who have varied schedules that may include their work, volunteer pursuits, and or family obligations. You prioritize your time management and your learning, so your course work can be scheduled at your own pace.

The Beyond the Basics course requires a time commitment to take the course, do the research, and complete the writing assignments. This time commitment varies, depending on the student.

NGS gives a student access to American Genealogical Studies: Beyond the Basics for twelve months from the date of registration. For those who need extra time, a one-time extension of six months is granted by contacting the NGS Course Administrator prior to the course expiration date.

What is the difference between the American Genealogical Studies: The Basics, Guide to Documentation and Source Citation, and Beyond the Basics courses?

The courses within the American Genealogical Studies series are cloud-based, interactive courses. The Basics provides a solid foundation in genealogy. Guide to Documentation and Source Citation helps genealogists understand the principles of citation for common sources. Beyond the Basics teaches a systematic method of investigation using a wide variety of genealogical materials.

What software or additional hardware do I need for my coursework?

If you are enrolled in American Genealogical Studies: Beyond the Basics, you will need to submit written reports. You need a word processing program and a PDF (Portable Document Format) converting program. You should have some type of scanning software for documents that you want to submit with your report.

What type of computer skills should I have?

You should know how to use a Microsoft Word document (file types .doc, .docx) with footnotes and how to attach documents.

After taking one of the American Genealogical Studies series courses, am I a certified genealogist?

Although the National Genealogical Society has a variety of courses available to help you learn about the methods, skills, and standards for certification, NGS is not a licensing body. Therefore, no formal genealogical credential or accreditation is implied. Please refer to the websites of the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) or the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen) for their policies or standards for certification or accreditation.

Letters of Completion and the Certificate in American Genealogical Studies

Each student who successfully completes each course in the American Genealogical Studies series receives a letter of completion. Letters are mailed out once per month. If you complete the course by the 20th of the month, we mail your letter out at the end of that month. If you complete all four courses in the AGS series you will receive a NGS Certificate in American Genealogical Studies after your final, fourth letter of completion


Here is a link to the American Genealogical Studies: FAQs. If you have further questions, please contact the NGS Course Administrator.

1 Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, rev.ed. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2012) and QuickSheet: Citing Databases and Images, rev.ed. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2012).