21 May 2017

Best Deal in Genealogy: Family History Library Classes & Webinars

If you are like me you want to make the best use of your genealogy budget.  There are so many things genealogists can spend money on: books, records, research trips, conferences, online subscriptions, society dues, magazines, printer ink, gadgets, DNA testing, office supplies and more.  The list can go on and on.

Last week, I found the best bargain in genealogy.  The Western European Family History Conference that FamilySearch live streamed for FREE!  Yes, free.  It was five days of national conference quality presentations.

Each day of the week focused on an area of Western Europe.  The following areas were covered: Germany, France, The Low Countries, The Netherlands, and Switzerland.  The research I do for my husband and I involved all of these countries except Belgium and Luxembourg, which were included in the Low Countries.

There were 25 classes in all.  I cleared my schedule, except for Friday, and was able to watch 18 of the 25 live streams.  Three of the classes I passed on as I wasn't doing research in those areas at this time; another three I missed because I run errands for my parents on Friday.

It would be impossible to pick which classes were the best, they were all top notch with top notch presenters and handouts.  Presenters included Mindy Jacox, Coreen Barrett-Valentine, Jilline Maynes, F. Warren Bittner, Brandon L. Baird, Heidi G. Sugden, Baerbel K. Johnson, Fritz Juengling, Daniel R. Jones, and Sonja Nishimoto.

The classes I watched are in italics:


  • Finding German Places of Origin
  • Spelling Variations in German Given and Place Names
  • Meyer's Gazetter Now Online, Indexed and Fully Searchable
  • German Church Records and Beyond: Deepen Your Research Using a Variety of Town Reocrds
  • Elusive Immigrant:  Methods of Proving Identity
  • Finding Your French Ancestors Online, Part 1 Family Search and Ancestry
  • Finding Your French Ancestors Online, Part 2 France GenWeb
  • Finding Your French Ancestors Online, Part 3, Geneanet
  • Out of the Ashes of Paris
  • Research in Alsace-Lorraine
     The Low Countries
  • Latin for Researchers
  • Calendar Changes in France, Germany, Switzerland and the Low Countries
  • Gazetteers and Maps for Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands
  • Beginning Research in Luxembourg
  • Beginning Research in Belgium
     The Netherlands
  • Names in Belgium and the Netherlands
  • WieWasWie, Past the Index:  What to Do Next
  • Dutch Provincial and City Research
  • Dutch Research Before 1811
  • Finding Your Family in the Amazing Online Amsterdam City Archives
  • Beginning Swiss Research
  • Swiss Maps and Gazetteers
  • Swiss Archives Online Records
  • Swiss Census Records
  • Swiss Chorgericht (Court) Records
I don't know where I have been the last two years because this is the first time I heard about these classes.  The Family History Library Classes and Webinars at the FamilySearch Wiki is the place to go to find out more information about what FamilySearch offers.

This wiki page shows you class schedules for on site classes at the Family History Library.  Some of the classes are live streamed, as well.  Upcoming webinars can be found here and past webinars, with handouts.

The past webinars section includes an area about past research seminars and conferences.  The 2016 tract was European, Nordic, and Roots Tech en Espanol.  The 2017 tract was British Isles and Roots Tech en Espanol.  Some of the past sessions may be watched from this area.  I plan to go back and watch the British Isles one. Other areas include Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America.

The only drawback to this is that I wanted to stay up all night using all the great information that was presented.  I was able to do a little research and found some amazing records about my husband and my ancestors.  I found or learned:
  • About German vowels and consonants and how to search with spelling variations for my German families.
  • Kirk's great, great grandfather, Quirin Schmitt, birth record and civil registration records in the Bas-Rhin department of Alsace-Lorraine.  This information included Quirin's parents, including mother's maiden name.  A great find!
  • I found the huwelijksbijlagen for Kirk's Dutch 2x and 3x great grandparents.  I was up until midnight searching these gems of Dutch records and have many more names to find.  What is a huwelijksbijlagen, you ask?  These records are marriage supplements and contain the papers that a dutch couple had to present before marriage.  They are a gold mine.  They are in Dutch, but that is a small inconvenience for the awesome genealogical information they contain.
  • I found so many resources for my Swiss ancestors, I may need a month to use the resources and I only attended two of the five sessions!  The Swiss court records are fascinating and I may just order the ones I need for the Canton Bern to see if my Anabaptist ancestors are mentioned. Swiss court records are available on DVD by town for Canton Bern.
This was only a small sampling of what I got out of the conference.  In addition, I have a list of resources to check the next time I go to Allen County Public Library.  I have a list of other wiki's to check out and I have a huge list of online resources to save to my bookmarks.  

This conference was just the break I needed from real life that has been a little busy lately.  I am excited about researching again AND it even got me to start blogging after a few months break.

If you are looking for a great deal in genealogy, look no further than the Family History Library classes and webinars.  You won't regret it.


  1. Brenda, I wasn't aware of these classes and really appreciate your mentioning them. Have to check them out! Thanks.

  2. Swiss ancestry? From the Canton of Bern? I have lots of ancestors from there: Köhli, Grossenbacher, Tillmann, Hurni. We may be cousins through more than the Glover line!