Family History Research, Part I Syllabus

Course Description

FHGEN 111 is part of the BYU-Idaho Family History Research Program, which will prepare you to be a professional genealogist. This introductory course provides a solid academic foundation and will help you develop practical research skills, which are critical for a professional genealogist across many research settings.

This course focuses on basic genealogical research principles and record groups used to solve simple United States research problems. You will also learn how to record genealogical information, use key genealogical sources, and organize family history information. While this course focuses on United States research, the principles and approaches can apply to worldwide family history research. Later courses in the Family History and Genealogy program focuses on international research.

This course, in conjunction with the other courses in this program, will help prepare you to apply for a professional genealogical credential through ICAPGen or BCG. (Note that earning the BYU-Idaho Certificate in Family History Research is not equivalent to being a Certified Genealogist through BCG.

Important Information

"The words Certified Genealogist and letters CG are registered certification marks, and the designations CGL and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation" (BCG website).

"The ICAPGenSM service mark and the Accredited Genealogist® and AG® registered marks are the sole property of the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists. All Rights Reserved" (ICAPGen website).

Course Outcomes

As a result of completing this course, you will be able to do the following:

  1. Identify professional genealogical skills and potential career paths.
  2. Describe the research process.
  3. Define research problems through pedigree analysis and client-provided information.
  4. Identify, find, and analyze known information in order to save time and focus a research plan.
  5. Develop an effective research plan using knowledge of the typical contents of basic US record types.
  6. Gather, analyze, and use information from genealogical records to solve problems.

Learning Model Architecture

The course activities follow a weekly cycle of Prepare, Teach One Another, and Ponder & Prove.

Prepare: You will prepare by completing readings and coursework activities. You will learn where to look for information, gather information, interpret records, and conduct family history research.

Teach One Another: You will share your knowledge and experience in discussion board interactions where you share insights, challenge ideas, or propose solutions and other ideas

Ponder & Prove: You will demonstrate your skills by completing activities, assignments, research problems, and assessments (quizzes).


Week Topic
Week 01 Introduction & The Research Process
Week 02 Skills & Career Path
Week 03 Define the Problem
Week 04 Compiled Sources
Week 05 Repositories and Websites
Week 06 Research Plans & Research Logs
Week 07 Basic Evidence Analysis
Week 08 Vital Records
Week 09 Census Records, Part I
Week 10 Census Records, Part II
Week 11 Church & Cemetery Records
Week 12 Probate Records
Week 13 Solve a Problem
Week 14 Final Exam and Project

Course Expectations

Writing Requirements

In this course, you are required to write papers as part of certain assignments. You will need to follow the instructions carefully to write professional, college-level papers. Focus your papers on the topic given by your instructor, and be concise and clear. Rambling is not accepted for full credit. Do not attempt to pad your responses by being wordy. Your papers should be well-organized, using paragraphs with correct spelling and punctuation.

To learn more about writing standards, visit the BYU-Idaho Writing Center website for tutorials and handouts. Personalized help is also available to students through the Writing Center. Visit the Help for Online Students page for more details on Writing Center resources for online students.

Remember, it is your responsibility to understand and follow the instructions completely! If you have a question regarding an assignment, ask your instructor early for clarification. Last minute questions cannot be expected to be answered immediately.

Course Texts and Materials

Technological Skills

You need basic computer skills to be successful in the course. Please note that this course does not teach you basic computer skills; rather, it is assumed that you are already quite familiar with using a computer.

To help ensure that you possess the necessary technical skills for this course, you will complete a technical skills inventory in Week 01 then take a quiz. The inventory is simple; it includes Yes/No questions about each basic skill. If you answer “No” to any question, you are encouraged to watch videos or read up on the topic.

Once you finish the inventory, take the short quiz. You must pass the quiz with 85% to gain access to the next week. If you don’t pass the quiz the first time, review the materials, strengthen your technological skills, and re-take the quiz. You may take the quiz as many times as needed. I-Learn will record your highest score.

Note: If you need to develop or refresh your computer skills, you are invited to enroll in the one-credit BYU-Idaho course, GS 107: Computer Basics.

If you encounter technical difficulties, check your browser. This course uses numerous document images, many of which will not display correctly in some browsers. If you encounter technical difficulties, contact the Online Support Center and ask for assistance.

Weekly Time Commitment

The online class policy is that for every credit hour, you should expect to spend three to four hours of work per week. For this class, you should plan on spending approximately 9–12 hours per week.

Grading Policies

Your grade is determined by dividing the number of points you earn by the total number of points possible. To maximize your earned points, put forth a conscientious effort.


Most activities are quizzes and give you the opportunity to practice and perfect the targeted skill. Activities often contain questions regarding the examination and analysis of documents. Activities are open book and you can attempt activities three times to help you master the material and improve your score.


Discussion boards provide weekly opportunities to teach one another. They usually begin with individual tasks or assignments, and then you share your experiences and findings with the class or a small group. These discussions are meant to benefit you and your classmates.

Assignments and Assessments

Assignments and assessments allow you to ponder concepts and prove that you understand them. Assignments generally consist of short essays, reports, and research documents submitted to your instructor for grading. Assessments are graded quizzes where you have one attempt to prove your mastery of the topic.

Bi-Weekly Surveys or Reflections

The surveys and reflections allow you to provide feedback and report on your individual family history efforts. You receive credit for simply completing each short survey; however, your thorough and honest answers are appreciated.

Exams and Final Project

This course has two exams, a midterm and a comprehensive final. Both exams include essay questions. They require you to demonstrate that you understand the skills and processes from the weeks. Exams are open book; however, to succeed you must review and prepare before starting because they are timed.

In Weeks 07–12, you will record information about the most commonly used record types and where they are found. You will submit this Table of Record Types along with a Research Plan for the Final Project during Week 14.

During Week 14 you will also submit a final project.

Optional Document Portfolio

Some weeks—starting with Week 08—contain an optional Document Portfolio activity. These activities—in the few weeks where they exist—are located in the Optional section of the weekly introduction page.

This is specifically intended to prepare students for the Document Recognition test, which is part of the accreditation process for ICAPGen (a professional genealogical credentialing organization). If you think you may seek this credential at some point, it is strongly recommended that you complete these assignments.


If any technical difficulties arise throughout the course, contact the Online Support Center before contacting your instructor.

Online Support Center

The Online Support Center (OSC) is designed to help any students taking online courses at BYU-Idaho. Contact the OSC with questions about any online course or to provide feedback concerning online courses, instructors, or your online learning experience.

Visit the Online Support Center website for its contact information including phone, email, and Skype options. It is open from 7 AM to 11 PM Mountain Time, Monday through Friday.


Materials in this BYU-Idaho online course and related sites may be protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code). These materials are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be further disseminated.

University Policies

Academic honesty is required and any violation with be dealt with according to the University Academic Honesty Policy.

Policy on Sexual Discrimination/Harassment

BYU-Idaho prohibits sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. Prohibited sex discrimination includes incidents of sexual harassment (including sexual violence), dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking (collectively sexual misconduct). 

One of your instructor's responsibilities is to help create a safe learning environment for students and for the campus as a whole. University policy requires that your instructor report all incidents of sexual misconduct that come to his or her attention. If you encounter sexual misconduct, please contact the Title IX Coordinator at or 208-496-9200. Additional information about sexual misconduct and available resources can be found at

Reasonable Accommodation for Students with Disabilities

BYU-Idaho does not discriminate against persons with disabilities in providing its educational and administrative services and programs. The university follows applicable federal and state law. This policy extends to the university’s electronic and information technologies (EIT).

Students with qualifying disabilities should contact the Disability Services Office at or 208-496-9210. Additional information about Disability Services resources can be found at

Due to the nature of certain assignments in this course, some images do not include alternative text. If you need assistance with these images, please contact your instructor.

Personal Conduct

All of your correspondence with the teacher or other classmates must be respectful. Writing something disrespectful or venting is unprofessional and not becoming of a university student. Also, it is not in accordance with the Honor Code of BYU–Idaho, and you will be subject to discipline accordingly. You are invited to re-read the BYU–I Honor Code and the Principles of Personal Honor.

Full Information

For details regarding all university policies, please refer to the University Policies page located in the Student Resources module in your I-Learn course.