Discovering Your Roots: An Introduction to Genealogy

Rated 5 out of 5 by from GREAT REVIEW IF YOU ARE WORKING ON YOUR GENEAOLOGY Dr Colletta course is very interesting and inspired me to work more on my families genealogy. He provides a lot of incite and methods that you can do on your own.
Date published: 2021-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Discovering Your Roots: An Introduction to Genealo I am very happy with this course. Learned lots of new information.
Date published: 2020-08-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Thorough Explanation of Genealogy I have been researching my family history for about 14 years with only a few "how to" books to help me. Along the way, I have met many family members and some of them are more involved in genealogy. My background is in engineering that is based on proven theory that engineers use to solve problems. So genealogy is a problem solving technique that uses past information and in some cases facts to reach a conclusion to solve a problem. Professor Colletta presents genealogy as a problems solving exercise with excellent guides to sources of information. From his presentation, genealogy has become an established method of performing family history research. His lists of sources for this information is extensive and thorough. And he explains the proof standard is a step by step approach that could be applied by most people doing genealogy research. But one should recognize that eventually, all the proof standards rest on the basis of "extensive" reviews of records. There is not a standard for "extensive" and that must be recognized. But having a step by step method would provide a standard research approach that anyone can perform but maybe rejected by those who can point out that the research was not "extensive" enough. I have worked with professional genealogy researchers who have access to extensive databases and are professional in their work. Their reports are excellent. I had hoped that a section on the lineage societies like Daughters of the American Revolution, Sons of the American Revolution, or Mayflower Society would be provided. Maybe a new course by Professor Colletta. Lastly, I would recommend this course for everyone from beginner to seasoned genealogist
Date published: 2020-06-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comprehensive guide to genealogy The lectures were very entertaining and informative, and I've been able to use many of his recommended sources.
Date published: 2020-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Learning so many tools! Still taking the class. About half way through. All lectures have been fascinating.
Date published: 2020-05-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It was quite entertaining and as good history teachers are prone to do, this instructor made history come alive. A lot of people doing genealogy are are boring and overbearing-the joy of Prof Colletta shows through! Of course one side of my family was from Naples and the other line is German so I understood the professor immediately!
Date published: 2020-05-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Lecturer We took advantage of the FREE Covid-19 free offer and took one lecture a night. Both my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed each lecture relevant to our own genealogy work. The lecturer's examples were entertaining as well and useful. The material was so helpful we ordered the DVD for future reference. Thank you for the opportunity.
Date published: 2020-04-19
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Unable to listen Could never get this course to play no matter what I tried. Called great course and told them to remove me from there list but that was like talking to a brick wall.
Date published: 2020-03-28
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Discovering Your Roots: An Introduction to Genealogy
Course Trailer
Interviewing Kin and Mining Home Sources
1: Interviewing Kin and Mining Home Sources

One of the foundations of genealogy (and one of its most enjoyable aspects): interviewing relatives. Here, Dr. Colletta introduces you to several strategies and 10 vital tips to help you get the most out of sitting down with family members and transforming pleasant conversations into solid foundations for future detective work.

31 min
Genealogy Online-Gems and Junk
2: Genealogy Online-Gems and Junk

It's unthinkable to do genealogy today without the Internet. But not all online sources are reliable. First, take a look at the benefits (and drawbacks) of government, nonprofit, and commercial online sites. Then, learn how to make sense of U.S. population censuses-the most important record for constructing lineage in America.

32 min
The Library-Shelves Full of Family History
3: The Library-Shelves Full of Family History

Learn how to tap into the wealth of library material to get solid answers to the "why" behind events in the past. You'll tour genealogies and family histories; histories of states, counties, cities, and towns; the Periodical Source Index (PERSI); and several types of maps (which help ground events in the physical world).

33 min
Military Service and Homestead Records
4: Military Service and Homestead Records

Holding a document your ancestor once held is a thrilling experience; and this intimate link to your forebears is more readily accessible than ever. Train yourself to navigate through both military records (including service and pension records) and homestead files (which encompass 33 public domain states from 1863 to the 1970s).

33 min
How to Build Historical Context
5: How to Build Historical Context

Step away from research and explore how to use historical content to transform your facts into engaging life stories. Dr. Colletta reveals seven steps for building effective historical context, including examining your sources in light of local history, and using history to test a hypothesis about how an event transpired.

33 min
Your Ancestors in Ship Passenger Lists
6: Your Ancestors in Ship Passenger Lists

Learn how to make sense of passenger arrival records: the single most precious document for reconstructing your ancestors' voyage to North America. Using several key guideposts and sources (including colonial land records and immigrant directories), you can uncover facts about arrivals from colonial days through the 1950s.

33 min
Your Ancestors in Naturalization Records
7: Your Ancestors in Naturalization Records

Did your immigrant ancestors become U.S. citizens? Did they procrastinate, or not naturalize at all? Dr. Colletta reveals how naturalization records can answer these and other biographical questions. You'll focus on adapting your research to three major naturalization periods: prior to 1790, 1790 to 1906, and 1906 to today.

35 min
The Genealogical Proof Standard
8: The Genealogical Proof Standard

Strengthen your skills as a family history detective with this in-depth look at the Genealogical Proof Standard, the five-step process that certified genealogists use for proving ancestral identities, relationships, life events, and other biographical details. Then, wrap up the lecture with a fascinating look at the nature of evidence.

30 min
Your Ancestors in the County Courthouse
9: Your Ancestors in the County Courthouse

Discover how to work your way through the courthouse records of the county where your ancestors resided. Using the two most common types of courts (circuit and chancery), you'll examine how to read courthouse materials, including probate packets, vital records, tax rolls, and even colonial-era records such as indentures and apprenticeships.

30 min
Your Ancestors in State Records
10: Your Ancestors in State Records

Good genealogists always take advantage of local sources outside the courthouse as well, including state archives, which hold records that resulted between the administration of state laws. Here, you'll learn how to tap into the information found in original sources (such as census and military records) and derivative sources (including maps and newspapers).

29 min
How to Write Biography
11: How to Write Biography

Explore the process of writing about your ancestors in a way that's memorable-but that always adheres to the truth. Learn how to compose timelines; how to build historical context around life events; how to search for (and find) a life's central theme; how to select the right literary format; and more.

31 min
Dos and Don'ts of Writing History
12: Dos and Don'ts of Writing History

Writing about the past is fraught with snares. Find out how to sidestep them with Dr. Colletta's dos and don'ts for writing historical narratives. These include using period vocabulary; evoking the senses through sounds, textures, and aromas; and avoiding the danger of viewing the past through the lens of the present.

30 min
Searching in Your Ancestors' Backyards
13: Searching in Your Ancestors' Backyards

At some point during your detective work, you'll have to actually visit where your ancestors lived. In this helpful lecture, discover how to use key local resources you'll need to rely on for success in your research: cemeteries, records of churches and synagogues, city directories, local libraries, and historical societies.

30 min
Assembling an Account of Your Discoveries
14: Assembling an Account of Your Discoveries

You've learned how to build context and write an engaging narrative. Now, examine the best ways to organize your material and assemble a lasting account of your unique heritage. What are the fundamental questions you'll need to answer before writing? What are the five elements essential to any multigenerational account?

32 min
Extending Your Family Tree Overseas
15: Extending Your Family Tree Overseas

Conclude the course with a peek at how to research records outside the United States. Focusing on his experiences in Europe, Dr. Colletta reveals what essential facts you need to know about your immigrant ancestors, and how to overcome six major challenges to accessing and using historical materials in foreign countries.

33 min
John Phillip Colletta

Genealogy is much more than the enthralling detective work of unearthing a long-forgotten past: It's a journey of self-discovery. The more you learn about who your ancestors were, the more you learn about who you are.


The Catholic University of America


Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University

About John Phillip Colletta

Dr. John Philip Colletta is one of America's most popular genealogy lecturers. He is a faculty member at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama; the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy; and Boston University's Genealogical Research Program. Dr. Colletta also has been an instructor and course coordinator for the National Institute on Genealogical Research, the Genealogical Institute of Texas, and the Genealogical Institute of Mid-America. He earned his Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

For 20 years, Dr. Colletta worked at the Library of Congress and taught workshops at the National Archives. Today, he lectures nationally, teaches at local schools, and conducts programs for the Smithsonian Institution's Resident Associate Program. His clients have included Johns Hopkins University, St. Louis Public Library, Daughters of the American Revolution, Brigham Young University, the Historical Society of North Dakota, the Huntington Library (San Mateo, CA), and the Genealogical Society of Ontario, Canada.

Dr. Colletta's publications include numerous articles, both popular and scholarly; two manuals, They Came in Ships: A Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor's Arrival Record and Finding Italian Roots: The Complete Guide for Americans; and the narrative family history, Only a Few Bones: A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and Its Aftermath. Dr. Colletta appears frequently on podcasts and radio and television programs. His honors include distinguished service awards from the Dallas Genealogical Society and the National Society of Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America.

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