Online Educational Resources for Every Genealogist Part 3

Continuing with my presentation topics from last week Tuesday, today is part 3 of what I found for online resources for genealogists. Part 1 focused on the free online tutorials and lessons and part 2 focused on online genealogy classes/courses/lessons. Today’s topic is institutes and conferences (not many of these are online).

Institutes and Conferences

Institutes – These are normally about 5 days long, give or take a day, and focus on genealogical topics in depth. You choose classes depending on what is available and work with instructors during your time there. Some courses are in depth for one topic and others have a variety of topics to choose from. Some courses also have hands-on work and/or home/course work. 

  1. National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR)
    1. NIGR takes place at the National Archives in D.C. as well as College Park, Maryland in July. This institute allows for on-site examination of federal records and is designed for serious genealogical researchers, and is not for beginners. Each year’s offerings are a bit different and it’s highly recommended to sign up as soon as possible as the class fills very quickly. There are scholarships available as well. This institute is one I plan on taking some time in the future!
  2. Samford University Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR)
    1. IGHR takes place in Birmingham, Alabama in June. This institute is also cosponsored by the Board for Certification of Genealogists and the classes are taught by many nationally known genealogists . The class levels can range from beginners to specialized topics for advanced genealogists. IGHR also offers scholarships for those interested.
  3. Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP)
    1. GRIP is a bit different than the other two institutes mentioned: instead of a week long schedule with a few different courses, GRIP has each participant pick one topic that they will then focus on the entire time. Although the website doesn’t say what level the genealogist should be to attend, none of the classes seem to be geared to beginners so keep that in mind. GRIP has become popular enough that there are now two sessions planned! The first goes from June to July and the second happens in July. Registration opens in February and it is highly recommended to register as soon as possible as classes always fill quickly! This institute is also on my list to take in the not-too-distant future!
  4. Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG)
    1. SLIG is held in January in Salt Lake City. There are twelve tracks to choose from for your week there with nearly 20 hours of genealogical instruction over five days! They also provide ample time to for their participants to research at the Family History Library during those five days as well (always a perk!). These courses are for high-intermediate and advanced level genealogists.
  5. Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research (VIGR)
    1. VIGR is relatively new, formed just this past September, and has online courses anyone can take. These look incredibly promising! VIGR was formed by Catherine W. Desmarais, CG, Michael Hait, CG, and Melanie D. Holtz, CG. Their goal is to offer online educational courses for all skill levels. You can even purchase a class after it has happened if you couldn’t attend it while it was live, or didn’t know about it until later. VIGR is something I plan on keeping an eye on as it has some great looking classes coming up and it’s much more affordable than the in-person institutes.
  6. International Society for British Genealogy and Family History British Institute
    1. Like GRIP, the British Institute is also an in-depth look into one topic. The topics focus on British and Irish records and the institute is held annually in Salt Lake City in September. The courses are held in the morning to allow for research in the Family History Library in the afternoon. Again, signing up early is the best idea as classes fill up quickly!


Starting small, many local societies offer some sort of conference/fair in the area. Not all of them have their own website and I’ll leave those for you to find. Each state/area also may have some sort of conference. I’m sticking to what is around me but know that there is very likely to be some sort of equivalent in your area as well!

Most conferences have the same kind of idea: general sessions that can be geared to the beginner to advanced genealogists, an expo hall, other activities including luncheons or dinner events, networking, and sometimes research opportunities. Some conferences offer tracks with their sessions – for example, those wishing to become a certified genealogist can follow the certification track and all of these sessions either focus completely on topic or will touch on the subject somehow.

  1. Indiana Genealogical Society Conference
    1. Each state genealogical society can have something different, or nothing at all. It depends on the area and what the area can support. I live in Indiana so this is one that has been brought to my attention. I am very excited about it! The conference is held in April and is one day, which is what you’ll normally see for the smaller area conferences. Some could be two days which depends, again, on what the area can support. Check out your local groups and see what kind of conferences are available at the local level! This can be a great way to network with other researchers who live in the area!
  2. Midwestern Roots
    1. This is a bit bigger than the state conference and was held in Indianapolis this last August. It’s run by the Indiana Historical Society so I’d imagine it would be held in Indianapolis again. I contacted them to see if there will be another one but haven’t heard back yet. Last year’s conference information is still up and it looked like a good two-day conference so I’m hopeful they will have another!
  3. Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Conference
    1. FGS this year is combining with RootsTech and will be in Salt Lake City in February. So two conferences in one area! That could be a lot of fun! There are the usual items you’d see in a conference: general sessions for all ability levels, expo hall, other activities, etc. However, if you can’t make it out there for February, there is another conference in August of 2015. The conference will take place on an ALASKAN CRUISE! How neat is that?!
  4. RootsTech
    1. RootsTech, mentioned above, is run by the Family History Library so it takes place in Salt Lake City in February. It’s quite a large conference so ample opportunity to hear many great sessions and network with a number of people. There will also be an Innovator Summit for developers and business leaders seeking to use family history data and services. I’m looking forward to hearing people’s reviews on this conference.
  5. National Genealogical Society(NGS) Conference
    1. I went to the NGS conference last year and had a blast! It was my first genealogy conference and I don’t think I could have chosen a better conference to go to! This year’s is in St. Charles, Missouri and registration just opened today! It’s a wonderful conference and I learned A LOT through the sessions but most of all through the people I met. It was an amazing networking experience and it helped me to grow in being my own genealogist with all the information I learned. I also loved the Board for Certification of Genealogists track and expo table. The expo table had a station where anyone could look through past portfolios of those who were certified. That whole experience made me feel better about applying for certification but also made me realize how much work I had left to do. All in all, a wonderful experience!
  6. International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies
    1. Going from small to incredibly large, international conferences will have a large number of people from all over the world and will take place all over the world. Jewish genealogy is a quite a large topic in the genealogy world and this conference would be amazing to attend for anyone who has Jewish genealogy in their work or family tree! This last one was held in July/August in Salt Lake City. Next year’s will be held in July in Jerusalem, Israel. That would be amazing to attend!

Of course, there are many more institutes and conferences than just what I mentioned here. Are there any favorites I missed? Any comments on anything I mentioned above? Let me know!


Next will be Part 4, Professional Genealogy Reading: Journals and Books. 🙂

Please like & share:


Online Educational Resources for Every Genealogist Part 2


Online Educational Resources for Every Genealogist Part 4


  1. Thank you for sharing information about the many wonderful educational resources. Until I read these posts I wasn’t familiar with many of these.

    • NikiMarie

      You’re welcome! I had hoped to be able to bring some new items to other genealogists 🙂

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