Today it is easier than ever to accumulate information and ancestors for our family tree. It can be as simple as pressing a button. It is all too easy to get the wrong people in your tree. Someone with a similar name in the right place can easily be mixed up. Worse are those who, in an effort to be linked to famous individuals, willingly stretch the truth to link into specific families.These problems are not always readily apparent. It has never been more important to take the time to periodically review your sources and information to be certain that the people in your family tree are actually your ancestors! This course teaches you processes and gives you tools to review your research and confirm your conclusions about who your ancestors are.
Course Details

The course, lead by Michael J. Leclerc, CG, is comprised of three sections. The first section teaches how to work with chronologies. These are an invaluable tool for research and analysis, but chronologies for this purpose are different from those we use to share our family stories. The second section shows how to evaluate sources and the information contained within them. Students will also learn about the evidence analysis process and reasonably exhaustive searches. The third section shows how to deal with conflicting evidence, and finally how to write proofs.

The course contains a number of different types of components. Students will view a number of recorded presentation. Unlike webinars and other online presentations where the slides are narrated by a disembodied voice, our classes show both the presenter and the slides. An example appears on the right. Students see the image of the professor on the left and the slide on the right. Under the professor’s video students can see chapter breaks to easily return and watch a section over again to review the material.

In addition to the video slide presentations, students will also have a number of assigned readings on a variety of pertinent subjects, such as the Evidence Analysis Process Map, reasonably exhaustive searches, and writing proofs. There is also a series of video interviews with Aaron Goodwin.

Aaron is the author of New York City Municipal Archives: An Authorized Guide for Family Historians. He is a former contributing editor to the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, former editor of the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, and was the American Society of Genealogists’ scholar for 2011.

Short tests along the way help to reinforce learning. There are a number of activities throughout the course for practical implementation of the tools and methodologies presented. At the beginning of the course, students select one of their own ancestors to take through the process. By the end of the course, students will have selected a subject ancestor, created and analyzed a chronology for the subject, collated and evaluated all of the sources of information for all facts concerning the subject, worked with conflicting information, written proof arguments to show the validity of the conclusions drawn from the evidence, and seen how to incorporate multiple proof arguments into a larger narrative of the subject.

The course is designed to be self-paced. You can take as long as you need to complete each section. Components are broken into small sections to better accommodate your schedule. On average students take approximately eight to ten hours to finish the course. Some students will finish more quickly while others will take longer. The length of time it takes does not matter. As you move through the course you can go back and review any section you like at any time. This will prove particularly helpful when you are creating chronologies, when you are reviewing and evaluating your sources, and when you are resolving information conflicts and writing your proofs.


  • Video: Creating chronologies for pedigree analysis.
  • Activity: Create a chronology for one of your ancestors using the template provided.
  • Video: Chronology analysis.
  • Activity: Analyze your chronology using the provided checklist.
  • Test on Chronologies.
  • Video: Evaluating Sources: Documents
  • Reading: College Board A.P. Historical Thinking Skills
  • Reading: Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, “The Evidence Analysis Process Map”
  • Video: Aaron Goodwin Interview 1: Evaluating Documents
  • Reading: Michael Hait, CG, “How to Conduct a ‘Reasonably Exhaustive Search.’ “
  • Reading: Judy Kellar Fox, CG, “Ten Minute Methodology: Reasonably Exhaustive Search.”
  • Video: Evaluating Sources: Information
  • Reading: Rules for Evidence Reliability
  • Video: Aaron Goodwin Interview 2: Evaluating Information
  • Activity: Fill out Source Evaluation Worksheet for your subject ancestor and use the worksheet to do an evaluation of your evidence.
  • Source Evaluation Test
  • Video: Conflict Resolution
  • Activity: Conflicting Evidence Worksheet: Use this worksheet to track your work on a case of conflicting evidence.
  • Reading: Barbara Vines Little, CG, ” It’s Not That Hard to Write Proof Arguments”
  • Video: Aaron Goodwin Interview 3: Writing Proofs
  • Reading: Writing Proofs, sample proofs and narrative writing.
  • Activity: Write a proof argument for selected ancestor.
  • Writing Test


Length: 12–15 Hours
Cost: $125