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Forensic Genealogy
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Note: Please be aware this course is classified as "Basic Level" in the Professional Development Certificate Program. It has been developed for individuals who are at or working in the Intermediate to Advanced Levels in our other certificate programs. It is advised that you complete the Analysis and Skills Mentoring Program-Part 1 course or have a working knowledge of the topics taught in that course prior to completing this one.

The field of forensic genealogy is a fast-growing field dealing with genealogical research that might have legal implications such as heir searching or determining mineral rights. Families drift apart for many reasons: divorce, disagreement, migrations, remarriage, or others. Today’s genealogists and family historians have many reasons for reestablishing connections with lost relatives. This course is designed to help forensic researchers identify and contact living people. It will also take students through genealogical sources and documents, but with a focus on identifying living people, as well as some practical examples. Students will also learn about specific career subsets in forensic work. Forensic genealogy and the work necessary to identify and contact living people can be a rewarding field. This course will teach students some of the basic skills necessary to get started.

Note: This course has more of a U.S. focus; however, the skills being taught can be applied to those researching in other countries.


Course Content

Module 1
Introduction to Descendancy Research
Note about Web Addresses
Websites
 
Introduction to Forensic Genealogy
• Genealogical Proof Standard
• Evidence Analysis
 
Organization
Descendancy Research
Records & Sources
Additional Educational Opportunities
Conclusion
Recommended Reading & Resources
 

Module 2
Sources: Interviews, Newspapers, & Published Family Histories
Websites
Introduction
 
Interviews & Oral Histories
• Conducting Interviews
 
Published Family Histories
Using Newspapers & Public News Sources
Conclusion
Recommended Reading & Resources
 

Module 3
Sources: Documents & Records
Websites
Introduction
Birth Certificates
Death Certificates & Associated Records
Funeral Homes & Cemeteries
Marriage & Divorce Records
Census
World War I & World War II Draft Records
Probate
Land & Real Estate Records
Conclusion
Recommended Reading & Resources
 

Module 4
Sources: Online Databases & Directories
Websites
Introduction
Ancestry.com
People Finder Websites
Google & Other Search Engines
 
Social Media
• Facebook
• Twitter
 
Yearbooks
 
City Directories & Phone Books
• Professional Licenses, Business Registrations & Associated Directories
 
Conclusion
Recommended Reading & Resources
 

Module 5
DNA
Websites
Introduction
 
Fundamentals of DNA
• Terminology
• Types of DNA Testing
 
DNA Testing Procedure
• Y-DNA
• Mitochondrial DNA
• Autosomal DNA
 
DNA Testing Companies
• AncestryDNA
• Family Tree DNA
• 23andMe
• Third Party Websites
 
Making Contact
 
Conclusion
Recommended Reading & Resources
 

Module 6
Common Obstacles, Making Contact & More Resources
Websites
Obstacles with Contacting Living People
Making Contact
 
Forensic Genealogy Career Options
• Heir Searching
• Mineral, Gas, and Oil Rights
• Real Estate
• DNA
• Military Repatriation
• Guardianships
• Dual Citizenship
• Unclaimed Persons
• Capital Mitigation
 
Genealogical Credentialing
Hiring a Professional
Conclusion
Recommended Reading & Resources
 
 

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