Finding Your Family History on the Giant Genealogy Websites

with instructor Sunny Jane Morton



Benefits of this Course

Learn from an internationally-known expert how to maximize your use of four of the world’s leading genealogy websites: Ancestry, FamilySearch, Findmypast and MyHeritage.

Self-Paced Study

There is no required start or end date. Simply log in and begin your course immediately! You can work through the materials, videos, and exercises at a pace that suits your schedule, experience, and individual learning style. 

Tips & Techniques

This workshop is designed for “advanced beginner” genealogists who have already learned basic skills, but it's also perfect for experienced researchers who may have logged lots of years in libraries but aren’t so confident online.

Flexible Learning

The written lessons are supplemented by [close-captioned] videos handouts exercises, thought questions, flash quizzes to help you track your progress. Interact with your instructor through a private Facebook group.

Curious about how to use the big genealogy websites to research your family history?
Want to learn which site(s) will work for you?
Register today and let Sunny guide you through each site to find your ancestors!

Course Outline

Finding Your Family History on the Giant Genealogy Websites

This course uses a combination of text instructions and [closed-captioned] video components.

Pre-Workshop preparation:

Upon registering for the class, you will receive information about your options for accessing the subscription websites that are part of this class. Access to these websites is not provided with this class; you have to arrange for that yourself. The information you receive will suggest several different options for accessing these websites, as well as the suggested timing for activating any free trial periods.


Lesson 1: Introducing the Giant Genealogy Websites

  • Video: Introducing the Giant Genealogy Websites: Meet the Companies (9 min)
  • Video: Exploring Historical Records on the Giant Genealogy Websites (17 min) (An introduction to specific geographical and record-type strengths for each site, with head-to-head comparisons for major U.S. collections)
  • Downloadable handout summarizing the 4 companies, historical record collection sizes and strengths (geographically and by record type) and more
  • Video and thought questions: What You Should Know Before You Start Searching (search technologies, indexes/images, variations in search experiences/algorithms) (11 min)
  • What you can do for free on Ancestry, Findmypast and MyHeritage (also provided in downloadable format)

Lesson 2: Searching Indexed Names and Catalogs: and MyHeritage

  • Introduction to Ancestry and MyHeritage search boxes
  • Video: 10 Strategies for Searching Indexed Names, using Ancestry and MyHeritage
  • Search Tricks: MyHeritage Exercises (with answers)
  • Scavenger Hunt: 10-Step Search on (with answers)
  • Video: Exploring the Catalogs (Ancestry Card Catalog, MyHeritage Collection Catalog)
  • Exercise: Explore the catalogs for ancestral places of interest, and log collections of interest in accompanying worksheets.

Lesson 3: Findmypast and OCR searching

  • Video: Introduction to Findmypast main search box and catalog search (11 min), with exercise and worksheet for exploring collections of interest
  • 5 tips for improving OCR-based searches
  • Video 2-part series: Searching digitized newspaper content on Findmypast, MyHeritage, FamilySearch and Ancestry (22 min)
  • Video: OCR searching in digitized books: FamilySearch Digital Books and Beyond (10 min)
  • Video and case study: City directories (17 min)

Lesson 4: FamilySearch, Family Trees and Hinting

  • Video: FamilySearch: Searching indexed records, browsing published collections, and using the new historical images browse tool (10 min)
  • Video: FamilySearch Catalog: How to find materials online and offline (8 min)
  • Exercise: Locate collections of interest and log them in accompanying worksheet
  • FamilySearch Research Wiki: Explore how it can help you
  • Video: 3 tree-building concepts to know, and family tree software that works with the giant genealogy websites (17 min)
  • Video: Tour of tree-building tools on the giant genealogy websites, with links to tutorials for starting family trees on each site (15 min)
  • Full-length video class: Record hinting from your online trees


About the Instructor

Sunny Jane Morton is an internationally-known genealogy educator and award-winning writer and editor. She is a longtime Contributing Editor at Family Tree Magazine; Contributing Editor and Content Manager for; frequent contributor to FamilySearch’s blog; and Editor of Ohio Genealogy News. Her books include How to Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records, with Harold Henderson, CG, and Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy, now in its 2nd edition.

Register Today

and learn how to how to maximize your use of the  big four genealogy websites to find your ancestors!



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