The What, Why, and How                                                                         

                                  with Diana Crisman Smith

Benefits of this Course

Learn to find and use vital events records through expected and alternative sources.

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 and exercises at a pace that suits your own schedule, experience, and learning style. 

Tips & Techniques

This new 4-week course is designed to introduce students to the techniques for finding and using vital records of birth, marriage, and death. Learn from text lessons,  [closed-captioned] videos and a detailed handout.

Interactive Learning

Practical exercises will provide an opportunity to explore vital events, putting the concepts into action as you move through the course. Interact with your instructor via a designated Facebook Group.

Curious about how vital records (births, marriages, deaths) can help you advance your genealogical research?
Want to learn how to locate vital records online and via traditional research?
Register today to discover ways to track vital events through expected and alternative sources.

Course Outline

Vital Events 101: The What, Why, and How

This course uses a combination of text instructions and video components.
Lesson 1 - Birth
  • What are Vital Events?
  • What do Birth Records Contain?
  • Finding Birth Records
  • Official Birth Records
    • Civil Records
    • Church Records
  • Alternate Birth Sources
    • Finding and Using
  • Analyzing Birth Records
  • Next Steps
 Lesson 2 - Marriage                      
  • What do Marriage Records Contain?
  • Finding Marriage Records
  • Types of Marriage Records
    • Civil Records
    • Church Records
  • Alternate Marriage Records
    • Finding and Using
  • Dissolution
  • Analyzing Marriage Records
  • Next Steps
Lesson 3 - Death
  • What Do Death Records Contain?
  • Finding Death Records
  • Types of Death Records
    • Civil
    • Church
  • Alternate Death Records
    • Finding and Using
  • Analyzing Death Records
  • Next Steps
 Lesson 4 - Putting It Together
  • Research Standards - what and why?
  • Do the dates make sense?
  • Are they in the right place/time?
  • Do the names make sense?
  • Check the next generation (before and after)
  • Check EVERY census available (don’t forget states)
  • Next Steps


About the Instructor

Diana Crisman Smith has been researching her family history since grade school. She has been attending conferences, writing, teaching and presenting to genealogical audiences for over 40 years. Her research experience began with her own families in Denmark, Canada, and the US - including three Mayflower ancestors. She has added client research, aiding patrons at the local LDS Family History Search Center as a lay librarian for more than twenty years, and traveling to genealogical repositories around the country (and in Denmark) to explore family history resources.
Diana has written feature and how-to articles and product reviews for online and print publications, including Heritage Quest, FamilyTree Magazine, Everton’s Family History Magazine, Genealogical Computing, Digital Genealogist, Family TreeMaker Magazine, APG Quarterly, NGS NewsMagazine, and others. She was an instructor for FamilyTree University, including courses on Land Records, Military Records, Civil War Research, Scandinavian Basics, Death Records, City Directories, Census Records, and RootsMagic software. She is also on the faculty of the National Institute for Genealogical Studies in Toronto, with a course on Danish Research. Diana is past board member of the Genealogical Speakers Guild (GSG), the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors (ISFHWE), the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), and the Florida State Genealogical Society, as well as the Great Lakes Chapter of APG and various local societies. She has presented a wide variety of topics at conferences throughout the United States, at sea, and via webinar.
Since concluding a career in software consulting, she is concentrating her efforts on genealogical pursuits including researching, teaching, writing, and speaking.

Register Today

and learn how find and use the vital events records (births, marriages, and deaths) as the building blocks for your genealogy.


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