INFO 284-10
Seminar in Archives and Records Management
Topic: Genealogy
Summer 2022 Syllabus

Colleen Greene
Office Hours: Available by appointment

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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning June 1st, 6 am PT unless you are taking an intensive or a one-unit or two-unit class that starts on a different day. In that case, the class will open on the first day that the class meets.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

This course presents an overview of research methods and resources for conducting genealogy in the United States, and it will equip students with a strong foundation for providing library services to genealogy patrons. While genealogy is an incredibly popular hobby,  we will also look at genealogy as a scholarly pursuit and as a profession.

The course will proceed along two parallel tracks:

  • Basic genealogical research and methodology. Lectures, required readings, discussions, and assignments will support your learning in this track.
  • Librarian-specific topics that have to do with what information professionals need to know to serve genealogy patrons. Guest instructors, discussions, and assignments will support your learning in this track.

Course Requirements


Grades are based on 2 main assignments, mandatory weekly discussions and activities, and 2 asynchronous guest instructor sessions. Specific details and rubrics will be posted in Canvas during the first week of instruction.
Weekly Discussions & Activities (40% of total grade, 1-2 per week)

Each module will include 1-2 mandatory activities, as well as relevant optional activities and assessments. The mandatory activities include a mix of discussions and brief reports. Each activity directly supports one or more of the 2 main assignments. These activities support CLOs #1, #2, #3, #4, #5.
Guest Instructor Q&A Sessions (10% of total grade, 2 sessions)

Two of my colleagues, representing different areas of professional genealogy librarianship, will join us as guest instructors through pre-recorded interviews discussing the nature of their work, and then will answer questions in discussion forums. These sessions support CLOs #4, #5.

  • Allison DePrey Singleton: Librarian, The Genealogy Center, Allen County Public Library.
  • Melissa Barker: Certified Archives Manager, Houston County, Tennessee Archives.

Main Assignments

There are two main assignments for the course.

Assignment 1 / ASSM1 (20% of total grade)

Students need to choose from one of the following.

  1. Genealogy Instruction Screencast or Video Tutorial. This supports CLOs #1, #4, #5.
  2. Genealogy Reference Interview (INFO 210 is not required, however, but is recommended). This supports CLOs #1, #4, #5.

Assignment 2 / ASSM2 (30% of total grade)

This assignment is a comprehensive research paper and report known as a Kinship Determination Project (KDP). It supports CLOs #1, #2, #3.

Accelerated Workload

Because this course is scheduled in a 10-week summer semester instead of a regular 16-week semester, it carries a heavier workload over a shorter period. The workload expectation for students in a 3-unit course is 135 hours over the semester. Since this is a 10-week semester, students should plan on an average of 13.5 hours per week. That includes lectures, readings, viewings, research, and assignments. The first half of the course has a much heavier “instruction” workload (lectures, readings, and viewings) than the second half, so that you are better prepared to succeed on the main assignments that fall in the second half of the semester. The bulk of the second half of the semester will allow you to focus on your applied learning work and main assignments.  

Course Calendar

This course calendar outlines the general topics covered in each module and is subject to change with fair notice. The course week runs Monday – Sunday. The two-part discussion activities are due on Thursday and Sunday. All other assignments and activities are due on Sunday. 

Week Topics Deliverables

Week 1

6/01 - 6/05

The Foundations of Good Research

Note: Short week

Discussion & Activity

Week 2

6/06 - 6/12

Major Online Repositories

Genealogical Records, Part I: U.S. Federal Censuses

Report with Discussion

Week 3

6/13 - 6/19

Reference Tools

Genealogical Records, Part II: State Censuses, City Directories, Vital Records, Social Security Records


Week 4

6/20 - 6/26

Genealogical Records, Part III: Immigration & Naturalization Records, Passport Applications, Military Records


Report with Discussion 

Week 5

6/27 - 7/03

Genealogical Records, Part IV: Cemetery Records, Religious Records, Newspapers & Obituaries

Report with Activity


Week 6

7/04 -


Note: Short week (holiday observance)


Week 7

7/11 - 7/17

Intro to Genetic Genealogy, Part I


Assignment (ASSM1)

Week 8

7/18 - 7/24

Genealogy Librarianship

Guest Q&As

Report with Discussion


Week 9

7/25 - 7/31

Intro to Genetic Genealogy, Part II

Discussion & Activity

Week 10

8/01 - 8/05


Note: Short week


Assignment (ASSM 2)


Due Dates

All assignments must be submitted by 11:59 pm Pacific Time on the date due. Due dates may change to accommodate class needs, but sufficient notice will be provided for any changes.

Late Assignments

This course carries a heavy load in a short 10-week semester, so I am allowing late submissions on some activities and assignments only, based on observations from prior years.

  • Regular Weekly Graded Activities (ACT): Can receive 75% credit if turned in one day past the due date and time, and 50% credit if turned in two days past the due date and time. No credit for later submissions.
  • Assignment 1 (ASSM1): Can receive 75% credit if turned in one day past the due date and time, and 50% credit if turned in two days past the due date and time. No credit for later submissions.
  • Guest Instructor Q&A Sessions (Q&A): No late submissions accepted. Guest instructors are only available with us for a set number of days.
  • Assignment 2 (ASSM2): No late submissions accepted, as this is due on the final date of instruction.

Other late accommodations are only accepted in the case of an emergency. Please contact the instructor BEFORE or ON a deadline in the case of serious illness or emergency. No make-up task to be offered for missed assignments.

Required Reading & Viewing

In addition to the required textbook, each module will include a series of required readings and viewings. These will be provided in Canvas.

Course Citation Styles

Instructor Citation Style

The instructor uses the Evidence Explained (EE) citation style throughout this course since it is recognized by the genealogy profession to be the scholarly style for genealogy scholarship. Evidence Explained is an extension of the Chicago Manual of Style, which is the style used by historians. More will be discussed in Module One.

Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to
, 3rd ed. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015).

Students are not required to learn or use Evidence Explained for this course, since:

  • that falls under more advanced methodology than what this overview course has time to cover in one semester, and
  • while still in library school, you should be focusing your time and energy on citation styles that are more general to the library profession and the disciplines that librarians generally specialize in (you have enough on your plates!).

Student Citation Style

Thorough genealogists always cite their sources. All student report assignments must include source citations. Students may use any of the standard citation styles accepted by the School of Information, or as noted by a particular repository as their suggested citation format. These citations will not be graded, but your attempt will be graded.

Course Workload Expectations

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group;contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Prerequisites

INFO 284 has no prequisite requirements.

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Exhibit familiarity with major types of historical records and research techniques for conducting genealogy in the United States.
  2. Discuss the main concepts, methodology, and standards behind scholarly genealogy.
  3. Apply these concepts, record types, techniques, methodology, and standards to a Kinship Determination Project.
  4. Describe the role of the librarian in orienting patrons to the library's genealogical resources and services, and in instructing patrons in their use.
  5. Apply the reference interview to the specialized needs of genealogy patrons and/or provide specialized genealogy instruction to patrons.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 284 supports the following core competencies:

  1. A Demonstrate awareness of the ethics, values, and foundational principles of one of the information professions, and discuss the importance of those principles within that profession.
  2. B Describe and compare organizational settings in which information professionals practice.
  3. C Articulate the importance of designing programs and services supportive of diversity, inclusion, and equity for clientele and employees.
  4. F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital information items.
  5. H Demonstrate proficiency in identifying, using, and evaluating current and emerging information and communication technologies.
  6. J Describe the fundamental concepts of information-seeking behaviors and how they should be considered when connecting individuals or groups with accurate, relevant and appropriate information.
  7. L Demonstrate understanding of quantitative and qualitative research methods, the ability to design a research project, and the ability to evaluate and synthesize research literature.
  8. M Demonstrate professional leadership and communication skills.


Required Textbooks:

  • Morgan, G.C. (2015). How to do everything: Genealogy (4th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education. Available through Amazon: 0071845925. Available in both print and Kindle. Instructor uses Kindle version. All lecture references to textbook cite Kindle version.arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA);
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, BS-ISDA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation. You must repeat the class if you wish to stay in the program. If - on the second attempt - you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

Per University Policy S16-9, university-wide policy information relevant to all courses, such as academic integrity, accommodations, etc. will be available on Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs' Syllabus Information web page at: Make sure to visit this page, review and be familiar with these university policies and resources.

In order to request an accommodation in a class please contact the Accessible Education Center and register via the MyAEC portal.

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