INFO 284-11
Seminar in Archives and Records Management
Topic: Genealogy
Summer 2016 Syllabus

Colleen Greene
Office Hours: Available by appointment

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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning June 6th, 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 into the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

This course presents an overview of research methods and resources for conducting genealogy in the United States, and will equip students with a strong foundation for providing library services to genealogy patrons. While genealogy is an incredibly popular hobby, will we 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 librarians need to know in order to serve genealogy patrons. Guest instructors, facilitated Q&A discussions, and assignments will support your learning in this track.

Thank you to Drew Smith, MLS (MALIS), for providing his own course description, outline, assignments, and rubrics for me to use as a model for developing this course! Drew is the 2016 recipient of the Filby Award for Genealogical Librarianship, presented at the National Genealogical Society annual conference.

Course Requirements

Grades are based on 3 main assignments, mandatory weekly activities, and 5 asynchronous question & answer sessions with guest instructors. Specific details and rubrics will be posted in Canvas.

Weekly Activities (20 total points, 2 per week)
Each module will include two short but mandatory activities (as well as relevant voluntary activities and assessments). These mandatory activities include a mix of discussions, brief presentations, and brief reports. Each activity directly supports one or more of the 3 Individual Assignments.
Supports CLOs #1, #2, #3, #4, #5.

Guest Instructor Q&A Sessions (20 total points, 4 per session)
Five of my colleagues, representing different areas of professional genealogy librarianship, will join us as guest instructors—each for a designated week–to discuss the nature of their work and to answer questions in the discussion forums. Participation in these Q&A sessions is mandatory.
Supports CLOs #4, #5.

  • Week 4: Ari Wilkins, Library Association, Dallas Public Library Genealogy Section.
  • Week 5: Sue Kaufman, Manager, Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, Houston Public Library.
  • Week 7: Stephanie George, Special Collections & Archives Librarian, Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University.
  • Week 8: Drew Smith, Librarian, Academic Services, University of South Florida (USF) Tampa Library, and co-owner of Aha! Seminars.
  • Week 9: Amy Lenertz Coffin, Owner  Raincross Genealogy.

Main Assignments (60 total points):

  1. Genealogy Instruction Screencast (15 points)
    Supports CLOs #1, #2, #4.
  2. Genealogy Reference Interview (15 points)
    INFO 210 is not required.
    Supports CLOs #1, #2, #4, #5.
  3. Kinship Determination Project (30 points)
    Supports CLOs #1, #2, #3.

Course Calendar
This course calendar outlines the general topics covered in each module, and is subject to change with fair notice. Deliverables are due on the last day of each module. 

Deliverables Key: ACT (Graded Activity), Q&A (Graded Guest Instructor Q&A session), ASSM (Graded Main Assignment)

Week Module Deliverables
6/06/16 - 6/12/16 1) The Foundations of Good Research ACT 1A & 1B
6/13/16 - 6/19/16 2) Genealogical Records, Part I ACT 2A & 2B
6/20/16 - 6/26/16 3) Genealogical Records, Part II ACT 3A & 3B
6/27/16 - 7/03/16 4) Genealogical Records, Part III ACT 4A & 4B
Q&A 1
7/04/16 - 7/10/16 5) Genealogy Reference & Instruction, Collection Development, Programming & Outreach ACT 5A & 5B
Q&A 2
7/11/16 - 7/17/16 6) Technology Issues and Trends ACT 6A & 6B
7/18/16 - 7/24/16 7) Issues and Trends in Preservation and Access ACT 7A & 7B
Q&A 3
7/25/16 - 7/31/16 8) Scholarship, Publishing, Academia, Intellectual Freedom ACT 8A & 8B
Q&A 4 
8/01/16 - 8/07/16 9) Digging Deeper: Populations, Partnerships, Opportunities, Strategies ACT 9A & 9B
Q&A 5 
8/08/16 - 8/12/16 10) An Introduction to Genetic Genealogy ACT 10A & 10B


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. Sufficient notice will be provided for any change in due dates.

Late Assignments
These will not be accepted, except in the case of .  Please contact instructor prior to a deadline in the case of serious illness or emergency. No make-up task to be offered for missed assignment(s).

The following table includes the course assignments, points, and due dates.

Deliverables Points Due Dates
Weekly Activities 20 Weekly
Guest Instructor Q&A 1 4 7/03/16
Guest Instructor Q&A 2 4 7/10/16
Assignment 1: Genealogy Instruction Screencast 15 7/10/16
Guest Instructor Q&A 3 4 7/24/16
Assignment 2: Genealogy Reference Interview 15 7/24/16
Guest Instructor Q&A 4 4 7/31/16
Guest Instructor Q&A 5 4 8/07/16
Assignment 3: Kinship Determination Report 30 8/12/16
Total Points Possible 100  

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
Cyberspace, 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, 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
Students are expected to follow the current Chicago citation style (CMOS16), which is used by historians and is the foundation upon which Evidence Explained is built.

The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010).

All work submitted throughout the course must include citations when appropriate. These citations will be reviewed (with feedback), but will not be graded. Instructor feedback is to help you understand why CMOS alone is not sufficent for genealogy scholarship, and to help you understand how Evidence Explained fills this void.

General CMOS16 editorial style should be followed in the written report for your Kinship Determination Project report (Assignment 3).

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, with particular attention to intellectual freedom issues.
  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.

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 intellectual freedom within that profession.
  2. I Use service concepts, principles, and techniques to connect individuals or groups with accurate, relevant, and appropriate information.


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;
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA) — 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 the following semester. 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.

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

University Policies

General Expectations, Rights and Responsibilities of the Student

As members of the academic community, students accept both the rights and responsibilities incumbent upon all members of the institution. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with SJSU's policies and practices pertaining to the procedures to follow if and when questions or concerns about a class arises. See University Policy S90-5 at More detailed information on a variety of related topics is available in the SJSU catalog at In general, it is recommended that students begin by seeking clarification or discussing concerns with their instructor. If such conversation is not possible, or if it does not serve to address the issue, it is recommended that the student contact the Department Chair as a next step.

Dropping and Adding

Students are responsible for understanding the policies and procedures about add/drop, grade forgiveness, etc. Refer to the current semester's Catalog Policies section at Add/drop deadlines can be found on the current academic year calendars document on the Academic Calendars webpage at The Late Drop Policy is available at Students should be aware of the current deadlines and penalties for dropping classes.

Information about the latest changes and news is available at the Advising Hub at

Consent for Recording of Class and Public Sharing of Instructor Material

University Policy S12-7,, requires students to obtain instructor's permission to record the course and the following items to be included in the syllabus:

  • "Common courtesy and professional behavior dictate that you notify someone when you are recording him/her. You must obtain the instructor's permission to make audio or video recordings in this class. Such permission allows the recordings to be used for your private, study purposes only. The recordings are the intellectual property of the instructor; you have not been given any rights to reproduce or distribute the material."
    • It is suggested that the syllabus include the instructor's process for granting permission, whether in writing or orally and whether for the whole semester or on a class by class basis.
    • In classes where active participation of students or guests may be on the recording, permission of those students or guests should be obtained as well.
  • "Course material developed by the instructor is the intellectual property of the instructor and cannot be shared publicly without his/her approval. You may not publicly share or upload instructor generated material for this course such as exam questions, lecture notes, or homework solutions without instructor consent."

Academic integrity

Your commitment, as a student, to learning is evidenced by your enrollment at San Jose State University. The University Academic Integrity Policy F15-7 at requires you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The Student Conduct and Ethical Development website is available at

Campus Policy in Compliance with the American Disabilities Act

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need to make special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 at requires that students with disabilities requesting accommodations must register with the Accessible Education Center (AEC) at to establish a record of their disability.

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