INFO 284-10
Seminar in Archives and Records Management
Topic: Genealogy
Summer 2019 Syllabus

Colleen Greene
Office Hours: Available by appointment

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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning June 3rd, 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 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 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 2 main assignments, mandatory weekly activities, and 4 asynchronous question & answer sessions with guest instructors. Specific details and rubrics will be posted in Canvas the first day of instruction.

This course carries a heavy assignment load due to being a 10 week accelerated class.

Weekly Activities (40 total points, 4 per week)
Each module will include mandatory activities (as well as relevant voluntary activities and assessments). These mandatory activities include a mix of discussions and brief reports. Each activity directly supports one or more of the 2 Individual Assignments.
Supports CLOs #1, #2, #3, #4, #5.

Guest Instructor Q&A Sessions (12 total points, 3 per session)
Four 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. My recorded interviews will be made available two weeks prior to each assigned week, for students who want to work ahead of schedule.
Supports CLOs #4, #5.

  • Week 6: Stephanie George, Consultant. Former archivist, special collections librarian, oral historian.
  • Week 7: Drew Smith, Librarian, Academic Services, University of South Florida (USF) Tampa Library, and co-owner of Aha! Seminars.
  • Week 8: Amy Lenertz, Owner Raincross Genealogy.
  • Week 9: Allison DePrey Singleton, Librarian, The Genealogy Center, Allen County Public Library

Main Assignments (48 total points):

  1. Select one of the following (18 points):
    1. Genealogy Instruction Screencast
      Supports CLOs #1, #2, #4.
    2. Genealogy Reference Interview
      INFO 210 is not required.
      Supports CLOs #1, #2, #4, #5.
  2. 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.

Main Assignments (ASSM) are due on the last day of each week (Sunday).

Graded Guest Instructor Q&A Sessions (Q&A) and Graded Activities (ACT) have two-part deadlines, with the first part due on Thursday of each week, and the second part due the last day of that week (Sunday).

Week Module Topics Deliverables
6/03/19 - 6/09/19 1 The Foundations of Good Research ACT
6/10/19 - 6/16/19 2

Major Online Repositories

Genealogical Records, Part I

6/17/19 - 6/23/19 3

Genealogical Records, Part II

Reference Tools

6/24/19 - 6/30/19 4 Genealogical Records, Part III ACT 
7/01/19 - 7/07/19


Genealogical Records, Part IV


7/08/19- 7/14/19 6

KDP Intro & Lab, Part I

Genealogy Librarianship, Part I



Q&A 1 


7/15/19 - 7/21/19 7

Genealogy Records, Part V

Genealogy Librarianship, Part II


Q&A 2

7/22/19 - 7/28/19 8

KDP Lab, Part II

Genealogy Librarianship, Part III


Q&A 3

7/29/19 - 8/04/19 9A

KDP Lab, Part III

Intro to Genetic Genealogy, Part I

Genealogy Librarianship, Part IV



Q&A 4 

8/05/19 - 8/09/19 9B

KDP Lab, Part IV

Intro to Genetic Genealogy, Part II




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 an emergency, due to the fast pace of this 10 week course. Please contact the 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 40 Weekly
Guest Instructor Q&A 1 3 7/14/19
Assignment 1: Genealogy Reference Interview or Genealogy Instruction Screencast 18 7/14/19
Guest Instructor Q&A 2 3 7/21/19
Guest Instructor Q&A 3  3 7/28/19
Guest Instructor Q&A 4 3 8/04/19
Assignment 2: Kinship Determination Report 30 8/19/19
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 may use any of the standard citation styles accepted by the School of Information, or as noted as the suggested citation format by a particular repository.

All work submitted throughout the course must include citations when appropriate. These citations will be reviewed (with feedback), but will not 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, 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 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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