Last chance to register for “First Steps in French Genealogy” with Anne Morddel

The Virtual Institute’s next course, “First Steps in French Genealogy: Parish and Civil Registrations of Births, Marriages and Deaths,” presented by Anne Morddel, CG, will begin next Saturday, October 6, 2018. Registration for the course will close Friday evening.

France has required the recording of birth, marriage, and death information since 1539: first as Catholic parish registrations by curates and priests recording baptisms, marriages and burials; then, from 1792, as civil registrations by mayors or civil registrars recording births, marriages, deaths, and related details. Nearly all of these have been filmed and digitized and are available online. This course explains the formats and structures of these registrations, how to extract information from them, and how to interpret it, as well as how to find them and to use them to find more genealogical information in other documentation.

This course is the first of two courses in French genealogy hosted by the Virtual Institute and presented by Morddel. The second course, “French Notarial Records: A Genealogical Goldmine,” will begin in February 2019.

Anne Morddel, CG, is a BCG-certified genealogist originally from Northern California, now based in France, and specializing in French genealogy. She is the author of The French Genealogy Blog, on which she has written over 650 posts solely on the subject of French genealogical research. Her book French Genealogy From Afar is the definitive book on the subject, and she has written many booklets which cover specific issues in French research. Her articles have appeared in BBC Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, Genealogists’ Magazine, Napoleonic Scholarship, and others.

Click here for more information and to register for this course.



Instructor Sheila Benedict honored by California Missions Foundation

Sheila Benedict accepts a 2017 CMF Chairman's AwardSheila Benedict was recently elected to the Board of Directors for the California Missions Foundation. In 2017 the Foundation also presented Sheila with the CMF Chairman’s Award. This award “recognizes individuals who have made a great impact on the studies of early California history and/or preservation of historic sites in their respective communities.”

Sheila will be presenting “The California Historic Missions and Their Records: Their Importance to Genealogists” on July 11, 2018, at 8:00pm (EDT), as part of the Virtual Institute’s Occasional Webinar Series. Click here for more information and to register for the webinar.

Founded in 1998, the California Missions Foundation was established with the objective of preserving and protecting the missions. The Foundation is the only organization dedicated to the long-term preservation and restoration needs of all California missions and their associated historic and cultural resources for public benefit. Along with funds raised from the generous contributions from our corporate, foundation and individual supporters, CMF actively works to raise money to fund mission projects from stabilization of structures to conservation of paintings and artifacts and conducting archaeological research.

On January 1, 2016, the California Missions Foundation successfully merged with the California Mission Studies Association, an organization founded in 1984 and dedicated to scholarship, research and membership. Together the combined CMF is the only statewide organization dedicated to the preservation and studies of the California Missions and their related historical sites. (

Congratulations, Sheila!

New course and webinar recordings available now!

The beginning of the year has been busy for us here at the Virtual Institute!

We have already run several courses and webinars, and the recordings for each of these is now available in the Virtual Institute Store.

We will soon be announcing several new upcoming courses for later this year, so keep an eye open for the announcements!

Courses, recording packages available for $69.99 (6 hours + syllabus + practical exercise):

Click here for more information on past courses.

Click here for more information on upcoming courses.

Webinars, recording packages available for $19.99 (1 hour + syllabus):

  • Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D., “How Are We Related? Using the Shared cM Project to Explore Your DNA Matches”
  • LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG, “Researching Enslaved Ancestors in South Carolina”

Click here for more information on past webinars.

Click here for more information on upcoming webinars.

Last chance to register for J. Mark Lowe’s course on Southern church records

It’s your last chance to register for the next course with the Virtual Institute, “Discovering Southern Families Using Church Records and Related Publications,” taught by J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA. Registration will close this coming Friday night, and the course will begin Saturday morning, March 31, 2018, at 11am (EST).

Click here for more information and to register.

Our ancestors may have been exemplary citizens or just average folk. However, their faith and participation in church and related religious organizations should help us understand the community where they lived, and how they functioned within that neighborhood.

By focusing on these religious records and manuscripts, we can discover the wonderful letters, diaries, memorials, and additional documents that tell the story of families across the South and more. Understand what was created, discover how and where to find these items for your research. Understand the religious fervor after the Great Awakening. Learn about additional periodicals and historical resources that can sharpen your focus. Case studies will paint a clearer picture.

Primary Focus: African Methodist Episcopal (AME); Baptist; Disciples of Christ, Christian, Church of Christ; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Cumberland Presbyterian; Episcopal; Judaism; Mennonites; Methodist (including CME); Moravian (Unitas Fratrum); Presbyterian; Roman Catholic; and Shaker (The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing).

The recording package for Mark’s first course with the Virtual Institute—“Preparing the Field: Understanding the Agricultural Records of Our Ancestors“—is also available for purchase in the Virtual Institute Store.

J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA, is a full-time professional genealogist, author, and teacher who researches primarily in original records and manuscripts throughout the South. Mark has published in APGQ, NGSQ, North Carolina Genealogical Society Quarterly, SPEAK!, The Longhunter, and other society publications.

Lowe also serves as the Course Coordinator for “Research in the South” at  the Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR), teaches for the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), and the Regional In-depth Genealogical Studies Alliance (RIGS Alliance). He has worked on several genealogical television series including African American Lives, Who Do You Think You Are?, and UnXplained Events.


Rich Venezia at TEDxPittsburgh

Last summer our instructor Rich Venezia appeared onstage at TedxPittsburgh, an event using the popular TED format but independently organized. Rich’s talk, “How to Grow Empathy From Uncovering Your Roots,” puts his engaging speaking style on full display. Just take a look below!

Rich will be teaching a course for the Virtual Institute entitled “Uncovering Immigrant Origins” that will run from 10 March to 17 March 2018. Click here for more information and to register.


Recordings for Bettinger’s “Essential Copyright Guide” now available!

Recording packages for “The Essential Copyright Guide for Genealogists” with Blaine T. Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D., are now available for purchase in the Virtual Institute Store.

All recording packages come with audio/video files for the four 90-minute lecture sessions in MP4 format, as well as all syllabus material and practical exercises.

Visit the Virtual Institute Store here.

Last chance to register for course on U.S. military pensions

It’s your last chance to register for the next course with the Virtual Institute, “Pensions: Did You Stop Too Soon?,” taught by Craig R. Scott, CG, FUGA. Registration will close this coming Friday night, and the course will begin Saturday morning, February 24, 2018, at 11am (EST).

Most researchers seem to believe that pension research is examining the pension application files. There is much more than that. There are other areas that will contribute to a search in military pensions. Some people have pensions, but you would not know it because they are not in the pension indexes. Pension law, a requirement for a pension, might explain why a person’s pension was denied. Pension ledgers and payment vouchers add to our understanding of the service and where the pensioner is located in later life. Final payments provide insight into the heirs of a pensioner.

The instructor for this course, Craig Scott, is a nationally recognized expert on U.S. military matters. He has taught on military records at national conferences and institutes, including several courses for the Virtual Institute.

For more information and to register, visit this page.

Last chance to register for copyright course!

It’s your last chance to register for the next course with the Virtual Institute, “The Essential Copyright Guide for Genealogists ,” taught by Blaine T. Bettinger. Registration will close Friday night, and the course will begin Saturday morning, February 10, 2018, at 11am (EST).

This course will cover many of the copyright issues encountered by both amateur and professional genealogists on a daily basis. The instructor, Blaine Bettinger, is an intellectual property attorney, though better known as “The Genetic Genealogist.” His engaging teaching  style has made him one of the most popular teachers, for both the Virtual Institute and other conferences and institutes around the country.

For more information and to register, visit this page.

Register now for February’s courses on copyright and military pensions

This February, two of the Virtual Institute’s most popular instructors will be offering new courses.

First, to be held on February 10 and 17, Blaine T. Bettinger will return to present “The Essential Copyright Guide for Genealogists.” Many know Blaine from his blog The Genetic Genealogist and several DNA-related courses, but did you also know that he works as an intellectual property attorney? Issues surrounding copyright are central to much of a genealogist’s work: how can we use the work of others and how can others use our work? Blaine will tackle these questions and many others in his course.

Register for Blaine’s course now:

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Next, to be held on February 24 and March 3, Craig Roberts Scott will teach “Pensions: Did You Stop Too Soon?” Craig has taught several U.S. military courses for the Virtual Institute over they years. This time around, he will focus on U.S. military pensions, beginning with pension laws and pension applications, and examining the other records created such as pension ledgers and payment vouchers.

Register for Craig’s course now:

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More details about each of these courses can be found on the Virtual Institute website and by clicking the titles of the courses above.

Recording for Bettinger’s Shared cM Project webinar now available!

For those who were unable to register for “How Are We Related? Using the Shared cM Project to Explore Your DNA Matches” with Blaine T. Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D., the recording is now available for sale on the Virtual Institute website.

Visit the Occasional Webinar Recordings page to purchase this and other webinars for just $19.99. Each recording package includes the full audio and video from the webinar and all syllabus and supplementary material.

While you’re there, don’t forget to take a look at our upcoming courses and webinars as well as recordings for all of our past courses and webinars!