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Mar 15, 2019

An Embarrassment of Resources: Webinars

March 15, 2019

Whether you’re a beginner or have worked on your family’s genealogy for decades, webinars are one of the best ways to improve your genealogy skills. Webinars are readily accessible and cover an immense range of topics including everything from writing your family history to DNA to organizing files to researching in a specific place or time or using a specific record type. Nowadays even the most well-known of genealogy speakers record webinars so whether you want to hear a favorite such as Tom Jones or check out someone who is new to you such as Paul Woodbury, you’ll readily be able to find webinars by them. In fact watching a webinar by Judy Russell is a good way to get enthused for next fall’s LCGS Conference for a Cause (see last week’s blog for more info). Webinars really do constitute an “embarrassment of resources” to put a spin on the old “embarrassment of riches” saying.

While watching a webinar or a video isn’t quite the same as actually being there in person, it’s the next best thing since most webinars offer downloadable handouts and even question and answer periods if the webinar is watched live. Even if you can’t catch a webinar in real time, most are available for download at your convenience, which is a wonderful perk for those of us who like to learn in our cozy slippers with a cup of cocoa by our side at three in the morning!

In addition to convenience, webinars are cost effective, as well. Many, such as the ones on Familysearch.org, for example, are completely free. Others are a benefit of a membership or subscription; these include the ones on many of the big websites such as Ancestry.com and Findmypast.com or genealogical societies such as American Ancestors (New England Historical and Genealogical Society). Even the pay-for-view webinar sites are quite affordable. Recently, I paid for a full-year subscription to Legacy Family Tree Webinars; Legacy has hundreds of archived webinars by major genealogical speakers such as Blaine Bettinger, Diahan Southard and Lisa Louise Cooke. The yearly subscription price is $49.95, but they were running a sale so I paid $24.95 to have access to more seminars than I’ll be able to watch (at least if I plan to get anything else done). However, if the $24.95 price is still too much, Legacy offers access to most of their webinars for free for the live broadcast and to access them for the first ten days that the webinar is available. Contrast this with the typical seminar or conference which can cost several hundred dollars for registration fees, not to mention the cost of hotels, transportation and meals. It’s true that the networking with other like-minded genealogists, hearing lectures in person and visiting extensive exhibit halls make conferences an experience very unlike a webinar, but a webinar is definitely one way to participate in the educational aspects of a lecture by a renowned genealogist without having to spend a fortune or even leave home.

At this point, the only difficulty with webinars is the fact that there are so many of them. The abundance of choices can be overwhelming. Cyndi’s List is a good starting point to figuring out what might be available. Just search for “Education – Online Courses and Webinars” at https://www.cyndislist.com/education/online-courses-and-webinars/ for an extensive list of possibilities.

With the variety of webinars available from the comfort of home, there’s no reason for any genealogist miss out on quality presentations. Happy viewing!

Carol Stetser
Researcher/Director at Large