My 2024 Genealogy Game Plan

Last year, 2023, was the year I got serious about genealogy education, with the ultimate goal of becoming a professional genealogical researcher, writer, and educator. 

Then last summer, I started implementing my 3-year plan toward pursuing Board Certification. Now, not every genealogist is certified or accredited nor do they need to be. There are plenty of other ways to prove your genealogy bona fides. But I’ve decided that I want to pursue certification through the Board of Certification for Genealogists and this is how I’m going about it in year two of three!

(All the while trying not to neglect my tech clients, of course. If you’re reading this, don’t worry, y’all. More even than genealogy I love being able to pay my mortgage!) 


Well, as of right now, this is more like “class.” But I’m on the hunt for classes in forensic genealogy (the one where you find heirs, not the one where you find murderers) and DNA. Suggestions welcome!

National Genealogical Society: Advanced Skills in Genealogy

I actually started this self-paced course back in September 2023, but from the first six modules (out of 19) that I’ve completed, I already know that this course is going to eat up my class time for 2024. 

This course goes over common genealogical sources like vital records, census records and land records in-depth and includes several graded lessons. The assignments, even the non-graded ones, can be quite time-consuming, to the point that I decided I’d better not sign up for the Research Like a Pro with DNA Study Group this spring as I’d planned (and wished!) to do for fear of dropping a ball.

You can find out more about the NGS’s Advanced Skills in Genealogy course here.


SLIG 2024 – The Fundamentals of Southern U.S. Research and Resources

All of my known family has lived in the southern US since at least ~1800. Little did I know when I started doing genealogy research that this meant I’d started on hard mode. While the northeastern folks have town records, and many other northern and western states had some kind of requirement for registering births and deaths, many Southerners (especially poor and landless ones like many of my ancestors) often walked through life leaving a light paper trail. And even when they created records, all the record loss and burned courthouses from natural disasters and the Civil War doesn’t help matters. Still, Southern research is my favorite of all research (so much that I have a bachelor’s degree in it!) and I’m very much looking forward to taking a class with the wonderful J. Mark Lowe

Here’s a link to the course (January 2024). And even if you can’t take it, here’s a link to many of Mark Lowe’s wonderful, practical southern US research webinars. 

IGHR 2024 – Military Records I: The Colonial Era to the Vietnam War

I know just enough about military records to be dangerous. This is another area in which I am self-taught, and unlike topics like social history and economics, I don’t often seek out military-adjacent reading on my own. Instructor Michael Strauss was one of the speakers in my 2023 IGHR course and happened to mention that his 3-year military course would be starting over this next year. I liked Strauss’s style and obvious devotion to military history and research. Truly, I can listen to someone talk about carpet fibers if they are passionate about the subject, and Strauss’s love for military history shines through. 

IGHR registration opens in March, so there is still time to pick your own course! Here’s a link to the IGHR courses (July 2024).

I also wanted to take a course at another one of the big genealogy academies, GRIP. But sadly, I’m unlikely to be able to participate this year. As someone who is self-employed, I simply won’t have the time to serve all my clients if I take a week off in June for GRIP AND a week off in July for IGHR. 


RootsTech (Feb 2024, In-Person)

I last went to RootsTech in 2014 or so and am looking forward to attending this big genealogy party again this year. If anybody else is going, let me know so we can meet up!

National Genealogical Society (May 2024, Virtual)

This will be my first time going to an NGS conference. However, a lot of the amazing learning videos in my NGS: Advanced Skills in Genealogy course are from previous NGS Conference events so I’m looking forward to quality education as well as lots of fun WHOVA shenanigans.

APG Professional Management Conference (Sep 2024, Virtual?)

The 2023 APG conference was a standout in my calendar last year and I plan to go again this year. The only question is will I do it virtually again (which was great & allowed me to make a raft of genealogy pros and near-pro friends who I keep in touch with) or go in person? I often tell my own clients there is no substitute for face to face time. But we’re also still in a pandemic. Fortunately I have time to decide. Either way, I look forward to learning from experienced genealogy pros again this fall.

Study Groups/Special Interest Groups

Mastering Genealogical Documentation Study Group

My best genealogy friend Cathy Duncan started our Mastering Genealogical Proof study group last year. This year (okay, technically December 2023), we decided to do it again, this time with Mastering Genealogical Documentation. We meet weekly to discuss a chapter or half a chapter of Thomas W. Jones’ seminal work about how to completely and accurately cite genealogical sources, from an inventory in a probate packet to a butter churn. Better yet, there are about 8 of us in the group and we’re all spectacular genealogy nerds. It’s so nice to have someone who “gets it” when you make that “eureka” discovery that the non-genealogists in your life just can’t understand. Better yet, some of our rank are working genealogists and little do they know but I’m hanging on their every word and soaking up their insights as we study!

Research Like a Pro (Fall 2024)

I loved my Research Like a Pro study group last fall, and plan on taking their Fall offering unless my NGS course just absolutely truly kicks my tail.  These groups are led by mother and daughter team Diana Elder and Nicole Dyer. I find their tag team teaching style so enlightening and oddly soothing. I don’t know why, but knotty genealogy problems seem much less knotty when Diana Elder repeats them back to you in her gentle voice. And the best part of the RLP Study group are… the actual study groups! You’re assigned a group of 4-5 peers who help you complete a genealogy project from start to finish (which is, research question to research report.) I was thrilled with the 25-page product of the last group, and considering I’m doing so darn many classes this year and so little of my own research, it’s possible that I’ll pick up where I left off on the possible parents of George W. West the next time I take their course. 

What’s next? 

Optimistic Jennifer was originally planning to try and get into the Fall 2024 ProGen class, but when I actually started implementing the plan I realized how fanciful that was going to be. So now the plan is to either not do ProGen (boo!) or try for the Spring 2025 group. However, that pushes my “go on the clock to get certified” plan back so… Stay tuned here for what I decide on those fronts.

I’m also looking for classes on forensic genealogy (not forensic genetic genealogy) and DNA, but haven’t identified exactly which ones I’d like to take yet. Any suggestions? 

Have you made your 2024 plans yet? What are they? I’d love to hear about them!

And with that, I’m off to do my next NGS: Advanced Skill in Genealogy homework assignment. Happy detecting!


2 thoughts on “My 2024 Genealogy Game Plan”

  1. Jennifer, you are one busy lady! I’m amazed by how many activities/groups you are involved in and the many avenues there are for enhancing genealogy skillsets. I’ve signed up for the Georgia Genealogy Society zoom on the 11th – thanks for sharing that information. In looking through their website, I realized that the genealogist helping me research a blocker in the Duncan family is a member. Her name is Elizabeth Olsen – maybe you know her. I’m also attending a zoom this evening by a local genealogy society on the subject of “Genealogy and Artificial Intelligence; Is there Trouble Ahead?” I’ll be happy to share any interesting info if you are interested. I’m always happy to collaborate or exchange info on the Duncan families in Georgia…burnt courthouses and destroyed records certainly makes it challenging, especially being here in WI.

    • Thank you, cousin Karl! The great thing is that I find this all really fun. (A lot more fun than working for a living, but isn’t that always the way? Haha). I hope all is well with you! 🙂


Leave a Comment