Genealogy Classes


Classes on genealogy, family history, media/technology, and computer skills are held at 9 am (PT) just prior to the regular 10 am (PT) meeting. Classes are designed for a variety of interests and ability levels and are often used as a refresher. Bring a notebook or mobile digital device (i.e., iPad, laptop, tablet, etc.) for note-taking and bring examples or copies of difficult records.

Other classes may be scheduled to meet new needs or interests of members. 

Note: Some of these classes are held via Zoom until further notice. Please check our calendar of events for registration information for each class. 

All classes are held Pacific Time.

Check the Calendar of Events for current dates, times, topics and locations, as they are subject to change with short or no notice.

Family Tree Maker 

Presenter – Dave Tooley

Family Tree Maker (FTM) is a powerful software tool that allows you to build your family tree. It links to and to search for your ancestors. FTM provides charts, reports and maps to enhance your knowledge of your ancestor’s past. This class will discuss the use of Family Tree Maker version 2017 for both Mac and PC. It is open to all levels of experience.

From Bits, Bytes and Pixels to JPG, TIFF and PDF: An Explanation of Image File Formats 

Presenter Marshall Clow

Learn how to work with photos. This class discusses how images are stored on your computer and the differences between a PDF, TIFF and JPEG file. Learn what “300 dpi” means. Learn the tradeoffs that you can make when scanning and manipulating photos. See what a difference this knowledge can make with your photos. 

Publishing and Communicating Your Genealogy 

Presenter Dona Ritchie

This class will discuss different ways of communicating your family history information in a manner which appeals to family members of all ages as well as other genealogists and non-genealogists. We will talk about creating a family genealogy album, making e-books and blogging. 

Salt Lake City Preparation Class

Presenters  Gloria Osborn, Kay Swenningsen and Cindy Taiclet

Each year the San Diego Genealogical Society sponsors a trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The Library features the largest collection of genealogical records in the world and so finding your way around it can be daunting. This class will describe the library organization and layout, how to access records and tips for efficiently finding the records you are looking for.

Organizing Your Records and Data

Presenter Claire McKarns

As one enters the tangled web of Genealogy, there are many records to file and ancestors to keep in line. It is always a challenge to stay focused and to keep in order. This class will offer some ideas for organizing records that have worked for the presenter and others. Some examples will be displayed. There will be an opportunity for questions and ideas at the end of the seminar.

Reunion for Mac Users

Presenter Anne Alves

This class will focus on how to use Reunion for Mac to perform your genealogy research. We will demonstrate many of the functions of Reunion, show how they help you search for information on the internet, and how they organize your data as you build your family tree.

Genealogy Research Basics

Presenter Donald Williams

Things you need to know to construct an accurate family tree. This class will include definitions, date convention, data sources, family tree apps, useful tools, and where to get help. Eleven different source types will be used as examples to show where they were found, and to demonstrate how they are used in the construction of a family tree. Attendees will be introduced to pointers, place holders, and data quality indicators.

DNA and Genealogy 

Presenter Colin Whitney

This class addresses topics related to DNA testing and analysis, including the basics of DNA testing, an overview of the major testing companies, third-party sites, and strategies for analysis and  interpretation of testing results. The class is open to all levels of experience. It is recommended, but not required, that attendees read The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine Bettinger prior to attending the class.

Reading German Records 

Presenter Barbara Stanculescu

This class will help attendees who have documents in German scripture which need to be translated. Examples are church documents like birth certificates, marriage and death certificates as well as civil certificates. If you have documents you would like translated, you are encouraged to send them to Barbara Stanculescu at That way we can project them on the screen so that everyone can participate.


Presenter Randy Seaver

RootsMagic is a comprehensive software tool which helps you research, organize and share your genealogy information. This class will discuss many of its multitude of features and show you how to use them. It is appropriate for all levels from beginner to professional. Class is for Mac and PC users.

Intermediate Level Genealogy 

Presenter – Donald Williams

This class picks up where the "Genealogy Research Basics" class leaves off. We will discuss finding records abroad as well as how to search for some of the less common US records. We will talk about genealogy sources that you can find on the web which help you find your ancestors.

Orientation to San Diego Genealogical Society 

Presenter Pat Francisco

This class is designed for all who want to know more about the San Diego Genealogical Society—its people and its programs. We will discuss the history of the society, its officers, the monthly meetings, bi-annual seminars, the education staff, research trips, local resources and more. The session will conclude with a live demonstration of using the website. Bring your laptop.

Hispanic Family History   

Presenter Ceasar Castro

Hispanic Family History discusses information which will help you with your Hispanic research. Your host is a veteran genealogist in a state-of-the-art library. Whether you are new to genealogy and wondering how to start the quest for your Hispanic ancestors, or you have been searching for years, expert guidance can save you months or years of time.

Searching the Web

Presenter Donald Williams

This class picks up where the Genealogy Research Basics class leaves off. We will discuss finding records abroad as well as how to search some of the less common US records. We will talk about genealogy sources that you can find on the web which help you find your ancestors.  

Presenter Diane Gould Hall

The objective of this class is to discuss various functions and capabilities of The presentation is a combination of PowerPoint slides and live demonstration of the program, with an emphasis on the latter. Since this class will be held twice this year, we will discuss different functions and capabilities at each session. Those include, but are not limited to, the following:

-- New functions and changes.

-- Functions that may not be well known by current users; but are very helpful in conducting research.

-- A periodic review of the most useful and popular functions of

-- Due to the rapid growth in the use of DNA in genealogy and the importance of Ancestry's DNA testing and software functions, we usually spend some time in each session discussing the use of Ancestry's DNA functions. 

Local Resources 

Presenter Susi Pentico

In this class we discuss the San Diego area libraries, why they are essential, search techniques you can use for the library, how to find the right library, and what the libraries contain. We show how to use searching aids such as WORLDCAT and PERSI, and how to prepare for your library visit. Genealogy resources are available at the San Diego City Public Library, the San Diego County Library, the Carlsbad Public Library, independent libraries such as Coronado and Escondido, and university libraries like UCSD and SDSU are detailed.

Introduction to the British Isles

Presenter Colin Whitney

This talk will introduce you to the British Isles and provide a framework for researching your British ancestors. We cover the names for regions of the British Isles, the county structure and recent changes, as well as the Dioceses of both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England. The main record types are discussed, their location, and guides on how to access them.

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