Applied Genealogy Institute: Reflections on My First Experience

The Applied Genealogy Institute is a new opportunity for genealogists to hone their research skills, launched in the fall of 2021.

The Institute is, and always will be, a virtual experience offering “learning by doing,” which enables participants to avoid the costs of travel, lodging and meals which come with attendance at the in-person institutes.

To learn about the process of applying to register for a class, read Advanced Swedish Research with AppGen: I’m Enrolled!, followed by My AppGen Experience: Halfway Through the Class.

Today’s post is a wrap up of my reflections on the overall experience.

The AppGen Institute operates on the semester system with classes offered in the fall and spring. Jill Morelli, CG, offered Advanced Swedish Research, beginning with an orientation session, followed by four class sessions, which met once a week from 14 March through 4 April 2022 for 3 – 3 1/2 hours each.


There are many things I liked about the format and the class itself. Four sessions spread over several weeks allowed time to process information and work through the sometimes time-consuming homework assignments.

1. An agenda was emailed to each participant every Monday morning, which allowed students to review the topics and, in my case, begin to delve into the records to be discussed later that day.

Agendas were modified slightly each week to address more in-depth questions or concerns of the students.

2. Classes were a mix of lecture, case studies and hands-on activities, both individually and in group breakout sessions.

3. Homework assignments consisted of two parts – a Scavenger Hunt, which gave students the chance to jump directly into the record sources discussed during class. The second part involved using the record set to further our personal research goals.

Being an advanced class, the time the homework took was lengthy – hours on multiple days of the week. This isn’t a criticism, just notice that there is work required to sharpen advanced skills.

Completion of all homework assignments was required to receive the Certificate of Completion, as seen above. There were at least two people who didn’t turn in assignments on time after Class 1 and there was mention in a followup email after class ended that those who turned in all assignments had received their certificates.

One lady admitted during the final class that she learned a lot, but was a total slacker when it came to homework. Personally, I think she missed out on much of the experience by not doing the homework, but it was her time and her money.

4. There was plenty of time for questions and the instructor was readily available during the week to answer individual classes, either by email or via Zoom.

5. The four class sessions actually took place over three weeks’ time with Class 1 falling on Day 1 of the first week. I enjoyed the time frame – not too short and not too long.

6. A one-month subscription to ArkivDigital was available for just $16!

7. The class cost was very reasonable – $300 – which is quite a bit less than the other genealogy institutes and the virtual format brought no extra costs.


There really aren’t any negatives to address in my experience. The only suggestion I would make is to have the orientation include more time for students to meet and interact with each other. We did introduce ourselves, but I hadn’t “met” any of the other students previous to the class.

Class time was just that and, even during breakout room activities, we had limited time to complete tasks and we didn’t socialize, we worked.

Now that class is over, I can’t name a single other person in class (class maximums are 15) and I definitely wouldn’t recognize anyone if I saw them at an in-person conference.

To summarize, I enjoyed my AppGen experience and attained my goal of increasing familiarity with lesser known Swedish records.

I even made a couple of breakthroughs, as I learned my 5X great grandfather, Johan Casper Sandberg, was actually Johan Caspersson, who later added Sandberg as his surname. Therefore, I now know that his father’s given name was Casper, which is a relatively uncommon Swedish boy’s name.

Even better than that, I learned the maiden name of Johan Caspersson’s wife, Anna Stina. It’s BERGGREN, which I learned when I browsed page by page through loose moving in-moving out certificates from the 1700s.

I highly recommend taking a class with the Applied Genealogy Institute. Topics vary widely, with new classes offered each semester. It’s possible, I suppose, that in the future,  popular classes may again be offered, but, for now, each semester offering has unique classes.

The initial launch of AppGen offered three classes in Fall 2021:
Irish Research, Mary Roddy, CG
Land Records, Lisa Gorrell, CG
Exploring Broad Context, Jill Morelli, CG

Class choices expanded to five in Spring 2022:
Catholic Records, Margaret R. Fortier, CG
Foundations I: Using the Records, Lisa S. Gorrell, CG
Applied Genetic Genealogy, Leah Larkin, Ph.D.
Advanced Swedish Research, Jill Morelli, CG
Getting Lost in Ledgers, Diane L. Richards

Join the AppGen Institute mailing list to learn about upcoming semester classes.



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