Tag Archives: Applied Genealogy Institute

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.

My AppGen Experience: Half Way Through the Class

In early February, I wrote about my pleasure and excitement when I was successfully enrolled in Advanced Swedish Research offered by the relatively new (second semester) virtual education opportunity, the Applied Genealogy Institute.

AppGen, for short, provides genealogical education opportunities described as “Learn by Doing.”

I promised to share my thoughts and impressions part way through the class and then provide an overall review when the class ended.

First, each of the classes offered by the Institute consists of four sessions, which in reality in 3 weeks long since Class 1 is Day One with three remaining weeks.

Advanced Swedish Research meets on March 14, 21, 28 and April 4 from 3:00-6:30 p.m. (Pacific Time). This afternoon, I will attend Class 3.

What to expect in terms of format and material covered was clearly outlined in the class summary posted before the enrollment process began.

My Impressions

Instructor Jill Morelli clearly defined expectations and requirements for this class. Given the Scavenger Hunt/Homework assignment each week, my current thought is that 4 sessions is a good amount of time.

Class has begun promptly at 3:00 with 14 participants. (Class limit is 15.) An updated agenda has been provided each morning before class. I really liked that Jill added a lesson on Probate Records after many of us noted in the pre-class questionnaire that we’d like to know more about them.

Each session is a blend of lecture and hands on research, finding persons and details in early Swedish records, which can be found either on the Swedish National Archives (free) or ArkivDigital, by subscription and the company provided an extremely inexpensive subscription for the duration of the class – US$16!

Given that this is an advanced class, the work load isn’t insignificant, which I expected and with which I am comfortable. I am retired and do genealogy for hours every day, so this isn’t an issue.

The Scavenger Hunt takes me a few hours; the remaining hours of the homework is dedicated to our own (guided) research. I have to admit that I found a great rabbit hole this week on ArkivDigital and spent so many hours poring through records that, although I finished the Scavenger Hunt and began writing up my personal research, I didn’t have time to finish it before emailing it in yesterday morning.

I probably spent around 25 hours last week – maybe even 30 –  working on the assignment – but, bear in mind that many of those hours were of my own choosing to follow the BSO (bright, shiny object).

My initial stated research goal was to find where and when my 5X great grandfather Anders Molin (1740-1786+) died. That’s idealistic as a number of his descendants have been hunting for years without success.

My second goal is to develop skill using more advanced Swedish records, which this class is providing.

In summary, I’m very pleased with my class at the mid-point. It’s a small group and, although we don’t socialize much, there is plenty of opportunity to have good class discussions and to ask as many questions as necessary.

Jill Morelli, the instructor, is also available during the week in between class sessions and has promptly answered my email queries.

More to come after the class concludes on 4 April 2022, but I am more than happy with my experience so far.


Advanced Swedish Research with AppGen: I’m Enrolled!

It’s official! I received notice that I am enrolled in the Applied Genealogy Institute’s course on Advanced Swedish Research, taught by Jill Morelli, CG.

I’m looking forward to this class because my Swedish research skills are just advanced enough that I need to delve into new-to-me resources. I have several Swedish lines back to the late 1700s, have used ArkivDigital and FamilySearch films of Swedish records (no, I don’t speak any Swedish) and am at the point where I need to acquire some new skills, particularly since I’m working from home during this pandemic. No ability to run to the Scandinavian help desk in the Family History Library at the moment!

Therefore, these class objectives seem to be a good fit for me:

  • To establish a common understanding of the BMD records, household examination records, probate records, and how they can work together
  • To learn how to access and use the Arkivdigital (AD) website
  • To access and use mantals tax records (MTR) for indirect and direct evidence
  • To explore at least six (6) lesser known Swedish sites
  • To learn from numerous case studies which apply the knowledge gained

Another reason I chose this AppGen course is that, although I appreciate and have learned much from the plethora of genealogy education webinars on offer during the last couple of years, other than being able to ask questions, live webinars are mostly passive experiences for the attendees.

That’s not a criticism! It’s just that AppGen’s class size of 15 will provide a proactive, small learning environment.

There was a detailed outline of the lesson plan for the four class sessions on the AppGen website, but the class format is similar to the first class:

  • Introductions
  • Break out session
  • Skill-building: “Using ArkivDigital”
  • Q & A and in-class exercise
  • Presentation: “Reading and Interpreting BMDs, Household Examinations, and Probate”
  • Case Study: “Parents for Sven Nilsson of Hishult Parish, Sweden”
  • Introduction: Homework/Scavenger Hunt #1

There is even a pre-class homework assignment!

This will be my first experience with a genealogical institute class, as I’ve never attended SLIG, GRIP or any other in-depth genealogical education program.

As a retired teacher, though, I do have some expectations and an observation or two to share.

First, I expect that the class will be well organized and presented and that the course objectives will be followed and met.

Second, I certainly expect that I will have gained some new skills and knowledge of Swedish resources by the end of the class, which is my main reason for taking this class.

Having previously heard several presentations by Jill Morelli, I have no doubt that my expectations will be met.

As for observations, although I have not attended any of the other in-depth institutes, I think this AppGen course will be less intense and tiring – in a good way.

The week long format used by SLIG and the others entail five long, intense days in a row, while the Boston University program is equal in work to earning a mini-degree.

I think my three-hour class sessions with one week in between will be just about right in terms of pacing serious in-depth learning and having 6 days of work/rest time in between.

I’ll be writing about my initial experiences and reactions after the class begins in mid-March. I’m expecting great things!