Course Detail

Advanced Forensic Genealogy GEN222

Course Description

Class runs from July 28 - August 1, 2014.

Taught by Dr. Mary Ann Boyle and Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick, this course not only presents the practical and theoretical aspects of conducting a commercial practice in forensic genealogy, it also offers instruction on creative elements essential to successful casework. By working through actual case studies, students will learn innovative ways to conduct the investigative process by locating sources of information, analyzing data, and reporting findings.

Forensic genealogy establishes identity for legal purposes. The types of cases requiring a modern forensic genealogist’s expertise include resolution of trust and estates, land title issues, military service, guardianships, insurance benefits, paternity questions, and intellectual property rights. The successful forensic genealogist also handles an expanded repertoire including provenance, identity theft, historical fraud, and DNA identification of many kinds.

Our students learn that each case requires a specific investigative objective and a plan to reach that objective. To this end, data collected in the course of an investigation must be analyzed for credibility and consistency. Students learn the standards of practice that meet the ethical, legal, and documentary requirements of expert testimony. Even so, students discover that within this framework, a successful practitioner must often be highly creative in seeking novel ways to bring a difficult case to a successful conclusion.

Fascinating casework such as the location of missing individuals is covered through examples selected from faculty case files. Approaches to handling the most challenging types of individuals are discussed - "invisible" people such as the homeless, the elderly, seasonal workers, and children who leave minimal trails, individuals in hiding such as criminals and illegal aliens, people living outside the United States, and individuals with false identities.

Students learn that a successful forensic genealogical practice is not only a business that depends on practical knowledge of tax structure, market selection, web presence, liability, profitability, collaboration with other professionals, credentialing, and scope of practice. It is also a profession that challenges a practitioner to maneuver around information roadblocks, to follow nearly invisible trails, to find clues that an unskilled observer would not notice, and to second guess what really happened.

If you are interested in developing your forensic genealogy skills from both practical and creative standpoints, this course is for you.

Students are expected to participate in class discussions, group exercises, and complete assignments for grading.

Who Should Attend

Genealogists with an interest in the area of Forensic Genealogy.


* Students should have completed the BU Genealogical Research Certificate Program or have comparable experience.
* Familiarity with Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills and Professional Genealogy manual

Scheduling Details

  • * Four and a half days of instruction, approximately seven hours each day with a break morning and afternoon and an hour for lunch.
    * Limited on-campus housing is available during this week for $65/night. Please contact our office to reserve this space.
    *This course is also available for students to attend remotely if they wish to. Students must have a high speed internet connection and minimum system requirements to use the Adobe Connect tool to log in daily and participate in the course during course hours.
    *This course is limited to 8 remote and 24 registrations total.

Textbooks and Class Materials

  • Materials for the course will be provided.

For more information, please call 1-866-633-9370.