Posted by William Nunnelley on 2011-06-09

When Samford University opened registration for its annual Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research [IGHR] on Jan. 18, nine of the 10 courses filled that day.

            “Our debut course, German Genealogical Research, filled in nine minutes,” said IGHR director Della Darby.

            That response six months before the June 12–17 institute underscored once again the high regard serious genealogy students have for Samford’s program.  The nationally known institute, cosponsored by the Board for Certification of Genealogists in Washington, D.C., provides a week of intensive study led by prominent genealogy educators. It draws students from around the nation.

            “We have 276 students enrolled this summer,” said Darby. “They hail from 39 states, the District of Columbia, an APO, and Canada.”

            Darby said that’s about as many students as the institute can reasonably accommodate with its 30-member faculty.  “We like to keep our student-teacher ratio small so that students have the opportunity to interact with the faculty,” she said.

            Ten academically-oriented courses in tracing family lines are offered ranging from a beginner’s class to specialized topics such as land records, military records, Irish genealogical research, advanced methodology and evidence analysis, and others.

            Why the interest in the new German course?

            “A lot of Americans have German ancestry, and we have had people asking for such a course for a long time,” said Darby. “I’m not sure if anyone ever has offered a full course like this, although there are one-to-two hour sessions at genealogical conferences.”

            John T. Humphrey, an expert in German genealogy, will teach the course. He has written widely on his subject, and specialized in German research in the U.S. and Germany. He is author of Finding Your German Ancestors: A Practical Guide for Genealogists.

            “Language is an issue in researching German ancestors, but this track will demonstrate it is not an insurmountable obstacle,” Humphrey said. “Family historians do not have to be fluent in German in order to find information on German ancestors. The course will establish a foundation in German language and handwriting skills—skills that are basic for exploring sources in German research such as church registers.”


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.