Posted by William Nunnelley on 2001-06-06

Genealogy students from 26 states will explore their topic in depth during Samford University's 37th annual Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research June 10-15.

About 160 people from as far away as California, Washington and Massachusetts are enrolled in the program, one of the nation's oldest for serious genealogists. Samford was listed by Time magazine as a major Southern site for genealogical resources.

Genealogy instructors will teach week-long courses in seven broad areas during the Institute including techniques, evidence analysis, the Trans-Appalachian South, researching English roots through five centuries and contemporary research.

"Librarians report that the most frequently asked reference desk questions relate to 20th century genealogical research," said Kathleen W. Hinckley, who teaches the contemporary research course. Her class examines ways to deal with such modern barriers to genealogical research as closed records and purged records, among other areas.

The Institute meets in University Library, which has an extensive collection of Alabama, southeastern U.S. and Irish genealogical resources. Library director Jean Thomason is director.

Genealogy first gained popularity about the time of America's 1876 Centennial, but tracing family ancestry has never been more popular, according to professional genealogists. One reason is that more people from all types of backgrounds are involved today.

"Genealogy no longer is the exclusive domain of New England blue blood and old Southern families, although these groups still may be the most active," said faculty member John Colletta of Washington, D.C., a specialist in southern European genealogy. "The ease of getting information off the Internet is one of the big changes in the field."


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.