Have you ever wanted to look up some information on your ancestors? Find out the ownership history of a certain piece of property in your town? Want to know if a potential employee, tenant, or companion has a criminal background? With this course, you will learn how to utilize free or low-cost websites and gather the information you seek without hiring an expensive (and sometimes unreliable) 3rd party research firm.
One month, Leigh Ann Wilson, instructor
Unit 1
What do you want to know

  • What do you what to know?
  • In what time frame and geographic state(s) will you be researching?
  • Begin by making a chart of your research goals
Unit 2
Utilizing internet sources to gather data
  • Conducting research via the Internet
  • Free and low cost web sites
  • Options for international searches
  • Resources on ancestry.com
Unit 3
Accessing state and federal governmental resources

  • Researching free government public record sites
  • Accessing specific county and city sites
  • Finding marriage, death, birth records, election results, and property deeds
Unit 4
Bringing your project to completion
  • Organizing your results
  • Continuing your research
  • Planning future research projects
Question MarkAbout online learning

Online learning is a fun, enjoyable and very productive way to learn. Millions of people are learning online each year. You will engage with the instructor and other participants. You will get to know your instructor and other participants. You may make friends.  It’s easy. It’s fun. 

GearsHow the Course Works

It is easy to participate in your online course. After you register, you will be given a web address to go to get into your online classroom.  You will have a password and use your email address and password to gain access.

Once inside the online classroom, here’s what you can expect.

CalendarParticipate when you want

You can participate any time of day or evening. The online classroom is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
There are no live real-time requirements or meetings. You decide when you participate.
For the best learning, participants should log into the course on 2-3 different days of the week.

ChecklistWhat you will do

For each Unit, you will:

  • Read the print readings (about 20 pages a week)
  • Have the option of accessing the online readings
  • Listen to the audio presentation for the Unit and view the slides
  • Have the option of taking a self-quiz to see how much you have learned
  • Engage in written online discussion with your instructor and other participants

For best learning, you should make one or more comments at 2-3 different times each week.
The content (readings, audio lectures, slides) and self quizzes are accessible for the entire course, so you can work ahead, or go back and review again, at your convenience.


The Discussion for each Unit lasts one week. All comments are made in writing and can be made at any time of the day or night.

Your instructor will log into the Discussion area at least once a day and answer questions, make comments, and respond to comments by you and the other participants.

We encourage you to make 2-3 comments each week to maximize your learning and enjoyment of the course.

It’s easy. It’s fun.

Next offering(s):
-Next session coming soon-

$195 USD
Ave. hours 16; 1.6 CEUs/ILUs

About Your Instructor
Leigh Ann Wilson is Assistant Professor of History at Brandman University.  She earned her Ph.D. in US History with an emphasis on 20th century United States, Immigration, Race, Ethnicity and Latin America from the University of Memphis.  Her dissertation studied the intersection of education, media, and immigration during the 1930s, where she made extensive use of public records. 
Directional ArrowsCourse Objectives
  • To provide learners with new ways of accessing public information at little or no cost.
  • To answer the question of what types of information are often considered to be free to the public.
  • To demonstrate how to find public access information on the web.
  • To encourage learners to think of different types of research questions.


Puzzle PiecesCourse Outcomes

Upon completion of this course you will:
  • Understand how to create a research question;
  • Know how to develop a strategy to gather the information you seek
  • Be able to identify what kinds of information is available for free or at a minimal cost online;
  • Know how to organize and analyze the information you find.
Completion Requirements