Skip to main content
court house and probate notice

Using Probate Records in Family History Research

May 29, 2024 and June 5, 12, 2024
Wednesdays, 6:00 - 7:30 PM ET
David Allen Lambert
Melanie McComb
Rhonda R. McClure
10% Member Discount

Probate records are crucial—but sometimes overlooked—sources for family historians. Hiding in these legal documents may be full family groups, immediate and extended family connections, origins, and even maiden names. These sources may also be used as vital record substitutes and provide a glimpse into your ancestor’s property and worldly possessions. This three-week online course will provide an in-depth tutorial on how to understand, locate, and leverage wills, inventories, guardianships, and other probate records in your family history research.

This course includes three 90-minute classes; exclusive access to handouts and recordings of each presentation; and in-depth q&a sessions with the instructor.

May 29 - Class 1: The Basics  
Presented by: David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist

Probate records refer to more than just wills; they can include guardianships, inventories, administrations, accounts, bonds, and more. All probate records have specific functions and terminology. This first class will lay the groundwork for the later classes providing you with the tools to understand and navigate these legal documents, critical to your family history research.

June 5 - Class 2: Locating and Navigating Probate Records  
Presented by: Melanie McComb, Senior Genealogist

The laws governing probate in America changed over time—from colony to colony, state to state—affecting where you’re likely to find certain records. A few states are also arranged by probate district that are distinct from county boundaries. This class will help you determine how to locate probate records by jurisdiction and navigate online and in-person resources.

June 12 - Class 3: Leveraging Probate Records in Your Family History Research  
Presented by: Rhonda R. McClure, Senior Genealogist

Probate records can act as vital record substitutes, provide family connections, contain maiden names, and more. A single probate document, however, rarely provides the full story. You need to use the record alongside other resources to build your case and think creatively to fully understand its value. Using several case studies, this final class will provide you with strategies for getting the most out of probate records and demonstrate how they can be used to break down genealogical brick walls.

Education and Programming
David Allen Lambert
Military Records
New England
Eastern Canada
Areas of expertise: New England and Atlantic Canadian records of the 17th through 21st century; American and international military records; DNA research; and Native American and African American genealogical research in New England. 
Education and Programming
Melanie McComb
Eastern Canada
Areas of expertise: Irish genealogy, DNA, Atlantic Canada, Jewish genealogy, and military records.
Education and Programming
Rhonda R. McClure
Immigration and Naturalization
Genealogical Software
Areas of expertise: Immigration and naturalization, late 19th and early 20th century urban research, missionaries.