Thursday, April 28, 2011

From the inbox: Today's news from NIGS

For Immediate Release


*** The following refers to our English Studies Programme; because of this, we have chosen to retain the British spelling.

English Studies Director, Dr. Penelope Christensen, has announced her retirement from The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. Dr. Christensen has been the Director of the English Certificate Programme ever since she founded it in 2000. She is the author of 25 courses, including several Methodology courses, as well as all English Record courses and beginner level courses for three other countries. For nearly two decades, Dr. Penelope Christensen has been writing genealogy instructional materials, including how-to books published by Heritage Productions. She is starting her well-deserved retirement to concentrate on completing her family genealogy books, doing some traveling, and tending to her beautiful garden.

“We will always be extremely thankful to Dr. Penelope Christensen for her dedication in educating our students in genealogical research. The materials she has developed over the last twenty years have been expertly written to share her acquired knowledge in an easy-to-learn manner”, says Louise St. Denis, Managing Director of the National Institute. Louise adds, “Dr. Penny, as she is affectionately known to her students, is leaving big shoes to fill. She is our most popular instructor!”. 

English Records Programme
The National Institute for Genealogical Studies offers nine Certificate Programmes, including the English Studies Programme. This one, covering research in England, offers 13 core courses on English research and record types. Courses include Census Records, Civil Registration, Probate, Parish Registers, Poor Law and Parish Chest Records, Occupations, and more. Certificates can be earned by students who, in addition to the 13 record courses, also complete 14 methodology-type courses and an additional 13 elective courses. To learn more about the National Institute’s Certificate Programmes, visit their website at

Kirsty Gray Appointed Director of English Studies
Kirsty Gray, residing about 40 miles (64 km) outside London, England, has been appointed the new Director of English Studies at the National Institute. In her new position, Kirsty will be reviewing and updating the record courses from Census and Civil Registration to the much more advanced records such as Land, Property, Education, and Court Records.
St. Denis commented, “We are looking forward to Ms. Gray's involvement in our English Programme. In the past, researching from abroad versus researching locally within England meant research methods were different. With their steadfast uploading of such a wide variety of databases and original documents, Internet content providers are changing where researchers access the required documents. Abroad or within England, research methods are merging. We look forward to Kirsty bringing her experience in researching English records from the Internet and in local repositories to our students. Her excellent reputation in genealogical circles and her youthful energy will make Kirsty an excellent addition to the team at the National Institute.”
Kirsty grew up in Dorset and studied at the University of Reading (England) and Ottawa University (Canada), and was awarded a Master's degree in Chemistry in June 2000. Kirsty has taught Science and Mathematics at the secondary school level, and has also held management responsibilities such as Head of Sixth Form Studies and Head of Learning though she now ‘just teaches’ in an independent school in Oxfordshire so that she can focus more on genealogy.

Kirsty became interested in family history at the tender age of seven years with her maternal grandfather’s tree in hand. She became obsessed with her great-grandmother’s maiden name of SILLIFANT and began a one-name study on the name in 1999, publishing tri-annual journals on the surname for the last six years. Kirsty took up genealogy professionally while training to be a teacher in 2002. She now runs Family Business, conducting research for private individuals, academics, and companies worldwide.

Kirsty is an author, having written for the magazine Practical Family History and currently writing for Family Tree Magazine and Your Family Tree on various topics for beginners to more advanced levels. A sought-after lecturer, her knowledge, and her energetic and infectious personality wows audiences across the UK.

After serving as Secretary of the Guild of One-Name Studies (GOONS), she took on the role of Chairman in April 2010, and is credited with “turning the Guild around and bringing it back to life.”
About joining the faculty at the National Institute, Kirsty remarked, “I am delighted to be joining the team at the National Institute as Director for English Studies. Their unique approach to distance learning in the field of genealogy has inspired many students since they began in 1999. I look forward to building on the excellent work of Dr. Penny Christensen, updating and developing new courses, providing advice to enthuse, excite and challenge individuals to delve deeper into the lives of their ancestors.” 
Everyone at the National Institute welcomes Kirsty to her new position, and looks forward to the growth of the English Studies Programme.
About The National Institute for Genealogical Studies
The National Institute, leaders in online genealogy education, have been offering genealogy and history courses for over 11 years. They now offer over 200 courses in genealogical studies to help enhance the researcher’s skills.
For those looking to acquire more formal educational training, The National Institute offers—in affiliation with the Continuing Education Unit of the University of St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto—Certificate Programmes in the records of Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland, Scotland and the United States, as well as a General Methodology and Librarianship Certificate.

For more information, please visit our site at or call us toll-free in North America at 1-800-580-0165 or email us at
Louise St Denis

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