UPDATE: New Season of Family History Classes Help People Discover Their Place in History

For immediate release

Release dated: 
August 6, 2014
Media contacts: 

Megan Lawson • Marketing and Communications • 651-259-3141 • megan.lawson@mnhs.org

Tracey Baker • Gale Family Library • 651-259-3317 • tracey.baker@mnhs.org

Quick facts: 

Event: Topics on Family History
Date: Saturday, Sept. 13, Oct. 11, Nov. 8, Jan. 10, Feb. 14, March 14, April 18 and May 9 (no class in December)
Time: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Place: Minnesota Historical Society Library, 345 Kellogg Blvd. W., St. Paul 55102-1903
Cost: $32/$28 MNHS and MGS members.
Phone: 651-259-3300
Reservations: required, call 651-259-3015 or register online.

UPDATE: New Season of Family History Classes Help People Discover Their Place in History

Classes start Sept. 13 at the Minnesota History Center’s Gale Family Library.

UPDATE: Please note new dates for the last two classes.

Each year the Minnesota Genealogical Society partners with the Gale Family Library at the Minnesota History Center to offer classes on Topics in Family History. The classes help family history researchers of all levels, from beginner to expert, learn to navigate materials including censuses, newspapers, birth and death records, manuscript collections, biography files and state archives records. In addition, instructors show useful tricks and tips to uncover hard to find family records.

Topics on Family History is a year long series offered the second Saturday of each month, September through May (except December.) Classes cost $32 for the general public and $28 for MNHS and Minnesota Genealogical Society members. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 651-259-3015 or by registering online.

The 2014-15 class schedule:

  • Topics on Family History: Citizenship Laws, Processes and Records
    Date: Sept. 13, 2014

    For many family historians it is important to learn whether, when, and how their immigrant ancestors became American citizens. The laws covering citizenship changed over time, as did the records created during the process. This class will look at these changes and where to find the records. Students will also learn about records that show whether a person was a citizen, was in the process of becoming a citizen, or what records were created if they were not a citizen, such as the Alien Registration records of 1918.

    This class is taught by Tom Rice, a board-certified genealogist, professional genealogy researcher and past director of the Minnesota Genealogical Society. He is a current director of the Irish Genealogy Society International.

  • Topics on Family History: How to Research New States and Counties
    Date: Oct. 11, 2014

    Every genealogist encounters the need to research unfamiliar places. In this class students will learn how to get up to speed quickly in new locations where they need to find state, county and town sources to help with their research.

    This class is taught by Lois Abromitis Mackin, Ph.D., a professional researcher who focuses on American and English research and methodology. Mackin also writes the beginning genealogy column for Minnesota.

  • Topics on Family History: Finding Your Pre-1850 American Ancestors
    Date: Nov. 8, 2014

    Before 1850 census records only listed heads of households, and other records such as birth and death certificates, and obituaries, were less common. To fill this gap, researchers must make more use of land, court, probate and military records to reconstruct family histories. This class will focus on Midwestern research between 1800 and 1850.

    This class is taught by J. H. Fonkert, a board-certified genealogist and professional genealogy researcher focusing on Midwest, Scandinavian, Dutch and English family history. He is past president of MGS and a current faculty member of the Salt Lake Institute for Genealogy.

  • Topics on Family History: Using DNA for Family History Research
    Date: Jan. 10, 2015

    DNA testing can provide helpful support for traditional genealogical research, bolster weak paper trails and disprove hypotheses about relationships. Learn about the available tests—Y, mitochondrial, and autosomal—and the testing companies that offer them so you can determine the most effective way to spend your DNA dollars.

    The class is taught by the MGS DNA Interest Group.

  • Topics on Family History: African-American Research
    Date: Feb. 14, 2015

    African-American research is fun, rewarding and challenging. Learn the steps and resources for tracing African-American ancestors back to 1870, and map out strategies for extending research into the Reconstruction and slavery period.

    This class is taught by Lois Abromitis Mackin, Ph.D., a professional researcher who focuses on American and English research and methodology. Mackin also writes the beginning genealogy column for Minnesota Genealogist.

  • Topics on Family History: Adding Women to the Family Tree
    Date: March 14, 2015

    Adding female ancestors to a family tree can be challenging. In this class students will learn to look at the whole family for clues and take a new and deeper look at your research problems.

    This class is taught by Alice Eichholz, Ph.D., a professional genealogist and author of a number of family history books. She is professor of Adult Education at Walden University.

  • Topics on Family History: Inheritance, Estate Settlements and Wills
    Date: April 18, 2015 (NEW DATE)

    The records created around inheritance and the settlement of an estate can be a treasure trove of information for the family historian. The laws of inheritance are unique to each time and place. In this class, students will learn how to interpret legal records like wills and estate settlements, to understand how and why an estate was settled and the family structure.

    This class is taught by Tom Rice, a board-certified genealogist, professional genealogy researcher and past director of the Minnesota Genealogical Society. He is a current director of the Irish Genealogy Society International.
  • Topics on Family History: Researching Urban Ancestors
    Date: May 9, 2015 (NEW DATE)

    Genealogists face unique challenges when researching urban ancestors. Working class families were less likely to own land than their rural counterparts, and often moved frequently. This class will focus on directories, fraternal organization records, newspapers and other unique urban records to teach ways to trace family history.

    This class is taught by J. H. Fonkert, a board-certified genealogist and professional genealogy researcher focusing on Midwest, Scandinavian, Dutch and English family history. He is past president of MGS and a current faculty member of the Salt Lake Institute for Genealogy.

Family history researchers can also learn about the library and its resources though the free class "I’m New Here: Introducing the Library." The class is offered from 9:15 to 10:15 a.m. on Saturdays.

About Minnesota Historical Society Gale Family Library

The Minnesota Historical Society Gale Family Library is located in the History Center at 345 Kellogg Blvd. W. in St. Paul. Regular library hours are noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday.

The Society’s calendar of events is posted online at www.mnhs.org/calendar. The website also has information about all of the Society’s programs, museums and historic sites.

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. The Society collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, the Society preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.