DOING GENEALOGY AT YOUR FAMILY REUNION
Family trees or charts are popular displays at many family reunions. These charts may have different names and formats, but they all share the same purpose: they record the ancestors from whom a family directly descends.
Charts can be in a fan format, a flow chart design, or even a tree with leaves. Preprinted forms in a variety of styles, sizes, and prices are usually available at scrapbooking or archival supply stores. Ancestry.com has a basic ancestral chart available for free on their website, which can be used at the Minnesota Historical Society Library or many public libraries.
The ancestral chart provides space to record dates and locations for the birth, marriage, and death of each individual. After the chart is completed with the appropriate family information it could be enlarged at a copying store to display at the family reunion. Everyone is always interested in seeing how they connect with the rest of the family!
Having everyone gathered together at a family reunion provides a good opportunity to update genealogical information: all those recent marriages and new babies! Distribute family group sheets--that document a single family--to everyone at the reunion and catch up on all the news.
Try doing oral history at the family reunion
Oral history provides a rich source of information that usually does not exist in any other form. Interviews are recorded on audio tape or video tape. Later, transcripts should be done to allow easy access to the information.
A Few Tips when Conducting an Interview
- Identify yourself and the person you are interviewing on the tape.
- Obtain written permission from the person you are interviewing to use the tape and any transcripts.
- Prepare questions prior to the interview.
- Always test your equipment before the interview.
- Photographs may jog memories, so bring a few along.
Remember someone might use the interview at a later date and will want the information. And remember to have fun!
A Few Questions to Get You Started
- Has your name been used by other family members?
- Where did you live when you were a child?
- What church did you attend? What school did you attend?
- Where and when were you married?
- What and where was your first job?
- When were your children born?
- What do you remember about holiday celebrations?
- Who was your favorite relative? Why?
- Were there family treasures, furniture, paintings, jewelry, etc.?
Minnesota Historical Society Oral History Guides
- Oral History Interview Tips
- Oral History Project Guidelines (pdf)
- Transcribing, Editing & Processing Guideline (pdf)
Special Batch of Birth Certificates Added
Nearly 100,000 additional birth certificate entries have been added to the online Minnesota Birth Certificates Index.
These certificates fall into four separate units that are identified on the search results page by a two-letter prefix in the certificate number instead of the normal year designation (e.g. Certificate# DC-00010). The four codes and their meanings are:
- DC: “delayed certificate” indicates that the certificate was filed well after the birth occurred. For various reasons the certificate was not recorded with the Minnesota Department of Health in a timely manner. This certificate usually gives the name of the individual attesting to the accuracy of the data on the birth certificate (usually an older relative) and may include references to what type of documents (baptismal certificate, school record, census record) were used to document the birth. Unfortunately, these corroborating documents do not accompany the certificate and are not available. Over 88,000 delayed certificates, dating from 1856 to 1934, are now available.
- SV: “supplemental certificate” indicates that the certificate is a replacement for an earlier record that was on file. The supplemental certificate may have been the result of an adoption or a legal determination of parentage. These certificates lack the original signatures of the doctor or other individual attesting to the birth. In most cases, the “original” certificate is not included in the index and is not available through the Minnesota Historical Society. Nearly 7,000 supplemental certificates, dating from 1880-1934, are now available.
- PR: “Pre-1900” records, usually cards, for births that occurred before 1900 and for which delayed certificates appear not to have been regularly filed. Over 1,300 pre-1900 records, dating from 1873 to 1899, are now available. Obviously, these pre-1900 records constitute only a very small portion of the births occurring during this time period.
- IN: “Indian” [American Indian] birth certificates that for some unknown reason were filed separately by the Minnesota Department of Health. Over 1,000 additional Indian birth certificates, dating 1919 to 1934, are now available.
The individual represented in all four of these units may also have a birth certificate in the main unit. Because there is no way to limit one’s search solely to these new additions, it may be necessary to repeat previous searches to ensure that all possible searches have been made.