Borchert Map Library at the University of Minnesota: Excellence Online and Off

In Minnesota we have many libraries with excellent map collections. Today, many of these are digitizing maps so we can view some from our homes. One such library is the John R. Borchert Map Library in Wilson Library at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

I fondly remember touring the map library a few times in past years. A collection that really intrigued me was the aerial maps of Minnesota. Now I am able to view them online.

The map, atlas, and gazetteer collection covers the world. One exciting map enabled me to pinpoint an ancestral farm location in Sweden.

Spend some time on the map library website and learn more about the exciting material that awaits your searches.



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The NEW Minnesota Genealogy Center is fabulous!

The New Minnesota Genealogy Center!

I saw it yesterday and am impressed. Workspace, computers, subscription websites, books, periodicals, vertical files, microfilms (and readers and a scanner), microfiche, maps, atlases, and, and, and.

In the 1980s, the MGS “library” was stacked in boxes in my small home office in Saint Paul. Most items the Minnesota Genealogical Society received were donated to the Minnesota Historical Society, but some items were brought to meetings, especially the mail that I picked up a couple times each week. MGS was in need of dedicated space and the steps toward that took place in our living room. Inquiries were made about sharing space with various libraries, but the ultimate decision was to have MGS’ own space.

Arrangements were made with J. W. Hulme Co. on W. 7th Street in Saint Paul and the sign was hung. A dedicated group of volunteers scrubbed, begged for donations of chairs, tables, shelving, stationery supplies, a copiers, and more. It was real! MGS had it’s own library and office space in the storefront.

As the holdings grew and the Hulme Co. needed its own space for expansion, MGS found another home on W. 7th. Eventually MGS was in 3 more places around the Twin Cities.

Shortly after the first library opened, I decided that MGS needed to have classes on various aspects of family history research. I began teaching at a donated wooden dining room table in the first space and was soon joined by some other instructors. Until 2003 I was involved with the library in a variety of capacities. I enjoyed them all but needed some time to handle personal things in addition to earning my living in the field of genealogy.

Over the years, many capable people have worked to make sure the MGS Office and Library survived and thrived. Now the Minnesota Genealogy Center is the result. It’s large, has free parking, multiple classroom spaces, is clean and bright, and is welcoming. It now has real library shelving. MGS Interest Groups , Branches, and Affiliates are included in the new space, too!

The Center opens for research on November 29th and a big open house celebration will take place on January 13th to usher in the new year.

The expansive collection is being changed over to the Dewey Decimal System and a new catalog reflects that. The new catalog enables most of the holdings to show up on WorldCat!

Check the MGS website at, look under the Library button for the catalog, prepare your list of what to check, peek at the open hours, and plan for research time at the brand new Minnesota Genealogy Center. There will be some additional volunteer training soon and I plan to volunteer as I am able to in between seminars I travel to present.

Library admission is free to MGS, branch, and affiliate members; non-members require $10 day-use fee. Hint: join MGS and also get the journal and free research access!

The new location is suite 100 at 1385 Mendota Heights Road, Mendota Heights, Minnesota The corner of Pilot Knob Road and Mendota Heights Road is easy to find and the Center is right there.

Coming from out of the area? A Courtyard by Marriott and Fairfield Inn are a half mile away. Their websites say airport but that’s across the river. They are closer to the Minnesota Genealogy Center.

p.s. I have been asked for pictures. I didn’t take any yesterday because I am waiting until he new window signage and permanent bookshelf signage is ready.

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2017 Veterans Day has new meaning as a POW uncle is returned

It’s been a while since I wrote on this blog. I have been working long hours and traveling to present seminars. Today means a lot to me in a new way so I need to post something. I warn you that this is long but it’s a way of sharing with family unable to be at the events of this week.

Veterans Day 2017 has special sobering and joyful meaning for many relatives and friends. This past week we celebrated the homecoming and burial of an uncle.

My Mom’s only sibling, my Aunt Jeanie, was married 3 June 1950 to Gerald (Jerry) Mueller. His family was from Buckman, Morrison County, Minnesota, but his mother moved to Saint Paul. Shortly after that marriage, the U.S. Army sent Jerry to Korea. He was taken prisoner, at age 20, in February 1951, was tortured, and died there in May of 1951. His remains were there for many decades.

Jeanie never stopped loving this man and her children from her second marriage knew that. In her later years she often asked me if I could find out more about him. There was little online at the time. Fast forward to the 2000s and the Army didn’t share much more publicly. At the Army’s request, his two half-brothers provided DNA samples in order to determine if his remains were among those the Army had received back in 1992.

On August 4th, his still living brother, Greg, contacted me to share the news that Jerry’s remains had been identified. It was not yet public information, but one of my dear colleagues had always been on the lookout for me and saw the public announcement. In October, the Army finally met with the brother, Greg, and the final details were released about Jerry’s return to Minnesota and the funeral. (more…)

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Free Legacy Family Tree Webinar Oct 25: State level censuses of the Midwestern and Plains States

Mark your calendar, sign up for free, and join me for an October 25th afternoon webinar titled:

Midwestern & Plains States Level Census Records

Many Midwestern and Plains states have superb state census records. Learn about the indexes, the many personal details these censuses include, locating the censuses, and alternate sources. The lecture includes many specific examples from these enumerations, provides an overview of state censuses for Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, and indicates where they may be found. Does your state have a 1945 state census? The personal details vary but may include names of children, maiden names, military service, religious denomination, mother of how many children, occupation, value of real (more…)

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More presentations for Family History Month in CA, WI, WA, and a webinar!

My blog has been pretty quiet recently. All is good, though. A fun house guest, time with a descendant, doing presentations, intense client work, and getting ready for many upcoming presentations to close out Family History Month.

Yes, that last one is in November, but we can still celebrate Family History!

Click on the links in the lines above to register.



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Join me in Eau Claire, Wisconsin for two days of genealogy education with the WSGS

In addition to the fun time at the North Star Conference, I began to think about the October 28th Wisconsin State Genealogical Society Fall Seminar that will take place in Eau Claire. A whole bunch of genealogists that were at MGS will also be at the WSGS Seminar.

On Friday, October 27th, I am doing a workshop What Next? Developing Step-by-Step Research Plans. Yes, I have done this at several seminars in the area, however, this one will be different. Totally different, in that I have all new record examples for the in-session projects.

On Saturday, I will be doing four presentations: (more…)

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Family History Month continues with 200 of my closest friends and maybe a new relative!

I write this while at the 10th Annual Minnesota Genealogical Society North Star Conference. I was privileged to be a speaker all day yesterday and do the banquet presentation last night. I wasn’t tired, I was high on adrenaline. Mostly because I spent the day with 200+ fellow genealogists and also some other speakers. Interesting questions and comments, a great lunch, yummy banquet, and plain ol’ genealogy immersion kept me on that high.

More specifically, I renewed acquaintances with a woman who attended from Florida, a man who traveled from Arizona, a client I had done work for many years ago, and a woman who hasn’t been at an MGS event for ten years, others from the UP of Michigan, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. A long time friend from MGS reacted when I mentioned a specific county in southern Indiana. We need to compare notes!

At the banquet, a woman heard me mention the surname Reinhardt and came up to me after the banquet. My (more…)

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October is important to family historians for several reasons

I live in the U.S. so this is from that viewpoint. It’s amazing to see how many different days and months are celebrated around the world.

For me, the best is October 4th when I will celebrate what would have been my parents’ 70th wedding anniversary.  That’s important to my family history.  I have a few challenges below for other October designations.

October is Family History Month. This is an easy one to challenge each other about. We need to do some intensive family history research this month.  Alternately, review some material that you gathered a few years ago. What clues (more…)

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Just two weeks till the MGS North Star Genealogy Conference. Details galore!

Two weeks from today is the start of the Minnesota Genealogical Society’s North Star DNA Day. It had a limit to the registration so that more people could get direct help. It filled almost immediately.

Don’t be disappointed, the MGS North Star Conference takes place the following two days, October 6 & 7. You do need to register to attend these days.  The conference is being held at The Earle Brown Conference Center in Brooklyn Center (adjacent to Minneapolis), right off I-694 and Highway 100. It is brimming with Minnesota heritage – it is an historic family farm converted to a modern conference center.

Register now. Why register before that time? Let’s look at the reasons:

  • There will be enough chairs and tables set up.
  • Presenters will have a better idea of the audience numbers as that sometimes affects how a presentation is done.
  • Any presenters bringing extra handout material will have enough.
  • The best reason: advance access to the electronic syllabus (that includes the handouts of the presenters) and you can then print out the sections for the sessions you plan to attend.
  • Free parking  (ok, you can still get free parking if you register at the door but you will not have had a chance to review the syllabus).
  • October is Family History Month!

Two keynote speakers, 20 breakout sessions, vendors of genealogical and historical materials, a Q & A panel, door prizes, networking, and more. I happen to know both of the keynote speakers and they are in cahoots with some special planning. Those speakers are Cyndi Ingle of Cyndi’s List fame and Paula Stuart-Warren. That latter person is me. I double-checked the name and bio to be sure. I get to be a keynote presenter just 20 minutes from my apartment!

The conference has something for everyone. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced genealogical researcher, this event is for you. No Minnesota ancestry? The presenters include general methodology and resources plus specifics from a wide variety of localities. Need technology education? It’s covered. Need DNA info? Covered. Need more land records education? Covered.  Take a peek at the MGS website to see all the topics.

One more thing, join MGS and save $40 on the full conference cost! That’s a good deal. Join us at the Friday evening banquet, too. As the banquet speaker, I promise humor with some messages and will not let you fall asleep!  All details and online registration are on the MGS website.

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