The Weinermobile and Oral History

I bet more than a few of you are scratching your head at the connection in the title of this post. As I read an article today that connected those two items, a certain song from a commercial began to run through my mind and hasn’t stopped since. O-S-C-A-R  M-A- . . . and now I hope you have this earworm!

The headquarters of the Oscar Mayer company has moved back to Chicago from its 1919-2015 home in Madison, Wisconsin. One of the Weinermobiles has been donated to the Wisconsin Historical Society. Other artifacts were donated but my mind immediately wondered about the company records! No mention of those in the article.

“. . . the Wisconsin Historical Society announced efforts to collect memories of Oscar Mayer from company workers and retirees, families of Oscar Mayer workers and anyone who has a story they want to share about the frankfurter and bologna purveyor.”

“Anyone can share a memory of Oscar Mayer online — visit — or record a video or audio and upload it to the website. Or simply write it down and send it via snail mail. Oral histories will be accepted through Feb. 28. All stories will be archived and accessible by the public.”

Read the full story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel of 5 December 2017.

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Your family history “stuff” is valuable: safe storage for paper and other items

This is taken from the handout that accompanies my lecture titled Controlling Chaos: Organizing Your Genealogical Materials. We need to make sure our important family history paper, artifacts, and related items are stored properly.  Many larger historical societies offer classes on proper preservation techniques. Check for up-to-date websites and guidebooks. I did not check but I bet has a category for this subject!

I suggest beginning with at least acid free folder and boxes for irreplaceable items.

Just three of many sources for these:

Preservation supply sources: Use proper storage for paper and family heirlooms. Acid-free paper is widely available and gift stores or museum shops at historical societies often carry archival supplies including boxes, paper, file folders, photo albums, and more. For online ordering (and some drooling!)

C   Gaylord Brothers, Phone: 800-428-3631

C   Hollinger Metal Edge , Phone: 800-634-0491

C   University Products, Inc. Phone: 800-336-4847

Which items are you going to add to your Christmas list?


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1985: Photos of the first Minnesota Genealogical Society Office & Library

A week ago, I wrote about the new Minnesota Genealogy Center that houses the Minnesota Genealogical Society, Branches, interest groups, and affiliates. This post shows 3 views of the very first place at 678 West Seventh Street in Saint Paul. As Dixie Hansen, another former MGS Board Member, pointed out in her comment on that post, that street is also known as Fort Road. Why? Because it leads to Fort Snelling that was established in 1820 as Fort Saint Anthony. Dixie also provided a great timeline of the library locations in that same comment.

The images below are from that first library and office location. It had only a few bookshelves donated through the employer of the husband of the late Jean Legried, a MGS Board Member for many years. As you can see the signage was nothing fancy. There are more pictures and I will be donating a posterboard of those pictures to the new location. Your eyes aren’t going bad, these images are not very clear! They look much better on the posterboard.

It wasn’t a large space!



It was a start!


The not very fancy signage!


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New images starting on War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions!

In case you didn’t see the press release, yet, the Preserve the Pensions work is really developing. According to FGS President, Rorey Cathcart, on the PTP Facebook page: “ This first new upload contains images for the names from Thompson Moore to William Moore.”


The press release text:


November 23, 2017



Austin, Texas  – The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) is pleased to announce new pension images available at our hosting partner, Fold3. As we detailed in August of this year, conservation had resumed and digitization would shortly follow on War of 1812 Pension files covering surnames M(Moore)-Q. This new release of images is the first installment on the promise made by FGS, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and Ancestry to complete the project we started and to which you all have so generously contributed. Additional images will follow as the Ancestry digitization team continues to refine their process and achieve full capacity in accord with NARA protocols.

The War of 1812 pensions are among the most frequently requested set of materials within NARA’s holdings, yet had never been microfilmed or digitized. Through a fundraising effort unprecedented in the genealogical community, more than 4,000 individuals, 115 genealogical and lineage societies, and industry leaders such as FamilySearch helped FGS secure the funds, matched by Ancestry, to preserve and share this invaluable genealogical resource. The images already captured, as well as those soon to be, are hosted at Fold3 and available for free at

“The Federation remains grateful to our partners and our supporters for their commitment to this important project. We are as excited as our community to reach this milestone.” – Rorey Cathcart, FGS President

Accelerating public access to our holdings is key to successfully meeting NARA’s mission and we are extremely pleased to see this project contribute to that overarching goal.” Pamela Wright, Chief Innovation Officer, NARA

“We are excited to have images flowing to the Fold3 site again and look forward to completing the collection as quickly as NARA’s process will allow.” Brian Hansen, GM Fold3

The Federation is committed to seeing the entire collection conserved, digitized and freely online at the earliest possible date. We will continue work with our partners to complete the current project plan in a timely manner and to secure a project plan for the remaining portion of the War of 1812 Pension files.



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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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