Big genealogy conference in Minnesota in October!

Visit the Minnesota Genealogical Society North Star Page for Registration Links!
October 4-5, 2019
Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West, Plymouth, MN
Mark your calendar for the 12th Annual North Star Genealogy Conference, October 4-5, 2019 at the Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West. Learn from featured speaker John Philip Colletta and 20 other topical breakout presentations, win door prizes and meet exhibitors and vendors. Then enjoy the MGS 50th Anniversary Celebration and Awards Banquet. For more information, visit the North Star 2019 page.
Featuring John Philip Colletta, Ph.D., 
one of genealogy’s favorite story-tellers.
Dr. Colletta will present 5 plenary sessions at the conference:
  • Assembling and Writing a Narrative Family History
  • Private Archives: What They Are and How to Use Them
  • Passenger Arrival Records, 1820-1930s: Source and Strategies for Challenging Cases
  • The 17,000,000 Stories of Ellis Island: What’s Fact? What’s Myth?
  • Only a Few Bones: Case Studies in Assembling Sources to Reconstruct Real-Life Events
PLUS register for the MGS 50th Anniversary Celebration and Awards Banquet 
Come celebrate the First 50 Years
of the Minnesota Genealogical Society! 
Friday, October 4, 6:00–8:30p.m. 
Featuring guest speaker David Rencher!
Come celebrate our 50th anniversary at this special Celebration and Awards banquet at the conference location! David Rencher, Chief Genealogist for FamilySearch and Director of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City will be our guest speaker. Banquet attendees will receive a booklet about the first 50 years of MGS compiled by Paula Stuart-Warren (with the assistance of a committee) and a commemorative pin. You do not have to be registered for the conference to attend this banquet.
I hope to see you there! I will be doing two presentations and part of one panel.

Attending the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in DC next week?

If you are attending the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Conference next week in Washington, DC, here’s a special offer from one of the vendors, Findmypast.

From the FMP blog: “Will you be joining us in Washington, D.C. for the FGS Conference 2019? This incredible family history event, organized by the Federation of Genealogical Societies, is happening this coming August 21-24 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel and, as always, is a must-attend for all keen family historians. As proud sponsors, we’ve got an exciting array of activities and giveaways lined up for FGS Conference 2019, including;

Claim your FREE DNA kit and Findmypast subscription

Stop by the Findmypast booth (#110) in the Vendor Hall to meet the team and take advantage of our amazing event offer. Exclusive to FGS attendees, we will be offering a FREE Findmypast DNA kit for every GEDCOM uploaded to the Findmypast family tree while at the booth.

Plus, your free kit will come preloaded with a complimentary 14-day subscription to Findmypast’s record collections, giving you the ultimate family history experience. It’s first come, first served while limited stocks last on this unbeatable offer, so be quick.

Next 2 genealogy presentations: Wisconsin and a webinar

Two very different presentations are on my calendar over the next ten days. One is online as a webinar and the other is an in-person event. Both are free and open to the public.

August 3, 2019, Saturday, Webinar
Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree FREE webinar. “Railroad Records Research in Today’s World.” 1:00 EDT, Noon CDT, 11:00 MDT, and 10:00 a.m. PDT. The presentation is accompanied by an extensive handout. Learn techniques for locating more information on railroad workers, the variety of records available, free finding aids, and many helpful websites.

August 8, 2019, Thursday, Hudson, Wisconsin
Public Library, 10:30 a.m. Free lecture and handout: “Genealogy and the Internet” in which you’ll learn about some cool websites, deep searching on them, tricks for general searches, and receive a multi-page handout to lead you to more.

Paula’s genealogy speaking calendar updated

I recently updated my speaking calendar for the balance of 2019. It’s a variety of in-person and online presentations. Today,  I am working on the handouts for a couple of August presentations. It’s amazing how quickly things are changing in the world of genealogy. Click here to go directly to the updated list.

Potluck & Pedigree: Minnesota Genealogy Center August 10

I have been a member of the Minnesota Genealogical Society since 1982 and am looking forward to this event with library hours until 11:59 p.m.!   Update at 8:15 pm: Capacity has been reached!

Saturday, August 10: Potluck & Pedigree — Member Only Social Event 5:00 pm to 11:59 pm .

The Minnesota Genealogical Society is sponsoring a brand new, fun member event – Potlucks and Pedigrees! This is a combined social event and research time. Bring a dish to share (indicate ingredients for those with food allergies). We’d especially love ethnic foods or an old family favorite. MGS will provide coffee, water, soft drinks, and paper products.  

Minnesota Genealogy Center

Home of the Minnesota Genealogical Society, Branches, Interest Groups. Affiliated Organizations, and More!
1385 Mendota Heights Road
Mendota Heights, Minnesota

  • Check-in starts at 5:00 p.m.
  • Potluck at 5:30 – Mississippi Room
  • Library opens for research at 6:45 p.m.  Library closes at midnight. 
  • Mini-orientations start at 7:00 p.m. – Mississippi Room
  • Research and other fun things in the William J. Hoffman Library and Research Center.

Come at 5:00 and stay and research late into the night! Talk to fellow researchers, discuss your brick walls and ask for suggestions, and talk to library volunteers. Learn more about some of the lesser known databases at WJHLRC – Genealogie Quebec, American Ancestors, Find My Past, ArkivDigital and the library catalog. 

How about door prizes, contests, and fun??   his event is a special event for MGS members only. Cost: Free Registration opened July 10th and there is a limited number of spaces available.



Genealogy research paths: not always easy but so worthwhile!

Yesterday, I taught a class on 20th and 21st century research at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh and it made me think more about the path we take. Finding living cousins who may share family genealogy information with us is a task most genealogists undertake. At times, we need to hire professional genealogists in distant places to help with the search. For most of us, this is not a quick task, but the hunt is satisfying and often habit-forming!

Some research into families can take many years and may involve a sizeable investment of time and money. Determining a currently living descendant of an ancestor involves many layers of research. It can mean looking at a person on a census record that you believe is your ancestor or perhaps an ancestor’s sibling and trying to trace that person forward in time to see if he or she connects to people that you do know about. What if you are not sure of any of the other family members as happens with many people? Contrary to the belief of many newer researchers, older records and especially those into the 20th and 21st century are not all online. I have seen estimates of 10-20% online availability of records. We look at subscription databases, free databases compiled by volunteers, websites of historical societies, public libraries, county and state archives, and the websites of possible counties where the family resided.

Let’s say you find the probable ancestor on a 1910 federal census in one state. You see the name of A. C. Stuart, age 25. You then try to locate that person on the 1920, 1930, and 1940 federal censuses. A few are easy to locate, others have a variety of spellings of the surname on each census or may have moved from state to state. Because the 1940 census is currently the most recently federal census open to researchers, we then utilize other resources. A few states have easily available birth and death indexes, but for some may only be open for research until the 1920s or 1930s. Online newspaper indexes and digitized images of some are only a small percentage of historical newspapers, even for many recent years. A search for that person in the various newspaper database yields nothing that fits the person. Then we backtrack to the census and look for children of the target person. That person has two daughters. By the 1930 census, neither of them are listed with their parents. We look at various websites for marriages and possibly find one of the daughters. This Mary Stuart married a John Smith. Do you know how many people have these same names! An unusual middle name or middle name initial might help to sort out the correct persons. This is not a common occurrence. Did your original target person’s spouse die young, old, remarry, divorce, move far away, or something else and we cannot find them. Did that person (and other family members) leave their Midwestern home and move to the west coast or become what we often call a “snow-bird?”

Still no helpful details are emerging so we go back to the 1910 census and analyze it further. It says our target person was born three states away from the current state of residence. Maybe we need to start looking at the birth family of our target person. We need to see if that family moved to the new residence area also. No luck in the 1910 or 1920 census with that, so was start backtracking again. We try to find the target person on the 1900 or 1880 census. Only a few fragments of the 1890 federal census still exist so that’s no help. We find the target person with their birth family. Then we see that someone has posted an online family tree about this family, but unfortunately has little information on our target person. However, there are death dates and places listed for the target person’s parents and one sibling. Now we have to look at them but the person who posted the family tree does not have supporting evidence for the dates and places. We take a chance and look online for an obituary for the parents and find a short obituary for one of the parents. That’s exciting until we read it and it says survived by three sons, two daughters, and five grandchildren. No names are listed! Perhaps we are fortunate and that obituary does list the names and even states of residence for some. More to follow and at the same time, we do still work on the target person directly. You contact a fellow researcher in the areas noted on the censuses. One knows someone who has access to a library in-house index to newspapers. You contact that other person and luckily that person finds a reference to your target person moving to yet another state.

Research is not quick, easy, inexpensive, or always immediately fruitful. The challenge to answer our questions is in our minds while we eat, drive our car, or even in our dreams. We forge ahead and through various avenues, we get another clue that someone in the family moved to Montana or Washington. Please be Montana as more newspapers are online! We figure out that Mary Stuart Anderson did move to Montana and luckily, find a death date for her. She does have an online obituary that provides the name of her children. We then look at them and see that by today, all of them are deceased so we then turn to her grandchildren. One online search site provides a 2017 address for the person. Let the contact begin!

Is research complicated? Often it is. Are some people showing up in just about every database we check or lived their entire life in a state with considerable indexes, online images, and excellent libraries and historical societies for our research. You bet! Each of our ancestors and related families provides us with a different set of circumstances, known details, and clues. Don’t ever give up.

This post is only an overview of some research steps. Much more is involved in thorough searches. To learn more join a genealogical society, take classes on various genealogical topics, attend genealogy conferences, seminars, and institutes as many of us have done. All of this adds to our success ratio in finding that living relative(s) who may have a family bible, old letters, or can tell you about Cousin Susie who has tons of family information.

Some ancestors and other relatives are easily found, others take weeks, month, or even years. Are you up for the challenge?

Is this time and expense all worth it? You bet!

GRIP syllabus prep: genealogy hints for myself

I spent many hours the last couple of weeks working on my syllabus material for the July week of the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. I coordinate and teach in the course Digging Deeper: Records, Tools, and Skills. I’ve made a few changes in this course over the years but it still remains mostly at the intermediate level. Along with the other three instructors, we talk about analysis, research planning, standards, delving deeper into records, and improving our skills in these and other areas. Why am I telling you all this right now? During my work on my sections of the extensive syllabus, I had several moments when I did some self-reprimanding.

You may cheer that I am admitting some things. None of us should ever be stagnant in our research, education, or in reviewing what we already have discovered. As I updated a ton of links, record discussions, and PowerPoint slides for the sessions I am teaching, I realized that I had neglected to check several things on parts of my own extended family. I need to go back to other military records for several uncles. I need to understand more about one uncle and why he was in New York city when he died in a subway accident. The death certificate is not pretty. Why was this young man only a few years out of the army not back in Winona or Saint Paul with his mother and siblings?

Where is the family bible that was supposedly in the hands of Great Great Grandfather James Stuart (1815-1899) who was living with one of his sons in Chicago at the time of his death. How do I know about this bible that had been handed down for several generations and that originated in Scotland? I’ll save that story for another post. I need to do some follow-up with a few distant cousins.

As I teach throughout the week and help solve mysteries and record locations with the students in the course, I’ll probably be reminded of some more loose ends I need to work on. Oh, I do have a list of things to do as far as family history, but when records do exist, I need to push myself to practice what I preach. Have you reviewed your paper and computer files lately? What should you be checking? If you don’t know, you can always join us in this course. It really does make us all analyze what we have, learn more about specific records that take us beyond basics, and adds to ways to figure out who that doggone DNA second cousin match really is!

June 13, Hudson WI library: “Major Midwestern Archives & Their Records.”

Please join me this Thursday, June 13, 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. for my free presentation that is accompanied by a handout plus time for Q&A. Room 219, free parking, Hudson, Wisconsin main library.

“Major Midwestern Archives & Their Records.” Presented by Paula Stuart-Warren. This lecture will highlight some major Midwestern archives and their holdings, finding aids, websites, special indexes, and available assistance for those not visiting in-person. An overview of each state archive will be covered, but some will be covered in greater detail. For the ones covered in greater detail, some special aspects of the place will be shared. The class will also include some detail on other archives in the Midwest – including universities, religious, and possibly others. Learn about the wealth of material available, how to access it, and why the on-site experience can be so rewarding.

Genealogy Guys and Vivid-Pix Announce Genealogy’s Unsung Heroes Awards

At last weekend’s Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank, California, the Genealogy Guys Podcast and Vivid-Pix gave MyHeritage Ltd. its highest Unsung Heroes Award for extraordinary service to the genealogy community.

Genealogy Guy Drew Smith said in his presentation, “MyHeritage has been involved with numerous pro bono projects over the years. We are here today to recognize the completion of their unprecedented five-year project to digitize every cemetery in Israel. MyHeritage employees, friends, and volunteers systematically photographed and transcribed almost every grave. The company specifically recruited full-time employees to complete the work.” Read the full press release on the Genealogy Guys Blog to see more on the well-deserved award and others that were presented.

The Genealogy Guys, George G. Morgan and Drew Smith, co-hosts and producers of the oldest continually produced genealogy podcast, and Rick and Randy, creators of Vivid-Pix, makers of RESTORE photo and document restoration software, will continue their partnership to acknowledge and celebrate those members of the genealogy community who digitize or index photos and other documents of value to genealogical researchers.

Due dates for future nominations will be announced on The Genealogy Guys Podcast; The Genealogy Guys Blog; the Unsung Heroes Blog at the Vivid-Pix website, but all nominations will remain in the running for future quarters. Details and links to the nomination form can be found at the website for Aha! Seminars, Inc., producer of The Genealogy Guys Podcast.

SCGS Genetic Genealogy 2019 live streaming registration opens

The Southern California Genealogical Society’s annual Jamboree has a special separate part that is devoted to DNA! This year Genetic Genealogy 2019 takes place on 31 May in Burbank. If you can’t make to the DNA day in person, you can sit at home and view it. Of course, I’d rather see you in person in Burbank and hope you can sign up for both the DNA and Jamboree events.

SCGS has shared this news on the live streaming. The cost for live streaming? $20 – Individual sessions can be viewed for $20 each. BUT for $99 – The BEST deal, you get the full-day subscription that provides access to all five sessions Includes syllabus materials for all the classes. Can’t watch it Live?  Watch at your convenience through July 31, 2019!

Genetic Genealogy Streaming Schedule for Thursday, May 31, 2019 

8:30 – 9:30: TH005 Convincing Family and Strangers to Test and Why by Emily D. Aulicino, MEd

10:00 – 11:00: TH010 DNA ABCs: Getting from “Unknown New Match” to “Known Cousin”  by Blaine T Bettinger, PhD, JD 

11:30 – 12:30: TH015 Taking Your Use of GEDmatch to the Next Level  by Tim Janzen, MD 

2:00 – 3:00: TH020 Using DNA and GWorks for Solving Unknown Parentage Cases  by Kitty Munson Cooper 

3:30 – 4:30: TH025 Finding Missing Persons with DNA Testing  by Diahan Southard 

Payment is made by credit card, debit card or PayPal on the Subscription and Viewing Portal. 


You do not need to be a member of SCGS to view Live Streaming.

The Genetic Genealogy Live Streaming program is separate from the Jamboree Live Stream Program and requires a separate subscription.

The streaming videos will not be shown on the SCGS website.

Live Steaming content will be available through July 31, 2019

Questions? Email

Be sure to watch the Jamboree Blog for all the latest news. Hint: the separate Jamboree availability of Live Streaming will be announced on the Jamboree blog first!