DNA Quest by MyHeritage goes global for adoptees

This is an update from MyHeritage:

“DNA Quest is our pro bono initiative to reunite adopted people with their biological family members. We are providing 15,000 MyHeritage DNA kits, worth more than one million dollars, for free, to eligible participants. DNA Quest has just been expanded globally so that now anyone from any country can apply. Applications can be submitted until April 30th, 2018 on www.dnaquest.org. If this is applicable to you, apply today, otherwise please help spread the word.”

Back on March 1, I blogged about the pro bono tests initial offering. Read that here.

Please feel free to share this post to let others know.



GRIP genealogy education this summer! Discounted tuition ends April 30th.

Early bird discount on tuition to the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) ends in about one week on April 30. Only 2 courses out of 22 have wait lists. All other courses are open for registration for classes held June 25-29 and July 23-27 in Pittsburgh and July 30-Aug 3 in Amherst, NY (Buffalo). See www.GRIPitt.org/courses for full descriptions of all 18 sessions in each of the 22 courses.

On-campus housing is available at this time for all three weeks. Any questions? Email GRIP or visit the GRIP booth at the NGS conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan May 2-5.

This year, my course Intermediate Genealogy: Tools for Digging Deeper is offered near Buffalo, New York. It will be at Daemen College in Amherst. Read more about this in-depth learning here.

It’s important to register soon for this course, so that you will receive the mid-May special instructions for assistance in solving one of your “brick walls” during the course.


April 26 webinar: “. . . Finding Records of Germanic Organizations and Other Collections”

The well-known Germanic Genealogy Society (GGS), a world-wide organization based here in Minnesota, is now offering webinars. The live webinars are open to the public, however, attendance is limited. Be sure to sign into the webinar early.

If you are a member of GGS, you have access to the handouts and recorded videos. These are accessible to signed-in GGS members under the Member Login. Join Now to gain full access. GGS also has great educational meetings and publications. I have been a member for many years.


This Thursday, April 26 at 8:00 p.m. CDT, I am the webinar presenter for GGS. 

“They Joined, They Wrote, They Associated: Finding Records of Germanic Organizations and Other Collections.”

U.S. libraries, historical societies, archives, and university libraries special collections sections hold the records from many organizations that our Germanic ancestors joined. The organization may have been a German heritage, charitable, religious, resettlement, political, social, or other organization. Additionally, as parts of our families migrated around the U.S., so did the records. Frequently genealogists think that there may be no records for some of the family. However, there may be substantial information buried away in a manuscript collection.

Finding these collections with records of membership, donations, necrologies, stories, activities, and more has become easier in recent years. Many finding aids online and off lead you to these research nuggets that represent hundreds of years of material. This presentation covers the finding aids, what the descriptions tell us, how to use the descriptions and suggestions for accessing the Germanic family nuggets promised by the cataloging and indexing. The visuals will demonstrate the fantastic ancestral details found in such records, including places of origin in Germanic localities beyond the U.S.

Register Now!


Big sales now for DNA Day!

DNA Day is April 25th, but the big discount sales have already begun on many tests.  Visit the websites of AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA, 23 & Me, My Heritage, and Living DNA. Just type the company name into your favorite search engine.

I hope you are already monitoring at least a few of the many informational DNA blogs, websites, and the many pages on Facebook that really provide help with learning about and analyzing your DNA results.

Minnesota original land surveyors’ notes and markings and today’s work on those

Map of Minnesota with St Louis County marked in red. (From Wikipedia)

“The monument markers were originally set by U.S. government surveyors in St. Louis County from about 1850 to 1911 — guys in wool hats and plaid shirts carrying chains and a compass and a notebook. They camped in the woods and had little communication with the outside world — but took very good notes that have been preserved to this day.”

I have used many of those notes and maps while doing land research and also out of historical curiosity about material in the Minnesota State Archives in Saint Paul. The wealth of land-related records there is amazing. Other states have some of these same records.

The quote above is from a fascinating article in the March 31st Duluth News Tribune.

To learn more about land records at the Minnesota Historical Society and State Archives, visit www.mnhs.org/ and look several ways:

  1. In the upper right hand corner of the MHS website’s main page, do a variety of searches using key words such as land records, original land surveys, public land surveys, state land office, and be prepared for a wealth of finding aids for materials at MHS and also for links to land-related articles in Minnesota History.
  2. On that same main pages, under the Research tab, click on Library Catalog and being a search using some of those key words. Add place names for specific locations, too.
  3. Under that research tab, also click on Archival Collection Finding Aids and Research Guides by Topic for more information on a variety of land-related topics.
  4. I have my own well-read and marked copy of A Guide to the Records of Minnesota’s Public Lands by Gregory Kinney and Lydia Lucas (MHS, 1985). That guide is online here.

April 21 Family History Conference in St. Cloud, Minnesota

It’s only three weeks until the big Family History Conference in St. Cloud, Minnesota. It’s at the Stearns History Museum. I am pleased to be the featured speaker with four sessions and there are some other really good sessions on the agenda. The museum will have a brand new World War I exhibit.

Register soon so you will get the first notice of the online syllabus availability.

To view the full program and register: http://stearns-museum.org/genealogy-workshop

End of winter doldrums? Plan a summer genealogy vacation week with friends.

Old friends, new friends, research colleagues, maybe even family. That’s what you’ll find during a week at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. I am thinking of it as my summer vacation weeks. Yes, I will be teaching for a weeks but there will be no SNOW or cold weather! Being in air-conditioned comfort with fellow genealogists eager to learn and share sounds ideal right now.

What do you do next after you searched and searched online and still need to fill in many U.S. family history details? What about learning more about helpful websites that you didn’t know about? What about when you need to know what you should be looking for at the state archives, national archives, or a courthouse? Need to learn more about analysis and methodology?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could present a research problem to others and have a discussion that ends with tips and suggestions on what to do next to help solve the problem?

All this and more is part of what is taught and discussed during my course, Intermediate Genealogy: Tools for Digging Deeper at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP). I have been coordinating and instructing in this course and others since GRIP began seven years ago. Join us for this year’s course

  • 29 July to 3 August In Amherst, NY at Daemen College [Buffalo area]

The us is me, Cyndi Ingle, Karen Mauer Jones, and Debbie Mieszala. A special group of experts and so willing to share in-depth knowledge. This course has had students at all levels of genealogical expertise.

See you in July and August? Register today while there are open seats.

Sale on Legacy Family Tree webinars membership through April 1st!

This is a nice discount. Save $20 on an annual Legacy Family Tree webinar membership now through April 1st. A membership gives you access to hundreds of webinars and the handouts from current and past webinars. What topics? Just about anything you can imagine in the world of family history. What genealogist wants to miss this! This is the only way to get the handouts!

Usual membership cost is 49.95 but with the 20% off, you pay only $28.48. I have recorded webinars and handouts as part of this webinar library as do many other excellent professionals in the field.

Click here to sign up.


Please let the presenters know that you appreciate their webinars so they will keep producing them.

p.s. I am an affiliate and do get a small benefit if you sign up with my link.



Hennepin County, Minnesota ancestors? Hennepin History magazine now digitized!

From the Hennepin County Library system about a new addition to its special collections:

“76 years of the magazine “Hennepin History,” the official publication of the Hennepin History Museum, are now online in the Hennepin County Library Digital Collections. The magazine has been published continuously since 1941. Articles range in length and scope, but cover all aspects of the county’s history–from people to places, and more. The magazine is full-text searchable.

Founded in 1938 as the Hennepin County Historical Society, Hennepin History Museum is dedicated to bringing the diverse history of Hennepin County and its residents to life through exhibitions, a research library, collections, and educational programs. Its mission is to collect and preserve the history and stories of Hennepin County.”

I spent some time doing some searches in these back issues and know that I will be spending many more hours doing the same!


Genealogical inclusion: not everyone has children; not everyone is short; are you leaving out some genealogy family and friends?

Genealogy is a pretty inclusive topic but not 100%. Maybe someday it will be. Audiences and presenters at classes, seminars, conferences, and institutes are made of up tall, short, skinny, wider, white, red, brown, black, gay, straight, transgender, married, single, divorced, widowed, adopted, fostered, cousins, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, men, women, aunts, uncles, moms, dads, and grands of all types. We are young, older, and in-between. Researchers, librarians, clerks, archivists, farmers, bus drivers, nurses, lawyers, and others come in all sizes and other labels, too.

I am a genealogical educator, researcher, and consultant. My clients have included married, divorced, straight, gay, a drag queen, Canadian, Native American, Saint Paulite, and almost any other designation. I am straight, married for 35 years, now divorced (not by choice), middle-aged (my brain says so), wider, and a daughter, parent, grandparent, aunt, grandaunt, niece, grandniece, and unfortunately very short woman.  What labels do you tag on yourself? Don’t forget religion, political leaning, education, and other topics, too. (more…)