Thursday, August 27, 2009

North Star Genealogy Conference

Looking to upgrade your family history research skills? Join us at the North Star Genealogy Conference September 18-19 at the Minnesota Genealogical Society Library and Research Center in South St. Paul, Minnesota.

Acclaimed genealogy educator Claire Bettag will present four talks:

* Genealogical Assumptions: Your own Worst Enemy
* Government Documents: Untapped Genealogical Treasures
* Introduction to Federal Land Records
* National Archives Records at Your Finger Tips

Claire Bettag is a Certified Genealogist and Certified Genealogical Lecturer based in Washington, D. C., where she is an expert researcher in the National Archives. She teaches at the National Institute for Genealogical Research in Washington, and at the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University.

Nine additional breakout sessions will feature Minnesota’s leading genealogists in three tracks: Minnesota records, Technology for Genealogy, and Family History Writing.

The conference is built around the annual Minnesota Genealogical Society Awards Banquet, scheduled for Friday evening at the South St. Paul Hotel. For a complete program and registration information, visit:

Monday, August 24, 2009

All Genealogists were once Beginners

All Genealogists were once beginners... and if they keep branching into new families and locales, they in a sense will always be beginners. I've been doing genealogical research for 15 years (rather amateurishly the first several years), but as I branch into new areas, I have to learn new tricks. I'm pretty experienced in 19th-century Midwest research, as well as Dutch and Swedish research. But, now that I am pushing some lines back to places like Virginia and Ireland, I feel like a beginner again. Guess what? It's a good feeling, because it's fun to learn.

The good news is that the basic research methods we learn are transferrable to new areas. Yes, we have to learn about new kinds of records, and even tackle new languages, but the basics of evaluating sources, correlating data and drawing reasoned conclusions is largely the same, regardless of where our ancestors came from. This is one reason I urge people doing English or German or Norwegian research to join a local or state genealogy society. When you go to a conference, don't just go to the sessions on your nationality, take in the sessions dealing with research methods or American genealogy, because you will learn skills that will help you with your ethnic research.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Upcoming Fonkert Speaking Engagements

I will do doing my favorite thing -- genealogical education -- often this Fall. Upcoming engagements include:

September 10, Olmsted County Genealogical Society, Rochester, Minnesota, "Finding your European Ancesters Online."

September 17, Dakota County Genealogical Society, South St. Paul, Minnesota, "Fish and Chips Genealogy: Finding your English Ancestors."

September 19, North Star Genealogy Conference, South St. Paul, Minnesota, "Anatomy of a Genealogy Report." See Minnesota Genealogical Society ( for details for this 2-day conference.

October 24, Southern Minnesota Genealogy Expo, Mankato State University, Mankato, Minnesota; keynote address: "Genealogical Detours: Solving Genealogical Detours with Indirect Evidence."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Customized Family History Research Services

Four Generations Genealogy is my professional genealogy research service. Watch this blog for updates on how I can help you solve your family history research problems. From time to time, I will share tips about genealogy research, as well as some of my favorite genealogy experiences.

If you live in the Dakotas-Iowa-Minnesota-Wisconsin region, plan to attend the North Star Genealogy Conference in South St. Paul, Minnesota, September 18-19. The featured speaker is Claire Bettag, an expert land records and the National Archives. Visit the website of the Minnesota Genealogical Society ( for more details.