Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Minneapolis ~ The Place for My Swedish Research

Recently I was in the Minneapolis area visiting family and found out that the Minnesota Genealogical Society's Library was going to be "manned by Swedes" the third Thursday of the month. This was certainly my good fortune as a branch of my family tree hails from Varmlands lan, Sweden. I decided to go check the library out and see if any of the Swedish members of MNGS might be able to help me with my research. It was a quiet day at the library and when I asked if any of them would be able to help me, they all offered to!

The rest of the afternoon was spent with four individuals who couldn't have been more welcoming, helpful and resourceful. Lucky for me one of the Swedish members happened to be with his Norwegian wife (a rather common occurrence in Minnesota I came to find out) and I not only had help with my Swedish research but also my Norwegian research. In addition to helping me understand the best way to use and print jpegs of my Genline research, explaining the role of the Lutheran Church in Sweden and the USA, and giving me suggestions as to how to continue my research with Lutheran Church records while in Minnesota, they also suggested additional places to check out while in Minneapolis, specifically the Swedish American Institute (SAI) and the Central Library in downtown Minneapolis.

MNGS has an excellent web presence and a terrific online library catalog.  Make sure to check these out on a regular basis if you have the ability to conduct research in the Minneapolis area. (Be sure to use Worldcat.org if you find something at the MNGS catalog and are unable to get to Minneapolis in person - perhaps another library closer to you has that same book or journal.)  They update their calendar on a regular basis, host a variety of interest specific groups (Canadian, Czechoslovak, Germanic, Irish, Norwegian, Polish, Pommern, and Swedish), and they house a wealth of genealogical information from around the world, every State in the USA, and from every county in Minnesota.   

Three Additional Places to Visit/Research While in the Minneapolis Area

  • If you live in the Minneapolis area or get the opportunity to travel there, make sure to put a visit to the Swedish American Institute at the top of your list. It started out as a private home built by a Swedish immigrant who came the USA and became quite successful in the newspaper business. He later turned his home over to the SAI for use as a museum and facility for Swedish activities and classes. The building itself is amazing and the original woodwork is incredible. SAI volunteers conduct tours and classes on a regular basis.

  • The Minnesota Historical Society, both online and at the physical facility is a delight.  Online you can make use of various databases and indices - People Finder, Birth Certificates Index, Death Certificates Index, State Census Index (Minnesota is one of the states with censuses on the 5 year mark 1865 through 1905), Marriage Certificates Index (a wonderful project put together by the Clerks of Court of the various counties of Minnesota whereby you can fashion your search for early marriage records and order a copy directly from the Clerk's Office - the majority but not all counties have placed their index online - a great undertaking), as well as immigration and other historical records.  Make sure you actually go visit the MHS facility as the building houses great permanent and temporary exhibits.  In addition the staff is happy to assist you with your research questions and explain their holdings.  Be sure to use the online catalog before making your visit so you can make the best use of your time at this lovely facility.

  • The Minneapolis Central Library is located in downtown Minneapolis and it is a beautiful facility to conduct research and/or browse the holdings.  The genealogy section of the library is of only moderate size (for serious and significant research you would be better off going to the MNGS library) however, the rare book room and the collection of city directories, maps and photographs were all fascinating and an excellent way to flesh out the years between the censuses.  The facility is well laid-out and the microfiche and readers are readily available.  Call ahead to schedule a time for entry and assistance in the rare book room, that bit of additional planning is well worth it for the chance to "take a trip" through Minneapolis' past and see the city through the eyes of your ancestors. 

My trip to Minneapolis was great and taking the opportunity to check out local genealogy facilities gave me so many tips and information to follow my various families from Sweden and Norway to the United States.

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