Genealogy Notes: a recent Minnesota Genealogy Society Conference

On 10/1/2016, I attended the North Star Conference hosted by the Minnesota Genealogical Society. Here are some notes from sessions that I attended. Text in quotes shows excerpts that I drew directly from the handouts at the MNGS conference only to identify the topic and the speaker/author. My bulleted notes follow each section of quoted text.


Michael D. Lacopo, D.V.M.


Wikipedia: “Social history… is a branch of history that includes history of ordinary people and their strategies of coping with life.” Knowing the social history of our ancestors includes how they dealt with disease, a life and death issue of which they had little knowledge and even less control. As genealogists, we seek out death records of all sorts, but do we understand them? A basic understanding of historical epidemics and disease helps put our ancestors into a broader framework of history.”


Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Saami Research

Gregory S. Isola, Minneapolis MN

independent Finnish researcher

President/CCO, Finnesota LLC

Pursuing CG®

certification in 2016

Email or

Presenting at MGS 9th annual North Star Conference, 01 Oct 2016”

  • many records are in Swedish because Sweden controlled much of the area for periods of time
  • Saami= northern Nordic natives; “Lapp” derogatory
  • in old records in Swedish can see “Lappar” to indicate Saami
  • Norwegian records can indicate “Finn”.
  • Name structure(s):
    • first/given/Christian
    • sometimes there is a second given name
    • patronym (*dotter/datter, *son/sen)
    • family name (surname – location, farm name, town name, occupation, etc.!)
  • sometimes you see matronym used in the case of an illegitimate child
  • handwritten docs sometimes show date as day/mo (day on top and month on bottom in form of “fraction”
  • notes on the Gregorian Calendar:
    • 1582 – pope declares the change
    • many Protestant areas ignored this and only later came to grips with physical reality
    • 1752 – England made the change
    • 1700-1753 – Sweden made the change in fits and starts
  • author’s website:

“Ports and Ships of the Immigration Age: How Our European Ancestors Traveled to America

Jerome Biedny, Jr., past President

Polish Genealogical Society on Minnesota

6909 West 82nd Street

Bloomington, MN 55438

Our modes of transportation have changed over the ages to reflect their times. Until the late 1800’s people came to America on sailing ships from the main European seaports to those on the Atlantic coast of North America. This presentation focuses on the peak US immigration years 1870-1915. This was a time of transition from fragmented packet lines, using sailing ships, to sophisticated passenger lines, using ocean liners, connected to a web of railroads on both sides of the Atlantic.”

  • there was a coordination of rail and ship transportation through agents that sold tickets
  • examples: $18 from Bremen to NY per person, then $13 to Chicago, half price for people under 13 years of age and free for children under 5 years. (note: this can account for some age discrepancies due to lies about age in order to save money)
  • 1884 passage typically took 2 weeks
  • German Lines
    • HAPAG (1847): Hamburg to Hoboken
    • early ships would hold about 800 people and 120 crew, 300 ft. long and 40 ft. wide
    • North German Lloyd (1857): Bremerhaven to Hoboken (and South America)
    • ships were large (e.g., Barbarosa and Kaiser Wilhelm II) – 2000-2700 people, 500 crew, 540 ft. long, 60 ft. wide.
  • Other Lines: Red Star Line (1871) (JP Morgan), later became White Star; Austro-American Line small ships from Trieste to the US.
  • British Lines – Cuinard & White Star
  • Ports
    • early: first calls disembarked in Hobeken, then rest went to Castle Garden in NY (1855-1890)
    • Ellis Island (1892 – 1954)
    • Baltimore (1706 – ?) served by B&O RR and North German lloyd.
  • Quotas: in 1924 set at 150,000 people

“Online Tools to Organize and Collaborate with Your Cousins

Kelli Bergheimer

Mess on the Desk

P.O. Box 1028

Powell, OH 43065


  • surname message boards
  • aggregators: (to assemble info from roostweb, ancestry message boards, blogs, other favorite websites)
  • Google alerts: trigger on names, locations, topics, etc.
  • misc tools and techniques
    • legal genealogist (Judy Russell)
    • shared docs and calendars


Michael D. Lacopo, D.V.M.


Wikipedia: “Social history… is a branch of history that includes history of ordinary people and their strategies of coping with life.” As genealogists, we study our ancestors, which were likely “ordinary people,” so genealogy IS social history! Aspects of social history can include the study of race, ethnicity, labor, sex, gender, education, immigration, rural/urban life, religion, and more.”

  • Europe
    • marriage records not kept prior to reformation
    • social stratification
    • arranged marriages within class
  • US
    • marriage possibilities loosened up in the US
    • marriages occurred at earlier ages since people could become economically independent earlier in life
  • References to help enrich the history of your ancestors

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