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Minnesota Genealogical Society

1385 Mendota Heights Road, Suite 100
Mendota Heights, MN  55120-1367
(651) 330-9312 •


Midwest Genealogy Foundations:

18-19 AUGUST 2023

This institute-style short course will prepare students to follow ancestors' migrations to and through the Midwest. Students will learn:

  • about major migration patterns,
  • where to find records to document ancestors' migrations, and
  • better understand why families paused or stopped where they did.

A first of its kind, the two-day course will offer 10 hours of classroom instruction for intermediate and more advanced family history researchers. Class size is limited to 35 students to enhance opportunities for discussion and hands-on-exercises.

A strong geo-genealogy mindset will focus on families that settled in or passed through Midwestern states from the Ohio Valley to the Dakotas and beyond - yes, some went beyond.

Eight class sessions will include:

  • Migration Research Problems and Strategies
  • Physical Geography, Migration, and Settlement Patterns
  • Midwest Land History and Records
  • Railroad History and Records
  • Midwest Ethnic Settlement and Migration
  • Midwest Archives and Repositories
  • Finding Midwest Manuscript Materials
  • Mapping and Writing a Family History Migration Narrative
For more information about course content, click on the 'CURRICULUM' menu item on the right side of this page.


More Info...

J.H. ("Jay") Fonkert, CG

Jay is a “geo-genealogy” enthusiast who specializes in 19th century Midwest research. His favorite research subjects are families that migrated from Virginia, through Kentucky, and on to the Midwest. He also enjoys tracking Dutch, Scandinavian and English immigrant families that wandered through the midwest. He has published more than 80 research and teaching article, including four in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, and is co-managing editor of Minnesota Genealogist. He has served two terms as president of the Minnesota Genealogical Society and is a former Director of the Association of Professional Genealogists. He has lectured at numerous national conferences, the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), and has been an instructor in the SLIG Advanced Research Practicum course.

Elizabeth Williams Gomoll, CG

Liz holds certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists and is co-managing editor of the Minnesota Genealogist quarterly journal. She is President of the Northland Chapter of the Association for Professional Genealogists, and she has served on the boards of the Minnesota Genealogical Society and the Swedish Genealogical Society of Minnesota. Liz published a collection of WWI letters and photographs called With Love to All, and co-authored a guide called Husförhörslängder, Swedish Household Examination Records. She does client research and lectures professionally as Red Bird Genealogy Services ( In addition, Liz plays flute and piccolo professionally and holds a private pilot’s license. 

Tom K. Rice, CG

Tom is a genealogical researcher, lecturer and writer. He is a past director of the Minnesota Genealogical Society, past officer and director of the Irish Genealogical Society, International, and a past managing editor of its quarterly journal, The Septs. Tom is a long-time volunteer help desk volunteer at the Minnesota Historical Society.  Most of his immigrant ancestors came from Ireland and eventually settled in Michigan, Iowa and Illinois. After a long genealogy career, Tom continues to find new ancestors and more about the ones he already knew about.

Paula Stuart-Warren, CG

Paula is an internationally recognized genealogical educator, researcher, and consultant specializing in finding and analyzing unusual resources to solve genealogical problems. Among her special interests are manuscript collections, Work Projects Administration records, railroad records, and Native American records. She has researched extensively at courthouses, libraries, state archives, historical societies, and numerous National Archives regional locations. Paula is an instructor at several national genealogical institutes and continues to present virtual seminars and webinars across the U.S. and in Canada. She is a former board member of the Minnesota Genealogical Society, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and the Association of Professional Genealogists. Paula’s ancestry reaches back to eight countries, and she has researched family migrations across the U.S. and Canada. She has her own educational website and blog at and is enthusiastic about sharing knowledge and continuing education.

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