Log in

Minnesota Genealogical Society

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

  • Home
  • North Star Breakout Sessions

2023 North Star Breakout Speakers and Sessions

Meet the speakers and check out their sessions!

Lecture Levels: [B]=Beginner [I]=Intermediate [A]=Advanced

More Info...

Amber Oldenburg

Amber Oldenburg is a genealogist, lecturer, and social media manager with a degree in Family History Research from Brigham Young University-Idaho, where she currently serves as an online instructor in their Family History Research program. She specialized in Midwest and Great Lakes states research.


True Grit and Determination: Finding Your Female Ancestors
The challenge and frustration of tracing female ancestors is one that every researcher will experience at one time or another. This presentation will focus on why it is sometimes difficult to locate women in our trees and the records and techniques that can help locate these elusive women. (B)

Researching Newspapers Outside of
The availability of digitized newspapers continues to grow each day and now researchers can find thousands of newspapers on sites outside of websites like This presentation will explore the numerous sites and archives that make newspapers easily accessible for little to no cost. (B)

The Largest Census of American Women You've Never Heard About
After America entered World War I in 1917, the Council of National Defense ordered the establishment of women's councils as a domestic defense, where they registered over 4,000,000 women to provide services during the war. The data compiled represent the largest forgotten census of American women ever conducted. (B) 

Dana Kelly

Dana Kelly has served as Executive Director of the Norwegian American Genealogical Center & Naeseth Library since 2019. She has served as Secretary for the Koshkonong Prairie Historical Society since 2009, and on the Board of Directors for the Dane County Area Genealogical Society since 2020.


Uncovering Hidden Roots With Your DNA
DNA is a powerful tool for genealogy. During this session we will use case studies to illustrate how it can be used to find previously unknown ancestors and confirm that your traditional research is correct. (A)

Elizabeth Gomoll

Elizabeth Williams Gomoll, CG, is president of the APG Northland Chapter, has served as Director for the Minnesota Genealogical Society, and is co-editor of the Minnesota Genealogist. Liz has received seven awards for her writing and society activities. She researches professionally as Red Bird Genealogy Services. 


Getting Published: Tips From a Genealogy Journal Editor
Genealogists have stories to tell, and publishing their stories reaches a larger audience than just family. Genealogy journal editors appreciate each author's earnest manuscript and are eager to work with the author to publish their best work. Learn what editors look for, hope for, and how to avoid what they dread in a submission. (B,I,A)

Documents+DNA+Method+Luck: Tools to Find Biological Family
Finding an adopted child's biological family is especially challenging for genealogists. This presentation lists the steps one can take to identify an unknown parent or grandparent and dissects a successful case to show how good methodology combined with document research and DNA matches can put a decades-old question to rest. (B,I,A)

Gordon McBean

Gordon is a past president of the Manitoba Genealogical Society and has been researching his own family for over 50 years in Canada, the USA, Scotland, Ireland, and England. A lifelong interest in genealogy has led to road trips to both coasts as well as Scotland and Ireland. He has had numerous families cross the border over the generations and has used maps extensively to trace and share their movements.


Why Did Our Ancestors Move Between Canada and the US?
I kept finding ancestors and collateral relatives on the wrong side of the border. Finding what influences pushed or pulled them helps us flesh out their story. Finding the exact reason is elusive. We need to dig deeper to gain an understanding of historical factors in place at that time. We then must theorize what motivated them to move. (B)

Maps—How Can Genealogists Use Them
Genealogists seek records that describe names, places, and dates at a given point in time. Maps can provide useful information such as where to find written records, land ownership, or changing borders. You can also create maps that include mapping migration routes, cemeteries, land ownership, or other geographic information. (B,I,A)

Kathy Povolny

Kathy has always had an interest in photos and the stories they tell. Her interest in genealogy has just naturally evolved from this. She has spent the last 30 years teaching about photo preservation, telling their story, and the conservation of documents and heirlooms.


Photo Organization—Print & Digital
Imagine having a system in place that allows you to find any photo & document in literally seconds! We will talk about scanning; do-it-yourself or using a professional & the value of high quality scans. Is your organizational system working for you? What are your options? You no longer need to imagine. Yes! you can be totally organized! (B,I,A)

Patricia Coleman

Patricia Coleman is a professional genealogist who specialized in DNA and Irish research. A graduate of ProGen58, Patricia has a PhD in Chemistry. She is moderator for Facebook user groups for DNA Painter and Genetic Affairs, and writes a blog at 


Sorting Your Ancestry DNA Matches
Many people's first DNA test is with Ancestry, but then they don't know what to do with the results. The most important results are the shared matches, which can be quite numerous and contain many unfamiliar surnames. This presentation will provide several methods for comparing and sorting DNA matches into family groups. (B)

Exploring DNA Segments for Breakthrough Discoveries
DNA analysis at 23andMe, FTDNA, and MyHeritage provides segment data for you and your shared matches. When you find that two of your DNA matches share the exact same segment with you, it is a good indication that the three of you share a most recent common ancestor (MRCA). (I)

Phil Dreyer

Phil Dreyer has worked in the computer technology field for over 40 years and is the webmaster and technology committee chair for the Minnesota Genealogical Society. He has been doing the genealogy of his family since he was twelve years old and is an avid Family Tree Maker user.


Using Family Tree Maker to Organize Your Family History Research
Family Tree Maker is genealogy software for Windows and Mac that allows researchers to track information collected in their search. This class will provide an introduction to Family Tree Maker and its capabilities. (B,I)

Shaunese Luthy

Shaunese received her BA degree in Family History and Genealogy from Brigham Young University. She is the owner of "Untangle Your Roots" and specializes in the Dakota Regions, Central Plain Regions, Midwest/Great Lake Regions, and Mountain West Regions in client research.


You Don't Have to Wander the Cemetery to Find Someone!
In this class, we will discuss how to find graves in cemeteries, using the sexton record office and the cemetery maps. We will also discuss how to find the graves if there is not a sexton record office available. We will also discuss the importance of finding the graves in person and what to look for around the graves. (B,I)

How U.S. Census Records and State Census Records Go Hand in Hand
When you can't find your ancestor between the Federal Census Records, there are State Census records to search through. In this class we will discuss how to search through both the US Census and the State Census records. Where to search for the State Census records and how they work together. (B)

Collaborating Different Record Types to Build the F.A.N.
Using different records such as Censuses, Vitals, Land, Church, and Probate will help create your ancestor's F.A.N. club. The importance of creating a F.A.N. club will be discussed. (I)

Copyright © 2024 Minnesota Genealogical Society

Privacy Policy

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software