Olmsted County
Genealogical Society

State of Minnesota, USA

County of Olmsted

About OCGS

The Olmsted County Genealogical Society started with a group of people interested in tracing their family trees who met in 1965 at the local Historical Society. In 1976 the Society sponsored a workshop held at the LDS Church in Rochester as a bicentennial celebration. The first newsletter was published in 1977 and has continued since then to share and celebrate family history research, locally and beyond.

OCGS members have made substantial contributions over decades to the collection at the Research Library at the History Center of Olmsted County in Rochester. Volunteers have helped to transcribe and archive historical records, and have raised funds to purchase equipment. OCGS volunteers compiled tombstone inscriptions in every cemetery in Olmsted County, and the information was published in 6 volumes.

Members continue to enjoy meetings from April through November annually to enjoy comaraderie and learn about new resources online, through libraries, and through other members and speakers from the local area and beyond.


Zoom meeting information is distributed to all OCGS members. Guests are welcome to contact us for permission to attend a session on a trial basis: olmstedgenealogy@gmail.com

  • June 9 - Olmsted Co. Gen. Soc. meeting & program at the History Center, 7pm
    Unlocking Notation Codes on Alien Passenger Lists
    by Elizabeth Gomoll, CG of
    ​Red Bird Genealogy Services
    Passenger manifests from 1890-1930 often contain number and letter codes near an alien’s entry. Learn their meaning and what they reveal about an immigrant’s experience.

    Liz is Co-editor of the MN Genealogical Society journal,
    Minnesota Genealogist, and Chair of the MGS Development Committee. She is a Past President of the Association of Professional Genealogists' Northland Chapter.

    Since this is our first in-person meeting in nearly 2 years, please consider coming early and bringing any extra books or journals you wish to share, trade, or sell! You can also visit the History Center Library and learn about their holdings from Archivist Krista Lewis.

  • July 14 - Olmsted Co. Gen. Soc. meeting & program at the History Center, 7pm
    How to Become a Certified Genealogy Researcher
    by Melissa Dailey

  • August 11 - Olmsted Co. Gen. Soc. meeting & program at the History Center, 7pm Central
    Saving family stories for your descendants and publishing your family history
    by Linda Coffin of History Crafters

  • September 8 - Olmsted Co. Gen. Soc. meeting & program , 7pm Central
    Newspapers & Periodicals as Source Materials for Research
    by Lori Bessler, Reference Librarian at the Library, Archives, & Museum Collection of the
    Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison
    Newspapers and periodicals can uncover so many family stories but are often underutilized by the genealogist. This presentation will help you to understand how to find these titles, where they may be indexed or digitized and how to get the most out of them.

  • October 13 - Olmsted Co. Gen. Soc. meeting & program via Zoom, 7pm Central
    Evolution of Railways Across America
    by Bob Lettenberger, National Railroad Museum, Green Bay, Wisc

  • November 10 - Olmsted Co. Gen. Soc. meeting & program via Zoom, 7pm Central
    to be announced

Past Events

  • May 12 - OCGS meeting & program via Zoom
    Using the 1950 US Census by Cathi Weber
    Now that we can begin
    to access the results of this important research data, Cathi discussed the best strategies to uncover your relatives and their neighbors. While not all the results are available yet, your efforts through this year will likely allow you to view the original census entries relating to your family.

  • April 14 - OCGS meeting & program via Zoom
    Finding Your Female Ancestors
    by Lois Abromatis Mackin, PhD
    Most genealogists and family historians have gaps in their knowledge of the female half of their family.
    Lois talked about the challenges researchers face in learning about women, reviewed helpful documents and sources, and discussed how DNA analysis can help to find hidden ancestors.

  • November 11 - OCGS meeting & program via Zoom
    Why Were They There? Merging Evidence to Explain Migration
    by Jay Fonkert, CG
    Finding where your ancestors came from is one thing. Figuring out why they settled where they did is another. Your ancestors might have traveled in a group, followed friends, or set out for a hot job location. Learn to use a variety of sources to understand why they were where they were.

    Jay has lectured in a dozen states, taught at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, and published more than 80 research and teaching articles, including four in the NGS Quarterly. He is co-editor of the
    Minnesota Genealogist quarterly journal of the Minnesota Genealogical Society. He researches Norwegian Morstads, Swedish Falks, German Rombkes, English Tidballs, Kentucky Fawkners, and Dutch Fonkerts from his home in Roseville, Minnesota.

  • October 14 - OCGS meeting & program via Zoom
    Who Hid the Body? Finding Place of Burial
    by Elizabeth Williams Gomoll, CG
    Why is it important to find a person’s place of burial? Because it’s the end – the final event in a life and an essential part of that person’s story. While the place of burial may offer insight to a person’s life or unexpected information, it’s not always easy to find. Learn how to track down an ancestor that seems to have vanished after death.

    Liz is co-editor of the
    Minnesota Genealogist quarterly journal and immediate Past President of the Association for Professional Genealogists Northland Chapter. She has served several terms on the Minnesota Genealogical Society Board of Directors and is a member of several national and ethnic genealogy societies. Liz has published two books: a collection of WWI letters and photographs called With Love to All, as well as a co-authored guide Husförhörslängder, Swedish Household Examination Records. She researches and lectures professionally as Red Bird Genealogy Services (www.RedBirdGen.com).

  • September 9 - OCGS meeting & program via Zoom
    Using Maps & Gazetteers for Genealogy: How to Match a Place-Name to a Location
    Ryan Mattke, Map & Geospatial Information Librarian, John R. Borchert Map Library, University of Minnesota
    This presentation demonstrated how to use print and online resources, in conjunction with maps, to locate historical place-names. The presentation highlighted resources related to genealogy, as well as other historical cartographic materials, available at the University of Minnesota'
    s John R. Borchert Map Library in Minneapolis.

  • August 12 - OCGS meeting & program via Zoom
    Citing Sources in Family History Research—the Basics
    by Stephani Price of the Rochester The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Family History Center (link). Her video is available at youtu.be/Y230MeygKaQ

  • July 8 - OCGS virtual workshop
    Book Restoration & Preservation by James Twomey
    Why does paper age as it does, and what can we do to help preserve family archives? Let's talk about do-it-yourself preservation tips. James has expertise in book-binding and paper conservation. He has managed a bindery and a restorer of books and maps. He teaches at the graduate level in Wisconsin, is a professional associate of the American Institute for Conservation, and authored the book, “In-house Bookbinding and Repair.” He continues to restore large format prints at his rural La Farge (Wisconsin) studio.

  • April 8, 2021 - OCGS meeting and virtual workshop
    Mortuaries and obituaries by Peter Macken
    Understanding the information you might see in death records. Peter will talk about what ancestral information you might glean from a mortician or funeral home record, and the history of funeral homes.

  • April 10 - History Center of Olmsted County virtual workshop
    Genealogy 101: Establishing the Roots of Your Family Tree
    Information and registration are available at this link: olmstedhistory.com

  • May 13 - OCGS meeting & program via Zoom, 7pm Central
    The 1918 Flu Pandemic in Rochester - Day by Day Through the Headlines by Paul Koeller
    Paul will guide a tour of Rochester Post headlines from late 1918, the initial mention of massive outbreaks.

  • June 10 - OCGS virtual workshop
    Tools for Working with Autosomal DNA Results by Lois Mackin
    This session reviews tools and techniques for moving beyond testing company relationship predictions and working with your matches. It provides an overview of building genetic networks by using shared matches/in common with results, working with your matches’ trees, using chromosome browsers, and analyzing shared segments.


The annual membership cycle begins each April, with dues of $20 per household. Payments greater than the membership fees will be considered a donation to the Society, and are tax deductible.

Make checks payable to Olmsted County Genealogical Society. You can bring your check to any OCGS program or mail it to us with this membership form for new or renewing members: member form link

Olmsted County Genealogical Society
P O Box 6411
Rochester, MN 55903-6411

Membership Benefits

  • Network with other genealogy researchers in person to break down research walls.

  • Learn new online, library, and other resources.

  • Learn the histories of Olmsted County, the state of Minnesota, the United States, and the countries of our ancestors.

  • Find help in identifying hidden relatives: adoptions, multiple marriages, etc.

  • Receive a newsletter with handy hints and resources used in research.

  • Volunteer in developing resources for the next generation to research their ancestors.

Resources for Family History Research

In the Rochester area...

In the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area...