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

  • October 13 - Olmsted Co. Gen. Soc. meeting & program at the History Center, 7pm Central
    Join us for our final in-person gathering of the year for a discussion of the upcoming election of officers, We need to fill 2 member-at-large positions for 2023, so please be part of the discussion and consider joining our team! This is a great role to get started with OCGS and become more involved. Tasks are very manageable and we always need fresh ideas! We will watch a 20 minute video "If I Had to Do My Family Tree Over Again, What Would I Do Today for My Genealogy Research" by Connie Knox of GenealogyTV on YouTube. This will be followed by a discussion of her suggestions (and ours) for success in your research efforts. Please bring your ideas and any materials you would like to share..

  • November 10 - Olmsted Co. Gen. Soc. meeting & program via Zoom, 7pm Central
    Researching Midwestern and Plains States Native Americans
    by Paula Stuart-Warren, Certified Genealogist®, FMGS, FUGA
    The abundant and rich sources available to research Native American family history will be reviewed in this session. Many types of records and the likely repositories will be covered: Indian census and annuity rolls, manuscripts, private sources, Indian school records, church records, tribal records, and Bureau of Indian Affairs and National Archives collections. Historical societies, state archives, county courthouses, NARA regional facilities and more are included. The importance of understanding the historical context of the records, and the lives they reflect, will be discussed. Many important records are those related to individuals and families that did not attain official enrollment/membership or correspondence related to their quest. This session is designed to share the basics of ancestral research, understanding traditions, and the importance of heritage for those with Native American ancestry and other interested researchers. Resources that are universal to this type of research are covered; however, parts are tailored to specific tribes in the Midwest and their forced migrations and where additional records may be found.

    Paula is an internationally recognized genealogical educator, researcher, and consultant focusing on unusual resources, manuscripts, methodology, and analyzing records. She also specializes in Native American research, the WPA, and railroad records. She has spent extensive research time at libraries, courthouses, libraries, state archives, historical societies, and at various locations of the U.S. National Archives. She is currently a coordinator and instructor for the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. She has presented courses for Research Write Connect Academy, Ancestry Academy, Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, Family Tree University, and continues to present virtual seminars and webinars across the U.S. and in Canada. She is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, of the Minnesota Genealogical Society, a former officer of the Association of Professional Genealogists, and has been a Board-Certified Genealogist since 1988.

    Paula is descended from eight ancestral countries and has researched family connections across the U.S. and Canada. She currently has her own educational website and blog at genealogybypaula.com and is enthusiastic about sharing knowledge and continuing education.

  • The first 2023 program for OCGS will be held on April 13, 2023.

Past Events

  • September 8 - OCGS meeting & program via Zoom
    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.

  • August 11 - OCGS meeting & program at the History Center
    Voila! A Book by Linda Coffin of HistoryCrafters (www.historycrafters.com)
    We will outline the steps to consider when preparing to publish a family history book. We will discuss selecting content, organizing the book, designing the pages, and preparing the book for printing. Anyone who has already published a family history book can bring their project as a sample for discussion.

  • July 14 - OCGS meeting & program at the History Center
    Genealogy Education and Certification
    by Melissa Dalley
    With few options for formal education, genealogists are "on their own" to fulfill their educational needs. Melissa will present an array of options for learning best practices for genealogical research, with an emphasis on earning credentials from the Board for Certification of Genealogists. Melissa will also share her experiences with the
    ProGen Study Group, as she is a new alumna of ProGen 53.

  • June... - OCGS meeting & program via Zoom
    Unlocking Notation Codes on Alien Passenger Lists by Elizabeth Gomoll
    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.

  • 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...

Bonus Newsletter Content

Where might I find a published tree or history that includes my surname?

FamilySearch catalogue (free)

Google Books (free): books.google.com

Internet Archive (free): help.archive.org/help/search-a-basic-guide

Digital Public Library of America (free): https://dp.la

ArchiveGrid (free): researchworks.oclc.org/archivegrid

WorldCat.org (free): worldcat.org

Amazon Books (store): www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html?

Barnes & Noble (store): barnesandnoble.com

AbeBooks (store): abebooks.com

Biblio.com (store): biblio.com

Higginson Book Company (store): higginsonbooks.com

BookFinder.com (store): https://www.bookfinder.com

Happy hunting!