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Interested in researching your “family tree”? Registration begins Saturday, Sept. 24 for a “Family History Fair” to be presented free on Saturday, Oct. 22, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at Hennepin County Library – Minneapolis Central, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis. Register at www.hclib.orgor call 612-543-8000.
Genealogy experts will present information sessions on resources available, how to gather family stories, and useful software.  Also, visit ethnic and genealogy interest tables staffed by local and national organizations and take a tour of Minneapolis Central Library’s genealogy resources.
Why research your family’s history?  “It connects you with people, it brings history alive, and it is just plain fun,” said Jay Fonkert, past president of the Minnesota Genealogical Society, who will give the keynote presentation at the Family History Fair. “In a complex, stressful world, I think people like knowing where they came from. An explosion in ethnic festivals and ethnic food also has stirred interest in ethnic heritage.”
Free talks by genealogy experts are scheduled 10 a.m.-1 p.m.  Topics include:
  • Keynote presentation on “Adventures in Family History” (Jay Fonkert, past president of Minnesota Genealogical Society)
  • “Discovering Family History in Your Attic and Around the Dinner Table” (David Suddarth, vice president of Minnesota Genealogical Society)
  • “Finding Your Ancestors in Other Countries” (Dr. Lois Mackin, chair of the Minnesota Genealogical Society’s Education Committee)
  • “Useful Resources for Finding Ancestors on the Internet” (Mary Wickersham, co-president of Midwest Ancestor Research)
  • “Exploring School Resources for Family History” (Trudi Campbell, librarian and genealogy instructor)
  • “Gathering Family Stories” (Linda Coffin, HistoryCrafters publisher and genealogy instructor)
  • “Getting the Right Software for Organizing Your Family History” (Sheila Northrop, co-president of Midwest Ancestor Research).
A tour of genealogy resources at Minneapolis Central Library is scheduled 1:15-2 p.m.  The genealogy collection is located on the fourth floor and the Government Documents collection, a gateway to many print and online government resources, is located on the second floor of the library.
Area organizations will staff genealogy resource tables.  They include an African American interest table;  Civil War Mary E. Starkweather Daughters of the Union Veterans;  Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International;  Daughters of the American Revolution Monument Chapter;  the Irish Genealogical Society;  the Minnesota Genealogical Society;  the Minnesota Historical Society;  Norwegian American Genealogy Association;  Pommeren Regional Group;  the Rusin Association;  St. David’s Society (Welsh Society);  Swedish Genealogical Society of Minnesota;  and the Yankee Genealogical Society.
Hennepin County Library’s website offers many additional resources for family history researchers. Free access to recommended websites and significant databases, such as Ancestry Library Edition, HeritageQuest, Historical New York Times, Historical Minneapolis Tribune, and Biography in Context, is available through the genealogy subject guide on the Library’s website (http://www.hclib.org/pub/search/SubjectGuides.cfm?Topic=Genealogy).  Hennepin County Library offers free genealogy classes, too.  Librarian and genealogy instructor JoEllen Haugo noted that interest in the introductory classes continue to grow.
Fonkert said genealogy is increasing in popularity for several reasons, including “the aging of the baby boom population. People commonly don't get interested or have much time for genealogy until they are in their fifties.  Right now, we have the largest number of people 50-65 ever.” 
He said other factors include the popularity of the television program, “Who Do You Think You Are?” as well as the recession (“people are turning to home entertainment and hobbies”) and the Internet. 
“It’s easier than ever to Google for your family history, plus there is an explosion of good research sources on the Internet,” Fonkert said. “People can browse from home in their pajamas.”  He added that the Internet has resulted in fantastic networking opportunities through mail lists, discussion lists and sites like U.S. Genweb.
Local and state genealogy societies “have great resources and it is a great way to meet people who share your interests,” according to Fonkert.  He said the website www.familysearch.orghas a “huge amount of free information and educational videos.”
The Family History Fair is sponsored by the Friends of Minneapolis Central Library in collaboration with the Minnesota Genealogical Society and “One Minneapolis, One Read.” October is Family History Month.
Genealogy books will be available for purchase.
To register or for more information:  612-543-8000.

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