By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN Maybe your great-great-great-grandfather fought in the Battle of Gettysburg. Or a relative survived the sinking of the Titanic. Perhaps you’re a descendent of royalty, or your ancestors were cowboys from the wild west.
For anyone interested in learning more about their roots, the McLeod County Historical Society and the Pioneerland Library System are offering a series of free research classes, funded through a Legacy Grant.
Four locations are being offered Winsted, Glencoe, Hutchinson, and Brownton.
“We wanted it to be county-wide,” said Lori Pikell-Stangel, executive director of the McLeod County Historical Museum. “Within each section, there are three classes at each location. They can come to one or all.”
Those who are just starting their research will benefit from the three “beginner” sessions. Participants will learn how to begin their search, conduct family interviews, and find resources offline.
“Intermediate” sessions will explore microfilm/fiche readers, genealogy software programs, free and paid research sites, and country of origin cultural/historical connections.
The final set, geared toward “advanced” researchers, will include tips for writing and publishing family history, how to prepare paperwork to join historical societies, and how to prepare for a virtual or real overseas research trip.
“Our hope is that we give people the tools and resources to preserve their family history, and then they donate information to the museum to help grow our collection,” Pikell-Stangel said.
Sessions will be led by Pikell-Stangel’s “dream team” of genealogists Bob Allison, Margaret Hoffmann, and Marlys Frederick who have decades of genealogy experience.
“They’re all volunteers at the historical society, and they each have their own specialty,” Pikell-Stangel said.
Allison, for instance, is the online expert, and he helps people find information and preserve their research using software. At the McLeod County Historical Society, he is currently working on adding local biographies to the online database.
Hoffmann’s specialty is the cultural aspect of genealogy, overseas trips, and information sharing, while Frederick is skilled at accessing records at historical societies close to home and across the US.
Pre-registration is encouraged for those who plan to attend a class so that enough handouts can be printed. Anyone is welcome.