Community invited to free genealogy presentation at Nobles County Library in Worthington
Professional researcher Debbie Boe will give an introduction to family history research for new genealogists.
WORTHINGTON — A family tree has many branches, some reaching far into the distant past, others terminating abruptly with nothing but questions in the empty spaces, left blank to be filled in later.
Professional researcher Debbie Boe, who will give an introduction to family history research at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1, at the Nobles County Library in Worthington, helps fill in those blanks for a living — and hopes to help beginner genealogists do the same.
“It’s good to learn about your ancestors, in my opinion. It’s good to understand some of the lives they lived — were they very wealthy people, were they humble farmers, and everything in between,” she said.
Most families have someone who has looked into the family history, so other family members may believe the research has been done, or that there’s no more to be learned.
“But in actuality, there’s a lot more you can learn about your ancestors,” Boe said.
Much of that information has opened up recently, sometimes even in the past few years, as old newspapers have been archived online, easily available DNA results spark sometimes-unexpected connections, and counties bring their oldest records to the Minnesota Historical Society for preservation.
Digging into piles of old records isn’t the only way to gather information about family history, though. Boe recommends people start a little closer to home.
“Talk to your older relatives. Ask them about their lives. Ask if you can see the family Bible so you can see how people are related,” she advised. “Interview them. You’d be surprised. Because that’s what happens as you get older — you assume everybody knows what you know. Nobody ever talks about certain things, for example, how you’re related to somebody.”
Many older people enjoy those conversations, too, and most are fine with being asked those types of questions, she said.
The research itself doesn’t have to cost money, either. Those who have internet access or can spend time at the library to use the internet there can make quite a bit of progress finding out about their ancestors.
“And, it’s a hobby that you can pick up and put down in your life,” Boe said.
Generally speaking, her work lies in seeking out specific pieces of information, looking for particular records or sorting through something. Her clients are usually people who aren’t new to genealogy, and she specializes in Minnesota.
Someone might contact Boe to tell her they have an ancestor who lived in a particular area, and ask her to check the records there for that ancestor. Other times, someone living elsewhere in the country might ask her to review the original records from a county that handed theirs over to the Minnesota Historical Society.
Boe encouraged anyone interested in getting started with genealogy to come to her presentation on Wednesday.
“Hopefully people that have an interest in their families come … I think it’s important to learn about your relatives,” she said. “It can really give you an understanding of people in your family.”
For more information about Boe and her business, Minnesota Connections, visit debbiesgenealogy.com.