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June 17, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Unplanned Irish Emigration to Canada
Could any of your Irish ancestors have emigrated to Canada?
Join us for our July webinar!
The Unplanned Irish Emigration to Canada
Saturday, July 10, 10:30am – Noon CDT
Melanie McComb
Melanie McComb is a staff genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Join us as she helps to uncover the story of the migration of the Irish to Canada before and during The Great Famine.
Melanie will take us through the different immigration schemes including the Peter Robinson settlers to Ontario, the Monaghan Settlers to Atlantic Canada, and assisted immigration to Quebec. Learn how to find records about their departure from Ireland and arrival into Canada, including quarantine stations at Partridge Island and Gross Ile. 
Co-sponsored by IGSI and the Canadian Interest Group (CIG) of the Minnesota Genealogical Society (MGS).
$15 for members of IGSI, MGS and CIG, $20 for non-members.
For more information and to register, click HERE.
June 16, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Shopping? Help IGSI!
Prime Day at Amazon is June 21-22.
You can make a difference while you shop on Amazon. Simply shop at or with AmazonSmile ON in the Amazon Shopping app and AmazonSmile will donate to the Irish Genealogical Society International.  Set up IGSI as your designated non-profit so credit for qualified purchases will add to Amazon's donations to IGSI.  go raibh maith agat  (Thank you!)
June 15, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
MGS Hoffman Library loosens restrictions
The Minnesota Genealogical Society (MGS) recently announced loosening of COVID restrictions at its library in Mendota Heights.
The Hoffman Research Library is now open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.  

Covid restrictions have been loosened.  Fully vaccinated persons are no longer required to wear masks, and social distancing rules have been eliminated.  If you are not fully vaccinated, masks are still required.  

Members are no longer required to reserve time slots at the Hoffman Research Library.  
Find out more about MGS by visiting the website.
June 9, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
The Burren Girl
There is still time for to watch The Burren Girl documentary film before Saturday’s live virtual conversation with Producer/Director Rita Davern!
BUT…you need to register! You then will receive a link to the film    so you can watch it anytime through Sunday.
Shortly before Saturday’s 10:30am CDT presentation, you will receive a link to join in on Rita’s live presentation.
This exciting and inspiring program is FREE.  To register and for more information, click HERE.
Note: Saturday’s discussion and Q&A will be recorded and available for free on the IGSI website early next week. However, only registrants will be able to view the film which will be available for viewing through Sunday.
June 7, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Minnesota Spokesman archive now online

"The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder has documented daily life in the    Twin Cities’ Black community for more than 85 years. But until recently, finding stories from that rich past meant slogging through stacks of old newsprint.

Now, that history can be found with a few clicks. Archives reaching back to 1934 are online now at the Minnesota Historical Society's digital newspaper hub."

Those are the lead sentences in a recent MPR news article which can be read in its entirety here.

June 3, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Prepare to be inspired!
The Burren Girl Documentary: Behind the Scenes
Virtual discussion with Producer/Director Rita Davern
Saturday, June 12, 10:30am – Noon (CDT)
   It’s free but you must register HERE. Registrants will receive a link to watch Rita’s film in the days prior to the live June 12th discussion.
      Need some inspiration right now? Watch the trailer HERE and check out The Burren Girl webpage.
You won’t want to miss this next IGSI webinar!
June 1, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
MGS Level Two Class
The Minnesota Genealogical Society is offering IGSI members discounted tuition to their next Levels course. This is a great opportunity to take your skills up a notch within a small group setting.
Level Two Participants will build on their learning from Level One as they discover and practice more advanced research skills, methods and sources. Assignments about their own family will receive instructor feedback and research guidance. As a final project, they will investigate a research question and prepare a proof argument to answer it. Registrants must have successfully completed Level One or demonstrated to the instructors they have the necessary knowledge and skills by submitting a resume or work sample to
The series of four progressive 2.5 hour classes will be supplemented with three optional "office hours" coaching sessions. The course will be presented online four Sunday afternoons from June 13 through July 25, skipping the Independence Day holiday. To see the schedule, costs and to read more about instructors, Lois Abromitis Mackin and Shirleen Hoffman, click here
May 31, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
We will not forget
In Flanders Fields by John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
May 29, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Free Fold3 records this weekend

Ancestry is honoring the 50th Anniversary of Memorial Day as a federal holiday by providing free access to more than 550 million military records.

Running through Monday, May 31, Ancestry’s military Fold3 offers “convenient access to military records, including the stories, photos, and personal documents of the men and women who served,” with records covering military conflicts as far back as the Revolutionary War.

Honor your ancestor's military service by researching their story here.

May 27, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
FREE webinar -- Burren Girl Documentary
If you have done any family history research at all, you realize that the most rewarding part is not the birth/marriage/death dates but the stories. Just who were these ancestors of yours?
Don’t miss one woman’s 40-year quest to flesh out the            stories of her ancestors during our June IGSI webinar!
Saturday, June 12 – 10:30am – Noon CDT
“Burren Girl Documentary: Behind the Scenes”
with Rita Davern
Spread the word to your Irish, Swedish, German, Haitian    and Thai friends. The virtual session is FREE, but space is limited and everyone must register HERE.
All registrants will receive a link to view the movie at any time during the week prior to the presentation.
Then join Rita on June 12th as she talks about the why and how the movie was made as well as answer your questions.
May 25, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Irish Famines in Art
Later this month, Celtic Junction's Irish College of Minnesota is sponsoring a unique class as part of its Creative Arts curriculum. Jane Kennedy will present a two-session study about Irish Famines in Art

Irish Famines in Art presents a look at Irish famines through the eyes of artists using all types of media – from oil paintings to sculpture. Who were these artists so intent on capturing the wretchedness of the time? Who was their intended audience? Did the various pieces have an impact on those who could help alleviate the suffering? This class, taught over two sessions, will also examine current-day memorials intended to keep the country’s tragedy visible as we remember a painful and desolate history.  

2 sessions. Wednesday 8:00 – 9:30 pm. June 23-30

Course fee: $40.00

Jane Kennedy is descended from a group of Famine immigrants who fled the Connemara area near Galway. A member of IGSI's education committee, she shared the story of her research in a 2020 webinar, “The Connemaras: Despair in the Heartland.”
Read more about Irish Famines in Art here.
May 24, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Cleaning gravestones
"Why should we clean gravestones? To preserve the past.
We want not only to honor our ancestors but also to remove lichen and dirt from the stones so the information on them can be read and preserved.
Gravestones and monuments are irreplaceable historic artifacts bequeathed to us by our ancestors to be cared for in perpetuity."
The sentences above came from a document created by Colchester County (CT) Historical Society titled "Why are we doing this anyway?"
Cleaning old gravestones has become a popular project for organizations interested in historic preservation. Taking on this noble mission requires one to "do no harm" and use correct products and methods. The photos here clearly show the before, during and after conditions of a veteran's gravestone recently cleaned by members of the Captain Robert Orr DAR Chapter (Brainerd, MN).
Read more about how to undertake gravestone restoration in this fact-filled article.
May 20, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Burren Girl: Behind the Scenes
Burren Girl Documentary: Behind the Scenes
with filmmaker Rita Davern
Saturday, June 12, 10:30am – Noon (CDT)
A Virtual Presentation
In the movie Burren Girl, Rita Davern introduces viewers to a colorful cast of Irish people who assist her in uncovering her family’s origins in that windswept region of the Emerald isle. The film recounts Rita’s journeys to the family’s original home in County Clare and her grandmother’s hometown of Burren, Ireland, before her immigration to St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1887.  “I was determined not to let this story I uncovered get lost again,” Rita said.
We hope you will join us on Saturday, June 12th from 10:30am – Noon (CDT) when Rita will discuss her film and answer your questions. All registrants will have an opportunity before then to watch the entire film at their convenience during the days preceding the live virtual gathering. To get a sneak peak, check out the film’s website: The Burren Girl
This presentation is FREE and open to the public but YOU MUST REGISTER HERE. Spread the word to your family, friends and genealogy buddies.
We hope this will inspire you to go beyond your Irish ancestors’ birth, marriage and death dates to find the stories behind who they really were and where they came from. Who knows? Perhaps you, like Rita, will create a film that will be an award-winning entry in a film festival!
May 17, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Level Two Genealogy Research Course
IGSI Members – If you are interested in stepping up your skills to a more advanced level, check out this on-line course offered by the Minnesota Genealogical Society. IGSI members receive discounted pricing. Space is limited and time is running out.
Level Two Genealogy Research Course
1:00 - 3:30 pm
Participants will build on their progress from Level One as they learn and practice more advanced research skills, methods and sources.  They will study more advanced records and methods and learn how to evaluate sources.  Participants will complete assignments on their family genealogy and receive instructor feedback and research guidance. As a final assignment, they will investigate a research question and prepare a proof argument to answer the question.  
Prerequisite: Registrants must successfully complete Level One or demonstrate to the instructors they have the knowledge and skills learned in Level One by submitting a resume or work sample to the instructors at
Level Two is a series of four progressive classes designed to teach important genealogy skills, with three optional “office hours” coaching sessions in between classes.
Class dates and times
Four 2 ½ hour online class sessions
  • Sunday, June 13, 2021, 1 to 3:30 PM
  • Sunday, June 27, 2021, 1 to 3:30 PM
  • Sunday, July 11, 2021, 1 to 3:30 PM
  • Sunday, July 25, 2021, 1 to 3:30 PM
Three optional 1 hour intervening online coaching sessions
  • Sunday, June 20, 2021, 1 – 2 PM
  • Monday, July 5, 2021, 7 – 8 PM
  • Sunday, July 18, 2021, 1 – 2 PM
About the Presenters:
Lois Abromitis Mackin, PhD, is a professional genealogist focusing on American and English research. Lois has bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in history, and has studied at major genealogical institutes. She writes for Minnesota Genealogist and The Septs, teaches about genealogical records and is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists.
Shirleen Hoffman is the President of the Minnesota Genealogical Society and a published author in several genealogical publications.  She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and has studied at major genealogical institutes.  She is currently working on her master’s degree in Genealogical, Palaeographic & Heraldic Studies.
$175 MGS members, $175 IGSI members, $225 non-members
Maximum class size is 30 people.
Register at
May 14, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
What's new at Ancestry: May 2021
I was a bit flummoxed recently when I found changes to how hints were displayed on Ancestry screens.
Therefore I was happy and relieved to discover a YouTube presentation by Crista Cowan, the "Barefoot Genealogist," with an excellent explanation of Ancestry changes/additions as well other updates, e.g., upcoming conferences..
I think you'll find her information valuable. Give it a listen here. It's worth your time!
May 11, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
That Long-Lost Uncle Fell There
I was taking advantage of the free access to over the weekend while doing some family history research for a friend. Her 2X great-grandmother, Abigail Evans, was born in County Louth in 1833. Abigail and her younger brother Robert joined their father in Canada in 1851. Siblings Abigail Evans Morden and Robert H. Evans remained close as adults and ultimately settled with their spouses and children near Spearfish, South Dakota, where Abigail died in 1899.
Applying cluster research to learn more about the Evans family, I queried “Robert Evans” on My curiosity was piqued when I saw an article dated 8 July 1907 in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader with this dateline, “That Long-Lost Uncle Fell There—Will Inherit Portion of Land Grant Made by Texas to Heirs of Heroes.”
I was drawn in further when I read the opening lines: “Spearfish, July 8—(Special to the Argus-Leader)—R. H. Evans, a well-known resident of this place, has within the past few days ascertained the fate of an uncle whose whereabouts and fate had been a mystery to surviving members of his family for considerably more than half a century.”
The article went on to tell the story of the “heroes who fell during the massacre of the Alamo,” including Robert Evans, the uncle (or great-uncle) of Robert H. Evans and his deceased sister.
Back to the clipping for more fascinating details: “The uncle of the South Dakota man was named Robert Evans, and came from Ireland to Canada about 1830. The Evans family are of Welsh descent, although born in Ireland. When the South Dakota member of the family went from Ireland to Canada, he was only a small boy, but he remembers having heard his father inquire about Robert Evans, who had preceded them across the ocean. All that could be learned of Robert Evans was that he had departed for New Orleans…
That was the last trace any member of the family secured of Robert Evans until a few days ago…By the merest accident the South Dakota man secured possession of a newspaper published at Gonzalez, Tex., in which was reprinted an account of the battle of the Alamo, together with a list of the heroes who fell there, and in the list appeared the name of Robert Evans, whose former residence was given as Ireland.
The South Dakota man, by establishing that it was his uncle who fell with the other heroes at the Alamo, as one of his heirs will be entitled to an interest in a land grant of 1400 acres of Texas land, which was assigned to all soldiers from that state who were massacred by Santa Anna and his troops at the Alamo.”
Was Robert Evans able to prove his familial relationship to the Alamo hero with the same name? Did he inherit a big Texas spread? We don’t know yet. I’m dubious. It seems my friend would have heard the story before if Uncle Robert had been successful in seeking this inheritance.
And along the way I learned something about Welsh names: Robert Evans is roughly equivalent to John Smith. “The woods were full of them,” as an Irish cousin-once-removed quipped to my husband about a common surname.
May 7, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Genealogy Bargains
Here are two tips to help you save $$ on your genealogy research:
1) Get free access to through Monday, May 10! Find articles about your mother, grandmother or other women (and men) in your family tree.
2) Find the link to and many other genealogy bargains at Thomas MacEntee's website, While there, check out all the other Mother's Day specials and consider subscribing to his newsletter so you don't miss future money-saving offers.
May 6, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
There's still time
Give yourself some "YOU TIME"…time for you to beef up your genealogy skills!
You can register for Saturday’s IGSI webinar Genealogical Treasures in Irish Archives up until we go live at 10:30am (CDT).
Can’t make it then but want to see it? Register anyway and early next week you will receive a link to the recording and David Ouimette’s fabulous handout.
To register and for more information, click HERE. $15 IGSI members/$20 non-members.
April 29, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
I don't have time...
Or are you just not making genealogy a priority for your spare time?
Saturday, May 8 10:30am-Noon (CDT)
Genealogical Treasures in Irish Archives webinar
with David Ouimette
We recently conducted a survey asking IGSI members who haven’t attended a webinar, “why not?”
Number one reason: "I don’t have the time right now."
May we suggest you make the time? Block out 90 minutes to attend our May IGSI webinar. You will be surprised how inspired you will be AND you may even decide to set aside time each week to get back to your ancestor hunting! (You also will realize that you really don’t need to play another game of Angry Birds when your great-grandparents John and Mary NEED and WANT to be found.)
David’s presentation will give you insight into many Irish resources that are outside of your usual, FamilySearch and FindMyPast. These include collections of estate papers, tenement and townland valuations, poor law registers, vestry minutes, ordinance survey maps, deed, school registers, outrage papers (probably written by all the descendants of those lost ancestors) and much more.
Register HERE. $15 for IGSI members (with Discount Code previously sent to IGSI members via email)/$20 for non-members.
Can’t make it on Saturday morning? Register anyway and you will receive a link to the recording and terrific handout within a few days of the live event. That's the beauty of a recorded event; you can view it at your convenience!
April 28, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Celebrating the Census
Earlier this week we learned Minnesota had the highest 2020 Census participation rate in the nation at 75.1%. It's not just a matter of civic pride since population numbers determine whether states gain or lose seats in Congress.
Findmypast must be watching U.S. news or maybe it's just coincidence. They are offering a weekend of free access to all British census records. Here's an excerpt from their announcement: 
From 10 am(BST) on Friday April 30th to Monday May 3rd, all British censuses from 1841 to 1911 will be completely free to search and explore.
Census records are the perfect way to tell the story of what your family looked like in times gone by. They not only reveal where your ancestors lived what they were doing, but can also provide valuable clues as to where they may be found in other family records.
By offering free access to these essential resources, Findmypast is providing all visitors to the site with the opportunity to discover a whole host a valuable family details, jump back through the generations and grow their family tree.
Those looking to explore the history of their home or local area can make use of Findmypast’s recently released address search feature. Unique to Findmypast, this new tool makes it easier to search for streets and locations across all UK censuses to trace the occupancy of a specific address, locate ancestors or discover their friends, relatives and neighbors.
Read more about FMP's Free British Census here.
April 27, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Sad news
IGSI has lost a good friend, Mary Choppa of Boston. Mary passed away suddenly on April 26 after a long battle with multiple health problems.
Mary was a key member of The Irish Ancestral Research Association (TIARA) and a central figure in creating the Celtic Connections Conferences, a joint venture with the Irish Genealogical Society International.
Launched in 2014, the biennial conferences were popular and successful. The first conference was held in suburban Boston; the next, in 2016, occurred in suburban Minneapolis; the third, in 2018, was back in suburban Boston. The 2020 conference was conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mary's enthusiastic encouragement and good humor were constant and certainly evident in this photo from the 2018 conference. She will be sorely missed.
At the time of her death, Mary was still actively involved in planning the 2022 conference. She is listed on the Celtic Connections website as a "Call for Papers" contact. 
We extend our sincere sympathy to her family and many friends.
April 23, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Genealogical Treasures
Did you know…
Over a dozen Irish archives and libraries provide historical manuscripts and published works of genealogical value with national coverage?
Thousands of parish churches and dozens of local archives and libraries across Ireland and Northern Ireland house collections of manuscripts and published works detailing the rich history of individual Irish families and local Irish society?
A wide variety of historical records provide valuable insights and information about Irish ancestors and their families?
No??? Well, then you need to register for the next IGSI webinar Genealogical Treasures in Irish Archives with David Ouimette on Saturday, May 8 10:30am – Noon (CDT)!
Not able to attend? Register now and you will receive a link to the recording and terrific handout. Put it on your schedule now.
Register HERE. $15 for IGSI members/$20 for non-members
April 20, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
Celebrate DNA Day
National DNA Day is April 25.
There may be other specials, but the first I've seen came from FamilyTreeDNA:
Save on FamilyTreeDNA kits during this DNA Day Sale
Now through April 26th
Save $20-$70 on Y-DNA test kits;
$30 off on Family Finder and $20 off mtDNA.
Find out more here.
April 18, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
MyHeritage birth records free Apr 18-24
MyHeritage is offering free access to birth records starting today, Sunday, April 18, through April 24.
Birth records represent one of the key primary sources for family information, typically being issued within days of a birth and containing the parents' names at a minimum. Many times they contain additional parental details including places of birth, ages, number of children and religious affiliation for baptism and christening records.
There's always a chance you'll find something by researching a new source. Start here.
April 16, 2021 By: IGSI Blogger
John Grenham's YouTube videos
How time flies!
Nearly three months ago I blogged about John Grenham's FREE YouTube videos. I advised you to check back regularly and then promptly forgot to do so myself!
There are now 17 videos, generally ranging in length from 10-20 minutes. The most recent presentation is on the subject of Irish wills.
This is great stuff -- and did I mention it's all free! Amazing!
You can start viewing them here.