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Database class teaches ancestry search tools | Local News

NEW ULM — People interested in tracking their lineage through the ancestry database at the New Ulm Public Library will have one of the last chances of the year to learn how this weekend.

Saturday morning the library will host a class that teaches researchers to sift through the library’s ancestry database, but attendance numbers and interest in the course have dwindled.

“We’ve been offering this class for several years, at first twice a month, then only once a month, and now quarterly,” Wiley said. “The database was more popular at first, but I think we’ve just caught everyone that would be interested at this point.”

Wiley said no one has signed up for the Saturday event yet, but usually a few attend when she hosts the class. The library pays a subscription fee to get users access to the database.

“It has access to both marriage and death records and census records,” said Library Director Kris Wiley. “This is an introduction class — I teach people different search tools and skills to go through the information.”

By digging through the records, people can track down how their family arrived in the United States and where they ended up. With New Ulm’s strong German heritage, people could trace their relatives back to Europe.

When researchers want to go even deeper, Wiley said she refers them to the LDS Family History Center in North Mankato and the Brown County Historical Society. The Historical Society has compiled family histories for prominent German families that settled in New Ulm.

Darla Gebhard, research librarian at the Brown County Historical Society, said she has between 700 and 1,000 people come through to do research each year. Some go to gain insight into their heritage, others for academic papers and movies.

“We have one of the largest genealogy collections in the state,”…

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