Here is a presentation of the The Norwegian American Genealogical Association in Minnesota.
By Joy Sundrum
About 1970 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a group of eager Norwegian-Americans formed a genealogy group to focus on their research in North America and Norway. There have been several moves since then with more members, more research materials and more activities.
The Norwegian American Genealogical Association (N-AGA) is now in a suburb of Minneapolis-St.Paul and is a branch of the Minnesota Genealogical Society (MGS). Other branches concentrate on other parts of the world; all these groups and the library are made up entirely of volunteers.
N-AGA provides help for individual researchers, monthly meetings with speakers, a quarterly newsletter, seminars focusing on genealogical topics and a collection of research materials at the Minnesota Genealogy Center. Members can use all materials in the library from all branches and MGS, including the computers. Help with interpreting bygdebøker is a popular topic at the monthly help sessions. The annual “Norwegian Sweater Night” is a more light-hearted gathering. Check the website for pictures and information: norwegianamerican.org.
The Norwegian collection is on the MGS catalog (Go to mngs.org; then select “Library” and then “Library Ctalog) and also included on WorldCat.org. The collection includes mainly bygdebøker plus lag histories, emigration lists, immigration records, pioneer settlement stories, church histories, and family histories. In addition, there is a large collection of maps, microfiche and microfilms. There are many links to websites on the online catalog of interest for Norwegian and Norwegian-American research. Some links are for digitized books in Norway’s National Library that are available to everyone (“tilgang til alle”). N-AGA’s librarian has access to all digitized materials to help members in their research.
N-AGA, MGS and all the branches are unique organizations. Volunteers are a vital part of our success as well as cooperation and sharing among groups. Researchers can use the holdings of the entire library. Seminars and meetings are held at the Minnesota Genealogy Center
As the librarian for N-AGA, I catalog donations (gratefully received) and buy books for our collection. Other members and I volunteer on the fourth Saturday of most months to help with questions about doing Norwegian research—including help using the Digital Archives, ancestry.com, Family Search and other websites. Finding the correct family farm in Norway is a popular question to tackle. Beginning and more experienced researchers are always welcome. We learn from helping others and share the pleasure of finding “That’s it!”—the right family, the right emigrant, the right farm!
N-AGA is also on Facebook. We appreciate suggestions for seminar topics, books to be purchased, speakers for meetings and ways to participate with others. For free help, the question needs to come from a member. Ours is a friendly group of newbies and oldies, several since the early days.