Genealogy events around Alaska

With easily accessible DNA testing and massive online databases, it’s never been simpler to trace your past, and the plethora of genealogical resources available around the state can lend an extra hand when tracking down ancestors.

The Anchorage Genealogical Society (AGS) promotes and teaches genealogy through monthly meetings, workshops and classes. Meetings are free and open to the public and take place the third Wednesday of every month at the BP Energy Center from 7 to 8:45 p.m. Beginner classes commence in September and take place at the Loussac Library and LDS Family History Center, and past class topics include instruction on how to find your patriot with Daughters of the American Revolution.

At the next meeting on Sept. 18, AGS President Gretchen Bersch will present “Welcome Back,” an overview of the upcoming year’s programs and activities. Looking forward, AGS will also be hosting George Garmany, Governor General of the Society of Mayflower Descendants, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower on Oct. 16 at the BP Energy Center from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Every year, AGS hosts a spring seminar, inviting renowned genealogists from all over the country to present on various topics. The upcoming spring seminar on April 18, 2020, will feature Lisa Alzo, writer, lecturer and genealogist with over 22 years of experience. After discovering her passion for genealogy as a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, Alzo wrote “Three Slovak Women,” to explore and honor her Slovak heritage.

AGS membership services ($20 annually for an individual) include access to a members-only section of their website, a subscription to AGS Monthly Digest and a place in their surname database. In addition, members promise to be an active part of the genealogical community in Anchorage by volunteering at workshops and at the library’s genealogy section.

In Fairbanks, Fairbanks Genealogical Society (FGS) seeks to find information for those who have ancestors in Alaska, especially in the Fairbanks area. Monthly meetings occur on the fourth Tuesday of the month from September to May with the next meeting taking place on Sept. 24 at the Blanchard Family Funeral Home at 6 p.m. Interested parties can also opt into a membership

service ($20 annually for an individual) that includes a subscription to their monthly newsletter, The Taproot, and an entry in their surname database. A photo identification database is in the works and will allow community members to submit photos to the webpage for identification, and once verified and posted, acts as another resource when researching genealogical data in the Fairbanks community.

The Gastineau Genealogical Society (GGS) in Juneau holds monthly meetings on the fourth Saturday of the month from September to May (excluding December) with the first meeting of the year taking place on Sept. 28 at LDS Church at 1 p.m. The location of the meetings varies by month, so contact GGS at to confirm each meeting location. GGS holds four workshops a year with past presentations including instruction on how to utilize DNA data, getting started with Ancestry and other beginner genealogy topics. Another popular option, Research Saturdays are walk-in workshops where researchers can talk with other volunteers about brainstorming, where to find new information and other resources.

Most libraries around the state provide a vast selection of materials in their genealogy sections in addition to free access to databases like Ancestry and Heritage Quest. The Loussac Library in Anchorage houses over 2,000 books from all over the country and the world, including selections on the Irish Famine and the Mayflower. Those interested in tracking down their Alaska heritage can also peruse the Alaska Collection, currently located on the third floor due to renovations. Juneau is home to the Alaska State Library, and patrons can sift through the historical newspaper collection, genealogy guides, digital archives, burial records and more, and UAF in Fairbanks includes the Alaska Native language archives and Alaska film archives.

The LDS Family History Center also offers a computer section with free versions of Ancestry, Family Search and Find a Grave. No religious affiliation is required to access these services, and locations include Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and Wasilla. Those looking for more information across the state can try contacting local newspapers in various towns such as Nome, Sitka, Cordova, Kenai or Valdez.

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