Published April 10, 2017

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I wrote a column just a couple of months ago about the International Germanic Genealogy Conference that will make Minnesota the center of the German genealogical world at the end of July.

From left, Barry Kline, James M. Beidler and Dirk Weissleder at the site of the recent Fairfax Genealogical Society conference.

The conference is running for a total of four days, with the leadership day scheduled for July 27 and presentations / vendors from July 28 to 30 (and, yes, your “Roots & Branches” columnist will be one of the presenters and vendors), under the sponsorship of the International German Genealogy Partnership.

The conference theme is “CONNECTIONS: International. Cultural. Personal.” It will be held in the Minneapolis suburb Brooklyn Park at the Marriott Northwest Hotel.

Earlier this month, I was fortunate to set up a last-minute meeting with Dirk Weissleder, probably the person on the German side most influential in putting the gears in motion that led to the partnership.

Founded as the German-American Genealogical Partnership with leading roles by the Minnesota-based Germanic Genealogy Society and Weissleder’s Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft genealogischer Verbände (an umbrella organization of genealogical and heraldic associations in Germany), close to a couple dozen partners have since joined.

Weissleder was making is his way back across America from lecturing in San Diego and had touched down the Washington, DC, area, while I was lecturing at the Fairfax Genealogical Society’s fine two-day conference in Falls Church, Virginia.

Weissleder made his way from his hotel in suburban Maryland to Falls Church and we had a chance to get acquainted in person for the first time.

Let me say that I immediately understood why this “force of nature” of many was crucial in setting up the German partnership.

His enthusiasm for genealogy is infectious and he’s a whirl of motion taking notes and absorbing information wherever he goes, even over beers at the Falls Church hotel.

“Why does it seem that there is such a huge growth in American interest in genealogy, especially German genealogy?” he asked.

My answer tied into the subject of a couple of recent “Roots & Branches” columns – DNA.

To my mind, the great growth he’s talking about is due to a “perfect storm” of circumstances – continued rollouts of searchable records in digital format meeting the additional information that genealogical DNA testing makes available.

We agreed that many of the new hobbyists are only casually interested in genealogy and may stop at an “ethnicity test” … but that at least a certain segment of the new people would become more and more interested.

Weissleder will also be one of the speakers at the partnership conference.

Pre-registration interest has been so keen that the conference hotel is already fully booked, but additional room blocks have been obtained at several alternate hotels in the area of the conference.

Further information about registration for the conference and booking a hotel can be found at the partnership’s website, http://www.iggpartner.org.