Laura Loyborg received the Missouri River Regional Library's Outstanding Volunteer award Wednesday in recognition of her year-long commitment to teaching Ancestry.com classes.
MRRL also nominated her for the Lieutenant Governor's Senior Service Award.
"It's one of the most popular classes we offer at the library," library Director Claudia Schoonover said. "This award is just a way to express our gratitude to Laura for volunteering her time."
Loyborg began her genealogical search for her paternal grandfather and great-grandfather 30 years ago. The more Loyborg looked, the more family members she found.
With continued success and a keen interest in genealogy, Loyborg has taken an interest in helping others to identify their genealogy and trace their family heritage.
"Family is world history," Loyborg said. She has adopted the saying as her class motto, which serves as a motivation to continue helping others track down their loved ones.
"What I need you to do is focus on where you want to start," Loyborg said to the class. "Using birth certificates, marriage licenses, wills and probates can help you find a lovely little history."
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During the instructional period, Loyborg pointed out the slew of resources that can help users pinpoint their family members. However, she said the most important part of the journey is to get organized.
For three months, Anne Antosiak-Holtz has attended the library's ancestry classes with the initial goal of learning the heritage of her father, who comes from Poland. In the short time Antosiak-Holtz has attended the classes, she has located the grave of her deceased brother, who had gone off to war in the Philippines and was never heard from again.
"Until I started doing research on Ancestry, we knew nothing of his whereabouts, but the website noted my brother's name and the burial location," Antosiak-Holtz said. "I'm still new at this, but Ancestry.com is a very revealing and helpful resource."
With the level of access library patrons have to the Ancestry.com services, there is a possibility anyone who attends the classes will leave finding something new, Loyborg said.
"You have to continue to be a detective and verify the searches you find," Loyborg said. "For instance, someone searching for a family member with a common name can have the same first name, middle initial and last name as someone totally not related."
In those instances, she asks participants to copy and paste their finds in a genealogy tree and color code them when they are sure they have found a match.
Loyborg's guidance also helps alleviate some of the difficulty of sifting through the research and files first-time participants unearth.
Sarah Schuette, one of those first-timers, said she has tried to search for her husband's genealogy as well as her own.
"I came because I thought this would be a great resource to get organized," Schuette said. "It's not that it's difficult to do alone, but I need help searching through the multitude of research, organizing it in a way that makes sense to me and seeing what's applicable to my family heritage."
Antosiak-Holtz thanked Loyborg for her dedication to the class.
"Laura is a very dedicated person. She has even come to my home to help assist me to find the things I was looking for," Antosiak-Holtz said. "She goes way beyond the call of duty."