G.O.G.S. is a registered non-profit organization dedicated to helping interested persons learn how to do their family tree, providing advanced education to those more experienced, preserving records and making them available to those interested in this area. It is not necessary to have ancestors in the Omaha area to be a member, and most of our local members do not have ancestry from the Greater Omaha area.
The following are some the projects we have going:
1. Cemetery reading: We published a book on rural Douglas County Cemeteries. We have been reading the markers in Westlawn-Hillcrest (one of the largest in Omaha), Evergreen, Prospect Hill, Mount Hope, Springwell, St. Mary’s, St Mary Magdalene’s, and will be reading several of the other cemeteries. When published, this project will make data on the tombstones available to people at a distance, and preserve some of the information on the oldest stones before the ravages of time, weather or vandals make the markers unreadable. More volunteers (in or out of the society are needed to accomplish this task.) Great Eagle project to help read cemeteries!
2. Obit indexing: The library has a card file of obits dating back to about 1977 which has been worked on by staff, members of the DAR and G.O.G.S. However, earlier papers had not been done, so starting a few years ago, volunteers were recruited to read through old newspapers and extract essential data about obits, death notices/lodge notices, or cards of thanks that might indicate when someone died. Without a death date, it is hard to find an obit otherwise and many times, the cemetery is unknown.
3. Typing: We have a variety of typing projects such as typing up data from the cemetery reading project (some volunteers type their own, others do not.) We are transcribing the records of two Omaha Churches for publication, and hope to be able to get more, especially of the oldest ones, or when a Church closes. We published one book of early Douglas County marriages, and would like to do more. We are indexing high school & college year books as they become available so that individuals can more easily find pictures of their relatives who may have attended the various schools, and these records also need to be typed
4. We provide volunteer assistance at the W. Dale Clark Library genealogy room on Monday evenings, and Sunday afternoons when volunteers are available. These volunteers are of varying levels of experience and while some can give detailed suggestions on the next step to take, others are there to help you locate materials as they too are learning the genealogy research process. When not assisting others, these volunteers are working on their own genealogy, or helping to index, file or other tasks. The volunteers do a variety of things such as file obit cards, index old newspapers, help people find materials, and the more knowledgeable volunteers often can offer suggestions about “the next step” in finding ancestors. Volunteers send an important message to people who dole out $$ that people are especially interested in a particular department. The genealogy department traditionally has one of the highest # of volunteers in the system due to G.O.G.S. volunteers.
5. Society meetings once a month (except July & Dec) provide speakers on a wide variety of topics such as famous people, local geography & history, ethnic research (such as Czech, Swedish, Danish, German, etc.), computer information, using such things as GPS devices, etc. There is no cost to attend the meetings, and everyone is welcome to attend—though we hope you will join. August has traditionally been an activity month and we have explored the UNMC special collections medical library, the Mormon Trail Center, the Joslyn castle, Benson’s historic sites, Prospect Hill Cemetery from a historic standpoint, had ethnic pot lucks, and picnics. We also have a writer’s group that meets regularly with a goal to helping people write about their families.
6. Twice a year we sponsor 1 day genealogy conferences, often with nationally known speakers. Because we have to pay these individuals, as well as provide their transportation, lodging, & meals, we do have to charge admission for these events. They are a wonderful opportunity to learn from the experts and members of the society receive a discount on admission. If we make a profit, we buy more materials according to member voted 5 year goals and put them in the library—so we can all find more ancestors.
7. Annually, we have provided a six month seminar on genealogical research on 3rd Saturday mornings from January through June for the past 10 years. These classes are free of charge, but pre-registration is requested so that we know how many handouts to prepare. Most of the classes are geared for beginners, but attendees with more experience have commented that they still learn every time they come. We used to hold the classes at the W. Dale Clark Library, but we have out-grown the largest classroom in the library system because of demand. Some of the classes are the same topic each year, but some of them change. Watch your branch library or the W. Dale Clark library for fliers which usually come out in December. Information is also in the newsletter.
8. We encourage people to donate genealogy materials that they are finished with to the W. Dale Clark genealogy department. It will keep the books/microfilm available for the donor, should they ever need to use it again at a place with other related genealogy materials (you won’t have to dig through sixteen boxes of dusty old books in your basement to find it), makes the material available to others who may be researching in the same area, and helps preserve old materials. Much of the increase in the book room over the past ten years has come from donations.
9. We are collecting funeral & memorial cards/programs for anybody, anywhere, because you never know who is going to be using the library. Some of them list relatives who served as pall bearers, and other information that may be there that isn’t readily available (funeral home, cemetery, etc.)
For additional information, you can contact us by email OR by phone, even though we do not have a permanent office anywhere.