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: 20 years ago we published a book on rural Douglas County Cemeteries. Currently we are updating our records of those cemeteries to include more recent burials. We have been reading the markers in Westlawn-Hillcrest (one of the largest in Omaha), 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. Census microfilm project: Since the census is such a vital part of U. S. genealogical research we set out to increase the collection of film at the W. Dale Clark Library. Our initial project was a 5 year goal to put a typical migration route into Nebraska at the library through 1880. The states of NY, PA, OH, IN, IL, IA, & MO were to be added to the collection from the beginning through that year. Interested people also helped contribute so that at the present time, the entire US is complete from 1790 through 1860. We are working on our 3rd five year goal which is to have as many states as possible complete through 1900. Additionally AK, ND, NM, NV, ID, & DE are finished, with AZ, FL, HA, IN, MT, OR, UT, & VT having less than 20 reels (or less than 1 year) to finish those states through 1930. As well, 31 states are complete through 1900 with all states west of the Mississippi finished through 1900. These films are bought with donations, and with fundraising projects. The library purchases only NE films on a regular basis, but did purchase 1930 Iowa when it was released. It is important to have the reels because some of the online versions miss pages, or have “cleaned up” sheets and changed the names in the process. (Yes, much of it is online, but many of the on-line resources have cleaned up the images, and changed the names in the process.) G.O.G.S. members can purchase one or two reels each membership year, and have their purchase matched with one or two more reels.
3. 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. This is an ongoing, time-consuming project because in the oldest papers, the obits/death notices were scattered throughout the paper, even in the gossip columns. More volunteers are always needed to read the papers, extract the data, type it up & email it to OmahaMom@aol.com. The work in progress is found in notebooks on top of the wooden obit filing cabinets in the genealogy book room at the W. Dale Clark Library. This counts toward library volunteer hours. Some Random Acts volunteers give us the information on the obits so this also helps build the collection. This index may end up on-line. Great Eagle project to help index obits.
4. 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
5. 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. (Don’t forget to sign in, so that the department gets credit…and actually we can get service credit with ANY of our volunteer projects…or Email volunteer hours to OmahaMom@aol.com.)
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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. The Mormon Trail Center missionaries have graciously volunteered their multipurpose room for the classes, and at times we have had over 100 people in attendance (we can get in more than 450, so space isn’t a problem yet.) 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 and ezines that members receive. Email: Genclass@aol.com or call 706-1453 to register in the spring.
9. We are assisting the genealogy department at Omaha’s W. Dale Clark library by encouraging folks to participate in the library’s “$100 a year for 5 years” campaign. Participants agree to donate $100 each year for five years to adopt a state of their choice (they can specify which county they would prefer, if materials are available from that county.) This money is used to purchase books, CDs, and non-census microfilm for that state/county (or if you would prefer, an ethnic group: Native American, Germans from Russia, etc.) If enough people participate, within five years, we would potentially qualify as one of the top 10 public genealogy libraries in the US, as we already have more census microfilm than some of the libraries that were chosen two years ago by Family Tree Magazine. The library budget itself is so strained, that they will never be able to do it on their own.
10. We are spearheading a campaign to collect high school & college year books for the library. As mentioned under the typing, we index them before they are added to the collection. These are coming by donation. Central, Creighton & Creighton Prep have sizeable numbers in the collection, as well as some from out state NE and even other states. We are always looking for more from the area, but will accept year books from anywhere. This index MAY also end up on line. Possible Eagle project?
11. 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.
12. Sale of Genealogy Fun Stuff: we have T-shirts and a variety of other items for sale (which varies from time to time.) These provide funds for our on-going projects. One of most popular items is the handy “Census Helper” with a list of all the questions the census taker asked when he knocked at the door. Another popular item is the 365+1 Genealogy Hints book which the author has provided with the stipulation that all profits go to purchase more materials at the library…this is a generic calendar with a hint for every day of the year—some basic, others for the more advanced genealogist.
13. 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.)
14. We collect Campbell, Franco-American, V8, Pepperidge Farm & Swanson product labels. With these we can get materials that will either be useable at the library, OR can be raffled off to raise money for more genealogy materials . You can bring them to a meeting, or drop them off at the 3rd floor book room at W. Dale Clark Library. Can’t get down there? Put them in an envelope & stop by any Omaha Public Branch Library and ask them to route the envelope to the History-Social Science Department at W. Dale Clark. Put “please hold for G.O.G.S. on the outside of the envelope.”
15. G.O.G.S. Speakers Guild: we have a number of individuals who will come to your group and talk about genealogy if needed. We can talk about how to get started, or what materials are available in Omaha. Other subjects may be available on request with enough advance notice.
16. Research trips: we will be holding them occasionally. Our first one was to Mid Continent Library in Independence, MO (one of the top 10 public genealogy libraries in the nation). We will have others in the future, and may even get some multi day trips to Salt Lake or Fort Wayne, IN going if there is a demand. Members of the society will always get first refusal on the trip before we open it up to genealogists outside the Society.
For additional information, you can contact us by email OR by phone, even though we do not have a permanent office anywhere.