Genealogy – History Personalized

Martha Grenzeback doesn’t like puzzles. She gets frustrated and gives up easily. But when it comes to genealogy puzzles – piecing together family history, finding links to complete stories – she says she can just keep “going and going.”

Grenzeback, reference librarian at W. Dale Clark Main Library, presents some of the genealogy workshops available at Omaha Public Library and liaises with the Greater Omaha Genealogical Society.

She’s been interested in genealogy since she was a teenager looking through her family’s 1832 Bible. Births, deaths and marriages in her family were listed in it.

“I noticed that my great-grandfather’s mother, in just two months’ time, both of her parents died and she had a baby. I just wondered, what was that like?”

Years later, the computer came along and Grenzeback realized she could find out more about these people she had previously only heard about. “It was kind of amazing to me that I could verify these people existed,” she said.

Grenzeback says OPL has great resources for getting started with your family history. OPL offers free access to Ancestry Library Edition, HeritageQuest Online, and Digital Sanborn Maps, as well as more than 7,000 genealogy reference books and a well-equipped microfilm room.


For those who prefer more guidance when diving into their family history, OPL hosts and sponsors a variety of programs throughout the year. Starting Saturday, January 21, the Greater Omaha Genealogical Society will be kicking off its 15th Annual Beginning Family History series held each third Saturday of the month at the Mormon Trail Center. In February, OPL will be hosting three different genealogy workshops. More information on those can be found on the OPL calendar of events.

OPL also has resources for local genealogy research including local newspapers and marriage licenses on microfilm, cemetery records, obituary indexes and a full run of Omaha city directories starting in 1866.

The Genealogy Subject Guide that Grenzeback maintains, provides current news and more detailed information on genealogy resource topics such as census information; maps and property research; orphans and adoption; African-American, Jewish and Native American genealogy and more.

Grenzeback’s tips for beginning genealogists are:
1. Write down everything you know about your family and where you heard or read the information. Look for gaps.
2. Determine where you want to start. What is the first question you want to answer? Without a specific starting point, research can get too overwhelming. For example, you can choose to start with something like “What was my great-grandmother’s name?” Once you’ve got one question answered, you can keep going and fit more of the pieces and stories together.

For more information on OPL’s genealogy resources, head to the third floor of the W. Dale Clark Main Library or call 402.444.4826.

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