Genealogy art

Piece together your family puzzle in OPL’s new genealogy room

Laura Marlane, Executive Director, Omaha Public Library

The story of the W. Dale Clark Library as it prepares to be demolished and relocated.

I come from a family of storytellers. I grew up listening to stories of how my family came to this country…how they survived, thrived and many more stories of what happened to them along the way. These stories fascinated me when I was a child. I immersed myself in the images, associating stories with faces and imagining what life was like for them. Early in my career as a librarian at the Rhode Island Historical Society library, I researched other people’s family histories, and that’s when the genealogy bug really kicked in. bitten ! I was addicted to puzzles and wanted to learn more.

Laura Marlane is the executive director of the Omaha Public Library.

Getting into family puzzles has gotten much easier over the years. TV shows like “Who Do You Think You Are?” and “Finding Your Roots” tell the family stories of celebrities and accentuate some of the research that goes into developing a family tree. Access to historical documents and special collections is now a simple Internet search, and DNA testing services designed to help trace family origins continue to expand their customer base.

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If you are new to this type of research, now is a great time to start. October is Family History Month – a time to raise awareness and encourage people to explore their family history and learn more about their ancestors. There are a number of resources available to help researchers at all levels, many of which are easily accessible with your library card.

The Omaha Public Library is a great place to learn about your family history. Start at Find the Omaha World-Herald digital archive from 1878 to 1983; The Omaha Star digital archive from 1938 to 2011; and MyHeritage, a database of global genealogy resources. Find and view high definition color fire insurance maps, real estate atlases, flat books and other historical maps showing building structures, building construction details, ownership, property uses and other useful information about using FIMo. Ancestry Library Edition is available at all branches of the Omaha Public Library. Additionally, local genealogy and history librarian Martha Grenzeback recommends, a free site that includes many digitized original records to help you begin your search.

The Omaha Public Library offers a variety of virtual programs to help family historians learn more about available research tools and to help overcome research barriers. On October 20, Rick Crume, editor of Family Tree Magazine, will compare the most popular genealogy software options and explain how to synchronize family tree information across different platforms. Sign up for this program by calling your local branch or at

On October 3, the library’s new genealogy room will open at 3020 S. 84th St., which is also the new home of the library’s administration building. Here, researchers will have access to the Nebraska Reference Collection (closed stacks), government records dating to the 1800s; and microfilm and microfiche, including local newspapers and other periodicals, local history records, and census records. Our staff will be happy to help you navigate the family tracing process and advise you on best practices to get the answers you seek. Hours of operation for the genealogy room are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Looking forward to helping you piece together your family puzzle soon.

Laura Marlane is the executive director of

Omaha Public Library.