Thursday, February 21, 2013

Looking for Families of Civil War Veterans - a collaborative effort

A few days ago, KMTV in Omaha ran a piece on the Bellevue, Nebraska Cemetery Committee and their desire to place tombstones for seven unmarked graves of Nebraska Civil War Veterans at Bellevue Cemetery. It caught my interest and I posted the link to my Facebook wall. That generated quite a bit of chatter and included another Facebook friend from Omaha reaching out to the woman interviewed in the story.

We had so much chatter that we moved the conversation to the Nebraska Genea-Peeps group on Facebook - a small but active group of Nebraska genealogists and others who have ties to family in Nebraska.

Before you could blink an eye, our group of Nebraska genealogists was on task - pooling our resources and scouring our various subscription sites and Googling like crazy. We were determined to help find living relatives of these seven Civil War veterans. Other people involved in the project joined the task. Several of our Nebraska Genea-Peeps group adopted one of the seven and worked in tag teams to locate information.

By the end of the day, we were posting documents we had discovered, obituaries found and names of possible living family members. To say we were obsessed is an understatement. By the end of the day, we probably had well over 100 posts/comments on the page and we made our discoveries. A couple of the women worked their clues via Twitter conversation.

This morning, we have some strong leads as well as some brick walls. So we are going back to square one to start over on those. This is such an exhilarating and exciting project to collaborate on! We're having such a good time - and also testing our genealogy research skills.

It's just another example of how the power of social media really works in genealogy.

If you have Nebraska family ties or just want to join in on the project, please come visit our Nebraska Genea-Peeps group on Facebook! A splendid time is guaranteed for all!

Thank you to all of the awesome Nebraska genealogists for their contributions to this random act of genealogical kindess!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

University of Nebraska yearbooks online - transcription help needed

photo credit:
Today's mail brought the latest issue of GoodNuz, one of the publications from the University of Nebraska Alumni Association. Among the GreatNuz in this issue is that digital versions of University yearbooks are online. These yearbooks date back to 1884 and go through 2001. Regular production of the yearbook ceased in 1972, the year of my graduation. Yes, I located my mug shot in that yearbook!

These books are a great resource for locating your Nebraska ancestors who attended the University of Nebraska. They are also full of Nebraska history and famous Nebraskans (and U of N students such as Willa Cather and Johnny Carson). I'm looking forward to browsing through these online books, but there's something even better in store and you can help!

Transcribers Welcome!

Anyone is welcome to transcribe pages from these yearbooks. You can get started by visiting You can create an account if you want to track your transcription progress. Or you can transcribe pages without an account. If you got addicted to transcribing the 1940 census, here's another project that will keep you up late at night!

Having the transcriptions of these yearbooks available will be a tremendous resource for genealogists looking for their ancestors who attended the University of Nebraska. You can transcribe a page at a time; you can even save it and mark it as unfinished if you can't complete the transcription in one session.

I hope my fellow Nebraska researchers and those with Nebraska ties will see the value in this resource and jump on the bandwagon to help transcribe these yearbooks. So far, just 271 of 34,816 pages have been transcribed. The transcription page displays the top transcribers, so perhaps we can get a little friendly competition going!

Let's see how quickly we genealogists can help to see this project through to completion!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Land Records and Genealogy Conference Set for July 12 - 13, 2013

Homestead National Monument of America
Beatrice, Nebraska
copyright 2012 Susan M Petersen
Nebraska genealogists will have a variety of conferences to attend during 2013. One of the perennial favorites is the Land Records and Genealogy Symposium held every other year in Beatrice, Nebraska.

Returning as keynote speaker is Roberta "Bobbie" King. She is a homestead records researcher who specializes in homestead laws, African-American homesteaders, women homesteaders and the history of the public lands survey system.

Other speakers at the conference include:

Land Records in Slave Research - Debbie Abbott

Introduction to Fold3 and Military Homesteaders - Laura Prescott

Introduction to Ancestry and Finding the Land: Cash Sales, Military Script and Finding the Land: Cash Sales, Military Script and Preemption - David Williams

Reading Photographs: How To Date Your Family Pictures and Homestead Records: Finding Your Ancestor - Gail Blakenau

Registration includes continental breakfast, lunch and symposium materials. Two day registration is $99. One day registration is $69.

July 12 - 13, 2013
Southeast Community College Beatrice Campus
4771 W. Scott Road
Beatrice, Nebraska

Source: Southeast Community College Continuing Education Course Bulletin

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Turning To A New Page

My Last Day on
The Day Job
On January 31, 2013 my life entered the next phase: that of a retiree after 40 years in public service and 42 years in the work force. I've been saying that the planets must have come into perfect alignment for me. For the last several months all of the signs have been moving me toward this decision. It was time to move on.

And it's time to pursue my passion - genealogy. That passion takes a variety of shapes - researching my own family history, teaching classes and giving lectures on genealogy, and devoting a significant amount of time doing volunteer work for my local genealogical society, Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society (LLCGS).

It seems as though genealogy has really caught fire in Nebraska in the last couple years. There are so many classes, workshops and conferences available for furthering our genealogy education. Even as a newly retired person with a flexible schedule, I'm not going to be able to attend everything that comes along.

But - plans for 2013 include the genealogy conference at the Family History Center in Lincoln on April 20; the Greater Omaha Genealogical Society spring conference featuring Paul Milner on April 27; the Nebraska State Genealogical Society annual conference May 3 - 4 in Grand Island; the Family History Expo in Kearney on September 6 -7. Now I've learned that there are plans for a Roots Tech conference in Kansas City. And then there are the online webinars and hangouts!

The genealogy cup runneth over! And as passionate as I am about genealogy, I'm also about having balance in my life. There are several writing projects that I've been putting off that I plan to spend time on. I want to get out and about and rediscover my hometown and post more photographs on My Lincoln Photo Blog. I've also started writing a blog documenting my life as a new retiree, It's a Retirement Life. It's not an ego trip and I don't expect most people to be all that interested. But I tend to see life and the world around me from a quirky perspective and I'll be sharing that perspective with readers. I'm also continuing to write a genealogy column for Lincoln 55+ Seniors Paper.

I also plan to maintain and expand my skills. While no longer employed, I still like to take classes on computer software, public speaking and other topics of interest. Lincoln has a wealth of educational opportunities, especially for seniors.

I'm looking forward to being active, involved, continuing to learn and grow as a person. I've waited an awfully long time for retirement and I intend to make the best of it. Please come along for the ride!

Turn Your Tablet Into a Lean, Mean Genealogy Machine

Last Sunday, I was very pleased to give a presentation and facilitate a discussion on tablet computing for genealogy. This was for the Technology Interest Group of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society (LLCGS). We had a wonderful turnout with a lot of great comments and questions.

While it's not quite the same as being there in person, here are the slides that I shared with the group. I guess I'm going to have to change a few of the transition slides in the examples of photo editing software for online viewing. But for now, here it is. I've also posted a PDF file of some recommended apps for the iPad and iPhone to aid in genealogy research. I hope you'll pick up a few tips. Click here for the PDF file.