5th Annual Family History Day

Family History Day 2019

Breaking Brick Walls

Save the Date:
June 8, 2019

UNL City Campus
102 Love Library South

Register To Attend

Due to limited seating, preregistration is required.
Free & open to the public.

Join us for the Fifth Annual Family History Day, sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries. This event is free and open to the public. Seats fill fast, so we encourage you to register early!

View the Agenda below for information about session times, topics, and speakers. We will continue adding additional information about directions, parking, restaurant locations, and other amenities.

For accessibility questions & reasonable accommodations requests, contact:
Two weeks notice is preferred for most accommodation requests.

Donna Carstens, Libraries Dean’s Office

For general information questions, contact:

Regina Flowers

(optional introductory session)

8:00-8:30 am

Pre-Session Check-in with Coffee

8:30-9:15 am

Digging Up Your Roots
Joan Barnes, University Libraries Community Engagement Librarian

Digging up your family’s roots can be so much fun, but at the same time overwhelming. Where to begin? This session is geared for anyone just beginning the dig into family history. I will go over the steps to take at the start, the tools to use and your options about organizing what you uncover. We will also focus on information about the various categories of sources to find family information and a selection of online and print resources.

Joan M. Barnes, is the Community Engagement Librarian and a member of the User Experience Team for the Libraries at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has 30 years of experience in genealogy and family history. She has co-authored, with Tom McFarland, the chapter, “Introducing Genealogy to the Academic Library in the 21st Century,” which was published in the book: Genealogy and the Librarian: Perspectives on Research, Instruction, Outreach and Management, edited by Carol Smallwood and Vera Gubnitskaia (Jefferson, NC:McFarland, 2018). Joan has also produced a website of the research on her family. Visit her website: Doucette, Holt, Provost, & Stoll Family History.

Morning Sessions

8:30-9:15 am

Morning Session Check-in with Coffee

9:30-9:40 am

Tom McFarland

9:40-10:30 am

Why Genealogists Should Love the Tax Collector
Martha Grenzeback, Omaha Public Library’s Genealogy & Local History Librarian

Taxes have been collected and recorded almost since the beginning of humanity, and can be a great source of information for genealogists, especially when other records are scarce. Not only are they often the only indicator of an ancestor’s location and movements, they often reveal quite a bit about his (or her) status, occupation and relationships. Learn what gems they may contain and how to find and access them.

Martha Grenzeback began researching her own genealogy at the age of 12 in her native California and quickly became an addict. After obtaining a master’s degree in library and information science at the University of Missouri, she attained her dream job as the Genealogy & Local History Librarian for Omaha Public Library, helping other people research their family histories and managing Omaha Public Library’s extensive genealogy collection.

10:30-10:45 am

Break with Coffee

10:45-11:45 am

Digging the Cemetery - Using Burial Records to Dig Your Family Tree
Shannon Lewis, Genealogist

Graves are fantastic resources when seeking information about our ancestors. Most final resting places are marked with a monument that could contain information that is not documented anywhere else. Burial permits, plot registers, monument orders and funeral home records may hold key components to your family’s history. This presentation will discuss how to determine where our ancestors are at perpetual rest, what records may exist in connection to that life event, and how we can go about finding that information.

Shannon is an entertaining, experienced and energetic speaker as well as a dedicated genealogist, records manager, history buff, and data analyst. Her professional endeavors include spending time as a Deputy Clerk, Assistant Records Manager at two Fortune 500 companies, and Data Analyst at the world's largest card processing company. Shannon achieved her bachelor’s degree in project management from Bellevue University and is a member of multiple historical societies. She is also certified in basic cemetery preservation.

Lunch Break

11:45 am-1:00 pm

Lunch Break
(pack your lunch or stop by one of our downtown restaurant locations)

Afternoon Sessions

1:00-1:50 pm

Researching Steamboat Ancestors: Methodology and Management of Complex Research Projects
Kassandra Nelson, Genealogist

This presentation discusses the resources, methodology, and tools needed to uncover your steamboat ancestor’s story while also serving as a case study of how to approach unusual or complex research topics. Participants are shown how to search for useful records, analyze and compare the information obtained, and manage a large scale research project. This presentation focuses primarily on those who worked on the Missouri River, but the same methodology can be applied to other rivers.

Kassie Nelson is an independent historian and professional genealogist. She obtained her Master of Arts in History degree from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Her work as a historian primarily focuses on the social history of steamboating on the Upper Missouri river and the Overland trail.

1:50-2:00 pm


2:00-2:50 pm

Which Thomas Pierce Are You? Finding Your Common Name Ancestor
Tom McFarland, University Libraries Staff Development Officer

Researching a common name ancestor often results in the proverbial genealogical brick wall, or at the least, it is very challenging to succeed. This session follows a case study to track the life of, Thomas Pierce, an ancestor with a common name.

Tom McFarland is the Staff Development Program Officer for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries. He earned his MLS from Emporia State University. He has published in academic journals and books on topics relating to librarianship and genealogy. Tom is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and president of the Great Plains Chapter. He presents on genealogy at national, state, and local conferences and specializes in the use of DNA.


Park Free - for Family History Day attendees

City Campus Parking Map

Getting from the Parking Lot to 102 Love Library

  • Follow the sidewalk South
  • Continue past Mueller Tower
  • Go around Adele Hall Learning Commons (East or West side)
  • Head under the Link to the Love Library doors opposite the Adele Hall Learning Commons
  • Enter the Love Library entryway
  • Find 102 Love Library at the West side of the entryway

Path from Parking Lot to 102 Love Library

Map shows a path from the parking Lot to 102 Love Library

Restaurants Nearby

Find a variety of lunch options in downtown Lincoln!
NOTE: Student Union restaurants are closed Saturdays.