Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Day At The Museum: Genealogy Style

The past Saturday was our long awaited day to have some fun in the park and tour some great Nebraska museums. The You Go Genealogy Girls were the hosts for "A Day At The Museums" in Alliance Nebraska. Since we both belong to the genealogy society in North Platte, Nebraska and I live in Alliance, Nebraska; we thought it would be a nice field trip to bring the genealogy group to Alliance.

You Go Girl came to visit me and we stayed busy for two days beforehand, getting things ready for our picnic meal and planning the tour for our group. We were anxious to get started and looked forward to seeing our friends on Saturday.

Finally the day arrived. We busily gathered all our supplies with the gracious help of my niece and "Go Hubby". Everyone at my house had to work if they wanted lunch! We arrived at the Knight Museum and Sandhills Center at 9 am to set everything up. The museum director was kind enough to let us use the indoor patio facility at the museum when the weather that morning was to exceed 100 degrees! It was very nice and surely did make the long day more bearable. By 10:30 AM our guests had arrived and we were ready to get started. Our group included friends from North Platte and Alliance, with some staff ladies from the museum who very kindly helped out with lunch and our tours.

First stop was a walking tour of the basement, kitchen, storage, and archiving area of the Knight Museum/Sandhills Center. We got a behind-the-scenes tour of their great system for storing all the collectibles and archiving the thousands of family history documents that are housed there. The museum director, Becci Thomas, was very thorough and our group got to see the unique movable shelving systems and see how they integrate into the new museum. The basement tour concluded with a look at the facility's full service kitchen that is used for meetings, weddings, and city celebration parties: all these gatherings can be held on the beautiful indoor patio area that we were using for our gathering that day. Our museum is a complete community facility.

Lunch was next on the agenda! Everything was served buffet style and while the group ate and visited we held our door prize drawings. Several guests went home with small mementos of the day. Immediately after our lunch, the group gathered and split into vehicles for the short drive to the nearby Sallows Military Museum which is part of our overall museum system but housed separately. A few of the genealogists elected to walk the three blocks, passing by our historic city fountain. Once again the director filled everyone in on some of the history of the area and told about the displays in the military museum. That building also houses a small but impressive indoor botanic garden which was an added bonus.

Back to the main museum at 1 PM. There we were introduced to the impressive holdings of genealogical,family history,county histories and vital records which are housed in the gorgeous "Heritage Room" of the Knight Museum/Sandhills Center. The research room was designed and built into our new museum for the purpose of housing those records and anyone is welcome to come and research there. Staff is always on duty to assist patrons and welcomes all visitors to the new facility. From there we journeyed into the new little theater to view a Nebraska Sandhills film which introduced everyone to the main museum. Western Nebraska history from the age of the dinosaur through prairie pioneers, native Americans, soldiers, railroaders and agricultural families is all beautifully represented in the museum. It had been a busy day for everyone but we were not quite finished yet!

Two o'clock brought us all to a museum conference rooms where we were treated to a power point presentation on the new Nebraska Veterans Cemetery at Alliance. The administrator of the facility, Allen Pannell, showed many photos of the project as it has progressed in construction and told about the ways the veterans and their families will be honored. The cemetery is built on part of the land that was once the Alliance Army Air Base. Nearly all the first troops into Normandy during WWII were trained here at this base so it is a special honor for us to have this new facility located here. It is the first Nebraska State Veterans Cemetery. The program was enjoyed by all and we went away with a lot of new knowledge and pride about the cemetery.

A few in attendance took some time to do some research at the days end before the three hour drive back to North Platte. Many said they were surely going to make the trip again and spend more time getting to know the wonderful museum system we have here. The day was long but a lot of fun for all and best of all was that one of the ladies in attendance met a relative that she never knew. Her unknown family had just came to the museum as patrons and in the course of writing a check for a gift shop purchase, our museum director noticed their name as being the same as one of our tour guests. She introduced them and sure enough, they were related and had never met--who knew? That is one of the things that most genealogists dream of! A nice ending to a fun genealogy day in the park.

My next big outing will be the Family History Expo in Kansas City on July 30-31st. The agenda is available on their website and includes great topics as Southern State researching, Swedish record acquisition, and using Twitter and Facebook. For those who can't attend, we will have daily live updates from the conference--right here!

You Go Genealogy Girl #2, Cheri


  1. My granddaughter, the Jr. Genealogist, is the girl in the blue shirt, back turned to camera taking it all in as the presenter tells about genealogical records and research in the Heritage Room. Now what should we name her YGJrGG??

  2. this is so cool girls! love reading about your experience in alliance as well as your SLC trip.
    Cheri, I love the photo layouts!!cant wait to hear your thoughts on the expo.

  3. Sounds like a very interesting place to visit and learn. Thanks for sharing with us. Love the photo layouts.



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