Research and Reference

Research & Reference FAQ

How Can We Help?

General Questions

What are your hours?

Our Reference Room is open to the public on Fridays from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Researchers can make appointments on Tuesdays from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and Wednesdays from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. If you wish to make an appointment for Tuesday or Wednesday, please contact the Reference Department.

We are closed for all state and federal holidays.

Where can I park?

History Nebraska is located on the University of Nebraska – Lincoln campus, so finding parking can be difficult while classes are in session. There is metered on-street parking or parking garages nearby. Handicapped parking is located at the rear of our building.

What kinds of records does History Nebraska have?

In order to best tell the stories of Nebraskans, History Nebraska collects a wide variety of materials in a number of different formats.
Our collection includes:

  • Books
  • Maps
  • Photographs
  • Audio/visual material
  • 3D objects
  • Personal papers
  • Government records

Please contact the Reference Department for assistance.

What do I need to know before visiting the Reference Room?
  • Patrons are required to register daily at the Reference Desk.
  • Coat racks and lockers are available to secure your belongings.
  • No briefcases, purses, or bags may be taken into the Reference Room.
  • Only pencils are allowed. Other writing utensils are strictly prohibited.
  • No food or drink is allowed.
  • Laptop computers are allowed in the Reference Room. The use of personal scanners and copiers is strictly prohibited.
  • Staff-produced photocopies and scans of documents are available for a fee upon request.
  • The use of personal cameras is allowed on a LIMITED basis.
I would like a copy of a document. What are your fees?

Our fee is 25 cents per page, plus tax if you are a Nebraska resident. Our full fee schedule can be found here.

  • Photocopy services are available except for oversized or fragile items.
  • All items must be copied by staff.
  • Copy orders will be filled as soon as possible depending upon the size of the order and copy staff availability.
  • Patrons may either pick up their order or make arrangements to have the material mailed.
How can I contact you with questions?

We are happy to answer your questions about Nebraska’s history. You can email our Reference Department at [email protected]. If you do not have email access, you may leave a message with the Reference Room at 402-471-4751.

I don’t have an email address. How can I submit a research request?

We understand that not everyone has access to email. You may leave a message with our Reference Department at 402-471-4751 or send a letter to the following address:

History Nebraska
Reference Department
1500 R Street
Lincoln, NE 68508

I just have a quick question about my great grandfather. Can I call and get an answer over the phone?

We cannot respond to your questions over the phone. Research can take time. What appears to be an easy question may involve several hours of research. Any phone calls we receive will be treated like all other requests and completed in the order in which they are received.

I have something I think History Nebraska might want. Can I drop my donation off?

We do not accept donation drop-offs unless you’ve made prior arrangements with a curator.

Please email [email protected] with information regarding your offer, and a curator will contact you.

What free digital resources do you offer in the Reference Room?

We have computers in the Reference Room and the hallway of History Nebraska for patron use. You can access Ancestry.com and Newspapers.com, as well as any digitized items, such as photos, maps, and manuscripts.

Digitized items may be found here.

Can books be checked out from the library?

Material from History Nebraska collections must remain in the Reference Room.

Researchers can borrow reels of microfilm from public and institutional libraries. For more information, please see the Interlibrary Loans page.

Is there a historian on staff at History Nebraska to help me with my research?

History Nebraska does not employ a professional historian. Our reference staff can assist you with your research questions and requests.

Please get in touch with the Reference Department for assistance.

Genealogy/Reference Questions

I found a story about my grandfather being arrested and jailed in 1920. Do you have those records?

Yes, but it depends on the county. History Nebraska holds court records for many counties, but not all. Please check the county government records inventory to see if we have your county’s records. If we do not, the records are still located in the county of jurisdiction.

Please contact the Reference Department for assistance.

Do you have birth or death certificates?

Nebraska didn’t start recording births and deaths until 1904. Those documents can only be obtained by contacting Vital Records at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Before 1904, no such documents existed.

Does History Nebraska have prisoner records?

Yes, we do. Patrons can view the descriptive records of the inmates at the State Penitentiary.

You can consult the parolee index to search for your ancestor’s name.

Does History Nebraska have newspapers I can look at?

Yes! History Nebraska holds over 3,500 individual Nebraska newspaper titles on nearly 40,000 microfilm reels. The titles cover the entire state and date from 1854 (the territorial period) to the present. Note that in some cases, issues of any particular newspaper may be missing.

Researchers also have access to Newspapers.com on the public computers in the Reference Room and the computer in the hallway. This online newspaper archive allows researchers to quickly search through newspapers from the 1700s to the present day.

Do you have marriage records?

Yes, depending on the county, we have marriage records from territorial times through the present day. Please check the county government records inventory for availability.

My ancestor homesteaded in Nebraska. Do you have those records?

History Nebraska has homestead records that can be found on Ancestry.com.

Please consult this indexed database to search for your ancestor’s name.

If your ancestor isn’t found in the database, they may have purchased their land from the railroad. We have the purchase contracts for the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad on microfilm.

I’m interested in the history of a town in Nebraska. Do you have any information about it?

Yes, we do. Our library has a wide variety of county/town/community histories. These books recount the local history and may contain genealogical information.

My ancestors came to Nebraska from Germany. The census states they were naturalized. Do you have that record?

Yes, but it depends on the county. History Nebraska holds naturalization records for many counties, but not all. Please check the county government records inventory to see if we have those records for your county. If we do not, the records are still located at the district court for the county of jurisdiction.

Does History Nebraska have any material about specific families in Nebraska?

Yes, we do. The History Nebraska library collection holds over 3,000 published and unpublished family histories, biographical material, and reminiscences.

Your website says that you have maps in your collection. What do you have?

History Nebraska holds the following types of maps in our collection:

  • Pre-Territorial and Territorial maps of the United States and Nebraska
  • State maps from statehood to the present day
  • County, City, Town, and Village maps from pre-1867 to 1980s
  • Original Nebraska Sanborn Maps

Please check our online map collection or contact the Reference Department for assistance.

I just found out that my great-great-grandfather served in the Spanish American War! Do you have his military record?

Yes.  We have the service cards for all service members that served from the Civil War through World War I, as well as the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) rosters and burial cards.

I just moved into a house that was built in 1900 and I would love to know the history of it. What information do you have about my house?

What a great question! Older houses can be very intriguing. The best place to look for past ownership is the county register of deeds. You can check our government records inventory for your county to see if we have those records here. If we don’t have them, please contact the county Register of Deeds.

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About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
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