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Group Shares Genealogy with Oakmont Community

From courthouses to cemeteries, members of the Oakmont Genealogical Study Group travel far and wide seeking the roots of those in Oakmont and the surrounding areas.

Now approaching its 25th year, the group was formed in early 1987 by members with an interest in family and local history.

“Our main purpose is to help each other learn about how to trace family history,” said Helen Jean Gent, the group’s newsletter editor and charter member.

To achieve that purpose and promote interest in genealogy and local history
through education, the group collects books and records, making them available through the Oakmont Carnegie Library.

The group isn’t limited to only Oakmont residents. Group president Kathleen Boback, a Harrison Township resident, joined the group to research the history of her mother’s side of the family. Her mother was born in Oakmont.

“(The group’s collection) has all kinds of books and articles,” she said. “You never know when you’re going to find something.”

The books and records can be found in the library’s Genealogy Room, which is open to all.

Some of the books provide information on how to perform genealogical searches. Gent said the group collects any information that would help someone trace their history, like birth records and death records.

The group’s members, she said, also gather whatever information they can on the history of people and organizations in Oakmont, such as family histories and churches, so that individuals can access them.

Also open to anyone are the group’s meetings. Members meet at 10 a.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the library. The next meeting will be Jan. 10, weather-permitting. If school is cancelled or there’s a delay, the meeting will be cancelled.

At the meetings, members discuss family history topics and share lessons on how to find genealogical information.

“We usually go around the table and see if anybody found anything,” Boback said.

The group does more than compare notes and collect books, gathering for field trips to research in Pittsburgh and beyond.

Places like courthouses and cemeteries, where there are many records and much history, are often on the list.

“When you go as a group, you have other people there to help you and show you around,” Gent said. “Somebody else has already been there and they can show you around. You’re not so intimidated as when you first go someplace.”

The group also frequents the Carnegie Library in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh.

The Oakmont Genealogical Study Group is always open to new members. Joining isn’t only a way to find out about family history. Members suggest it’s an opportunity to find new friends, too.

“It’s a way to meet other people who are interested in the same things you’re interested in,” Gent said. “Perhaps you find a buddy that will go do research with you.”

For more information, call 412-828-4317 or email

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