The GenMentor Assistance Program

Our Mission: to support genealogists with personal, hands-on research assistance at the Pikes Peak Library District Special Collections Department and other PPLD branches

So you’re interested in genealogy and have found a few ancestors. Maybe you’ve taken some classes. But now what do you do? Feel stuck? Up against a brick wall? Make an appointment to consult with an experienced PPGS volunteer. E-mail one of the GenMentors listed below to arrange an appointment time at Special Collections, Penrose Library, or a branch library of your mutual choosing. Bring your information, and let’s take a look at where your ancestors may be hiding.

GenMentors don't promise to solve problems, but we can suggest other places to look. After all, two heads are better than one! Please note that GenMentors will not do research for you but will help you learn how to do the research for yourself. If you're needing someone to do local research for you see the Research Help page.

If you’d like to be a GenMentor, let us know. We’re always looking for experienced genealogists to help others know the joy of discovering their ancestry.

Point of Contact for GenMentors: Nancy Wehner


PPGS GenMentor Volunteers


 Elaine Fraser
  Experience: Italy, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Massachusetts, Volga Germans who settled in Kansas, Find-A-Grave.
  Interests: I enjoy researching the history of the places my ancestors came from and settled into as well as the timeframe
that they lived in, to get a better historical perspective of their lives. I belong to the Italian Research Group in Denver and the American Italian Cultural Club in Colorado Springs. I am also a member of the Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia.
Heritage: One third Italian, one third English/Irish/Scottish, with a little French and Greek thrown in. All my ancestors were rather recent immigrants into Massachusetts (between 1880-1910).
Notes: I know enough French and Italian to translate most birth, marriage, and death records, even though I am not fluent in either language. I have given a presentation on “Researching Italian Records” and often provide the PPGS genealogical "Tidbit" before the monthly program.
Genealogy Software Used: Excel spreadsheets. I like the versatility of the format, which allows me to customize forms that would otherwise be standardized. I have created pedigree charts, family group sheets, and a source documents tracking sheet, which I am more than willing to share with anyone who is interested.
Sandy Miarecki

Experience: Primarily the USA, Poland, and Lithuania. Roman Catholic church records, ship manifests, naturalizations, pretty much everything. Almost 20 years of experience. Trees posted on Ancestry, MyHeritage, and Geni.

Interests: I could probably teach a class titled "How to Defeat Ancestry's Terrible Search Engine."

Nativity: I was born in Illinois, so I am very familiar with Chicago and Illinois records.

Heritage: I am 75% Polish and 25% Lithuanian, but I was raised Polish.

Notes: I have the skill to read difficult ship manifests, so I am happy to help with finding the manifests and interpreting them.

Genealogy Software Used: Excel spreadsheets. I find it easier to use than anything else, and easy to search.

E-mail: Sandy Miarecki


Linda Pearce

Experience: Morayshire, Scotland.

Interests: and any other online database available at Special Collections.

Notes: Restoring old photographs; interested in helping beginners and/or people with limited computer skills start their tree.

Genealogy Software Used: Family History Tree (LDS genealogy),, Family Tree Maker.

E-mail: Linda Pearce


John Putnam

John's GenMentor PowerPoint, March 2022

Experience: Massachusetts, New England, Virginia, Missouri, Oklahoma, California, Illinois, Ohio, and Eastern European Jewish Genealogy, German Genealogy, and Scandinavian Genealogy.

Interests: Besides interests in genealogy, he is fascinated with the corresponding history in which his ancestors lved, e.g.  John is a 12th-generation American who was born and raised in Massachusetts as were the preceding 11 generations. Besides interests in genealogy, he is fascinated with the corresponding history in which his ancestors lived, e.g., the Salem Witchcraft Trials, the Revolutionary War, and the various other life experiences of New Englanders from its founding until 1970 when John first moved to Colorado.

Nativity: Greater Springfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts.

Heritage: Virtually of all my ancestors immigrated from England.  According to his Ancestry DNA ethnicity test results, his English ancestry is overpowered by Western European and Scandinavian roots.  Probably validates his Norman heritage prior to 1066 and likely Viking heritage from the middle ages.

Notes: John is a 12th Generation American who was born and raised in Massachusetts as were the preceeding 11 Generations.  John looks forward to discovering more about your ancestry and any common connections that he may have to you.  John also has done some autosomal DNA testing and has found amazing ancestral connections using that tool.

Genealogy Software Used: Family Tree Maker

E-mail: John Putnam


J Richards

Experience: American genealogy, especially South Carolina and Virginia; Quaker church records; newspapers; immigration and naturalization records; military and pension records; land records; court records; African-American research; and Welsh and Irish research.

Interests: Genealogy documentation/standards and techniques/staying organized.

Nativity: Kansas

Heritage: Welsh, Irish, Scottish, English, German, French

Notes: Has taught genealogy workshops for PPGS and PPLD for two decades.

Genealogy Software Used: Personal Ancestral File (PAF); Ancestral Quest.

E-mail: J Richards


Linda Vixie

Experience: More than 25 years' experience in American, Colorado, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish genealogy, DNA. I have a bachelor's degree in English and have worked in publishing since 1986. I have self-published with a book on my mother's family.

Interests: American sources, online research, obituaries, finding living people, adoption/NPE searches, DNA.

Heritage: Danish, Finnish, German, English, Dutch, French Huguenot, Quaker.

Notes: I have Genealogy Bank and subscriptions on laptop and can check old newspapers, etc., for obituaries.

Genealogy Software Used: The Master Genealogist.

E-mail: Linda Vixie

Nancy Niles Wehner, PhD, CG
Experience:  I have 35 years of experience in American genealogy concentrated heavily in IA, MO, VT, OH, and MA, but which has touched at least lightly on almost every state and some Canadian provinces. For the last seven years, I have been using DNA testing (Y-DNA, mtDNA, and atDNA) to help confirm family lines and break down brick walls.
Interests: I am particularly interested in document analysis to get the most out of everything I find, writing solid proof arguments, and family stories, old diaries (I transcribe and research the families even when they aren’t mine), and teaching.
Nativity: ​Iowa
Heritage: English, German, Danish, Welsh
Notes: Board for Certification of Genealogists: No. 1068, 5 March 2016; Family Search indexer; four genealogy publications (NGSQ, MGS Magazine, MO State Gen. Assoc., NYG&BR).
Genealogy Software Used: RootsMagic
​E-mail: ​Nancy Wehner