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  • Participate in A Day in Allen County Photography Event

    Friday, Aug 29, 2014

    We invite you to capture a day in Allen County, Indiana! Sunday, September 21, 2014—the last official full day of summer—take pictures of anything and everything that is happening in our county in that twenty-four hour time period, and send them to us! What is your view of Allen County that day?
     
    These pictures are not limited to marquee events. We want to capture what is going on throughout the entire community, so pictures can be of people at work, children at play, baseball games and sporting events, weather and blooming flowers, homes and buildings, traffic scenes, hikers and bikers, and people just hanging out. Include a description you would like put with the picture. If it’s happening in the twenty-four hours of September 21st, it’s worth capturing!

     Send pictures:
    • Email them to Genealogy@ACPL.Info
    • Upload pictures on our Facebook
    • Twitter #DayinAllenCo2014

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Unexpected Benefits to Researching Family Occupations

    Thursday, Apr 03, 2014

    by Sara

    In your search for your family history, have you gone beyond just recording names, dates and places?  It is interesting and worthwhile to try to flesh out other details of our ancestors’ lives, including such information as church membership, hobbies, club memberships, military service, residences, and occupations of our family members.  Sometimes these details will provide clues that lead you to further records about your ancestor. All of this description about their lives helps to humanize the persons we are researching and will provide great reading for future generations perusing the family history we have left behind.  

    Beyond genealogical reasons, knowing our ancestor’s work history and occupation can have far-reaching health and legal ramifications.  Several months ago, I helped a gentleman in The Genealogy Center to document his deceased father’s work history.  We reviewed Fort Wayne City and Allen County Directories for the 1940s (we have a complete run of these directories for all years published) and made copies of his father’s entries, which listed his employer. In the course of our conversation, I learned that the patron had seen a notice in the Journal Gazette that former employees of the Joslyn Manufacturing and Supply Company (now defunct) were being sought by the United States Department of Labor in regard to benefits that may be due to them or their heirs because of hazardous work conditions. This company was located on Taylor Street in Fort Wayne, and in the 1940s manufactured rods made of uranium to be used in the atomic bomb. Many former employees, including this patron’s father, developed health problems after working with the uranium. In order to claim benefits, he explained to me that he was accumulating paperwork for the government: including proof of employment (from the directories); Social Security Administration Earnings Information; death certificate; medical records; and related records.  

    The patron recently returned to the library and gave me an update. He sent in the required paperwork and his mother, as surviving widow, was awarded compensation.  He is now helping several of his dad’s buddies also gain benefits. The government is actively looking for other affected workers and their families.  If you or your family may have been affected, while working at the Joslyn Manufacturing Company from 1943 to 1952, look into this program. For additional information, contact the Labor Department's Paducah Resource Center at 866-534-0599. The same program also has compensation available for workers in other energy-related fields.  See the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act website for list of companies.  

    If this patron hadn’t known where his dad had worked, he might have missed out on legitimate money owed to his family.  What might you learn about your ancestors’ occupations?

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Highlighting YOUR Storm Photos!

    Saturday, Jun 29, 2013

    One year ago today, on Friday, June 29, 2012, Allen County, Indiana, along with much of the Midwest, experienced an extremely strong thunderstorm, known as a derecho, which resulted in a great deal of damage to homes and other buildings, many fallen trees, and the loss of electrical power to tens of thousands of homes. Some area residents were without power for more than a week due to that storm and the other storms in the days following.

    Following the storm, many people would take photos of the destruction. Knowing that these scenes would be fascinating to future generations, we invited the community to share those photos with others. Those photos are now available through Community Album, so take a few minutes to view these Summer Storm 2012 photos, and remember where you were last year. If you have photos you'd like to share, the Album is still open. Just click and follow the directions.

    And keep your umbrella handy, just in case!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Origins of “Kekionga” in Fort Wayne's Past, Pt. 2

    Wednesday, Jun 19, 2013

    by John

    A more recent book by Indiana University professor and linguist Michael McCafferty, an authority on Algonquian languages, casts doubt on most of the above theories, and his work illustrates the complexities of language that can often be imbedded in the naming of a place. In his book, Native American Place-Names of Indiana (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008) Gc 977.2 M123n, McCafferty devotes a chapter on the Kekionga-Kiskakon question, and local historians finally have some answers to a question that has vexed them as they have grown dissatisfied with the blackberry patch tradition.

    McCafferty agrees with Dunn that <Kiskakon> has an Ottawa derivation. Offering a richer explanation, he states that it was almost certainly derived from the common Gallicized Algonquian name for the bear totem band of the Ottawa tribe. However, he also clarifies how this Ottawa term came to be applied to this place, since the Miami, not the Ottawa, were the dominant tribe in this area. His explanation seems sensible: it was not that the Ottawa held this place, but that it was their term for this Miami-held place, since Ottawa would surely have had a name for this important area. The original word, before being altered by the French, may have been kiiskakkam or the longer kiskakkamikaang. “In sum, then,” writes McCafferty, “the French may have used <Kiskakon>, an old, comfortable Ottawa standard in lieu of the actual somewhat homophonous Ottawa expression.”

    In continuing his analysis, McCafferty demonstrates convincingly that <Kekionga> did not derive from a corruption of <Kiskakon>, since it has no common linguistic root. It does not mean blackberry patch, nor does it stem from the Miami-Illinois word, (ah)kihkonki, meaning pot or kettle. One possibility, he suggests, is a different Miami word, (ah)kihkionki, pronounced [kihkioŋgi], a term that means “on the earth.” The Miami villages at Fort Wayne were located on a steep bluff on the St. Joseph River just north of the confluence, where the French built their second fort, Fort St. Joseph. A French-speaking British lieutenant, H. Duvernet, observed in 1778 that the rivers often overflowed their banks in the spring, drowning many of the Indian dwellings, but ground where the French fort was built stood on higher ground and was dry. “Thus, given the site’s geographical setting, one is inclined to see in Miami-Illinois (ah)kihkionki … as a term referring to the only suitable dry living space amid the surrounding, expansive swamplands and flood-prone valleys – on the earth rather than submersed in water.”

    Even this interpretation is likely wrong, however, and McCafferty goes on to call <Kekionga> “a fun-house mirror” because of its inherent distortions. Since it does not appear in any French or British sources from the eighteenth century, one has to search other records. The Moravian missionary David Zeisberger wrote the name in 1784 as <Gigeyunk>. John Heckewelder, a colleague, called it <Kegeyunk> at about the same time, while the American general Josiah Harmar wrote in 1790 of <Kekaiogue> before his ill-fated expedition against the Miami villages later that year. All of these terms seem to be early variations of Kekionga, but the name has not been found in earlier sources.

    After a lengthy analysis of the vowel sounds, McCafferty proposes another Miami-Illinois word for the word’s origin, kiihkayonk, pronounced [kiihkayoŋgi], a phrase meaning “at Kikaya” or “Kikaya’s Place,” with <Kikaya> representing a personal name in the Delaware Indian language for “Old Man.” The Miami retooled the name in their own dialect. Perhaps “Kikaya” represented General Anthony Wayne, who had defeated the confederated tribes at the Battle of Fallen Timbers and constructed Fort Wayne at the headwaters in 1794. With the Americans now firmly occupying the site, it would have been logical for the remaining Miami to use this term. However, the matter is still more complicated, since variants of <Kekionga> were in use in the 1780s. Perhaps the Delaware tribe had used <Kikaya> as a term of respect for the principal Miami chiefs and elders who had lived there before Wayne’s arrival. McCafferty proposes yet another similar word, čečaahkonki, meaning “at the sand-hill crane,” since the crane was the totem for the Miami and could be seen as a representation of their village. However, there is no contemporary documentary evidence for its use, even though it seems logical, since a similar word, waayaahtanonki, meaning “at the Wea,” was used to describe the Miami-Wea village near modern Lafayette.

    In Native American Place-names of Indiana, McCafferty comes closer than any historian in unraveling the mystery of Kekionga, but his conclusions are by no means simple or clear-cut. As he has so meticulously revealed, the story of the name contains many layers, and none stands out as absolutely authoritative. When delving into the naming history of any place, whether it is here in Fort Wayne or elsewhere, expect that task to be muddy. The path may take the researcher into linguistic studies that go far beyond what one would expect in traditional sources. Merely opening a local history book may not offer up an accurate explanation.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Origins of “Kekionga” in Fort Wayne's Past, Pt. 1

    Tuesday, Jun 18, 2013

    by John

    What’s in a name, or more specifically, a place name? Local historians and genealogists are often challenged by the earlier names given to a specific place, especially if that name is rooted in a Native American language and has been endowed over time with romantic or exotic connotations. What is the real meaning of the word, and how has it changed? Getting to the truth may involve much more than opening up a local history book.

    A case in point involves the word <Kekionga>. The area at the headwaters of the Maumee River in northeastern Indiana that comprises what is now the city of Fort Wayne, just blocks from where the library stands, was known by a variety of names in its long past. Before the establishment of the first American fort in 1794, the land had both strategic and mercantile significance to Native Americans and French voyageurs that explored and occupied the region in the early eighteenth century. When General Anthony Wayne built Fort Wayne, his officers and soldiers referred to the collection of Miami and other Indian villages located nearby variously as Miamitown and Kekionga – the latter term being an approximation, at best, for the Miami parlance as interpreted by an American ear. French explorers of an earlier time had referred to this place by many other names, including “Kiskakon.” The villages stood on the opposite side of the Maumee River near its confluence with the St. Joseph and St. Mary’s rivers in what is now the Lakeside neighborhood. It was an area of strategic importance to the United States in the 1790s, since controlling the rivers meant domination of the Old Northwest Territory.

    Since the mid-nineteenth century, local historians have attempted to find the meaning of these terms even though their research has not been fully grounded in linguistics. In the first published History of Fort Wayne in 1868, Wallace Brice, an amateur historian, contended that <Kekionga> was the Miami term for “blackberry bush” or “blackberry patch” (see Wallace Brice, History of Fort Wayne from the Earliest Known Accounts [Fort Wayne: D. W. Jones, 1868], p. 23n). Even though it had no historical basis, Brice’s claim was repeated by generations of historians that followed him. Indeed, <Kekionga> had an exotic sound that made it a favorite of early nineteenth century settlers in Fort Wayne. Over time it developed a deep resonance. Businesses and clubs adopted the name, especially after it was incorporated into Fort Wayne’s official city seal in 1858. A few years later the city’s first professional baseball team became known as the Kekiongas as a nod to this heritage.

    The term <Kiskakon>, on the other hand, was probably unknown to the early settlers. This name was seldom used after the mid-eighteenth century, though it remained popular among early French traders and military officers as noted by Charles Poinsatte in his Outpost in the Wilderness: Fort Wayne 1706-1828. But the French were known to use a myriad of other terms for their outpost and their trading partners, often recycling the names that they heard in conversations and writing them down phonetically.

    Kekionga, more than Kiskakon, captured the public imagination. By the 1850s, blackberry bushes had a pleasing connotation for explaining the area’s origins. The respected Indiana historian Jacob P. Dunn wrote in 1888 that the blackberry bush was an emblem of antiquity, since the bushes sprang up on the sites of many older settlements in Indiana. He claimed that the story of Kekionga’s blackberry definition had originated with one Barron, an old French trader on the Wabash River, who may have repeated the claim to Brice. Dunn qualified the tradition, however, by asserting that “Kekionga” was more likely a corruption or dialectical form of <Kiskakon> or <Kikakon>, a variant name for the place, but he failed to offer evidence for how such a change was made (see Jacob P. Dunn, Indiana: A Redemption from Slavery [New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1888], p. 48).

    Dunn identifies <Kiskakon> as the name of a band or subgroup within the Ottawa tribe, defined as “clipped scalp locks.” Since the Maumee River which flows past the village was sometimes known on early maps as the Ottawa River, Dunn suggests without authority that the Ottawa tribe must have occupied the location of the Miami village. Following his lead, other scholars have suggested that the term <Kekionga> may itself be derived from “hair clipping place,” perhaps to designate a spot where Native American warriors shaved and prepared their hair for battle and ceremony (see Michael Hawfield, Here’s Fort Wayne Past and Present [Fort Wayne: Bicentennial Fort Wayne, 1994], p. 6).

    (More tomorrow about Kekionga!)

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Remembering the Flood of 1913

    Friday, Mar 22, 2013

    by Dawne

    In late March of 1913, the Ohio Valley experienced one of the most devastating floods of all time. Especially in river towns like Peru, Logansport and Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Dayton, Ohio, the water was all-consuming. Fort Wayne is home to the Maumee River Basin, one of the eight major watersheds in the state. The confluence of the Maumee, St. Joseph and St. Marys Rivers is in the heart of town, and the Basin also includes the Trier, Junk and Fairfield Ditches and Spy Run Creek.

    Locally, the rivers crested at 26.1 feet before the flood waters receded. Some 5,000 acres were flooded in the Fort Wayne area and 15,000 were left homeless for more than a week. The property loss was estimated at $25 million.

    The devastation in the Midwest began with deadly tornadoes in Nebraska and Iowa on Easter Sunday, March 23. The storms moved eastward across Illinois and into Indiana. Northern Indiana already had experienced a heavy rainfall on Good Friday, March 21. Between the morning of March 23 and the night of March 25, 4.75 inches of rain fell. As many as 2000 homes were underwater in Fort Wayne by Tuesday, March 25. Before the rivers crested at 26.1 feet on Wednesday night, the Lakeside dikes of the St. Joseph River broke in two places. The electric light plant was submerged, casting Fort Wayne into darkness for two nights. The three pumping stations stalled, leaving the town vulnerable with no fire protection.

    Six people are reported to have lost their lives in Fort Wayne during the Great Flood of 1913, including four young girls from the Allen County Orphans Home who drowned when their boat capsized during an attempt to move children from the home to a safer location. In other cities, the loss of life was even greater. In Peru, on the Wabash River, twenty people died. And in Dayton, Ohio, 150 died.

    In Peru, the winter quarters of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus were flooded with six feet of water. Joseph Leiethel, one of the circus managers, reported that the elephants panicked, pulled their stakes from the ground and began to fight with one another in their fear. Five elephants were killed in the fighting, three were drowned and one died of exhaustion. Three escaped and were roaming the countryside. “Most of the monkeys went floating down the crest of the flood huddled on pieces of wreckage,” Leiethel said.

    The storms raged on eastward, all the way to Vermont, leaving citizens in their wake to pick up the pieces of their lives and their communities.

    Sources:

    Drinker, Frederick E. Horrors of Tornado, Flood and Fire. Phildadelphia: National Pub. Co., ca. 1913.

    Griswold, B. J. “The Flood of March 1913.” The Pictorial History of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Chicago: Robert O. Law Co., 1917. Page 549.

    Shoaff, John H. “Fort Wayne’s Floods.” History of Fort Wayne & Allen County, Indiana, 1700-2005, Vol. 1. John Beatty, ed. Evansville, Ind.: M.T. Publishers & Co., Inc., 2006. Pages 415-419.

    Wright, George T. “Water USA: Resources, Conservation, Demand.” Paper prepared for the Quest Club. 17 Dec. 1965. Quest Club Papers; digital image viewed online at www.acpl.info in the Quest Club Papers collection in Community Album. Click to view.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Artifacts Can Aid and Supplement Research

    Thursday, Jan 03, 2013

    by Dawne


    The Genealogy Center received an email query from fellow genealogy librarian Marcia Ford of the Kokomo and Howard County (IN) Public Library Genealogy & Local History Department, recently, asking if we could identify the object in the picture featured with this entry. Marcia had been sent the photo by a colleague, whose friend found the object with a metal detector. It is rectangular, about two inches wide and three inches tall with a hole in the top and small tabs on the sides. Its legend reads “XMAS GREETING ’91” and what looks like “__ESA ARMSTRONG.” Underneath that, “FT. WAYNE, IND.” is clear. There may be a smaller embossed message below this, but it isn’t readable from the picture.

    After some research, it seems likely that this metal tag was once attached to a hat box. The name on the tag isn’t “___ESA ARMSTRONG,” but “JAMES A. ARMSTRONG.” According to The Illustrated Milliner, Vol. 11, pp. 175-176, published in 1910, James A. Armstrong established Adams & Armstrong millinery firm in Fort Wayne in 1886 and shortly after bought out his partner and changed the name of the company to The James A. Armstrong Millinery Co. The 1890-1891 Fort Wayne City and Allen County Directory published by R. L. Polk Company, shows James A. Armstrong, wholesale milliner, with his shop at 109 Calhoun Street.

    It may be that this tag was attached to the hat boxes containing hats ordered by women to complement their holiday finery, or to the boxes of hats purchased as gifts, or both. In effect, the tag probably served as an advertisement for the James A. Armstrong Company. Without locating an intact hat box from that company for the 1891 holiday season, or a photograph of one, it is not possible to know for sure whether the mystery of this item’s identity has been solved, but this seems like a reasonable possibility.

    The full text of the 1910 issue of The Illustrated Milliner that includes the article mentioning the James A. Armstrong Company is available online at the HathiTrust Digital Library. It even includes a photograph of James! James A. Armstrong added C. T. Pidgeon and W. S. Turner to his firm in 1894, then sold out to his partners and moved to Denver, Colorado, in 1902. According to the article, he planned to retire from the millinery business at that point, but because “Denver held such alluring prospects for a first class jobbing millinery house,” he changed his mind about retiring and established Howland & Armstrong in Denver. That firm was dissolved in 1902 and Armstrong, with a former Fort Wayne partner, W. S. Turner, formed the Armstrong Turner Millinery Company in Denver, which was still in business at the time the article was written in 1910.

    Heirlooms and artifacts sometimes can tell their stories if we are observant and think creatively about sources in libraries and elsewhere that might help us decipher available clues. In this case, old city directories were instrumental in unlocking a possible answer to the mystery of the metal Christmas greetings tag.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Summer Storm 2012 - Your Photos Wanted

    Thursday, Jul 12, 2012

    We are inviting you to contribute images of the storm of Friday, June 29th, and its aftermath, to the Allen County Public Library's Community Album. There is no limit on how many images you can share. Send your photos via email to Genealogy@ACPL.Info. Include a brief description including the location and indicate if you do not want your name included in the attribution. Be a part of recording this event for future historians!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Genealogy Center History -- Part 9

    Monday, Oct 31, 2011

    In 1990, the department expanded again, back out into the original building, providing 160 seat, with two storage closets converted to use for our first CD-ROM stations (doors on far right)...


     


    ... as well as sixty microtext readers.



    Next time: The expansion in the late 1990s.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Genealogy Center History -- Part 1

    Saturday, Feb 26, 2011

    The old Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County, a Carnegie building at 301 West Wayne Street, opened in 1904, and had overflowed into fourteen separate buildings around the downtown area by the early 1960s.

    Fort Wayne Public Library, 301 West Wayne Street


     Webster Street view, Fort wayne Public Library

    When the Indiana History and Genealogy room opened in 1961, it was a small space in an already crowded building.

    Lobby area 


     Most research material had to be retrieved using call slips, pieces of paper on which to request a volume to examine. Closed stacks and call slips would continue into the next century.

    Genealogy research area, ca. 1965


    We were wondering if any of our readers recall coming in to do research back in the early 1960s. Would you share your memories?

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Hints for Indiana Vital Record Searches

    Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010

    By John Indiana birth and death records can sometimes be confusing to use, especially in Lake and Allen counties. When the act creating the State Board of Health was passed in 1881, many individual cities established their own local health departments, which gathered birth and death information in separate books from those of the county. For most counties, these records were gathered together and published in single volumes by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, typically covering the period 1882 to 1920. Most of these are available in a statewide index on Ancestry. In Lake and Allen (and perhaps a few other counties as well), not all of the indexes were combined. Lake County, for example, had a county office, as well as separate offices at Crown Point, East Chicago, Gary, Hammond, Hobart, and Whiting. The WPA published these records in individual volumes, so if you have ancestors in that county, you may wish to search all of the volumes. Allen County is more problematic. In the early twentieth century, separate health departments existed for the county, as well as in Fort Wayne, Monroeville, Grabill, New Haven, Woodburn, and Leo. The WPA volume included only the Fort Wayne and County birth and death reports. Death records for the county begin in 1882; deaths for Fort Wayne begin earlier, in 1870. Birth records begin in 1887, though there was at one time an earlier birth record volume, 1882-1886, and the Genealogy Center has an unpublished name-index-only manuscript (977.201 AL5hea) to that volume, created by the county, covering original volumes A-P, and apparently including the original 1882-86 book, which is now no longer extant. This index does not include the birth date information or parents' names - only the name of the child and the page reference in the original book. The records for the other towns were not included in the WPA volume. If your ancestor was born or died in one of these other Allen County town or in the country near these towns, he or she may not appear in the Allen County birth and death indexes, or, for that matter, in the Ancestry index. The Monroeville Birth and Death Records cover the period 1906, 1909-1937. These volumes have been microfilmed and are indexed in a separate bound volume (Genealogy Center call number 977.201 AL5mon). The Grabill-New Haven-Woodburn Birth and Death Records span 1907 to 1937 and are available in a separate has an unpublished typescript abstract (Genealogy Center call number 977.201 AL5gra). The Leo vital records have not been published and remain in the office of the Allen County Department of Health. So when researching Allen County, be aware that there is no central index of all public vital records in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While the reporting of births and deaths was never complete, it is possible that the event was recorded in one of these separate town vital record office books. Perhaps one day all of these indexes will be combined into a single source.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Blizzard of'78

    Sunday, Jan 24, 2010

    It started on Wednesday, January 25, 1978, with snow, cold and wind. By afternoon, a blizzard warning had been issued for the state, and businesses were closing down. By the next morning, 17 inches of snow had fallen on Fort Wayne, temperatures were in the single digits, and additional snow fall drifted in front of the wind to make visibility poor and driving dangerous. Emergency workers and essential personnel struggled to aid victims and begin the clean up, but for several days, most residents stayed home or visited neighbors, and enjoyed the enforced vacation before emerging to gaze in awe at snowdrifts that might reach the roof. A number of collections of blizzard photographs were scanned for inclusion in the Allen County Public Library’s Community Album, and are available for viewing. If you have a similar collection you are willing to loan, we’d love to include your visual memories as well.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Allen County and Fort Wayne Obituary Index

    Friday, Dec 18, 2009

    Among the Genealogy Center’s most popular databases is one for local obituaries. This index covers area deaths listed in Fort Wayne newspapers, and is separated into two parts. The first part of the index, covering 1841 to 1899, was originally printed in book form, and, as specific newspaper titles and precise dates are not included, locating a specific item can be challenging. The second part of the index, which provides specific citations, begins with 1900. New citations are added regularly by staff and volunteers to cover recent deaths, and to add material which was missed in earlier versions. Microfilm copies of these newspapers are located in the Genealogy Center’s microtext collection, which can be used onsite, and, for those out-of-area researchers, copies can be obtained by sending an email request to Genealogy@ACPL.Info. Copies are mailed, so mailing addresses should be included in requests. Cost is $2.50 per obituary, billed when the material is sent.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Welcome

    Tuesday, Dec 01, 2009

    Genealogy Center staff members are always answering the question, “Why genealogy in Fort Wayne?” So we thought a little bit of how our collection came to be in order. But the idea of having the largest genealogy collection in a public library did not spring into someone’s mind as a single idea, and it took a number of steps to build what we know today. Less than a decade after the dedication of the Carnegie Library on West Wayne Street, the Mary Penrose Wayne Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution asked for, and was granted, space on the library’s shelves for copies of the society’s lineage books and other research material. Later, the chapter was encouraged to donate family or biographical histories to the DAR shelves, eventually building to about 400 volumes. Another facet of the Center’s history involves two men, a station wagon and lots of road trips. During the 1930s and 1940s, library director Rex Potterf, and employee Fred Reynolds roamed the highways of the Midwest, visiting used book stores and estate sales, buying used books to stock the library. Among the fiction, general interest and children’s books were many family and county historical sources. But the actual formation of the Genealogy Department waited until Reynolds became Library Director, when the local DAR began encouraging the library to “do something for genealogists.” Reynolds responded by opening the Indiana History and Genealogy Room on January 3, 1961. The decades that followed saw the collection grow not only by donations and purchases, but also in untraditional methods. These methods included the photocopy exchange programs with researchers and other libraries, and arrangements such as the one with R.L. Polk & Company which supplied copies of the city directories the company published. Of course, there is a great deal more to the history of the Collection in Dawne Slater-Putt’s Beyond Books: Allen County’s Public Library History, 1895-1995, from which this information has been taken, and future posts will provide snippets, but we in Fort Wayne are very proud of how all of the little pieces came together to create our facility. Far beyond a shelf and a station wagon, the Genealogy Center now accepts electronic files and indexes, and digitizes family Bible records, photographs, and military records for the various databases the Center’s webpage hosts. We’ve come so far in less than fifty years. Stay tuned for what comes next!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center