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  • How I Got Started, Part I

    Tuesday, Mar 20, 2012

    by Dawne

    Immediately after college graduation, I started my first job as a feature reporter for The Kokomo Tribune in Kokomo, Indiana. We often received press releases from food companies with offers of recipe booklet giveaways, and we used some of this material as “filler” in the Wednesday Food sections. I was two months into my dream job when a press release from Ragu – the spaghetti sauce company – crossed my desk one day. The offer was for a free booklet that combined Italian recipes (using Ragu products, of course) and charts for recording genealogy data. Why that struck me at that particular time, I do not know. I had grown up hearing my paternal grandmother tell stories about her ancestors and her extended family, and even had been required to take a college honors colloquium that focused on “The Family” and included completing a pedigree chart. But the Ragu booklet must have been a nudge at the right time – I was old enough to appreciate the concept of family and finally had some free time when I wasn’t busy with school. I started to wonder how much I knew about my own family history and I made some discoveries that many beginning genealogists make: I found out that I didn’t know much, and some of what I thought I knew – what I had been told – was wrong. I was hooked immediately and soon came to the realization that I needed to find a profession that would immerse me in genealogy. Twenty-eight years later, I probably could count on both hands the days that I have not done something relating to family history. I can’t imagine life turning out any other way.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Genealogy - More Than a Career

    Monday, Mar 19, 2012

    by Dawne

    As reference librarians in The Genealogy Center, we sometimes are asked if we have done our own genealogy. The answer is YES! Yes, we have done research on our own families, and yes, we continue to do research. The seven reference librarians who work at the Ask desks in The Genealogy Center together have more than 200 years of genealogical research experience. Genealogy is an unusual profession, because the people who are involved in this field as librarians, lecturers, authors and professional researchers usually are genealogy hobbyists in their off-duty time. (Yes, some of us spend vacation time in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City or going to distant U.S. cities, or even foreign countries, where our ancestors lived.) Genealogy isn’t just our job, it’s our life. During the next several weeks, this blog will features posts from our Genealogy Center librarians about how they got started – most as teenagers or young adults – researching their family history.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Getting Ready for the 1940 Census -- Part 3

    Friday, Mar 16, 2012

    by Delia

    Now that you have identified the names of the people you want to find and have their addresses you need to discover in what Enumeration District (ED) they may be listed on the census. Knowing the ED narrows your search down to a few dozen pages instead of hundreds.

    The best way to locate the ED is to check Steve Morse's Unified 1940 Census ED Finder. There are several possible ways to address the problem on this web page. The first is to use the Enumeration District from the 1930 census to locate possible EDs in the 1940. Under If you know the 1930 ED for this location, enter it here, select the state, and enter the county and 1930 ED. Since the 1940 census is not available, select 1940 ED Description, and click More Details. A description of the probably 1940 ED will appear, if available. Unfortunately, this method does not always produce results.

    The much better method is the Enter as much of the 1940 location as you know concerning the location: State, county, city or town, then address. Then click Get ED Numbers. If more than one ED is possible, you will be prompted to enter cross-streets to narrow the possibilities. Using a current map (perhaps using Google Maps online) can aid in determining cross streets.

    If the address was outside city limits, or if you would like to study the area, the ED maps are the next step. At the Unified Census Finder main page, select ED Maps. Select the state and county. A new page will open listing links for the maps available for the area. Each map is slightly different, with the first several as overview maps and subsequent maps showing more detail. Once the map appears, it will either be almost too large to find anything, or so small that the street names cannot be read. I strongly suggest saving the images to a USB drive as a JPeg, then opening that saved image to better browse the image. Remember that these maps, both online and as saved images, are large and take a while to open and stabilize. Be patient. Using current maps alongside the ED maps will enable you to

    The 1940 census will be available on April 2, at 9 AM at the National Archives, where there is a downloadable 1940 Census template, and very shortly thereafter at Archives.com. Both of these sites will offer free access. The images will also be available at FamilySearch and Ancestry shortly after that. Since the census will not be indexed at that time, locating possible EDs are vital to narrow your search. If you do not have possible locations, do not despair! As soon as the census is released on April 2nd, the 1940 Census Community Project will commence. This joint initiative between Archives.com, Family Search, findmypast.com, and other leading genealogy organizations to create a free index. If you do not know where to find your ancestors, or even if you do but still want to help, you might volunteer to assist in this important project.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Native American Gateway

    Wednesday, Mar 14, 2012

    by Dawne

    American Indian ancestry is a tradition in many families. The Genealogy Center recently launched the Native American Gateway, to aid family historians in their research. Similar to the African American Gateway, the Native American Gateway is primarily a clearinghouse of Internet links to sites that focus on the history and genealogy of native cultures, combined with detailed information about the resources in The Genealogy Center for Native American research.

    Often individuals who have heard that there is Native American ancestry in their family are unsure about where to begin documenting or verifying that the family legend is true. The Native American Gateway has an instructional section titled Beginning Your Native American Research to guide beginners. Other subcategories of the Gateway include Websites, Indian Census Records, Cherokee Records, National Archives Guides, First Nations of Indiana (Miami and Potawatomi tribes), and a section on Records at ACPL.

    Included in the Records of ACPL area of the Native American Gateway are a comprehensive bibliography of materials for Native American research held by The Genealogy Center, a link to The Center’s book catalog, a link to the Native American holdings listed in the microtext catalog, and the Native American Snapshot, which is a three-page overview of general resources for Native American Research held by The Genealogy Center.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Fort Wayne Photographers, 1843-1930

    Wednesday, Mar 14, 2012

    by John

    Photographers have been working in Fort Wayne since the first daguerreian arrived in 1843. Some were itinerants who worked here only a short time before moving on. Some had difficulty breaking into the business and were only here a year or two. Some were amateurs who also held other jobs and did photography from a studio in their homes. Others were skilled artists who were successful in their field and produced some remarkable images, not only portraits but images of the city.

    As genealogists, it is important to be aware of the photographers who took portraits of our ancestors. Many of the old cabinet-style photos of the last century were embellished with the photographer's name and studio address. Knowing when and where a photographer worked at a particular location can help us date our family photographs. Indeed, many photographers who remained in Fort Wayne for a long time moved their studios rather frequently, so knowing what address appears on your photo can be a valuable dating clue.
     
    Because of a long interest I have in portrait art - both painting and photography - I endeavored to compile a directory of all known photographers in Fort Wayne from the earliest period up to 1930. I used census records, city directories, obituaries, and other newspaper announcements to help supplement my work. I hope it will be of use to you in dating your family photos. I am sure that my list is not complete. Many were missed in the city directories and a few were here such a short time as to make no impression in the printed sources. I would appreciate any updates or additions to the list.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Spring Cleaning of Genealogy Files

    Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012

    by John

    Genealogists, by nature, are collectors of “family stuff.” Once it has been established among our extended family that we are the keepers of the family’s history, we often become the recipients of a large amount of ephemera. Such was the case with me, with grandparents giving me large amounts of material that they themselves couldn’t bear to throw out. Over the years I received a lot of wonderful records, but also a number of items of only marginal historical value. I kept it all.

    It all begins there, innocently enough. But then, as we hone our skills as genealogists, the years roll by, our research files grow, and we create a lot of paper. Not only do we collect original photographs and documents like those alluded to above, but we make copies of a great many documents, from birth and death certificates to obituaries to biographical sketches from county histories. We also take lots of notes as we go into courthouses to abstract deeds and wills.  As we continue to pursue our hobby, the mountain grows. Yes, we can digitize, but what about all of our work before the digital age? I have been a genealogist since my early teens in the early 1970s. In the last 40 years, I have acquired a lot of “stuff” – maybe even too much. I have tried to do all of the right things. Our family photographs are all archived in archival photo sleeves in albums. The original family correspondence, family diaries, and documents are all housed, along with those of my wife, in archival file boxes, occupying an entire floor-to-ceiling bookshelf in a spare bedroom of my home, which we call the Archives Room. Here we also keep our file cabinets, computers, and scanner. Yes, it is sort of a genealogist’s “man cave,” but my wife also uses it.

    This year, with the mountain of paper growing ever higher (this in spite of making extensive digital copies of many files), my wife said to me pointedly, “Do we really need to keep all this stuff?” I did not consider the question impertinent. After all, I have published a number of family histories, and in them made extensive footnotes to original and secondary sources. For those families, I have definitely “closed the book” on my research so to speak, with no intention of ever revisiting them. At the same time I am mindful that I won’t live forever and that my children have only a marginal interest in it all. I had to ask myself some pointed questions. Do I really want to take the time to digitize everything? Are there some papers that I can truly discard and not feel any compunction about my decision? Do I really want to burden my children with all of this material, knowing they may well throw out the good with the bad?

    After much thought, I decided to start spring cleaning this past winter. I began with the obvious, throwing out early drafts of my published family histories that I saw no value in keeping. Without touching any of the archived items, I turned next to the stacks of boxes that I had accumulated, both in the Archives Room and in the attic. And then I devised a set of criteria. First, I looked at the files for families that I had already published and fully documented. Would I need really that census record or obituary of that third cousin twice removed? Would I really need to keep those family group sheets and correspondence with people whose families I had finished and published? Would I really need all of my old genealogy notebooks with notes on families already published? I decided that the answer in all of these cases was no, and I began to pitch those items, even being a bit brutal about it. I kept the most meaningful correspondence and a few items that served as signposts in my early years as a genealogist, but many other paper files went to the recycle bin. The garbage truck hauled it away, and I felt some sense of satisfaction in seeing it go.

    It was a different story for the files on those families that I still hope to publish. In those instances the boxes remain – some in the attic and some in the Archives Room - in the belief that I will yet have time to publish something about them. I am mindful that my children will not likely keep those boxes when I’m gone, but frankly, I don’t expect them to. I will be happy if they keep the archived photos and the more valuable original diaries and letters that I preserved in archive boxes on that bookshelf in the Archives Room. But being realistic, I realize that even those things may not make it, and I may decide, when I’m older, to send some of those files to archival repositories in the places where those families lived. Right now, at least, the mountain is getting smaller, the bookshelf of my published work is growing, and I feel like I’m moving in the right direction.

    Every genealogist faces the question of what to keep and what to throw. We all will die sometime, and we all have to climb that mountain and make decisions about our collected “stuff.” For me, the solution has been to digitize some, archive some, and defer deciding on others. A more important imperative is to keep writing – writing as if you don’t know if you’ll be here tomorrow in the hope of preserving your life’s work for posterity. We may never get it all done, but we can try. To quote my favorite philosopher, William James, “Hope for the best, pray for the best, and if death ends all, we cannot meet death better.”

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • March Madness: Genealogy Style

    Sunday, Mar 11, 2012

    The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, IN is once again hosting its annual March Madness: Genealogy Style ushering in the spring research season with a week of educational opportunities for you to jumpstart your research for your ethnic ancestor.
     
    On Sunday March 18, 2012, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m begin "Researching Your Polish Ancestors." This program will explore the challenges, important American sources, both print and online, and research strategies that can shed light on your ancestral town in Poland.

    Find "French Canadian Research at The Genealogy Center," on Monday March 19, 2012, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. This program will highlight various French Canadian and Quebec resources within The Genealogy Center.

    Discover "The Riches of First Nations Heritage: Beginning Native American Genealogical Research," on Tuesday March 20, 2012, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. This lecture is an introduction to beginning First Nations/Native American genealogical research.

    "Explore Origins.net" will review the many databases, CD products, research articles and other resources available through The Genealogy Center's subscription to the Origins Network on Wednesday March 21, 2012, 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.

    Locate those "Shadowed Roots: Antebellum Era Records for African-American Research," on Thursday March 22, 2012, 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. Discover the "hidden" and "buried" genealogical and historical records that are available to research the lives of African Americans before the Civil War.

    Please call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info to register for these free classes.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Street Closure and Detour: March 14 until August

    Friday, Mar 09, 2012

    by Delia

    Starting on Wednesday afternoon, March 18, 2012, part of Clinton Street, which is a main traffic corridor into downtown Fort Wayne from the north, will be closed along several blocks until sometime in August.

    Plans to replace and elevate the bridge over Spy Run Creek, as well as straighten a dangerous curve, the construction project will close Clinton Street (US 27) between State and Elizabeth Streets.

    Traffic through the city will be diverted around via I-69 and I-469. Traffic on Clinton Street, on which many Genealogy Center visitors travel after exiting I-69 at Exits 111 and 112, will turn left (east) onto State Street, then right (south) on the normally one-way north Spy Run Avenue. The detour will continue south about four blocks to make a right (west) on Elizabeth Street, then back to make a left turn (south) back onto Clinton Street. (B to A on the map below.)

     

    Travelers heading north, back to I-69, also need to remember that Spy Run Avenue, which is normally one-way, will be handling two way traffic for the four blocks.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Space Available in the Irish & Scots-Irish: Part 2 Class

    Friday, Mar 09, 2012

    The week of “March Madness: Genealogy Style” finishes up with one of our most popular two-day mini-courses, as Steve Myers presents “Irish & Scots-Irish Genealogy: Part 2,” on Friday & Saturday March 23-24, 2012, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., in Meeting Rooms A & B. This workshop is designed for researchers with some experience in using basic Irish records and will cover additional sources and techniques that lead to success. Sessions include: Irish Local History Publications: An Untapped Source; Irish Probate Records, Deeds & Biographical Sources; Using Irish Landed Estate Records and Other Manuscript Sources; The Irish Rebellion of 1798 as a Source of Genealogical Records; Confiscation, Plantation & British Military Service; The Irish Research Trip; and personal consultations. Cost for both days is $50. Space is limited so please register in advance. Program details and registration information are included in the
    brochure.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Family Tree Maker Sessions - Closed

    Thursday, Mar 08, 2012

    Registration for all sessions of the Family Tree Maker sessions is now closed. Watch this blog and Genealogy Gems for future educational opportunities.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • 10 Tips for Researching at ACPL

    Monday, Mar 05, 2012

    by Tina Lyons of Gen Wish List

    The following are 10 tips for getting the most out of your research trip from home and at the library. Even if you aren't planning a visit to ACPL (Allen County Public Library), you can still conduct a ton of research from the library's online databases and digitized books.

    1. Familiarize yourself with the library.

    At Home: Take time to explore the Genealogy Center’s website. Watch the library's Orientation video. Check out their State and Subject Snapshots to view the highlights of their collection. Learn how to search their print and microtext catalogs (PDF).

    At ACPL: If you have the option, take the tour. Otherwise, pick up the map of the library and the map of the microfilm collection at the “Ask Here” desk upon entering the library. Walk around and explore where everything is located before you start researching. Also don’t be afraid to ask the librarians on duty for help locating materials.

    2.    Research in local history books.

    At Home: Search the online catalog for the locations where your ancestors lived. Make sure to check links to Internet Archive for books that have been scanned. For example, Volume 2 of History of Dearborn, Ohio and Switzerland Counties, Indiana (1885) is available online.

    At ACPL: Local histories are shelved using the Dewey decimal system. You can browse the books easily if you know the pattern. Books that are general to the state are listed as XXX.X, county level books are XXX.X01 and city books are XXX.X02. (The Xs here represent the call numbers specific to a location.) For example, Indiana books are 977.2, Indiana county books are 977.201 and Indiana city books are 977.202. County and city books are then arranged alphabetically by the county or city.

    Note: Indiana books are in their own special section. When you enter the library, turn right and the Indiana collection will be in the stacks to your right.

    3.    Research in the Family Histories.

    At Home: Search the catalog for family histories by typing the surname you are seeking and then “family.” For example: “Lyons Family” or “Eiswerth Family”. Look for links to Internet Archive for books that have been scanned.

    At ACPL: The family history books are to the left of the entrance. They are arranged alphabetically by the principal surname in the book. Searching in the catalog will bring up many books that won’t be found just browsing the shelves for a specific surname.

    4. Research in online databases.

    At Home: Check the lists of the library’s subscriptions and online databases. They have a number of subscription databases that are free to search within the library, including Ancestry, Fold3, Heritage Quest and more. They also have many free databases to use at home or at the library. These include Indiana Resources, African American Gateway, Our Military Heritage and others.

    At ACPL: Feel free to bring your own laptop, tablet or other device and use the library’s WiFi. Otherwise you can use the many computers in the department. If you don’t have a library card, ask a librarian for a temporary number. It will last for 24 hours and give you access to the library’s computers. Printing from the library’s computers costs 10 cents (using a print card charged with paper currency) or you can save any images you find to a flash drive.

    Note: If you have your family tree online at Ancestry, you will not be able to access your tree. The library automatically logs into the ACPL library account and you cannot access another account on the library’s internet. (Actually you can find your tree if you search for someone in your tree, but that can be a pain.) If you have a tablet or smartphone with the Ancestry tree app, you won't have a problem.

    5. Take a break.

    Note: There is no food or drink permitted in the department to protect the collection.

    At Home: Check out the map for restaurants (PDF) within walking distance of the library.

    At ACPL: Remember to take a break to stretch and refuel your body. Take care of yourself so you can research at your best.

    6. Research in Genealogy Periodicals.

    Note: ACPL has the largest collection of genealogy periodicals in the country (probably the world). They maintain an index of articles called the PERiodical Source Index (PERSI) based location and surname. Articles are not indexed by every name, but by overall topic.

    At Home: Search for your ancestors’ surnames and locations on PERSI. It is available through Heritage Quest (if your local library has access) and Ancestry. Make sure to check the ACPL catalog to make sure they have the periodical you are seeking and to record the call number.

    At ACPL: The newest editions of periodicals are located on the East wall of the department (turn right when you enter the library and go straight back to the wall.) They are organized alphabetically. When the library has enough issues of a periodical, they bind them into a book and put them on the shelves based on location or topic. Searching in the library’s catalog should help you determine if a periodical has been bound or not by whether or not it has a call number.

    7. Research in Microtext Collection.

    At Home: Check the microtext catalog and newspaper holdings to view the library's collections. Many of these items, but not all, can also be found in the library’s main catalog.

    At ACPL: If you want to save or print an image from microfilm, use the readers connected to computers. Bring a flash drive to save your images. Currently printing from microfilm is free, but that could change. Or you can just view microfilm from the many other readers in the Microtext Reading Room.

    Note: Check the binder at the Microtext Ask Desk to find out what FHL films are on loan to ACPL.

    Extra special tip: The Microtext Reading Room is cold (probably from having the lights turned low). Bring a sweater if you plan to spend a lot of time with microfilm.

    8. Research in City Directories.

    At Home: Search the catalog and microtext catalog to find what city directories the library has in its collection. They have a large collection of directories from across the country.

    At ACPL: Older directories are available on microfilm. Modern directories are available in book form in the western part of the department (to your left as you enter the library, past the family histories).

    9. Ask the librarians.

    At Home: The Genealogy Center’s website has bios of the librarians that you might meet during your visit. If you have a question about the department, you can contact them before your visit.

    At ACPL: Can’t find the materials that you are looking for? Ask. Can’t figure out the microfilm readers? Ask. Want some research advice? Ask.

    10. Stay in Touch with the library.

    At Home: Sign up for the library’s free monthly e-zine filled with information about their collection and upcoming events. Follow the Genealogy Center’s blog and “Like” them on Facebook. Check the event calendar for programs that might interest you.

    At ACPL: Come back to research again. Or move to Fort Wayne.

    Some extra special tips:
    • If you can't find a book on the shelf, check the oversize section. Or ask a librarian. Or ask the people researching and possibly find a cousin using the same book.
    • ACPL has open stacks. Find and take the books you want to use from the shelves to a table. Want a bunch of books? Use the convenient black carts. When you are done with the books, put them on the wooden carts by the tables for the staff to return. Microfilm has a special table for returns.
    • Fort Wayne is on the Eastern time zone and follows daylight savings. 
    •  Library Hours:
      • Monday-Thursday: 9AM - 9PM
      • Friday-Saturday: 9AM-6PM
      • Sunday: Noon - 5PM (closed Memorial Day to Labor Day)
      • Check ACPL website for closings due to holidays and professional development
    • Parking is $1 per hour in the library lots (PDF). Maximum charge is $7 a day. You can pay by credit card or cash at the kiosk on the first floor by the checkout area. ACPL library card holders get free parking. Street parking is free on the weekend.
    • There are 4 copiers in the department. Copies cost 10 cents. They take copy cards than can only be charged with paper currency.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Save the Death Index

    Saturday, Mar 03, 2012

    by Melissa

     

    Do you use the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) in your research? Many family historians use this wonderful database regularly to garner information on their mid to late 20th century ancestors. In this era when state and local governments are closing or further restricting access to birth, marriage and death records, the Social Security Death Index has been a boon for many genealogists. The data provided in this index is limited, yet informative. For lucky researchers, birth and death dates are listed in the index, but generally, a birth and death month and year are provided, the state where the Social Security number was issued, along with the town, state, and zip code of last residence. The other piece of data supplied in the index is the individual's Social Security number.

     

    In order for the person's number to appear in the index, the individual must be deceased. Banks, credit card companies, and the IRS should not accept Social Security numbers which appear in this index. They should be required to use the SSDI. There is currently proposed legislation that will deny public access to the SSDI. The reported reason for this proposed legislation is to prevent Social Security numbers of the deceased from being used for illegal purposes. In actuality, the only people this decision hurts are genealogists. Identity thieves and those using fraudulent Social Security numbers will continue using any means currently at their disposal, while this wonderful resource will no longer be available to family researchers.

     

    If SSDI is gone, how will you find your 20th century ancestors when more and more records are being privatized and protected behind governmental legislation?

     

    The genealogical community needs 25,000 signatures by March 8 to let legislators know the Social Security Death Index is a resource that should be saved. To sign the petition, go to the We the People Petition. The petition requires that you create a whitehouse.gov account before signing. Instructions for creating an account and signing the whitehouse.gov petition can be found on the Federation of Genealogical Societies site.

     

    What can you do? In the next few days, genealogical societies and libraries can offer guidance in signing the petition for those who may be uncomfortable with the online aspect. Consider having a member of your society available to help those who may not have much computer experience. Tell friends, family, and colleagues about this wonderful resource and what will be lost should we no longer have access to the information.

     

    Because once the Social Security Death Index is gone, what will you do?

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Genealogy Center History -- Part 12

    Thursday, Mar 01, 2012

    Renovation of the building at 900 Webster took place began in 2004, which entailed gutting the structure and almost doubling its space, as is shown in this view from this Washington Boulevard view and by 2006, the building was nearing completion. New shelving went up in the new Genealogy Center and new equipment was installed, including computer tables and chairs.

    All was ready for Opening Day!

    Next (and last) installment of Genealogy Center History: Opening Day!


     


    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Print Card System Streamlined

    Thursday, Mar 01, 2012

    Beginning immediately, only one print card will be needed in The Genealogy Center to photocopy pages from books or to print documents from the research computers. Cost for each service is 10 cents per page. Allen County Public Library cardholders may use their regular library card as their print card. Out-of-town visitors or others who do not have ACPL cards may get a $1 print card from a vending machine in The Genealogy Center. More money may be added to the cards at the same machine, using $1 or $5 bills. Put your coins in your piggy bank! It no longer is necessary – or possible – to use coins in the photocopy machines at The Genealogy Center.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Two Classes of Family Tree Maker Sessions Closed

    Thursday, Mar 01, 2012

    Registration for the first two classes in the Family Tree Maker Sessions, Getting Started on March 14, and People on March 28, are closed.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Genealogy Center History - Part 12

    Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012

    Rebuilding building and move out and in...

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Interested in your family’s history? Visit our Genealogy Center

    Monday, Feb 27, 2012

    by Becky Carden

    Photo courtesy of the Genealogy Center Facebook page

    Did you know that ACPL has the second-largest genealogical collection in the United States?  It’s true!  The only collection larger than ours is the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  While we are primarily a North American collection and the Family History Library collects for the world, our partnership with them provides access to filmed records from all over, making our “virtual collection” quite large indeed.  Today our growing collection includes 413,000+ print volumes, 659,000+ items of microfilm/microfiche, and subscriptions to well-known databases like Ancestry.com.

    How did we come to have such a large collection?  It all began with Rex Potterf and Fred Reynolds back in the 1930s.  The Great Depression was in full swing and there simply wasn’t much money in the library’s budget to purchase new books for the collection, so Potterf and Reynolds scoured used bookstores in order to add titles to the ACPL’s shelves.  Along with standard fiction and nonfiction, they chanced upon county histories and genealogical periodicals at bargain prices and decided to purchase those as well.

    Potterf retired in 1959 and Reynolds succeeded him as director.  The financial hardships of the ’30s were a thing of the past, but Reynolds’ clever means of building the collection was not.  In 1965, he made an arrangement with R.L. Polk & Company and the American Association of Directory Publishers to secure annual copies of directories for hundreds of U.S. cities.

    Reynolds also developed a unique partnership with the Newberry Library in Chicago.  The Newberry Library had been one of the major local and family history research centers in the country for more than half a century, but it was facing difficulties in the 1960s.  Hundreds of books in its collection had fallen into such a state of disrepair that they were relegated to storage, unable to be used.  Over the years, Newberry sent titles from its collection to ACPL and we made two high-quality photocopies of each book sent –  one acid-free copy for us, one for them, preserving precious volumes for generations to come.

    Similar partnerships continue to this day;  the Genealogy Center maintains strong relationships with other family history collections and genealogical societies.  While the print collection continues to grow, the Genealogy Center also welcomes donations of electronic files and indexes.  Digitization of family Bible records, photographs, and military records are among the goals for this unique collection.

    While Genealogy is considered North America’s fastest-growing hobby today, genealogical collections in public libraries were rare when Reynolds assumed directorship of the library, and it’s fortunate for us that he possessed the foresight to fill that void.  He reasoned that an excellent genealogical collection and services would attract more people to the library, and he was correct;  not only is today’s Genealogy Center a wonderful resource for residents of Allen County, it also draws visitors from all over the United States.

    For Further Reading:  Genealogy Center brochureBeyond Books: Allen County Public Library’s History, 1895-1995, A Commitment to Excellence in Genealogy.

    Blog post originally appeared on the Allen County Public Library's ... As You Like It ... blog.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Gold Fever

    Sunday, Feb 26, 2012

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following is a question asked and The Genealogy Center staff's response.

    How do I find out if my ancestor was part of the Oklahoma Land Rush - any homestead records?

    An excellent website is available with this information and an overview of the settlement.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • My Civil War Ancestor

    Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following is a question asked and The Genealogy Center staff's response.

    I have an ancestor with a Grand Army of the Republic marker on his grave, but haven’t found him in the Civil War database. Did he have to have fought to be eligible for the marker?

    He had to be a member of the Grand Army of the Republic organization to have a GAR tombstone. To be a member of the GAR he should have been a Union soldier. However, occasionally, men would join by stretching the truth (i.e.: lying) in their applications. However, although the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System database is terrific, not everyone is listed. Check to see if records for the local GAR post survive. Beyond that, research him as you would any Union soldier.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Indiana Genealogical Society Conference

    Monday, Feb 20, 2012

    The Allen County Public Library will be the site of this year’s Indiana Genealogical Society's Annual Meeting and Conference on 28 April 2012. The conference will include a wide variety of topics for all levels of genealogists.

    Featured speaker for the event will be Debra S. Mieszala, CG..

    Debbie is a nationally-known genealogical lecturer, teacher and writer. In addition to her presentations at the National Genealogical Society and Federation of Genealogical Societies conferences, she has taught at the prestigious Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University, and at the Salt Lake City Institute of Genealogy. Her “day job” is as a forensic specialist who works with the United States military to identify the recovered remains of soldiers. She previously did adoption-related research as a Confidential Intermediary in Illinois. Debbie will be presenting the following topics:

    • Lessons from a Snoop: Collaterals and Associates
    • Bringing Our Soldiers Home
    • Digging Through Documents Word By Word
    • Patently Unique: Locating Patent Records, Online and Off

    The IGS Conference will feature two tracks. Other topics being presented are:

    • What’s New With FamilySearch? (Michael Hall of FamilySearch)
    • Becoming Expert On Using Ancestry (Melissa Shimkus of The Genealogy Center)
    • Finding Indiana Records and Research in FamilySearch (Michael Hall)
    • Writing a Book Using Family Tree Maker and Microsoft Word (Curtis Sylvester of the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana)

    The day also will feature IGS’s annual meeting, awards and the induction of the first members of the Territorial Guard Society of Indiana, a lineage society open to those who can prove direct ancestry to someone who resided within the present boundaries of Indiana on or before 11 December 1816 (statehood).

    Cost for the conference is $30 for IGS members in advance, $40 for non-members in advance, and $45 at the door. Check the Conference website for more information or to register.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center