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  • 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

  • Writing Family History

    Saturday, Feb 18, 2012

    by Dawne

    It’s been a mild winter – so far! – here in the Midwest. But if the mild weather doesn’t hold, or if it’s inclement where you are and you are hibernating inside until the days get longer, take advantage of the time at your computer to compile some family history from the contents of your files. If you are like most genealogists, you plan to write a book (or more than one) of your family history “someday.” But again, if you are like most of us, the task feels overwhelming! Why not get started on “someday” right now by writing just a little piece of that book that’s in your future? Even better, why not partner with another genealogist, or a whole society of them, and set some goals for family history writing? Then you cheer each other on and hold each other accountable! Maybe a family history writing interest group would be an appropriate arm of your local genealogical society.

    Writing family history isn’t hard, just time consuming! And you don’t have to be finished researching to begin writing. For example, start like this with one ancestral couple: John Brown was born 14 November 1845 in Allen County, Indiana [insert a footnote or endnote here]. He married Mary Smith 29 October 1871 in Allen County [another note]. Mary was born 2 May 1847 in Noble County, Indiana [note], the daughter of James and Elizabeth (Green) Smith [note]. Tell what you know about John and Mary: Where they lived at the time of each census, whether they owned land, what John did for a living, whether they were affiliated with a church and which one. Finish with a list of their children: Children of John and Mary (Smith) Brown: [insert a note here explaining how you know each of these children belonged to John and Mary].

    Once you complete this sketch, you have started your family history book! Now challenge yourself to write a certain number of words by the end of the month. By the time spring comes and you head back out to the cemeteries, your project will be well underway.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Getting Ready for the 1940 Census: Step # 2

    Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012

    Now that you have your research targets, you will need locations. As mentioned last time, family letters or address books would be great, but most of us don’t have access to that information. City directories are an excellent source for locating addresses. Unlike a telephone book (another alternative for locating addresses), city directories usually list both husband and wife, as well as adult children, and their occupations. You can also locate those who are lodgers or boarders by name as well. The address section of the directory allows you to identify the names of the householder and lodgers, as well as cross streets near the address. These cross streets will be vital in identifying the enumeration district in which the person is listed on the census.

     

    City directories are available for many large towns and cities. Local libraries often have directories for their own communities, but The Genealogy Center has one of the largest collections of city directories in books and on microfilm. Be sure to check both the Microtext Catalog and Genealogy Center Catalog for our holdings.

    Other sources for locating addresses include other types of directories (church, alumni) and the World War II draft lists.

     

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Fees to Borrow FHL Microfilm to Rise

    Monday, Feb 13, 2012

    FamilySearch has announced that, due to rising costs of microfilm stock and the increases in shipping rates, the cost of borrowing microfilm will increase as of February 15, 2012. The new price structure will be:

    - Short-term film loan $7.50
    - Short-term film loan renewal $7.50
    - Extended film loan $18.75
    - Microfiche loan $4.75 (this price has not increased)
     
    These prices will be applied when ordering through the Online Film Ordering
     
    The Genealogy Center has been an Affiliate Library to the Family History Library for a number of years, and this is the first price increase since January 2006. This is still a great deal for genealogists who cannot travel to Salt Lake City.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Getting ready for the 1940 census: Step #1

    Saturday, Feb 11, 2012

    by Delia

    In order to get you ready for the opening of the 1940 census (April 2, 2012!), we're going to break the steps down one at a time, so that, instead of waiting, you can methodically get all of your ducks, ah, ancestors in a row. Remember that, although the census will be available at the National Archives and Records Administration site immediately, and several other sites in quick order, the census will not be indexed. Being prepared will save you a great deal of time once you finally get a chance to browse.

    Your first step is to identify for whom you will be searching. Parents or grandparents? Siblings and cousins? At this point, create a file, paper or digital, on each person or family group, noting names, ages or birth dates and places, and where you think they might be living in 1939 or 1940. Check the files you already have, old letters and address books to see if you have possible addresses for them.

    That's it! That's step #1. Step #2 will be coming soon!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Exploring Origins.net Rescheduled

    Thursday, Feb 09, 2012

    The "Exploring Origins.net" class has been rescheduled for the week of March Madness: Genealogy Style(March 18-24). This is a great fit for our week of ethnic genealogy research classes as the Origins database covers British, Irish, and Scots records. The class will discuss the many databases, CD products, research articles and other resources available through The Genealogy Center’s subscription to the Origins Network. So visit us on Wednesday, March 21, from 10 am - 11 am in Meeting Room A for "Exploring Origins.net."

    And stay for an informal discussion in the afternoon with the Daughters of the American Revolution concerning patriots of all ethnic backgrounds who participated in the Revolution. The discussion is scheduled for 2 pm entitled "It Was Everyone's War."

    Please register for these informative sessions by calling 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Closed on February 10

    Wednesday, Feb 08, 2012

    You may have noticed recently on our facebook page and website that we will be closed on Friday, February 10. The Genealogy Center, along with the entire Allen County Public Library, will be closed for Staff Development Day. We will be open Thursday, February 9, from 9 am - 9 pm and Saturday, February 11, from 9 am - 6 pm. Though we are closed on February 10, we will be open on Presidents Day, Monday, February 20, so take advantage of a long research weekend over the Presidents Day weekend!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Canceled Exploring Origins.net

    Monday, Feb 06, 2012

    Unfortunately, the Exploring Origins.net class scheduled for Wednesday, February 8, from 2:30 - 3:30 pm has been canceled. The Genealogy Center will offer more classes on ethnic genealogy research during our March Madness: Genealogy Style sessions the week of March 18-24.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Exploring Origins.net

    Sunday, Feb 05, 2012

    On Wednesday, February 8, from 2:30-3:30 pm, join us in a survey of the Origins.net website for British, Irish, and Scots research. For more information, see the flyer at http://www.genealogycenter.org/Libraries/Brochures/WT2011.sflb.ashx. Please call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info to register.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transnational Archive

    Friday, Feb 03, 2012

    by Melissa

    Family historians and academic researchers visiting The Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, now have access to an online digital archive of historical court records, maps, books, newspapers and periodicals from the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Europe that focus on the topics of slavery and abolition. The new database, “Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transnational Archive,” is comprised of documents previously available only on microfilm or at academic institutions. One of the collections available through this database is “Debates over Slavery and Abolition,” which covers the history of slavery from the 16th century to 1888 and the resistance that led to abolition. Another collection, “Slave Trade in the Atlantic World,” records the history and impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade in numerous countries. These records not only document the history of slavery, but also illustrate effects on women and children, as well as the religious and legal issues involved. Researchers can utilize this unique and informative collection of databases in The Genealogy Center and at any Allen County Public Library location through the On-Site Databases tab on The Genealogy Center’s website.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Who Do You Think You Are, 3rd Season

    Thursday, Feb 02, 2012

    by Dawne

    Who Do You Think You Are, the first program since the 1970s miniseries Roots to bring genealogy to mainstream television, begins its third season Friday, February 3rd at 8 p.m., EST, on NBC. Produced by Shed Media U.S. and the production company Is or Isn’t Entertainment, owned by Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky, Who Do You Think You Are follows the steps of celebrities as they, with the help of genealogical professionals, discover their roots. Featured in this season’s episodes will be Martin Sheen, Marisa Tomei, Blair Underwood, Reba McEntire, Rob Lowe, Helen Hunt, Rita Wilson, Edie Falco, Rashida Jones, Jerome Bettis, Jason Sudeikis and Paula Deen.

    To learn more about the third season or to watch episodes from the second season, visit Who Do You Think You Are at NBC.com.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Genealogy Center History -- Part 11

    Tuesday, Jan 31, 2012

    By the late 1990s, it was obvious that the entire Allen County Public Library system needed more space. Tentative plans were made, and a petition drive to gather Allen County property owners' signatures in support of a bond to pay for an expansion of the Main Library facility and improvements for most branches began on September 11, 2001. Many local citizens, young and old, joined in the campaign.


    After the bond initiative passed, plans were made to leave the Main Library while it was undergoing its renovation. The Genealogy Department was the first of the Main Library agencies to close leaving empty shelves...


    ...and leaving behind the card catalog.


    Books were loaded onto large carts and wrapped in plastic for the ride...

    ...to Renaissance Square.


    Next: Rebuilding!

     

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Plans to Index the 1940 Census

    Sunday, Jan 29, 2012

    by Delia

    As you know, the 1940 census will be available at the Archives.com website for free on April 2, 2012. Because no one will have access to it before that time, no index will be available on April 2nd. However, groups all over the country are making plans now for legions of volunteers to begin the indexing of the census. For example, the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana is lining up society members to index the 1940 census for Allen County, Indiana. And on a larger scale, Archives.comFamily Search.org and findmypast.com are teaming up to compile an index for the 1940 Census Community Project. Both the large and the small projects will constitute great contributions to the genealogical community as a whole. Let's all see how we can help.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Evangelical Messenger Pennsylvania Marriage Index Available

    Friday, Jan 27, 2012

    A new database index has appeared on The Genealogy Center Free Databases, Pennsylvania Marriages 1868-1904, from The Evangelical Messenger. Taken from the pages of The Evangelical Messenger, the weekly demoninational publication for the Evangelical Association, the marriage notices were submitted by the officiating ministers starting in 1868, and continued through 1904. They were not published in 1905 and 1906, but resumed in 1907. This index, submitted by Anne Dallas Budd, stops at 1904.

    The Genealogy Center will provide photocopies of these announcements for a fee of $2.50 per notice. Send a request to Genealogy@ACPL.Info, along with the citation ("Evangelical Messenger" marriage, date and page), along with your name and mailing address. The copy will be sent within several weeks with a bill. It should be noted, however, that the index often contains all pertinent information.

    If you are seeking a marriage in Pennsylvania, take a few minutes to check this wonderful source.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Check Out Our Snapshots!

    Wednesday, Jan 25, 2012

    by Delia

    The Genealogy Center is happy to announce a new facet to our web presence: State and Subject Snapshots! Snapshots are listings of some of the most vital volumes in our collection, organized by location or subject to aid you in your research here in The Genealogy Center. Providing only the bare bones (titles and call numbers) for locating these wonderful sources, Snapshots are for specific states, foreign countries, including provinces in Canada, ethnic, religious and general subject guides. For years, these Snapshots have been available only in-house, but are now available to aid you in preparing in advance for your research visit. State and Subject Snapshots are located under the Pathfinders tab on The Genealogy Center website.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • 1940 Census

    Sunday, Jan 22, 2012

    by Delia

    Genealogists know that federal census schedules are not available for viewing by the general public for 72 years after they are taken. 2012 marks the year that the next set of census schedules - those for 1940 - will be released for public viewing and research! This release takes place 2 April 2012 and will be different than any previous census's unveiling. The 1940 census will be available on microfilm, as previous years' schedules were, but due to its high cost in this format, few agencies will purchase the film. Instead, it will debut in the form of digital images online at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) website on the release date of 2 April, followed quickly by its appearance at Archives.com, FamilySearch.org and other sites. Initially, the census images will not be searchable by name, but viewers will be able to browse them. Various groups are undertaking the indexing of the schedules so that ultimately they will be searchable by name and other variables.

    The Genealogy Center is creating classes about the 1940 census that will be presented on several dates in March and April. In addition, we will share tips about the census here on our blog and on our Facebook page. Please share in our excitement as we count down the days until this milestone source is revealed!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Allen County Congregational Pathfinder

    Wednesday, Jan 18, 2012

    by John  

    The Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library contains – as you might expect - a very large collection for our own Allen County. A myriad of congregational records, both Christian and Jewish, for Fort Wayne and rural Allen County, have been photocopied and added to the collection over the years, together with a large collection of congregational histories and directories. Almost all of the older, pre-1900 congregations have placed copies of their records at the library. This is a benefit to researchers whose ancestors may have hopped from one congregation to another when moving about the city or county. Instead of traveling or writing to each church, all one needs to do is peruse our online catalog.

    These records bring with them their own set of challenges, however. Some congregations have the same or very similar names. For example, there are two Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Churches, both in the Missouri Synod. One is located on St. Mary’s Avenue, the other on Decatur Road and is sometimes called Trinity Suburban. These congregations should not be confused with Trinity English Evangelical Lutheran Church in downtown Fort Wayne, affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. In addition, there are two congregations known as Bethlehem: Bethlehem Lutheran and Suburban Bethlehem.

    Finally, many congregations are now defunct or have merged with others and reorganized under new names. At one time, Wayne Street Methodist Episcopal, Berry Street Methodist Episcopal, and First Methodist Episcopal Church all were distinct congregations in Fort Wayne, each with their own separate sets of records. Adding to the complexity is the fact that some congregations attracted certain immigrant groups more than others.

    Sorting out these complexities can be difficult, even when using our online catalog. The congregational histories on the Allen County USGenweb page can offer the researcher much guidance. We have tried to take that page one step further by creating a pathfinder to Allen County Congregations, which can be found under Pathfinders on our Genealogy Center homepage. Simply click on “Pathfinders” and scroll your mouse over “Allen County, Indiana Guides.” A number of options will appear on the right, including “Allen County Congregations.” Clicking on this link will take you to an annotated bibliography of congregational records. Under each you will find references to the types of records and their respective call numbers. Some congregations have additional annotations that go beyond the catalog and may be helpful to researchers. We are always adding new material, so keep checking the library catalog for new titles.  

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center