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  • Indiana Genealogical Society Conference Here on April 5th!

    Tuesday, Mar 11, 2014

    Residents of Indiana and surrounding states have a unique opportunity in less than a month to hear nationally-known genealogical lecturer J. Mark Lowe, CG*, present here at the Allen County Public Library. Mark will give four lectures at the Indiana Genealogical Society Conference on Saturday, April 5.

    Mark is a Board-certified genealogist from Robertson County, Tennessee, who works full time as a researcher, author and lecturer. He did research and was featured on camera in the hit genealogy program “Who Do You Think You Are? and has also worked on the television programs “African American Lives 2” and “UnXplained Events.” He is an engaging and popular speaker and very knowledgeable on a wide variety of topics. His presentations for this conference will be:

    • Pioneers of the Frontier: Using Online Newspaper to Find Early Settlers
    • Quick, Complete and Accurate: Document Analysis for Researchers
    • Finding Freedmen Marriage Records
    • Out on a Limb: Trapped by Bad Research

    A second track of lectures for the day is technology-based and will feature:

    • Apps and Programs for Genealogy, by The Genealogy Center librarian and IGS Recording Secretary Dawne Slater-Putt, CG*
    • Cousin Bait: Using the Internet to Reel in Family Treasures, by IGS Vice President Tina Lyons
    • Preserving Your Family History in Print and Online, by Indiana Genealogist editor Rachel Popma
    • Scanning, Digitizing and Records Preservation: High Tech Results on a Low Tech Budget, by IGS Publications Committee Chair Diana Biddle

    The cost is for the day is $30 for IGS members and $40 for non-members. Interested individuals may register online at, or print the form and mail it to the society.

    *“CG” & “Certified Genealogist” are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, and are used by authorized associates following periodic, peer-reviewed competency evaluations.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • It's Time for March Madness, Genealogy Style

    Sunday, Mar 09, 2014

    Every year, The Genealogy Center celebrates spring with March Madness, Genealogy Style. This year, we are offering a full week of Skill Building sessions to aid researchers who are just starting, those who need to start in a new direction, and anyone who may feel the need of a refresher. Classes include:
    • Sunday, March 16, 1pm-2pm., Meeting Room A. “Starting, or Starting Again: Having Fun Finding Family” – Curt Witcher
    • Monday March 17, 2pm-3pm, Meeting Room A. “What's So Vital About Vital Records?” – Delia Bourne
    • Tuesday, March 18, 2pm-3pm, Meeting Room A. “Tallying the Census: Counting Down Its Uses” – Melissa Shimkus
    • Wednesday, March 19, 10am-11am, Meeting Room A. “Using Tax Records in Genealogical Research” – John Beatty
    • Thursday, March 20, 10am-11am, Meeting Room A.“Read All About It! Historical Newspapers for Your Research” – Delia Bourne
    • Friday, March 21, 10am-11am, Meeting Room A. “More than a Prayer: A Look at the Records of American Churches” – Curt Witcher
    • Saturday, March 22, 10am-11am, Meeting Room A. “Breaking Down Ancestral Brick Walls” – Sara Allen
    For session descriptions, see the brochure. To register for any of these free classes, call 260-421-1225 or send us an email. Join us to build your knowledge, your skill and your success!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Finding the Women in Your (Ancestors') Lives

    Friday, Mar 07, 2014

    As part of The Genealogy Center's Celebrating Women's History Month, Melissa Shimkus is presenting "Finding Her: Our Female Ancestor," on Thursday, March 13th, 2:00pm to 3:00pm, in Meeting Room A. She will discuss how our female ancestor may have interacted within her community, and how to use that interaction to locate more information about her. Although this is a stand-alone presentation, it can be considered as the first of a two-part series on researching women in our ancestry. The second part, which is also a stand-alone presentation, is "Discovering Your Female Ancestors," to be presented at the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana monthly meeting, April 9th, in Meeting Room A at 7:00pm. This presentation will focus on how understanding a woman's legal standing can lead to locating the female whether or not she is named in a document. The public is invited to attend the ACGSI meeting and hear Melissa as she shows you how to expand your search to find Her.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Family Resource Online - An Example of What's Possible!

    Thursday, Mar 06, 2014

    There’s a new set of records on The Genealogy Center’s Family Resources page: Kincaid and Related Families of North America. Containing more than 109,000 names, this new database is based on the research of Michael B. Clegg, Associate Director of the Allen County Public Library, and many other researchers who have shared information with him during the past 40 years of research. A simple name search is possible from the database’s introductory page as well as The Genealogy Center’s federated search (enter the surname in the “Search Our Free Databases” box on our homepage). One can also use the advanced search feature found on the collection’s introductory webpage.

    This wonderful addition to our collection is an example of how The Genealogy Center can help you preserve and share your own files. Utilizing the Next Generation of Genealogy Site Building Software, we can incorporate your GEDCOM-compatible files to create a searchable and viewable location for your research.

    If you are interested in contributing, please contact us at Genealogy@ACPL.Info for more information.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Celebrating Women's History

    Thursday, Mar 06, 2014

    In honor of Women's History Month, The Genealogy Center is offering a series of talks to help us find our sometimes-hidden female ancestors, learn about a special group of women pioneers, and learn about one special Fort Wayne native who impacted the world!

    Starting on Thursday, March 13th, Melissa Shimkus will present "Finding Her: Our Female Ancestor," followed on Friday, March 14th, when Cynthia Theusch will focus on "The Harvey Girls." And on Saturday, March 15th, Dr. Victoria Houseman will examine the life and work of "Edith Hamilton, Citizen of Fort Wayne, Citizen of Athens." All three of these free presentations will be from 2:00-3:00 PM, in Meeting Room A. For more information, see the Celebrating Women's History brochure. To register for any of these free events, call 260-421-1225 or send us an email.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • One-on-One Consultations Available

    Tuesday, Mar 04, 2014

    Do you have a brick wall in your research? Would you like a greater understanding of some aspect of your research? The Genealogy Center will be offering 30 minute personal research consultations with a staff member on some troublesome aspect of your search. Upcoming dates are Wednesday March 12th, Wednesday April 9th and Wednesday May 14th. Times for consultations will be from 2pm to 4pm. Call 260-421-1225 or email for an appointment. You will be asked to provide information concerning the nature of your quandary. A staff member will be assigned and you will be contacted with a time for your consultation. Be sure to bring your research notes to your consultation. Space each month is limited, so check your calendars early to take advantage of this unique offer!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Our Personal New Year Genealogy Goals

    Thursday, Jan 02, 2014

    by Delia

    Around The Genealogy Center, when we talk of New Year goals, it's usually what we are planning for The Center. What new sources we'd like to acquire, what new databases might be available, planning for programs and events, and whether we need to shift material again.

    But all of us also have our personal research, which isn't done on work time, and we all have goals in mind for the new year and we thought you'd like to see what we, as fellow genealogists are doing.

    John, who will celebrate his 30th anniversary with The Genealogy Center in 2014, wants to complete all of the pieces of the portfolio for the submission to the Board of Certification of Genealogists and, if the judges approve, become a Certified Genealogist. That will be quite an accomplishment!

    Sara would like to scan all of her family photographs and save copies to the "cloud," as well as to a CD. She'd also like to organize the physical copies of the pictures and store them in a more archival environment than the shoe-boxes in which they currently reside. See? We, too, keep our precious material in places we shouldn't!

    Cynthia's plan is to digitize all of her family records and documents. Sounds simple, but doing it well will take time and patience.

    Dawne will continue to work on her writing and wants to reanalyze documents she found in her early years of research. Re-evaluating is often a path to additional clues.

    Melissa plans to take some road trips to further her investigation of her husband's and her own ancestry. Genealogy road trips can be time consuming, but are often the only way to discover obscure information.

    My plan is to identify and document items inherited from my parents, my aunt and my husband's family. I may know what these things are now, but my daughter will have no clue as to the importance of these objects unless I take the time to do this now.

    And Curt? Well, he's a very busy person. His personal research goal for 2014 is to actually find the time to do some personal research. He's still looking for that 25th hour of the day for that!

    So as you see, we all have different plans for the New Year. Share your goals with us, either as a comment here or on our Facebook page!

    And have a happy, research-successful New Year!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • End of the Year Reminder: Copying

    Monday, Dec 30, 2013

    As we finish the year and you begin to plan your visits to The Genealogy Center, please remember that our copiers no longer accept coins. Our copiers and our computer printers use a card based system wherein you place money on the card, then the system uses the funds as you make your copies. The system will only accept bills ($1s, $5s, $10s).  Researchers have arrived in recent weeks with pockets and purses loaded with coins, resulting is frustration and wasted time as they have to go somewhere to change the coins into bills. So remember to bring bills for your copying.

    And remember to bring a UBS drive as well. Often, the images on our computers are more readable (as well as cheaper) as an electronic copy rather than paper. You may also want to save digital images from books, instead of paper copies, as there is no cost to scan images.

    Whether at The Genealogy Center or another research center, a call or quick email before you visit may provide basic information about the facility.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • A Handful of Treats

    Saturday, Dec 28, 2013

    Our WinterTech series continues on January 8, 2014, when Delia Bourne will share some 'Net Treats, databases and information sites available for free on the Internet, from 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM in Meeting Room C. To register for this free event, call 260-421-1225 or send an email.

    After this event, stay for the monthly meeting of the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana at 6:30 PM.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Year's Eve and Day Closings

    Thursday, Dec 26, 2013

    The Genealogy Center, like the rest of the Allen County Public Library, will close at 5 PM on Tuesday December 31st for New Year's Eve, and will remain closed on Wednesday, January 1st for New Year's Day. We will reopen on Thursday January 2nd at 9 AM. Whether you come here to do research or party elsewhere, drive carefully. And have a wonderful New Year filled with lots of new family history information!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Christmas Traditions and Genealogy

    Monday, Dec 23, 2013

    by John

    The holiday season is a great time to investigate traditions associated with our families. When we interview older relatives, asking them to share holiday memories often elicits an animated response, and the information can be valuable material for us to preserve later on. One of my best Christmas gifts occurred in the early years of the 1980s, when I decided to write to several of my elderly great aunts and first cousins of my grandparents about their earliest Christmas memories. In several cases these were ladies born in the early 1890s whose earliest memories pre-dated the twentieth century. I still have their letters, which they wrote out in a shaky hand, setting out how my great-, and in some cases, great-great grandparents celebrated Christmas. One great-aunt on the Neal side, who had grown up in an upper middle class home in southern Kentucky, described the paper bell that was hung in the hall, the Roman candles that were given to the children to shoot off (one flame nearly missing another aunt), and a recipe for Christmas custard (egg nog, Kentucky-style), that my great-great grandmother (born in 1843) had always made. I still make it for guests, a Civil War era symbol of hospitality.

    Another great-aunt, who had grown up in Goshen, Indiana, in the 1900s, talked about how her parents would decorate the family’s modest tree while the children attended evening church services. My grandfather had gotten stage fright and refused to say his lines in the Christmas pageant, so his little brother had stepped in for him. When they returned home, they found that Santa had come while the kids were at church. Money was tight, but my great-grandmother had scraped up enough money to buy each of the younger girls a bisque head doll. Candles were lit on the tree, but there was always a bucket of water handy in case of fire. A Beatty cousin who lived in the country in the early 1900s said her grandmother, my great-great grandmother (born in 1834), would never light the candles on her tree for fear of fire, since there was no fire department in rural Kosciusko County at the time.

    My maternal grandmother, born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1899, remembered Christmas mornings with presents that Santa had carefully stacked on chairs in the parlor. They had only a very simple tree with handmade ornaments and popcorn strings. Her mother and grandmother, born in Switzerland, would bake Mailänderlis, a Swiss butter cookie cut in shapes and painted with egg yolk before baking. The tradition was carried down, I loved them as a child, and I got the idea in 1990 to video my grandmother (then a spry aged 91), preparing the dough and rolling the cookies out, giving an explanation in the style of Julia Child. Today, sadly, my children hate the cookies, I’m a vegan and can’t eat them, and the tradition has been allowed to go dormant, but I still have the video for any future descendant who wants to take on the challenge.

    I’m also fortunate to have a short 78 rpm record, made for Christmas 1939, with greetings from the family, my grandfather singing “O Holy Night” in his baritone voice, and a precious clip of my great-grandmother (born in 1863), sending greetings. My project this year is to photograph and catalog all of my Christmas ornaments (some of which go back to the 1930s), and put together a kind of ornament heirloom catalog with information about where the ornament came from, if known, and who had it before. (Most are of the German painted blown-glass variety).

    All of these stories are among my holiday treasures, and you can make treasures like this, too, by sending emails to older relatives, cataloging decorations, and, yes, making videos of traditions and events. The stories and traditions won’t just descend to you – they take effort to record. But in the end, you will find it is definitely worth it.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Ornamants for Your Family Tree

    Friday, Dec 20, 2013

    by Delia

    No, not the breakable glass ornaments, nor the plastic ones of your favorite cartoon, sports or movie characters. And not for that green (or pink or silver) tree that appears every year in December. And not just people who celebrate December, either. The ornaments I mean are the the people and facts with which you decorate your family tree, either on paper or electronically.

    The holidays are an ideal time to reconnect with relatives to gather facts and oral reminiscences. Ask an older relative about holidays from his or her youth such as the kinds of gifts requested, given and received; family food traditions; shopping; or attendance at parties or religious events. You will please your interviewee with your interest, and the stories shared will add substance to your family portrait. Ask a new in-law about their family traditions, adding to your information about this new family member and making him or her feel included. And, who knows? You might like to incorporate a new family tradition to your own.

    Of course, you will want to record these shared memories, either by recording the speaker, or at least preserving the memories in print to be shared with future generations. So remember to take the time to decorate your family tree!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Gift Ideas

    Wednesday, Dec 18, 2013

    Would you like to give a family oriented gift this year? Something that reflects your family or some specific person? Try clicking on the "Create a Lasting Genealogy Keepsake" button on our home page and connect with Keepsake Threads, a company that will create pillows, toys, quilts and other items using your pictures or family trees. With Keepsake Threads, your own keepsake clothing can be used to create a one-of-a-kind treasure for a parent, child or friend. Plus a percentage of the profits go to the Allen County Public Library Foundation that supports The Genealogy Center, so not only will you give a terrific gift, but you will also support your favorite (we hope!) genealogy research facility.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Free Databases

    Monday, Dec 16, 2013

    The Genealogy Center has made some recent additions to its Free Databases including:

    Take a few minutes to see if any of these will aid your research, and remember that The Genealogy Center is always interested in expanding our online databases, so look around to see what you might want to share with us, and everyone else!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • More One-on-One Consultations Available

    Saturday, Dec 14, 2013

    Have a brick wall in your family history research? Would you like a greater understanding of some aspect of your genealogy? The Genealogy Center is offering 30-minute personal research consultations with a staff member on some troublesome aspect of your research on Thursday, January 23, 2014, from 2 PM to 4 PM, and on Thursday, February 13, 2014, also from 2 PM to 4 PM. Call 260-421-1225 or send an email for an appointment, providing basic information concerning the nature of your quandary. A staff member will be assigned and a time established for your consultation. Be sure to bring your research notes to your consultation.

    Space is limited, and pre-registration is required. Register today!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Closed for Christmas Holiday

    Thursday, Dec 12, 2013

    The Genealogy Center, like the rest of the Allen County Public Library, will be closed on Tuesday December 24th and Wednesday December 25th for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We will be open our regular hours, 9 AM to 9 PM on Monday, December 22nd and Thursday, December 26th, so there are still plenty of research hours for the holidays!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Researching Indiana Digital Collections

    Monday, Dec 09, 2013

    Don't forget to join us on Wednesday, December 11th, 2:30-3:30 p.m., for our next WinterTech program, "Researching Indiana Digital Collections." If researching family who migrated or resided in the Hoosier state, then this overview of online collections is essential. And plan to make it a full day at The Genealogy Center by staying for the monthly meeting of the Allen County Genealogical Society at 6:30 p.m.

    Call 260-421-1225 or email to register for this program. Click to learn more about our WinterTech offerings for January and February 2014.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Presidential Genealogy

    Wednesday, Dec 04, 2013

    by John

    In many respects this month has been one to remember presidents. We have observed the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. We also recall the many presidential proclamations establishing Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

    There is a great deal about our presidents to interest genealogists. A few of us can actually claim a president among our direct ancestors. Those presidents who have living descendants include the following: John Adams, Jefferson, Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Van Buren, William H. Harrison, Tyler, Taylor, Andrew Johnson, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, Theodore Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson, Harding (through an illegitimate daughter), Coolidge, Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H W Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama. Others never had children (like Washington, Polk, and Buchanan) or have had their lines die out, including most notably Lincoln and Arthur. One, Andrew Jackson, has descendants (though not of his blood) through an adopted son, while Reagan’s only grandchild is through an adopted son.

    Even if you are not a direct presidential descendant, you may be related to a president through a common ancestor. Many presidents trace their ancestry who immigrants who arrived in the colonial era, and from them, many Americans also claim descent. The Genealogy Center has several books that attempt to trace exhaustively the known ancestors of presidents. Perhaps the best book is Gary Boyd Roberts’s Ancestors of American Presidents (2009 edition) (GC 929.11 R54ab). This work catalogs the ancestry of all of the presidents through Obama, contains kinship charts among presidents, and also shows the royal descents of some presidents. Craig Hart’s book, A Genealogy of the Wives of the American Presidents and Their First Two Generations of Descent (973 H251g), attempts to trace the ancestry of First Ladies, though this work is not as comprehensive as the Roberts book.

    If your interest is in the descendants of American presidents, you may wish to examine Burke’s Presidential Families (second edition, 1981) (929.11 B915), or American Presidential Families (1993) (929.11 Am352). The latter book lists descendants of collateral relatives of those presidents who do not have living descendants, but neither work is documented. Some presidents appear in larger published genealogies. For example, in 1990, the Theodore Roosevelt Association published The Roosevelt Family in America: A Genealogy (929.2 R67rf), an extensive genealogy of this extended New York Dutch family.

    New research is continually being published, and sometimes new discoveries are made with some fanfare, such as the discovery of President Obama’s Irish ancestry several years ago. In 2011-2012, Michael Thomas Meggison and R. Andrew Pierce compiled a multi-part article on descendants of Timothy Bush of Connecticut, the paternal ancestor of the Bush family, which continued over three issues in two volumes of The Genealogist (973.005 G2855), published by the American Society of Genealogists. Their research brings to light much new information about this colonial family, which, until recently, has not been fully investigated.

    The Genealogy Center has much to offer anyone wishing to determine if they have a presidential cousin, but be advised that being related to one doesn’t make you part of an elite club. Millions of Americans share kinship with at least one or two. The best part of being a relative is that you can sometimes benefit from the research on your family being done by these professionals.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Thanksgiving & Early Settlements

    Saturday, Nov 30, 2013

    by Delia

    It's always a challenge to find something new and informative to share for the various holidays, so I thought I'd pass along some of what I "knew" as a child, and add what little more I know today. Thanksgiving as a national holiday represents a day to be appreciative of what we have achieved and what we have survived. Traditionally, it was a day to give thanks for the bounty of the harvest that would carry the people through the coming winter and into the new growing season, and had been celebrated on various dates in the different states until 1863, when Abraham Lincoln, prompted by Sarah Josepha Hale, settled on the last Thursday in November for a national celebration, although, due to the ongoing Civil War, the date was not recognized in parts of the South until the 1870s. Franklin D. Roosevelt shifted the date to the fourth Thursday in November to provide an economic boost (that is, extra time for Christmas shopping).

    To a child of the 1950s, the holiday seemed centered on the Pilgrims of Plymouth celebrating a decent harvest with their Native American neighbors. Little girls were dressed up in white bodice collars and caps with long black dresses. Boys had tall black hats and buckle shoes. Dried flint corn and paper turkeys decorated the tables, and we remembered the early European settlers to this country.

    Of course, it was only later that I realized that there were plenty of other early European settlers. There was a Dutch settlement on the Hudson River near Albany, New York in 1614. The English already had a settlement in Jamestown, Virginia that had been established in 1607. The earlier Roanoke Colony in North Carolina was settled in 1585, but the colonists disappeared by 1587. The French established several short-lived outposts in South Carolina, Florida and Texas, but the oldest European colony in the United States is Saint Augustine, Florida, established in 1565. And, of course, there were also many other people already here, with cities and towns already thoroughly established.

    So this year, remind everyone to celebrate Thanksgiving and share the stories of the making of this melting pot.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Thanksgiving Reminder

    Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013

    Though The Genealogy Center will be closed on Thursday, November 28, we will reopen on Friday, November 29, with our regular weekend hours. Our hours this holiday weekend are:

    Wednesday, November 27 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM
    Thursday, November 28 Closed
    Friday, November 29 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Saturday, November 30 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Sunday, December 1 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center