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  • Plug-In Your Armchair Genealogy: Researching from Home

    Thursday, Jan 24, 2013

    This session takes the armchair research of the past - letters, queries, Interlibrary loan and phone calls - and gives it a modern twist. There's so much that can be found through the Internet to advance your research, even if you do not subscribe to a single commercial (for-pay) database!

    Meeting Room A, 2:30 PM - 3:30 PM.

    To register for this free class, send an email or call 260-421-1225.

    For more information, see our WinterTech brochure.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Challenge of Missing Census Pages

    Sunday, Jan 20, 2013

    By John

    The recent effort of Ancestry to correct some of its birthplace entries in the census database is to be applauded. For many years we have known that census takers wrote "IA" for Indiana in the birth fields on the 1850 and 1860 censuses. Abstractors transcribed it incorrectly as "Iowa." A recent announcement herald that these earlier errors have been corrected.

    There is still more to be done to make federal census images more complete. When Ancestry and other companies digitized the federal census records, they used the microfilm versions of those records, instead of going back to the original volumes. (The originals are only available for early census to 1870; the later schedules have been destroyed). Unfortunately, when the original films were created, some errors occurred and a few scattered pages here and there were never filmed. They still exist in the original volumes in the National Archives and Records Administration, but researchers using the census databases will not find the names on those pages, since they have never been digitized.

    Here's a story that illustrates the challenge. More than a decade ago, the late George Fitzgerald, a local Fort Wayne genealogist, undertook some research on George McCulloch, a Fort Wayne banker and later Secretary of the Treasury in the Lincoln administration. He searched the 1850 census, but couldn't find him (a younger man with that name was listed, not the 40-year-old banker from Maine). Where was Hugh? George went to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., examined the original 1850 register for Allen County, and discovered that page 159 of Wayne Township, Allen County, had never been filed due to camera operator error. There he found Hugh McCulloch along with six other households, all of which were later transcribed and published in the "Allen County Lines," vol. 26, no 4 (June 2002).

    In my research over the years I have discovered that other census pages were inadvertently missed. In 1820, a number of pages were left out of the microfilm of the Virginia census, now transcribed online, as well as in the "Virginia Genealogist," vol. 18, no. 2 (April-June 1974). Unfortunately, the accompanying household data was not abstracted.

    I feel certain that there are other missing pages here and there in the microfilm editions that resulted from camera operator error many years ago. If a company such as Ancestry were to digitize these lost pages, they could truly lay claim to having the most complete census records extant. However, locating and correcting these omissions could be a herculean task.

    In any case, it is worth noting that if you absolutely cannot find someone who you feel should be on the federal census, it may be that you are encountering a missing page. While not a widespread problem, such errors do exist.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • March Madness, Genealogy Style: Telling Your Story

    Thursday, Jan 17, 2013

    As we spend time searching for our ancestors, we often forget that we and others around us have important stories to share. This year, March Madness, Genealogy Style will examine the various ways these stories can be saved and documented for future generations. Classes include:

    Monday March 4, 2013, 2P-3P, Meeting Room A
    Gathering & Writing the Stories of Your Life -- Beginning Steps
    Curt Witcher

    Tuesday March 5, 2013, 2P-3P, Meeting Room A
    Did It Really Happen That Way? Documenting Oral History
    Delia Bourne

    Wednesday March 6, 2013, 2P-3P, Meeting Room A
    Insuring Our Story: Recording & Transcribing Oral History
    Melissa Shimkus

    Thursday March 7, 2013, Heirlooms & Artifacts – Meeting Room A
    11A – 12N: Tracking Heirlooms & Telling Their Stories
    Dawne Slater-Putt
    2 P – 3 P: Beyond the Family Bible: Making the Most of Heirlooms and Artifacts in Genealogical Research
    John Beatty

    Friday March 8, 2013, 10A-11A, Meeting Room A
    Writing Personal History
    Dawne Slater-Putt

    Saturday March 9, 2013, 10A-11A, Meeting Room A
    Creating a Family History Storybook
    Cynthia Theusch

    For more information, see brochure. To register for any or all of these free events, send an email or call 260-421-1225.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Getting a Snack....

    Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013

    Starting Monday, January 21, 2013, the Dunkin' Donuts on the first floor of the Allen County Public Library's main branch will close an hour earlier Mondays through Thursdays, at 8 PM instead of 9 PM. As usual, of course, no food or beverages are allowed in The Genealogy Center.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Australian Research Expert to Speak March 15, 2013

    Monday, Jan 14, 2013

    Liz Pidgeon, Local and Family History Librarian at Yarra Plenty Regional Library, in Melbourne, Victoria, will offer "Researching Australian Family History, with Additional Tips for Finding Your American Ancestor in Australia." She will provide an introduction to research in Australia, and an overview of sources, including archives, genealogy and family history societies, convict research, military resources, and libraries, including the National Library's Trove website. She will also be available for research questions after the lecture.

    Liz began as Librarian Cataloguer at YPRL in 1991 and was involved in the early implementation of digitization programs. In 2005 she was appointed as Local and Family History Librarian co-ordinating local and family history services for the region as part of the Community Engagement team. Responsibilities include overseeing collections, developing partnerships with local history groups and councils, and promoting the value of local and family history to the community through network meetings and programs in the library. She has a long time personal interest in both local and family history, and is actively involved in the preservation of photographs and stories. She has also been a Creative Memories Consultant for over 10 years.

    This one-hour class starts at 2:00 PM and will be held in Meeting Room A.

    To register for this free event, send an email or call 260-421-1225.

    Take advantage of this rare, and free, opportunity to hear and meet with an expert from Down Under!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • If the Record is Blowin' in the Wind

    Friday, Jan 11, 2013

    by Melissa & Delia

    Recently, a researcher was bemoaning the fact that one of the recent natural disasters that have befallen this country destroyed the county facility where she had hoped to search for records on one of her families. Imagine her happiness when it was pointed out to her that the original records may have been destroyed, but various organizations and authors had already published books and articles which indexed and transcribed the marriage, probate and deed records that she needed and that we had those books here in The Genealogy Center!

    While examining original records is always preferable, in many cases where floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and other events have made that impossible, the past and current activities of local genealogical and historical societies, lineage societies like the D.A.R., the W.P.A., and individual authors have recorded this precious information.

    Of course, preservation activities within the community are always advisable. Libraries or local societies can make contact with the court clerk and investigate scanning or microfilming the records for storage elsewhere. But for records lost in the past 20 to 30 years, don't forget our genealogical predecessors who have already paved the preservation way.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Who's Your Mommy?

    Monday, Jan 07, 2013

    by Delia

    Congratulations! You found your ancestor in the 1880 census, a 14-year-old boy living with his parents and several siblings, both older and younger! You gleefully place these new names on your family chart and proceed on with your research. Right?

    No, of course not! You realize that this young man may well be the son of the head of the household (he's listed as the man's son, after all), but that woman might be his mother, or may be someone his widowed (or divorced) father may have married after the boy's mother died.

    Since you've already tried getting a full death record to see if his parents are listed (no, the space is blank), and his obituary (not mentioned), you know you have to try another few tricks. You look for will and/or probate records, but, although the father's will mentioned his children by name, the woman died before her husband.

    You look for marriage records and find a record for the father marrying a woman of the correct first name a year before the oldest child in the family was born. But as you check further and discover the father married again, in 1872, to a woman with the same first name as his first wife. You find a cemetery listing for the first wife (you ignored it before, thinking she was still alive in 1880), and all of the pieces are falling into place. A close examination of church records verifies your theory: Your ancestor was the son of the 1880 head of household and his first wife. And you have successfully resisted the urge to jump to a conclusion without all of the facts.

    NOW you can add those names in the proper places!

    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

  • New Year Goals

    Sunday, Dec 30, 2012

    by Delia

    When I first started researching, I would make up my New Year's goals for genealogy. Initially, the list was full of "Find great-grandmother's brother's wife's maiden name," and "Figure out what happened to Harry." Those were all great goals, but, really, I was going to work on those anyway. New Year's goals should encourage us to do something different, to make a change for the better in our research techniques, our documentation standards, or our policies about sharing material. So here are a few goals you might want to consider:

    Pledge to investigate new information thoroughly, and evaluate the source for authenticity and accuracy.

    Pledge to add the new information to your research compilation along with detailed citations that include the source person or document, and where the source is located.

    Pledge to submit something of your research to posterity, such as write and submit a well-documented article to a genealogical society journal or scan old family photos to a disk and submit to a historical society or to The Genealogy Center's Family Resources.

    Pledge to talk to an older relative and really listen, learning more about his or her life experiences, and record or transcribe what you hear.

    Pledge to join a genealogical society. As more and more people are connected only electronically, we are losing the benefits of sharing our research triumphs and failures with others.

    Pledge to attend a genealogical conference at least once. Aside from valuable classes and vendors on display at a conference, the networking opportunities and problem-solving discussions are invaluable. Genealogists are among the most friendly of conference attendees, willing to converse with others about various research sources and techniques. Of course, I might mention that the Federation of Genealogical Societies' annual conference, Journey Through Generations, will be in Fort Wayne August 21-24, 2013.

    Last, pledge to be on the watch for others who may be interested in researching their family trees, and aid them as they begin. You may be able to introduce a friend to the wonders of family history.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Year's Closings

    Wednesday, Dec 26, 2012

    Like other Allen County Public Library facilities, The Genealogy Center will close at 5PM on Monday, December 31st (our hours that day will be 9AM to 5PM) for New Year's Eve, and will be closed all day on Tuesday, January 1, 2013. We will reopen our regular hours, 9AM to 9PM on Wednesday, January 2nd. Take the time we are closed to create your Genealogy New Year's Goals!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Gift Everyone Wants: To Be Heard

    Sunday, Dec 23, 2012

    by Delia

    Of course, we as genealogists value the tales of our ancestors, whether he was a Baptist deacon, she was a missionary, he was a bank robber or she was labeled a lunatic for disagreeing with her husband. Of course, the farther back we go, the more interesting they become.

    But the ancestor sitting right in front of us doesn't seem nearly as interesting. He or she is old, crotchety and complains a lot and maybe there's that medicinal smell that reminds us of our own mortality. When a question about the past arises, the facts might get embellished or the speaker will go off on some tangent, telling every conceivable part of the backstory and struggling to reconcile the dates and events to match the story.

    A colleague recently shared this with me, and as I read through the poem, I thought about the people whose stories I had heard, and while I wished I had actually recorded those tales, I was happy that I had listened and remembered. Those accounts were good for me to hear and good for someone else to tell.

    At this time of gift-giving, we often hear others worry what to give to an older relative, usually resorting to bath robes and lotions. This year, let's advise these non-family historians that the best gift they can give to an older relative is uninterrupted listening time. And, in return, the gift might just come back as a greater understanding of the family.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Emancipation Proclamation Panel Discussion on January 13, 2013

    Friday, Dec 21, 2012

    by Jane

    To commemorate the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection's Lincoln at the Library program will present “Lincoln’s Gamble: The Emancipation Proclamation.”

    This panel discussion of the context and effects of the Proclamation will be held on Sunday, January 13, 2013, in the Main Library's Meeting Room A, from 2:00 to 3:00 in the afternoon. Panelists will offer varying perspectives—political, historical, and cultural—on the Proclamation and will address questions from the audience. “Lincoln’s Gamble” is sponsored by the Friends of the Allen County Public Library.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • We're Tweeting!

    Wednesday, Dec 19, 2012

    By Dawne

    The Genealogy Center has joined the ranks of Those Who Tweet. Interested individuals can go to and log in as usual, or sign up for a free Twitter account, to follow @ACPLGenealogy. The Genealogy Center Twitter account joins this blog, the The Genealogy Center website, the department’s Facebook page and the electronic magazine, Genealogy Gems, as another way to reach out to patrons and let them know what’s happening at The Genealogy Center. Tweets will mention programs, special events, genealogy tips, news and more.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Closed for Holidays December 23 through 25, 2012

    Sunday, Dec 16, 2012

    The Genealogy Center, like all other facilities of the Allen County Public Library, will be closed Sunday,  December 23rd through Tuesday December 25th. We will be open our regular hours, 9AM to 6PM, on Saturday, December 22nd, and will reopen our regular hours, 9AM to 9PM, on Wednesday, December 26th. We wish everyone a safe, happy and genealogically enlightening holiday!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Our Ever-Growing Free Databases

    Thursday, Dec 13, 2012

    by Delia

    If you haven't checked The Genealogy Center's Free Databases recently (or ever), now is a good time.

    Fifteen rural cemetery transcriptions have been added recently, from Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Wabash, Wells and Whitley Counties in Indiana and Berrien County in Michigan, thanks to the efforts of a pair of area cemetery preservation enthusiasts. Each entry contains the tombstone transcription and although the cemeteries can be searched separately, one can also use the federated search box on The Genealogy Center's home page.

    More than 450 surnames have been added to our Genealogy Center Surname File,which facilitates contact among researchers who have visited us and added their contact information. The entire Surname File can be searched by last name.

    And finally, more than seven thousand citations have been added to the Fort Wayne and Allen County Obituary Index, 1841-October 2012. Our extensive index of obituaries for the county is a boon to researchers of local families, past and present. This file can be searched separately or through the federated search.

    So take the time to browse through these, and all of the other records available for free at The Genealogy Center!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Add Color to Your Research

    Monday, Dec 10, 2012

    by Delia

    Like other agencies of the Allen County Public Library, The Genealogy Center installed new copiers in early November. Two of them are an upgrade of what we had before, so no real changes there. However, the other two have the capability of producing color copies! The new color copiers are located in the Family History Room.

    Once you select the copier mode and use your copy card, the new machine will provide black and white copies, but all you have to do is press the "Full Color" button, then Start to get a color copy.

    At twenty-five cents, the color copies are a bit pricier than the ten cent black and white ones, but if you find a map, photo or document in color, it's worth the price.

    So come to visit and see our newest aid to our researchers.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Remember and Record

    Friday, Dec 07, 2012

    by Delia

    Today is the 71st anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which triggered America's involvement in the Second World War. Many men and women died that day, and many more would die, in battle or from injuries, in the years to come. Each year, veterans pass away without telling their stories, whether from that war or others since. Please take this weekend to seek out a veteran and record his or her story, on paper or with an audio or video recording, and scan or copy photos, letters, diaries and other documents that record the experiences. Keep the information for your family, donate it to a local library or historical society, or send copies or originals to us for inclusion in Our Military Heritage. We can scan typed or digitized material and return the originals, along with an electronic copy. The people who served need to be remembered.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Class to Aid You in Organization

    Tuesday, Dec 04, 2012

    Having trouble keeping your research tasks and needs organized? “Using OneNote in your Genealogical Research” will help you learn how to use Microsoft OneNote, to keep your genealogical notes, references, and research in a single place and accessible from any computer.

    This one-hour class starts at 2:30 PM and will be held in Meeting Room A.

    To register for this free event, send an email or call 260-421-1225.

    This class is part of The Genealogy Center’s WinterTech series. Future classes are “E-Readers & Family History,” on January 9, 2013, and “Plug In Your Armchair Genealogy: Researching from Home,” on February 13, 2013. For more information on any of these classes, see the brochure.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Partings

    Friday, Nov 30, 2012

    On November 30, 2012, Steve Myers will log his last hours as The Genealogy Center's Assistant Manager. He is retiring from the library to pursue other genealogical opportunities. Steve has been with us since 1986, first as a Reference Librarian, then as Assistant Manager. He has helped The Genealogy Center accomplish many great things during his tenure with us, including two major moves (2003 and 2007) of not only the genealogy collection but also of the entire library, and many minor (and not so minor!) shifts of materials through the years. All of our publications, including our subject guides and "Genealogy Gems," have benefited from his high editorial standards. Steve pioneered our two-day mini-courses, and challenged us to keep our customers central in all we do. We are going to greatly miss his professionalism, his customer-service ideals, and his sense of humor. We wish him well as he follows his new path, and we hope to see him almost as much as a customer and a volunteer as we did as colleague.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • FamilySearch Adds 2M+ Images to Indiana Marriage Database

    Tuesday, Nov 27, 2012

    By Dawne

    FamilySearch ROCKS!

    This will be of interest to those who have Indiana ancestors – FamilySearch,org recently uploaded more than two million digital marriage record images to its database titled Indiana Marriages 1811-1959. Members of the Indiana Genealogical Society, as partners with FamilySearch have been indexing the state’s marriage records for several years. Until this recent bump, the database was about 68 percent complete and included no record images. In one significant update, the database jumped to 82 percent complete with the more than two million images attached.

    The database is searchable and includes data for marriage returns and licenses from eighty of Indiana’s ninety-two counties, including some pre-statehood Indiana Territory marriage records. The counties that have not yet been included are Perry, Pike, Porter, Pulaski, Putnam, Scott, Shelby, Spencer, Stark, Switzerland, Tipton and Vermillion. FamilySearch reports that additional records will be added as they are completed.

    In a few cases, images for counties included in the database are not yet available for viewing because of contract issues, but they are available on microfilm and may be borrowed from the Family History Library through its film loan program.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center