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  • How to Examine a Record

    Monday, Oct 18, 2010

    by Delia

    Sounds easy, doesn't it? You find a record. You look at it. You're done.

    Well, maybe. All too often, we are looking for some specific information, find it (or not) and leave, or copy and file the document away in our files. We need to train ourselves to really examine the entire document and do some evaluation while we are at it.

    First off, what kind of evaluation? Note the source of the document and decide how much credence to apply:

    • Is it some kind of legal document? That provides a certain weight of accuracy to date, place and persons involved, but clerks could still make spelling errors.
    • Church records tend to be accurate on dates and events, but if the document is recorded in a different language (German in some Lutheran churches, Latin in Catholic ones), interpretation may be difficult.
    •  Additions can be made to a family Bible at any time and by any person. Attention should be paid to the handwriting and ink. One can often tell if entries were made singly (probably when the event took place) or in groups (when memory errors would be more likely).
    • Census records will only list people living at that time, but the information is not necessarily provided by a family member.
    • City directories may continue to list a husband as head of household (and living!) long after he's deceased.
    • County histories are great, but the biographies are generally written by family members, who may forget information, perpetuate erroneous family legends, or lie to cover embarrassing situations.
    • When was the document created? And why? Knowing the origin can also assist in evaluating the veracity of the information.
    Once you evaluate your source, don't just pull out the information you want. Examine the whole document:
    • The 1900 census shows the names, ages, occupations and birthplaces of each person, but also notes whether someone was a veteran, and of which war.
    • Don't ignore neighbors on the census. Friends or relatives may be the key to the birthplace of an ancestor.
    • Go beyond the biography section of a county history. Your ancestors lived in the community. Find out what was going on, even if they are not mentioned specifically.
    • On a marriage record, note who performed the service. The name of the minister may be crucial in identifying the denomination. (And note the witnesses, too.)
    • Check out the back of the city directory. Some include mortality lists for the previous year.
    • Look at the back of framed photographs. You may learn not only the subject of the photo, but the photographer and his/her location. (Ditto the backs of unidentified newspaper clippings as you hunt for a date.)
    When possible, make copies of the document, and take time to examine your sources at a later date. We all gain knowledge and experience on a daily basis. At some point in the future, information on a document may strike a new chord, leading to a breakthrough in your research.

    So the next time a new document comes your way, take the time to really examine it and wring every drop of data to further your genealogical research.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Our Blog is Moving

    Friday, Oct 15, 2010

    With all the excitement involving our new catalog, and new website, we're now pleased to announce The Genealogy Center Blog is moving to its new home on The Genealogy Center website! We are in transition at the moment, so we'll cross-post on both sites. Please join us at our new home!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Genealogy Center's New Website Debuts!

    Wednesday, Oct 13, 2010

     The Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library has launched a new website that provides easier access to the department's online resources both for local residents and those accessing the site worldwide.

     

    Some of the exciting features that can be accessed via the website include a number of free databases that The Genealogy Center has developed, including the African American Gateway, Family Bible Records and Our Military Heritage. The African American Gateway combines more than 1,000 links to Internet sites for African American research, coupled with bibliographic information on African American Sources in The Genealogy Center's collection. The Family Bible Records site features digitized images of bible records that patrons have allowed the Center to scan and upload. These have been transcribed and are searchable. Our Military Heritage is a cornucopia of digitized images of military records and photographs from the Colonial era to the current war in Afghanistan. The Center also has an ever-growing collection of state-specific databases available free for patrons, with a heavy concentration of Allen County information.

     

    Ask a Librarian is a popular feature of the Allen County Public Library's website as a whole. Now patrons can ask a genealogy librarian their reference questions directly from The Genealogy Center's website. The site also features direct links to the book and microtext catalogs and to the Center's orientation video so that visitors from the local area and beyond can plan their research visits and make the most efficient use of their time once at the Center.

     

    The Genealogy Center's website is the launchpad to a number of other resources, including full-text books that have been digitized by Internet Archives, the Center's Pathfinders to various areas of research, and the Community Album, a collection of historical photographs for the surrounding area.

     

    The Genealogy Center offers a wide variety of programming throughout the year. The website is the place to find out all of the details about upcoming class opportunities. Additional Genealogy Center news is available through the Center's blog, Facebook page and by subscribing to the department E-Zine, all accessed through convenient links from the new website.

     

     

     

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Coming Soon: A New Catalog

    Sunday, Sep 26, 2010

    Family History Month isn't the only exciting thing at The Genealogy Center this fall. We are launching a new catalog on Thursday, September 30th. To learn more about the new catalog, view the attached video.
    Catalog Video
    Keep watching our website for more exciting changes planned at The Genealogy Center.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Get Ready -- Get Set -- RESEARCH!

    Friday, Sep 24, 2010

    Of course, we all just want to jump right into the research. Whether it's wandering through the cemetery, cranking through microfilm seeking that elusive ancestor or dancing through the various databases in pursuit of great-great-grandma, for most of us, the fun is in the hunt. We sometimes forget to prepare to do our research. If you are getting online to do a bit of electronic sleuthing, prepare yourself by reviewing the family you are chasing. Recheck the vital dates that you have, as well as locations. Think about the names you are seeking. If you are looking for a Mary, remember, she might have been Molly or Polly, or even Marie! Contemplate the many ways that the names could be misspelled. Ask yourself why someone may have provided erroneous information. When you want to go to a courthouse to research, organize what you have and know what you want to learn. Find out, in advance if possible, if the records you want exist and how to access them. For example, a courthouse fire in 1896 may have destroyed civil marriage records, so you won't want to waste time hunting for them. However, it may occur to you that the family was, say, Catholic, so a call to the parish or to a diocesan office may guide you to church marriage records. Also, check to be sure the office you wish to visit will be open the day you plan to be there. And have a back-up plan. Power outages, plumbing problems and severe illness could result in a sudden office closing, so a tentative plan to visit a nearby cemetery or church is good to keep in mind. As you see, preparing for a research trip is always a good idea. Seeking advice from an archivist, librarian, or another researcher can bring fresh ideas to your research, and such consultations are the best part of my job here at the Genealogy Center, but an inadequately organized query can only hinder the success of the quest. Re-evaluate your data to make sure that it follows a logical path. At age 8, that woman was too young to have given birth to your great-grandfather. And your grandmother's uncle really wasn't born 15 months after his father died. Reassessing the information you have may open new avenues of research. So take a few minutes while planning your research activities to consider what you you wish to achieve, what's impossible, and how you might make the impossible, possible.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Lincoln & Civil War Politics

    Monday, Sep 20, 2010

    Running the country and conducting a Civil War weren't the only things on Abraham Lincoln's mind. Political controversy was a daily occurrence. The Lincoln Financial Collection, housed at the Allen County Public Library, contains a vast collection of broadsides, pamphlets, booklets, maps, photographs, and cartoons that provide in-depth background on Lincoln and the politics of his time. To highlight this material, The Genealogy Center Gallery is hosting a display of facsimiles of some of these original documents. Stop in and see this fascinating display.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Are You Ready?

    Tuesday, Sep 14, 2010

    The month of October is always wonderful in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Between the fall colors, the cooling temperatures, the wonderful groups who visit, and of course, the events at The Genealogy Center, we have 31 days of research fun planned. Woven within our various offerings are several special programs that might entice a visit. Every Tuesday (10/5, 10/12, 10/19, 10/26) from 2:00-4:00 pm, we are offering 30 minute one-on-one consultations with our staff concerning your research problems. Please email your consultation request or call 260-421-1225 to schedule your appointment. On Friday & Saturday, 10/8-10/9, the 3rd Annual Military Symposium will feature national speaker, Amy Johnson Crow, who will present The Last Full Measure: Military Burials, Researching Your Civil War Ancestors Online, State and Local Records for Civil War Research, After Mustering Out: Researching Civil War Veterans, and For Benefit of the Soldier: Civil War Fraternal Organizations. Registration is required. The last Friday of the month, October 29, we are celebrating Family History Month with our annual Midnight Madness. From 6:00 pm to midnight, researchers will have six extra hours to delve into the Center's collections. Friday, October 29, through Sunday, October 31, researchers are invited to participate in Start Sharing the News! A Celebration of Collaboration. It begins Friday with a dinner at the historic Baker Street Station, followed by multiple sessions on Saturday, ending with a tour of the Lindenwood Cemetery on Sunday. Registration is required. Take time now to schedule your trip(s) to Fort Wayne to take advantage of all these opportunities.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Sunday Hours Returning

    Friday, Sep 10, 2010

    Beginning Sunday, September 12th, The Genealogy Center will once again be open 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm on Sundays. It's a great time to plan a weekend at The Genealogy Center! Our regular hours will be: Mon-Thurs 9:00 am - 9:00 pm Fri-Sat 9:00 am - 6:00 pm Sun 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm With planned events in October with Family History Month, think of visiting us this fall.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Orientation Video

    Saturday, Sep 04, 2010

    Before visiting The Genealogy Center, you may want to consider viewing our Orientation Video. The video is a 17 minute virtual tour through our department that orients the viewer with all five rooms, how we're organized, ways to access our material, and patron responsibilities. It's one more step to insuring you make the best use of your time when visiting our facility.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Beyond the Basics Mini-Course Update

    Wednesday, Sep 01, 2010

    The waiting list for the September 17-18, 2010 Beyond the Basics Mini-Course is now closed. While we are disappointed that everyone who has expressed an interest cannot attend, we are very pleased with the high demand. We hope to offer this course again soon. Keep watching!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Pre-1882 Indiana Deaths

    Monday, Aug 30, 2010

    Of course, The Genealogy Center offers a wide variety of databases for your use. Some are subscription databases can only be used by those visiting one of the Allen County Public Library's branches. Our other databases include ones we've created in which many are centered on Allen County, including indexes for obituaries, some cemeteries, early death records and modern marriages. But there is also a section of Indiana and Other States Resources that includes a wide variety of free information. Now, we all know that the recording of deaths was not mandated in Indiana until the 1880s, although there are many various sources for locating a death date. But trying to recall all possible sources can be frustrating. Fortunately, Dawne Slater-Putt, Certified Genealogist and professional librarian with the The Genealogy Center created a database using county histories, family Bibles, and other published and unpublished sources to create Pre-1882 Indiana Deaths, and has allowed it to be posted on the The Genealogy Center's site for your use. You may search by first and/ or last name, and employ exact, Soundex or Fuzzy (any part of the name) search. The results will supply date and location of death, parents' names, if supplied, and source with page number. It is always advisable to proceed on to the source, which may supply more information about the person's life and survivors. If you are seeking an elusive Hoosier, take a few minutes to check this wonderful source!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Labor Day ... and Beyond

    Thursday, Aug 26, 2010

    The Genealogy Center, like the rest of the Allen County Public Library, will be closed on Monday, September 6, 2010, in observance of Labor Day. We will, however, be open our regular hours, 9 am to 6 pm, on Saturday, September 5th. Sunday hours, 12 noon to 5 pm, begin the next weekend, Sunday September 12th.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Flexible Genealogist

    Monday, Aug 23, 2010

    By Dawne The process of doing genealogical research causes us to change our perceptions regularly. Television and the Internet have brought genealogy into the public eye and in many cases have given beginners the notion that researching family history is simply a matter of typing a name into a computer database. When they do not get the results they expect, they understandably are disappointed. At this point, if they persevere and ask questions at their local library, or of a friend who does genealogy, they will learn about record books, courthouses, research libraries, cemeteries and, yes, more locations on the Internet, as well as the rest of what makes up the mosaic of resources for family history research. Similarly, one of the earliest lessons we learn as genealogists is that government records are not infinite. There is a starting date for civil vital records in every U.S. state, and it usually is well after the date of statehood. Even if our ancestor was born or died after the commencement of vital records, he or she still may not have a birth record or a death record. And so we change our perception and learn to turn to alternative records to find the information we seek. Genealogists hear about the Mecca that is the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the “other” Mecca that is the Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library. Yet neither of these facilities has resources for every location, time period and family. When genealogists visit these libraries with a narrow idea of what they expect to find, for example, Grandpa’s adoption record, they may come up empty handed. Then they will have to change their perception to realize that for that particular resource, they will need to research in a state archives, a local courthouse or the local public library, etc. At one time or another, virtually every genealogist will need to do long-distance research and it may not be feasible to visit the area where an ancestor lived. Sometimes it is possible to request needed books via Interlibrary Loan. And occasionally a fortunate researcher may be able to get information or request photocopies by telephoning the public library or courthouse in the remote location. However, to avoid frustration, the flexible researcher should expect that these cases of “telephone fulfillment” are the exception rather than the rule. So when you cannot immediately have Great-Grandma’s obituary read over the phone, ask “Is there a procedure for getting a copy of the obituary?” Don’t give up; just look for another way. In other situations, ask, “Who might have this record?” or “Is there another record that might give me the same kind of information?” or “How can I get access to your collection from long distance?” or “Do you have a suggestion for solving this problem?” or “What should I do next?” Because the Genealogy Center is a reference collection, its books are not available via Interlibrary Loan. However, this does not mean that people who live long distance do not have access to the material in the Genealogy Center’s books! On the contrary, researchers simply need to change their perception of how they gain access to the material. There are a number of options, including having the Research Center – the Genealogy Center’s research branch – photocopy materials from a specific source or do open-ended research. (See the Quick Search Form and Research Request Form.) Researchers also can request photocopies of needed pages through the Interlibrary Loan service or hire a professional researcher to do work in the collection. If finances are tight, perhaps it would be possible to find someone who has a need (research, proofreading, web site design, typesetting) and arrange an exchange of tasks, or prioritize needs and order a little at a time. The flip side of this last idea is when copies of journal articles are needed, however. With the Genealogy Center’s Article Request Form, it is possible to get six articles for one base fee, plus the per-page copy charge. So rather than request just one article each time you locate one, why not save them until you have six that you can request at once? Try to look at the process of researching your family history as a journey rather than a destination, and remain flexible rather than becoming frustrated by challenges. Instead of trying to leap-frog back through the generations as quickly as possible, change your perception to realize that genealogy isn’t always quick and easy, but that’s part of the joy in it. Take some time to explore alternative resources and fully extract all clues from each record that you find. Treasures are waiting where you least expect them.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Mini-Course Update

    Thursday, Aug 19, 2010

    Family History: Beyond the Basics, scheduled for Friday and Saturday September 17-18, 2010, is filled. We will be establishing a waiting list, so you can still send in your registration and we will notify you if space becomes available. This mini-course will be offered again in the future. Watch Genealogy Special Programs to keep informed of this, and all of our courses, symposiums and classes.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Preparing for a Conference

    Tuesday, Aug 17, 2010

    Since our colleagues and researchers are at the FGS Conference this week, we thought we should share some ideas of how we prepare for a conference. 1. Review the program schedule ahead of time and print items from the syllabus that way you have it available to write notes. 2. Create handy "business cards" with your name, contact information, and surnames you are researching. It makes it easy to share and connect with new friends and family. 3. Read the websites and blogs for the organizations hosting the conference. Most groups want you to have a fun and productive time, so they will post information concerning local restaurants, events, research facilities, and sites to visit. 4. If setting aside time for genealogy research, create a research plan. Review research center/ courthouse/ library hours, rules, and catalog to save time.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Family Documents

    Friday, Aug 13, 2010

    What should I do with my family bible? I have my grandfather's military papers, but am unsure if it will help anyone. I discovered letters among my family papers. Would you be interested? The Genealogy Center is currently working on several digitization projects. If you would like to share your family documents and make them available online, consider donating or loaning your material to the Genealogy Center to digitize and make publicly accessible.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Family History Month Is Coming!

    Tuesday, Aug 10, 2010

    The Genealogy Center is again planning 31 days of research enjoyment and education for your genealogical gratification! As usual, we have something planned for each day, but this year, we've divided the month into sections highlighting different aspects of research.
    • General Week, October 1st through 9th, will include a beginning genealogy workshop, classes on land records and Genealogy Center basics, and will finish with the third annual Military Symposium.
    • Preservation Week, October 10th through 16th, will offer classes on preservation, scrapbooking, scanning, as well as a basic lecture on wiring a family history.
    • Technology Week, October 17th through 23rd, will provide information on useful websites and databases, as well the use of Adobe Elements software and creating a family website.
    • Death Week, October 24th through 31st, will highlight death records, obituaries, haunted sites in Fort Wayne, Midnight Madness Extended Research Hours on Friday, and will end with a bang with the Cemetery Seeker's Start Sharing the News! three day conference.
    And every Tuesday afternoon, Genealogy Center staff will offer 30 minute one-on-one consultations to advise you on your knottiest research problems. For class descriptions and registration information, check our calendar, then mark yours to take part in this exciting month!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Thank You!

    Saturday, Aug 07, 2010

    Who knew genealogy was so popular? Or that a genealogy collection could have so many wonderful people enjoy its services? Our Facebook page has reached its 1000th fan! We, at The Genealogy Center, would like to thank you for your continued support.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Your Story

    Thursday, Aug 05, 2010

    StoryCorps has finished its month long visit to Fort Wayne. The trailer located outside the Allen County Public Library was a continuous reminder to researchers to record their personal history for future generations. The Genealogy Center held four wonderful programs in July commemorating Preserve YOUR Story. We should all continue focusing on the theme to share our stories. Some ways we can insure our lives are remembered are by maintaining journals or blogs, sending postcards documenting our travels, completing a family newsletter once a year, and organizing our photos.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Footnote.com

    Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010

    Footnote, a database available at the Genealogy Center, maintains partnerships with the National Archives, Library of Congress, and other institutions, including the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library, in an effort to provide unique historical documents online. Besides searching for historical and genealogical records for an ancestor on Footnote.com, you can also browse their varied collections of material. One unique collection on their site is the Interactive Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where you can view a digital image of the wall and read comments and stories concerning the soldier. The Black History Collection contains documents, photos, and pages pertaining to Slavery, Civil War, Reconstruction & Jim Crow Laws, World Wars, and the Civil War Movement. The Holocaust Collection carries stories, maps and facts from concentration camps, details from the Holocaust Assets Collection, and National Archives records and images. Other specialized collections currently on Footnote.com are the Native American Collection, Interactive Census Project, World War II Collection, and the Great Depression.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center