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  • Tips on Abstracting a Record

    Monday, Mar 21, 2011

    by John

    It is easy for us to photocopy or capture digitally every record or entry we find for an ancestor. There are many advantages for doing so, especially if an original source is not clear or the handwriting is difficult to read. But what if you are looking at a lot of records for a particular surname? You may be exploring, say, a church record for a particular place and want to identify all of the extended family members of your ancestor or people of the same last name living in that locality. It may not be practical to photocopy or digitize every single page, since the sheer number of records will become cumbersome.

    I would suggest as an alternative that researchers make a careful abstraction of the pertinent records, especially when you are researching and gleaning a large number of references for a given surname and want to piece the extended family together at a later date. Abstractions will never take the place of very important records, but they will help expedite and manage large genealogical projects.

    Here are a few tips. First, be sure to make a careful record of the source being examined. If it is an LDS film, make note of the film number; if a library book, make note of the author, title, publisher, date, and call number. Then, once you are into the record itself, make a note of the original source being referenced, if listed. If you are looking at a church record on an LDS microfilm, make note of the original title page of the register, the type of record it contains (for example, baptisms), and the inclusive dates. Then as you go through the record and make extract the entries for the surname of interest, note the original page numbers.

    Other details you decide to abstract will depend on the type of record being consulted. If a church record, you will want to note the date and all pertinent associated names, including witnesses of marriages or names of godparents. If a deed record, make note of the buyer, seller, spouses, witnesses, and make a careful record of the legal description of the land and the names of people with adjoining land, if listed. If a will record, make note of testator, spouse, all persons and their bequests, the name of the executor, all witnesses, and the writing date and probate date.

    Your goal is to be able to go back to the source to find the original reference, if necessary, as well as have enough abstracted material to use the record as evidence as you later write a family history and footnote the source. Keeping careful abstracts is a good research habit and is an essential part of a large genealogical project, where you can't copy everything.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Researching and Documenting Work Animals and Pets

    Friday, Mar 18, 2011

     by Delia

     I currently have three cats, but over my life, my family has shared space with dogs, guinea pigs, a rabbit and a parakeet named Dickie. My mother-in-law was always partial to dogs as her life was saved by her pet as a child, when her mutt defended her from a rabid dog in the 1930s. Her pet didn’t survive, of course, but her appreciation and affection spread to many dogs throughout her life.

    Many of our ancestors owned pets and/or work animals. Most pets had a job to do, just as most children started chores at an early age. One often could not tell much difference between hunting or herd dogs and the family pet. Cats were expected to keep the population of vermin down at home, barn or business as well as providing affection and companionship. And a horse might work in the mornings, then carry a child to a swimming pond in the afternoon.

    Horses, like cattle or sheep, were often marked in some fashion to denote ownership. Dogs and later cats, were often registered and licensed. The licensing was often meant to control the animal population running loose through the community, and later also enforced regular rabies shots.

    The Genealogy Center has various sources to help you research what animals your ancestors may have owned, starting with the Federal Agricultural Census Schedules for a number of states, and books of earmarks, brands, and dog licenses, including Register of Losses of Stock and Fowls Killed or Maimed by Dogs [Jackson Township, Allen County, Indiana] and Claude Wemple’s Memories of a Rancher From the Land of the Never Sweats: Milford, Lassen County, California: Neighbors, Family, Horses, Cattle, Dogs, and Reactions, 1899 to 1952. There are dog license lists in microfilmed tax records, including the 1815-1816 Tax List for East Bethlehem Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania, on Roll 11. And there are many periodical articles listed in the Periodical Source Index concerning horses, cattle, cats, dogs and monkeys.

    And so we come back to modern times and your research. As you scan old photos, identifying all of the people and places, remember to identify the family pets and animals, and ask for stories concerning family pets as you do oral interviews. These tales, and tails, will make a wonderful addition to your family history.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Timelines

    Monday, Mar 14, 2011

    by Melissa

    Are you finding yourself inundated with numerous names, dates, places, and events for your ancestors? Consider creating a timeline using a Word or Excel document, or a software program. Along with organizing the events visually, helping you see the chronology of your ancestor's experiences, a timeline can reveal gaps in your research. Also try adding historical events to the timeline to see how history impacted your ancestors' lives. Timelines can be extremely useful to genealogy research.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • For Our Descendants

    Sunday, Mar 06, 2011

    by Melissa

    Have you given any thought to how your descendants might view you when doing research in the future? For me, it's a terrifying thought. My descendants will become very frustrated and will probably decide I'm not worth the bother. My family has a running joke concerning my lack of domicile commitment. In the past ten years I have moved eight times across six cities and two states. When searching for my marriage record, my descendants will have a statewide index, but won't understand why my application was on file in a county 132 miles north of where I was living at the time, which was 130 miles northwest of where the ceremony took place. Without some written history from me, my descendants will struggle to understand the motivations for my actions and the adventures I've experienced. I've decided it's time I write my own story so that future generations can understand the whys and hows of my actions. Begin today. Take a few minutes to record one personal story. Do the same tomorrow and by the end of the year, you will have a wonderful gift for posterity.

    To learn more about creating your own story, attend Writing Personal History: Doing for Our Descendants What We Wish Great-Grandma Had Done for Us on March 15 at 10:00 am.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Browsing Collection

    Thursday, Mar 03, 2011

    by Melissa

    The Genealogy Center organizes its books with a modified Dewey Decimal System. The system is used to create the call numbers on the spine of the book that help you locate a specific item in our collection. In The Genealogy Center, we have modified the Dewey system so it is easier to locate material just by browsing the shelves. According to Dewey, cemetery books, maps, land records, and local histories would have significantly different call numbers and would be shelved in four different places, even if they were all pertaining to the same locality, such as Allen County, Indiana. Here at The Genealogy Center, books for a specific county, such as Allen County, Indiana, are shelved together in one area, so you can peruse the material. Our modified Dewey System allows you to browse based on state, county, or town.

    For example, if you are looking for information for Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana, you can search for material in the following call number areas:
    For Indiana, 977.2
    For Allen County, 977.201 AL5
    For Fort Wayne, 977.202 F77

    With the modified Dewey system, begin your search with the basic call number for the state (977.2). If you are looking for a county book, add 01 after the state call number (977.201). The material then is organized alphabetically by county. If you are looking for books about a specific city or town (but not the entire county), add 02 after the state call number (977.202). The material then is organized alphabetically by town.

    This modified system enhances the use of our collection by arranging all of the books for a specific locality, with the exception of oversized volumes, in one area.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Stories to Tell

    Tuesday, Mar 01, 2011

    by Melissa

    As genealogists we love to share our research with anyone and everyone. We tell our family members facts about our ancestors, not understanding their lack of interest. We share with friends and colleagues our exciting tales of sifting through records, only to have them shake their heads at us. We have papers, documents, files, pictures, and heirlooms all nicely organized (being optimistic) and waiting for their story to be shared. But do we really have stories to share or just facts? Is this the reason people aren't listening to us? Have we become fact checkers?

    What if we took one generation of our research and fleshed it out? You don't need to be a writer or a storyteller to create the story of your family. Within your documents and heirlooms, the stories are waiting to be told. And WE should be the ones to tell their stories. We should compile all those notes and papers, and write out the stories waiting in our documents.

    We can go one step further. Our ancestors were a part of history. Using local and county histories, we can learn about the events that shaped their lives. If our ancestor served in the military, reading a history of the regiment can bring new information to light. Court records can show the development of a community and your family's involvement in that growth.

    Our ancestors have stories to share. Shouldn't we be telling their tales?

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Genealogy Center History -- Part 1

    Saturday, Feb 26, 2011

    The old Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County, a Carnegie building at 301 West Wayne Street, opened in 1904, and had overflowed into fourteen separate buildings around the downtown area by the early 1960s.

    Fort Wayne Public Library, 301 West Wayne Street

     Webster Street view, Fort wayne Public Library

    When the Indiana History and Genealogy room opened in 1961, it was a small space in an already crowded building.

    Lobby area 

     Most research material had to be retrieved using call slips, pieces of paper on which to request a volume to examine. Closed stacks and call slips would continue into the next century.

    Genealogy research area, ca. 1965

    We were wondering if any of our readers recall coming in to do research back in the early 1960s. Would you share your memories?

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Caution: Improvements Ahead

    Friday, Feb 25, 2011

    We are making improvements this weekend to our website in order to speed access. Should you have problems completing a search in our catalog, please click here or try our new link. If you continue to have issues, please call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info for guidance.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Irish & Scots-Irish Genealogy Mini-Course Update

    Thursday, Feb 24, 2011

    Consider yourselves green with envy if you haven't registered for the Irish & Scots-Irish Genealogy Mini-Course, on March 18th and 19th. The course has been filled and registration is closed. Other mini-courses will be offered later in the year, including German Genealogy, another two-day mini-course, which will be June 9th and 10th, 2011. That, too, will fill rapidly, so register today!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • March Madness

    Monday, Feb 21, 2011

    March Madness is a month away! Have you scheduled to attend any of the events? If you've never heard of March Madness: Genealogy Style, you're in luck. It's when The Genealogy Center kicks out the winter blues by dedicating a week to the pursuit of genealogy.

    This year's scheduled events are:

    Why Do I Want To Look At A Revolutionary War Pension?
    March 13, 1:00-2:00 pm
    Do you struggle to locate your Revolutionary War soldier? Pension Records are a valuable source for discovering your ancestor. Understand pension records better by learning what information is available and how to locate the documents.

    Searching The Internet For Your Genealogy (Using Google And Other Search Engines)
    March 14, 2:00-3:00 pm
    This session provides a basic overview of using various search engines to find genealogical information about your ancestors. Suggestions will include search tips and how to evaluate the information gleaned from web pages.

    Writing Personal History: Doing For Our Descendants What We Wish Great-Grandma Had Done For Us
    March 15, 10:00-11:00 am
    However narcissistic it feels, writing about our own memories and experiences is something that we, as genealogists, should do for our descendants. Don't we wish Great-Grandma or Great-Grandpa had done that for us? This session will explore methods of writing and presentation of autobiographical material, as well as writing "prompts" or memory triggers.

    ACGSI Computer Interest Group
    March 16, 7:00-9:00 pm

    Beginning Virginia Genealogical Research
    March 17, 2:00-3:00 pm
    This session will provide a basic overview of sources for undertaking genealogical research in the Old Dominion. It will also discuss some of the issues faced in dealing with the records of that state.

    Irish & Scots-Irish Genealogy: Part 1 - A Two-Day Mini-Course
    March 18-19, 9:00-4:00 pm
    This workshop is an excellent way for researchers with little or no experience in Irish records to receive a thorough grounding in the sources and techniques that lead to success.
    Cost is $50 for both days.

    Pre-Registration For All Programs, Call: 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Index, Abstract, Transcription or Copy?

    Saturday, Feb 19, 2011

    by Delia

    So you’re going through the library’s online catalog and locate a volume that is entitled “An index of estate records…,” so you pull the volume and are disappointed that there are just names and numbers, and you think, “Well, that’s a waste of my time!” Or you find “Wills and administrations: abstracts,” and, once you decipher the abbreviations, you think to yourself, “I have all of the information I need from this will and don’t need to bother getting a copy of the original.” Indexes are not a waste of time, and abstracts don’t necessarily include everything, so a refresher course in what these sources are, and are not, might be in order.

    To produce an index, someone has had to go through a source document, say a county history from the 1880s or an original will volume from the 1700s, painstakingly noting names and a citation, usually a page number. The index is then made available to other researchers in various ways: published in a book or periodical; posted online; or in a card file in a society office or library. Once the name is found and the citation noted, one either examines the source or requests a copy of the pertinent pages.

    An abstract takes the idea a step further. Where an index lists people in alphabetical order, regardless of their connections, an abstract supplies the important elements of the original document so that the researcher can decide if this is the correct family, based on the information provided. So in addition to indicating on which page a certain name appears, an abstract may also indicate names of spouse, children, witnesses, and administrators, as well as descriptions of property or other notes.

    Transcriptions are the most labor intensive. Every word has been reproduced for you to examine, usually typed so that it’s much easier to read than the original handwriting. With a transcription one can read the entire document and evaluate the nuances that might be lost in an abstract.

    A copy is just that. Usually a photocopy, the quality is seldom as good as viewing the original, although digital imaging is changing the quality aspect. However, viewing the original eliminates errors that indexers and transcribers can make.

    There you have it. Now when you locate indexes, abstracts, transcriptions and copies, you will know beforehand exactly what to, and what not to, expect. Whatever you locate, remember that some other researcher has put in the time and effort to make your research easier!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • President's Day

    Thursday, Feb 17, 2011

    The Genealogy Center will be open on President's Day, February 21st. Plan a long research weekend by visiting during the holiday.

    Remember, our hours are:

    Mon-Thurs 9am - 9pm

    Fri-Sat 9am - 6pm

    Sun noon - 5pm

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Genealogy Gems

    Tuesday, Feb 15, 2011

    Have you been receiving your online copy of Genealogy Gems: News from the Fort Wayne Library? If not, you should subscribe now! Genealogy Gems is a monthly e-zine which highlights collections within The Genealogy Center, provides details concerning upcoming programs, and keeps you up-to-date on our activities. Read older editions to learn more about this great resource.Type your content here...

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Researching Indiana Artists

    Thursday, Feb 10, 2011

    by Delia

    I'll bet you've never considered The Genealogy Center as a place to learn about artists, but we have a wonderful biographical source available online. Indiana Artists is culled from a set of old vertical file folders of clippings from the local newspapers (the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette and the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel), the Indianapolis Star, and many other Indiana and national publications. Additions to the files ceased in the early 1980s.

    Newspaper and magazine clippings tend to deteriorate and get lost, so eventually, The Genealogy Center staff indexed the material by artist's name, including the artist's location, art medium (painter; sculptor), publication title and date, and notes that might indicate that the article was touting an exhibition, providing biographical details, or listing a death.


    Not everyone listed is wildly famous. Listings include painter Alva Smith, former sheriff in Berne, Indiana, and Irene Lees, whose metal work was displayed at the Herron Institute in 1911. So if you have Hoosier relatives, take a few minutes to browse this collection, and others at our Indiana Resources.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Update on Lincoln Exhibit

    Monday, Feb 07, 2011

    The opening date for the "Abraham Lincoln:  The Image" exhibit in the Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery has been changed to Saturday, February 12, 2011.  Originally it was scheduled for Monday, February 7, but, due to inclement weather, we've had to reschedule.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • FamilySearch class

    Sunday, Feb 06, 2011

    February is your last chance this season to take advantage of a WinterTech lecture at 2:30 in the afternoon, and stay for the Allen County Genealogy Society of Indiana's monthly meeting at 7:00 in the evening. On February 9th, Dawne Slater-Putt presents "Exploring the Ever Expanding FamilySearch." There's more to FamilySearch than the Family History Library Catalog and the gateway to obtaining microfilmed records from around the world. also has searchable record indexes, collections of digitized images of original records, how-to articles on a wide variety of research topics, the FamilySearch wiki, and more. Call 260-421-1225 to register, or send us an email at Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Coming Soon! "Abraham Lincoln: The Image"

    Tuesday, Feb 01, 2011

    Starting February 7, 2011, the Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery of the Allen County Public Library will host Abraham Lincoln: The Image. The ability to produce photographs, engravings and other mass-produced illustrations was coming of age during Lincoln's era. Images of people and events, cartoons and caricatures were widely available as photographic prints and broadsides, in pamphlets and periodicals, and both positive and negative depictions of Lincoln were viewed by a large percentage of the population. Abraham Lincoln: The Image, an Indiana State Museum Traveling Exhibition, consists of dozens of views of Lincoln as candidate, emancipator, president, suppressor of civil liberties and, finally, as martyr and saint. These original 19th Century pieces from the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection demonstrate how America viewed Lincoln and Lincoln's awareness of the importance of the public's perceptions.

    The display will be available to the public at no charge, from February 7th to March 31st, 2011, in the Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery, 900 Library Plaza. Make time to visit and view this fascinating display!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Who Do You Think You Are?

    Thursday, Jan 27, 2011

    by Melissa

    Who Do You Think You Are? returns for its second season on NBC starting Friday, February 4 at 8-9 pm EST. The show is entertaining and instructive as the celebrities and viewers are guided through the genealogy research process. The first season had many surprising and emotional moments as the celebrities learned undiscovered details about their family. As viewers, we witnessed new ways to continue our own genealogical journey.

    This year, the following celebrities will learn their family history:

    Gwyneth Paltrow
    Tim McGraw
    Rosie O'Donnell
    Steve Buscemi
    Kim Cattrall
    Lionel Richie
    Vanessa Williams

    Ashley Judd

    Watch previous episodes at NBC and mark your calendars for another exciting year of genealogy television.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Closed on January 28

    Monday, Jan 24, 2011

    The Genealogy Center will be closed on Friday, January 28, for Staff Development Day, a time when we'll learn some new ideas to share with you when we reopen on Saturday from 9 am - 6 pm. So plan your research trips around this date.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Genealogical Community -- an Extended Family

    Friday, Jan 21, 2011

    By Dawne


    Recently I returned from a “busman’s holiday” to Salt Lake City, Utah, where I spent two weeks researching in the Family History Library and spending time with friends from all over the U.S. who work in the field of genealogy in some capacity. Throughout the week, several people remarked to me that I was lucky to be going home to a place where I would be surrounded by genealogists during my working day.

    It’s true that those who work in the genealogy field often find themselves to be lone wolves. They don’t go to an office every day to sit by people who are doing similar tasks. They don’t meet at the water cooler to exchange workplace scuttlebutt. Instead, they work largely alone, doing research for clients, developing lectures for seminars, writing articles for and editing journals.

    The same can be true for genealogy hobbyists – many of them have developed a deep passion for the subject that is not necessarily shared (or understood) by those who live in their household or with whom they have frequent contact – neighbors, church friends, the parents of their children’s friends, the bingo crowd, etc. These family members, friends and acquaintances may think the subject is mildly interesting – they may even want to get started working on their own families “someday” – but they don’t completely understand, haven’t felt the pull of the search.

    This is why it is so exciting to attend genealogical events and to talk to others who share the special bond that the quest of family history can provide. Researchers who spend the bulk of their time using the Internet at home and researching alone in libraries and courthouses, and who do not attend genealogical society meetings, seminars and conferences are missing out on something very special.

    The Guernsey County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society has suspended regular monthly meetings and programs due to a lack of interest and participation. And it is not alone. Even state and national societies are having difficulty finding candidates to run for board positions. Perhaps the increasing amount of genealogical material available on the Internet is the cause, but one activity (Internet research) does not have to preclude the other (society involvement). One problem seems to be that “newbies” to genealogical research do not realize the benefits of becoming involved in societies or attending seminars and conferences – benefits that many of us discovered before we had Internet research available to us.

    Being involved in genealogical societies and attending events like state seminars and national conferences fans the spark of our genealogical passion – motivates us and excites us. It allows us to commune with others who share this common interest, who “speak our language.” And of course, we all learn from one another. We learn from the speakers who are experts on their topics, and from the exchange of ideas with fellow members, and from reading the articles in the journals that are a benefit of our membership.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center