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  • What's in a Name

    Sunday, Sep 04, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following are questions asked and The Genealogy Center staff's responses.

    Where in a married woman’s name should her maiden name be placed?

    Currently, a woman’s legal married name will be as she decides, i.e.: Jane Maiden Married or Jane Married (nee Maiden). But if you mean in an article of book about a family, either Jane Middle Maiden Married or Jane Middle (Maiden) Married would be best, just as long as there is consistency.

    Census record search for Blunt returned "Blunk." If German heritage, should I keep looking for Blunt in Germany and Blunk in the U.S.?

    German names can be misrecorded in many ways, especially when there was a language barrier between the respondent and the census taker. I would never use a single census record to conclude how a name was spelled, since there are so many ways that it could be spelled wrong. First, I would do Soundex searches for other censuses using both Blunt and Blunk. You should also attempt to locate other records for the family in the locality where they lived: vital records, church records, newspaper obituaries, cemeteries, city directories, etc. and note how the name is spelled in those sources. Comparison from multiple sources is one of your greatest tools. That said, many Germans did change the spellings of their names in America, and you may find it consistently one way in America and something different in Germany. Search the passenger lists carefully and note how the name is spelled there. If you know the specific town in Germany, you can order civil and parish records from the Family History Library (if available), and search for records in those sources. Use all the variant spellings you can find. Names can vary even in German sources.

    In other countries, will the ancestors be in our spelling or the original spelling? Example: (Welsh) Gryffyths or (USA) Griffiths.

    When researching in the country your ancestors lived before coming to the U.S., I would look for the original spelling, but be prepared for various spellings of the surname due to the type of language the records were written. For example, early Catholic Church records were written in Latin. Surnames changed because the clerk or the person wrote down what they heard. Other times, the surnames could have been changed when the ancestor wanted to Anglicize the name in order to get a job and/or fit into a community.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Genealogy Center History, part 7

    Wednesday, Aug 31, 2011

    In January 1971, the Fort Wayne Public Library Board of Trustees renamed the contents of the Genealogy Department as the "Reynolds Historical Genealogy Collection," in honor of Fred Reynolds, the library's Director and the driving force behind the creation of the collection.


    Fred Reynolds remained Director until retirement in 1979, and died in 1995. There is a bust of him in the Genealogy Center's Orientation Center.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • October 4th Consultations Closed

    Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011

    One-on-One Consultations for October 4 have filled. If you're interested in scheduling an appointment for a 30 minute consultation, held on the 4th Wednesday of the month, or other Tuesdays during Family History Month in October, please call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Adoptions or Orphans

    Monday, Aug 29, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following are questions asked and The Genealogy Center staff's responses.

    How can I track down someone placed in an orphanage or adopted?

    Adoption and orphan research depends greatly on location and time period. One might want to first contact the local library in the area where the event took place. The local librarian may know where (and if) institution records survive and where the records are located, although the library will probably not have the records. If you are searching a modern case (post 1930), you need to discover if the state has some type of contact-exchange program. In these programs, you register your information and if someone on the “other side” of the adoption has filed, they will facilitate contact. After that, contact the local Child Protective Services and ask what is and is not possible. For older adoptions and ward situations, check probate records in the counties in question. Probate records hold guardian, adoption and apprentice records which may help you to locate these children. You might also learn other tips from our Adoption Research Guide.

    Are there sources for names from Catholic Charities-foster home placements in New York City about the 1940s?

    That time period is still covered by privacy laws, but contact Catholic Charities in New York City.

    Who am I? My father was adopted. He never knew who his real father was. My father has passed now, and I do not know who his father was. I hate to think if I die, I will never know who I really am.

    The first step is to identify when and where your father was born and whether there is a birth certificate on file with the correct name of his birth father. If he was adopted, you need to determine who handled the adoption - a social agency, a lawyer? Since your father is deceased, enough time may have passed that the adoption record can be unsealed by a petition to the court in the county where he was born. Different states have different laws regarding access.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Labor Day Closing

    Saturday, Aug 27, 2011

    On Monday, September 5, 2011, The Genealogy Center, like the rest of the Allen County Public Library facilities, will be closed for Labor Day. We will be open that weekend only on Saturday, September 3, 2011, our regular hours of 9 AM to 6 PM, and will reopen Tuesday September 6, 2011 at 9 AM. Labor Day also signals the end of the summer Sunday closings. Beginning Sunday September 11, 2011, The Genealogy Center is open Sundays, 12 N to 5 PM.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Don't Miss Early Registration

    Friday, Aug 26, 2011

    Don't miss out on extended hours at The Genealogy Center, book signings, a gospel choir and classes on family health history, foundations of genealogical research, a librarians track, and information sharing. The National Black Genealogy Summit will have it all, including presentations by Tony Burroughs, Damani Davis of the National Archives; DNA expert, Roberta Estes; Jim Ison; Shamele Jordan; Lisa Lee; Timothy Pinnick; and Angela Walton-Raji.

    The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library is proud to partner with the African American Genealogy Society of Fort Wayne (IN) to host the National Black Genealogy Summit on October 20-22, 2011. The conference website (http://www.BlackGenealogyConference.Info) contains much information about the details of the Summit as well as a registration form.

    Don't wait to enroll for this event! Take advantage of the early registration discount by sending in your form before Labor Day.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Hunt for Cemeteries

    Tuesday, Aug 23, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following are questions asked and The Genealogy Center staff's responses.

    Is there any database of names of all of the people buried in each cemetery? What is the cemetery no longer exists?

    There is no one database of cemetery listings. Many are located at the volunteer-driven Find A Grave or Other cemetery listings are loaded at the various county sites for USGenWeb. Information in defunct cemeteries depends on how well the cemetery was preserved, and when and if it was first recorded. Also, if the cemetery was owned by a specific church congregation, seek those records in the church or organization itself or in their archives.

    GPS coordinates. Example: cemeteries.

    If you know them, you can plug latitude and longitude coordinates into and Google Maps to search for specific locations such as cemeteries. Some societies are tracking the latitude and longitude coordinates of the cemeteries in their county or state and publishing a print list or including them on their websites. Acme Mapper 2.0, a free program by Acme Laboratories, will provide coordinates and various maps when users type the name and address (city and state) of a cemetery into the program.

    How do you find plot locations in cemeteries without an office?

    This can be a tough question and sometimes, you can’t. However, there are some avenues to try before giving up. First, check the local (county seat) library to see whether the cemetery has been transcribed. In some cases, these transcription books include information from cemetery records, as well as the readings from the stones. Sometimes transcription books include diagrams of the cemetery’s plots. Find out who has jurisdiction over the cemetery – a nearby church? A sexton? The township trustee? The person who has jurisdiction may have burial books that have descriptions or maps of who was buried where. Perhaps the cemetery record books have been deposited at the local courthouse, or in the county historical society, museum or public library. There may have been information about the cemetery published in the newspaper, but often newspapers are not indexed. Does the local library have vertical files that might include newspaper clippings or other information about the cemetery? Try to locate a local historian – official or amateur – who can give you more information. Consult deed books. Occasionally there are diagrams of cemeteries found in with land transactions. Good luck!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Why Should I Use a Genealogy Software

    Saturday, Aug 20, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following is a question asked and The Genealogy Center staff's response.

    Is it really necessary to use software like Family Tree Maker? Top 5 reasons.

    You do not have to use any genealogy software; but it is helpful if you plan to write book(s) or create special genealogical reports and/or charts.

    Reasons to have genealogy software:
    1. Data is organized.
    2. Data is easily at your fingertips.
    3. Various types of reports and charts can be done without deleting information.
    4. It allows you to be very creative when writing your book.
    5. Allows you to cite your sources, add notes, and create task lists.

    Top Ten Reviews has a listing of the top ten genealogy software. This chart includes the reviewer comments, the cost of the software, ratings of different features within the top ten software programs, and what features are included each software program. You can search the Internet for "free genealogy software" or visit Cyndi's List.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Over the Pond to Great Britain

    Wednesday, Aug 17, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following are questions asked and The Genealogy Center staff's responses.

    How do you overcome the problems in English genealogy for the period from 1911 to the present without paying huge fees?

    Well, define "huge fees." Twentieth century research can be very difficult due to privacy issues, and not a lot of information is available. Here in America we are fortunate to have our Social Security Death Index and 1930 census information. I'm afraid there is not as much available online for England for the same period. British vital records for the twentieth century are kept in the General Register Office. You will either have to contact that office for certificates or hire a researcher to do so.

    An ancestor abandoned his wife and children in Louisville, told his family he was going to fight in the Boer War. He disappeared. They never knew what happened to him despite searching and using, I think, a private investigator. How can I find out if he did join the British Army, went to South Africa, and died there. I never found a death record for him.

    Records of the Boer War are held in the National Archives (of the United Kingdom), formerly known as the Public Record Office at Kew. If you type "Boer War" in the search field, it brings up a guide to searching for the records of soldiers. I don't believe the service records are available online, so a search of the archives will be necessary.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Organizing Your Research

    Sunday, Aug 14, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following are questions asked and The Genealogy Center staff's responses.

    What is the best way to organize your information? By individual, by timeline, by family (meaning generational families)? Is there a book or do you have any advice on getting and staying organized? Too many copies of records and too many photos.


    There are several ways to organize your genealogical research. First you need to ask yourself, "How will I look for ...." and determine how easily you will be able to retrieve the item and/or person you want. Most people may file by basic family line. For example, Linn/Lynn Family or Woodroe/Woodrow Family.

    I color coded the four basic family surnames. For example, my husband's paternal line is green; his maternal line is blue; my paternal line is yellow; and my maternal line is orange. I first used notebooks and later switched to file folders (still color coded). Both of my filing systems were done by dividing families by each director ancestor.

    Remember, the best organizational system is what makes retrieving documents and family information the easiest.


    The Genealogy Center has several books about organizing your genealogical research. To locate them in our online catalog, type in "organizing genealogical records." Listed below are a few titles:

    The Organized Family Historian: How to File, Manage, and Protect Your Genealogical Research and Heirlooms by Anne Fleming (929 F629OR)

    Beyond Pedigrees: Organizing and Enhancing Your Work by Beverly DeLong Whitaker (929 W58B)

    Organizing Your Family History Search: Efficient and Effective Ways to Gather and Protect Your Genealogical Research by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack (929 C195GA)

    Let's Get Organized!: A Practical Guide for All Aspects of Family History Research by Penelope Christensen (929 T214PR)

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Internet and The Genealogy Center

    Thursday, Aug 11, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following are questions asked and The Genealogy Center staff's responses.

    Can I send to my email from the library or can I use a flash drive at the library? allows you to share a document. To do this, just click on Share and select Email. Fill out the form and press Send. You will receive a link to the document. Remember to save the document as an image as the link will not remain permanently. Our computers have USB ports so that you can save the images from on a flash drive.

    How much of the information at the Fort Wayne Genealogy Center is available online and how can I access this information?

    At this point in time, only a small percentage of our collection is available online. To find books and other materials that were digitized, check our online catalog. If an item has been digitized, there will be a link to the item, or check the Family History Archives section on our homepage. We also have links to some databases and resources on our homepage, under the Databases tab, select Free Databases.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Census Questions

    Monday, Aug 08, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following are questions asked and The Genealogy Center staff's responses.

    When will future census records be available? Canada's 1921, UK/England's 1921 and Ireland's 1926.

    The US Federal census for 1940 will be released 2 April 2012. According to the Library and Archives of Canada's web site “… legislation does not permit the disclosure of personal information until 92 years has passed since the time of enumeration.” The website for the UK’s National Archives (KEW) indicates that the 1921 census will not be available until 100 years after the date taken. According to the National Archives of Ireland web site, the 1926 Census will be released in January 2027.

    An ancestor traveled around in the early 20th Century, but I cannot locate them on the 1930 census. Could they have taken the name of the household, instead of keeping their own surname?

    They would not have taken another family’s name just because they were boarders. However, it is possible that the person who provided the information to the enumerator may not have been clear (or may not have known) on the names of traveling men hence the family surname may have been listed in error. It is also possible that the men were not included in the census at all as some people were inevitably missed.

    Are children’s homes included in census and do they list all children? How are single women or women living in group homes (like the YWCA) listed?

    Children’s homes, and other institutions, are included on the census, although sometimes the institution is listed at the end of the enumeration district, or in an entirely different one. Search by child’s name. All children should be listed, although the names are not always spelled as we think they should be. All single people should also be listed, but remember that people could be missed by the enumerator, or, again, the names may be spelled incorrectly.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Curiosity About The Genealogy Center

    Friday, Aug 05, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following are questions asked and The Genealogy Center staff's responses.

    Is it possible to have more later afternoon (after 4 pm) classes and events? Those who work until 2 or 3 pm miss a lot of events.

    Ah, the timing of programs! We struggle with the question of what times best suit our customers and are possible, given the demands on our staff. We offer morning events for people who like to get up early, afternoon events for those who like to do research first. Weekend events offer the greatest opportunity for most, but some people would rather weekdays. Logic told us that evenings would be ideal, but the statistics we've kept over several years prove otherwise. Evening (after 4 pm) events are the poorest attended of the events we have offered. Evening events will be offered occasionally but probably will be greatly out-numbered by events at other times.

    It would be nice if you could have given a list of family trees each of us are working on. Maybe someone would be working on “your” tree, just another branch.

    The Genealogy Center maintains a Surname Registry. When you enter our department, you can register on a computer, providing your contact information along with the surnames you’re researching. This data is available to anyone off of our website as a free database titled “Genealogy Center Surname File,” where you can search a surname and receive a list of contacts.

    Does the Allen County Library offer free webinars?

    At this time, we are unable to offer free webinars. We do not have the technology or staffing levels to offer this service, though we are continuously reviewing the possibility for the future.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Start Researching

    Tuesday, Aug 02, 2011

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following is a question asked and The Genealogy Center staff's response.

    What is the best way to start research at the ACPL if you are near?

    There are two answers to this question, depending on whether you are just beginning your genealogical project, or you have done research previously but not at The Genealogy Center.

    If you have never done genealogical research before, prior to coming to The Genealogy Center, gather as much information as you can from home sources (family Bibles, obituary clippings, birth and death certificates, etc.), including names of family members, dates of birth, marriage and death, and locations where relatives lived. As a general rule of thumb, you will need to know the name of someone who was born prior to 1930, and where that person lived in 1930, to begin your research. This is because the most recent census schedule that has been released to the public is the 1930 census. Also, most of the vital records indexes and other information that is housed at The Genealogy Center dates from about this time period and earlier. When you arrive at The Genealogy Center, the librarians can look at the information you have and give suggestions as to materials in the collection that you can use to find out more information.

    If you have done research previously but not at The Genealogy Center, perhaps the best course of action is to have a plan for specifically what you would like to find on a given visit, such as the death date and burial place for a particular ancestor, or the parents of an ancestor. You can see that it is easier for the librarian to direct you when she asks “What can I help you find?” and you answer: “I am looking for the death date and burial location of Marybeth Johnson, who was alive in the 1870 census, but I can’t find her in 1880,” than if she asks, “What can I help you find?” and you answer, “My ancestors” or “My family history,” without a specific question or direction in mind. Bring more than one question or family line to work on in case the first one doesn’t pan out on that particular visit.

    Whether you are just beginning your family history journey or you are experienced at research, before coming to The Genealogy Center, take the time to view our orientation video online to familiarize yourself with the kinds of materials in the collection and how the department is organized. You can find this resource at We have an orientation area onsite where you may view the video again when you arrive, if you would like to do so.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Genealogy Center History, part 6

    Saturday, Jul 30, 2011

    So the Genealogy Department, collections, staff and customers settled into the new building. In this photo, facing north, you can see the book stacks to the right and far end of the area, microfilm readers on the right, and two staff desks in the center area.

    It seems like a lot of space, right? Well, it was thought so at the time. Note the card catalog on the right and the swinging gate that formed the barrier to the closed stacks in the next photo. When the department would get crowded...

    ...there were chairs out in the hallway...

    ...that were placed at the ends of the tables for additional seating.

    But no matter how busy it could get...

    ...all of the customers, no matter how old or young, seemed content.

    Next time: Moving into the 1980s with an expansion into a new wing.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • War of 1812 Donations

    Tuesday, Jul 26, 2011

    by Melissa

    Another successful venture during Fort Wayne Ancestry Day was the collection of more than $1000 for the War of 1812 Pension Digitization Project through the Indiana Genealogical Society. IGS has a $10,000 match challenge until August 31, 2011 and the organization is less than $2000 away from its goal. IGS will match whatever amount you donate to the project. Then Ancestry will match the entire amount accumulated. According to the IGS website, "even a $5 donation means 40 more pages will be digitized!" You can learn more or donate on the IGS War of 1812 Pensions Digitization page. Take some time to learn about this initiative and help IGS meet its goal. And thank you to attendees of Ancestry Day who donated to this exciting program.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Ancestry Day Recap

    Sunday, Jul 24, 2011

    by Melissa

    Fort Wayne Ancestry Day, which took place on Saturday, July 23, was a successful joint venture between and The Genealogy Center. Ancestry experts, Juliana Smith, Anne Mitchell, and Loretto Szucs along with The Genealogy Center manager, Curt Witcher, presented on topics on Ancestry Search Tips, Civil War Roots, Jumpstart Your Research, and Hidden Treasures of The Genealogy Center. With six experts representing both organizations, more than 900 attendees had a chance to ask their genealogical questions during the Ask the Experts panel. And for those who dropped off questions that weren't answered during the panel, watch The Genealogy Center blog, as we answer your pressing questions. If that wasn't enough activity for the day, had computers available to demonstrate searching their website and The Genealogy Center was open and fully staffed to help those who wanted to research their family. It was a wonderful day, full of genealogical opportunities and discoveries.

       Ancestry Booth

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Check Those Neighboring Counties

    Thursday, Jul 21, 2011

    by Delia

    I used to live in a town situated in two states, with the state line right down the middle of one of the busy streets. Two city governments, two county governments, two state governments. Two school systems. Two, very different, sets of liquor laws. However, often, folks on one side of the line worked, shopped, went to church or the doctor, died and were buried on the other side. I even saw the weather change dramatically (from pouring rain to blue skies) as I crossed State Line Boulevard.


    Now, such a town is highly unusual, but it should remind all of us that arbitrary boundary lines exist on maps and in the minds of county recorders and tax collectors, but do not stop people from crossing and taking care of business in places other than where they lived.


    You may discover than one ancestor's family lived, voted and paid taxes in one county, but did not attend any church. Check a plat map to see where in the county the family lived, then check the closest county or counties to see if they attended in a neighboring community. They may have purchased supplies in a town close to them, but not in the county where they lived. Or a sick child might have been taken to a doctor or specialist in a larger town in another community. In the 20th Century, it became more common to take a sick family member to a hospital in the largest city in the area, where the patient might have died, leaving no legal death record in the county of residence.


    So take a few minutes to seek your ancestors where they didn't belong. You might discover some new information!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Last Days to Register for Ancestry Day

    Saturday, Jul 16, 2011

    Online registration for Fort Wayne Ancestry Day closes on Tuesday, July 19. But don't worry, you can still register the morning of the event. Join us July 23 at 8:00 am for Fort Wayne Ancestry Day registration at the Grand Wayne Center. This is a unique opportunity to learn from the experts at and The Genealogy Center. Professionals from will be available to answer your pressing questions on how to use their genealogy website. And you can take the expertise learned during the event and continue your research across the street at The Genealogy Center. To learn more about the conference or to register online, visit

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Catch Us on "Primetime 39"

    Thursday, Jul 14, 2011

    Many genealogists enjoy doing genealogy from home, sometimes even in their pajamas and slippers. Well now you can even learn how to get started on your genealogy as well as what is available at The Genealogy Center from the comfort of your own home. Curt Witcher and Melissa Shimkus will be guests on "Primetime 39," a local half hour show, on Friday, July 15 beginning at 7:30 pm. The show airs on local channel 39-1/PBS39HD, Comcast Cable channel 3, Digital Cable channel 240, or Frontier FiOS channel 3. For those who aren't in the PBS 39 viewing area, the show will be available online, as it is posted. So take the time to catch up with The Genealogy Center while relaxing after dinner.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center