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  • April Classes Update

    Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011

    Registration is closed for the Beginning Genealogy Seminar on April 9 and the One-on-One Consultations on April 27 as we have reached capacity. There are still openings for the classes the week of April 11-15 for the Create Your Own Story @ The Genealogy Center. Please call 260-421-1225 or or send an email to Genealogy@ACPL.Info to register. Don't miss out on these free opportunities.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • April Closure

    Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011

    The Genealogy Center, in common with all other agencies of the Allen County Public Library, will be closed on Sunday April 24, 2011, for the Easter holiday. We will be open our regular hours Friday April 22 (9A to 6P) and Saturday April 23 (9A to 6P) as well as Monday April 25 (9A to 9P).

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • April Programming

    Monday, Apr 04, 2011

    The Genealogy Center has many opportunities in April to learn about genealogy and family history. Learn how to begin your research at the Beginning Genealogy Seminar on April 9 from 9:30 am - 1:00 pm. Sessions include:
    • How Do I Get Started?
    • Methodology & Organization
    • Question and Answer Session
    • Tour of the Genealogy Center
    The program is hosted by ACGSI. Call 260-672-2585 or email to register. There is a $10 fee for this seminar.

    In April, National Library Week is celebrated from April 11-15 and events are planned for Create Your Own Story @ The Genealogy Center.

    Storytelling for Family Historians

    April 11, 2011 6:30-7:30 pm

    Learn the elements of a good story, why storytelling is important, how to tell a good story, and listen to a couple of stories as examples.

    Scrapbooking Historical Photographs and Memorabilia

    April 12, 2011 6:30-7:30 pm

    How can boxes of photographs and paper memorabilia inherited from three different family members and covering a period of almost 100 years be merged into a single, cohesive historical scrapbook? This session will discuss considerations and methods for scrapbooking your historical photos and memorabilia, including materials, organization and more.

    Recording Family Histories for the Ages

    April 13, 2011 2:30-3:30 pm

    The class will cover the very basics of video production to help you record the best possible oral history for your family that will be both viewable and understandable for generations to come.

    Writing Your Family Stories

    April 14, 2011 6:30-7:30 pm

    This class will provide practical tips on writing our family stories from the data you have collected and the relatives you have interviewed. Short writing exercises will be a part of this class experience.

    Photo Restoration Using Adobe Photoshop

    April 15, 2011 2:30-3:30 pm

    Learn basic techniques for restoring those old family photographs by using Adobe Photoshop.

    Classes for April 11-15 are free, but please register by calling 260-421-1225, or send an email to Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Genealogy Center History -- Part 2

    Wednesday, Mar 30, 2011

    Plans were made to replace the 1904 building with a state of the art facility, and in 1965, the Carnegie building was closed and demolished.


    Next month, the Purdue Building!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Get Organized

    Monday, Mar 28, 2011

    by Delia

    I love the thrill of research, of hunting the wild, unnamed ancestor, stalking him or her through old documents, hoping to bag and tag a new decoration for my family tree. Some of my happiest moments are spent sniffling with the dust of old record books, squinting at the screen of a microfilm reader or trying to ‘Net ancestors. My least favorite part of the process, however, is attempting to corral these folks and making them line up neatly. In short, organization is not my strong suit. It is so tempting to make copies or burn images onto my flashdrive and just leave everything all jumbled up. But, of course, when I need to see something again to verify a date or recheck a name, a major archaeological dig is required. So organization must be a major component of research.

    There are a number of methods of organization. Some folks love the possibilities of using a computer, and I would recommend it for any beginner who can input data as he or she goes. There are a number of good genealogy software programs with various features. Choosing one is like buying a car: what is perfect for one person may not suit another, so kicking the proverbial tires is a good idea. Many programs offer free or low cost (with the cost applicable to purchase) trials.

    If you want to go low-tech, binders or file folders can be useful for organizing not only charts, but also all of those copies that you generate as you search. Always remember to cite the source of each document in your files, with the county, record, book and page number, or an author, title and page number, as well as library and call number of the source. And don’t forget to cite just as diligently information gleaned from oral history interviews.

    I’m not going to share my personal organization technique as it might not work for anyone else. You need to take the time to decide what will best suit your own needs. It really doesn’t matter how you decide to organize your material only that you do.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Mocavo Search Engine – A Short Review

    Saturday, Mar 26, 2011

    by Delia

    I love Google, and use it occasionally for general genealogy searching, but more often I tend to do focused searches using specific databases. But I heard about Mocavo, a new search engine specifically for genealogy, I just had to give it a try.

    I have a very unusual maiden name, so I started by just typing “Cothrun” to see what I’d get. There were more than 200 hits, so obviously any more common name would require limits of first name, place, etc. The results page gives some identifying information, so you know what you might find, but there are only ten per page, so it's next, next, next. Most of the various hits seemed to link to one person's research, so it seems cumbersome to sort through all 200 hits hoping for someone not on that particular tree, but there is a lot of various sources (tombstone photos, land lists, census, etc.), so might be worthwhile.

    So I decided to add a limit. I used the name Carl Cothrun. One can get the same random assortment where Carl can be at the top of a page, and Cothrun at the bottom, perhaps having nothing to do with each other, so I put the name into quotations (“Carl Cothrun”), and I got a hit on my uncle, Carl Cypert Cothrun in World War I draft records, but I was surprised that even with first and last only in quotations, it located the source which was listed "Cothrun, Carl Cypert." However, when I entered "Cothrun Cypert," there was nothing, so it appears that if one uses the quotations, Mocavo will find the name either “First Last” or “Last, First.” Wonderful!

    Trying another search, I used my grandmother's name in quotations ("Delia Burbank Holt") and discovered a query posted by a known relative, as well as information from Find a Grave and two GenWeb listings of the cemetery in which she is buried. Doing the same search on Google ("Delia Burbank Holt") only netted the two GenWeb cemetery lists and the same query, but not the Find a Grave listing, so Mocavo does more than Google.

    Basically, this site is culling what is already out there, and already been discovered by experienced researchers. While I will still use a more focused method in my own research, I may use Mocavo occasionally, but will recommend it for beginners as another place to explore.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Consultations

    Friday, Mar 25, 2011

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Changes to the Catalog

    Wednesday, Mar 23, 2011

    We've recently upgraded our catalog. If you've bookmarked The Genealogy Center catalog link on your browser, you'll need to update the bookmark. Our new catalog address is If you have issues with the new catalog link, please call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info for guidance.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Caution: Catalog Improvements

    Tuesday, Mar 22, 2011

    We are making further improvements to our catalog 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

  • 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