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  • 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

  • Another Milestone!

    Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011

    Last weekend, more than 60,000 names of students from Central Normal College of Hendricks County, Indiana were loaded on to The Genealogy Center's Free Databases page, which pushed the content on these pages over the 2 million mark! We now have 2,002,229 searchable records available for free through our website.
    We thank our volunteers and contributors who have made this significant milestone  possible.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Martin Luther King Holiday

    Thursday, Jan 13, 2011

    Though many places are closed on Monday, January 17, in observance of Martin Luther King Day, The Genealogy Center will be open. So make this holiday weekend a long one, by visiting The Genealogy Center on Friday - Saturday 9 am - 6 pm, Sunday 12 pm - 5pm, and Monday 9 am - 9pm.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The 5 W's

    Wednesday, Jan 12, 2011

    by Melissa

    Locating a genealogical document can be an exciting endeavor. Once found, we pore over the document, noting all the new details we've discovered, but our elation can come to a stand still when the details fail to match what we already know. As genealogists, not only do we have to locate documents, but we need to analyze the information to insure we have the correct individual.

    What should a genealogist do when details fail to match? Consider asking yourself the 5 W's.

    1. Who?
    Who provided the information? If the document is a death record, obviously the deceased didn't provide their date and place of birth or parents' names. When comparing a death record, obituary, or funeral card to another record type, we should always remind ourselves that the person providing the details may not have known the correct answer.

    2. When?
    How timely is the information? Was the document created at the time of the event or are we relying on memory? Notations in a family bible may have all been written at the same time, 50 years after the fact, rather than at the time of a birth, marriage, or death. Memories can be faulty.

    3. What?
    What motivated your ancestor's answer? Your ancestor may have lied about his age on a document for a reason. The first World War I draft registration in 1917 was for 21-31 year old males. Did your ancestor hope to avoid service?

    4. Where?
    Why does the document in your hands give a different birthplace for your ancestor than what you had found in other research? Your ancestor could have been asked for their birthplace with no clarification that the answer should be a town, county, state, or country. Determine the logic behind the answer and remember Ohio could be a county rather than a state or Peru a town rather than a country.

    5. Why?
    Why is the new documentation different from what you've previously found? Human error! Was the clerk having a bad day while creating that document? Or in transcribing it? If your ancestor was an immigrant, was there a misunderstanding of language? How many typos occurred during the indexing process?

    So be excited when finding a new document! Remember to analyze the data and ask yourself the 5 W's. With each question, the answers may become clearer.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Online Sources for Hendricks County, Indiana

    Monday, Jan 10, 2011

    By Delia

    If you haven't checked out our Indiana Resources page, you might have missed all of the wonderful resources available for Hendricks County. In 2009, material indexed or transcribed by researcher and active Indiana Genealogical Society member Meredith Thompson, including business directories (1858 and 1868), and indexes for divorces (1891-1960), declarations of intent (1952-1906), final oaths (1856-1906), school employees (1894-1964), high school graduates (1923-1962), marriages (1904-1962), and much more. Although you will still need to access the original record, the various indexes may include occupations for school employees or name changes in divorce cases.

    So if you have Hendricks County, Indiana area ancestors, take a few minutes to peruse this valuable resource.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Becoming Expert at Using Ancestry

    Thursday, Jan 06, 2011

    The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, IN is hosting WinterTech 2010-2011. Every second Wednesday of the month starting in November and ending in February, a technology program will be presented from 2:30-3:30 PM. After the class, participants can spend a few hours researching before attending the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana's monthly meeting at 6:30 PM.
 is one of the largest genealogical databases available. Join us in learning how to perform advance search techniques, read the results, and "Becoming Expert at Using Ancestry" on Wednesday, January 12, from 2:30-3:30 PM.
    Please call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info to register for this program.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • 2011 -- A Golden Year

    Tuesday, Jan 04, 2011

    In 1961, a brochure for what would become The Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, stated "Adults desiring help on genealogical questions or desiring the use of old city directories, city and county histories, and the like should apply here." Fifty years later, the words still ring true. Born from a collection of histories, city directories, and periodicals purchased for "a dollar or two" following the Great Depression by Head Librarian Rex Potterf and Fred Reynolds, for whom the Genealogy Department was renamed in 1971, as well as four hundred volumes loaned from the Mary Penrose Wayne chapter of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution, the collection has grown to more than one million items as The Genealogy Center.

    The Indiana History and Genealogy Room opened on January 3, 1961 with the idea of serving the increasing number of genealogists who used the growing collection. In 2010, The Genealogy Center had nearly 100,000 visitors from across the United States. The Center not only houses an impressive book and microtext collection, but has a growing virtual presence with expanding digital collections, and a proud heritage of excellent customer service and educational opportunities.

    Join us, physically or virtually, in our year-long celebration of the 50th Anniversary of The Genealogy Center.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Journaling

    Sunday, Jan 02, 2011

    by Dawne

    Let’s see a show of hands of those who have read “The Diary of Anne Frank.” I imagine most of us have read it in school or on our own, or at least are familiar with the poignant story of the young girl who hid away from the Nazis in the Netherlands during World War II.

    Not everyone’s account of everyday life will become as famous and touch as many people as Anne Frank’s diary, it’s true. Most people lead lives that are much more mundane and filled with the ups and downs that are important to us and our families, but perhaps not so much to society as a whole. Don’t let that stop you from making regular journaling one of your goals for the new year!

    Some people feel self-conscious about journaling. They picture someone reading what they have written and finding it silly or boring. But consider this: If you suddenly discovered a diary left by your great-great-grandmother that had been given to her local historical society or passed down through another branch or your family, would you stifle a yawn and say, “Ho, hum … she was just a farmer’s wife, what possible interest could this little book have for me?” Of course not! And neither will those who come after you say similar things about your writings.

    If you find it difficult to write narrative, take baby steps to get started. Begin by using a calendar and writing a little something in the square for each day – perhaps the temperature or another comment about the weather, what you did that day, something that was in the news or a sports score that was significant to you. Make a note when it was the birthday of a family member or a friend. Write in your doctor and dentist appointments, as usual. Note your research trips, vacations and other events.

    Those who like the idea of journaling, but are unsure of topics can begin with those mentioned above for the “calendar method” and expand to include books you have read and whether you enjoyed them, quotes that you hear or read and find interesting, and personal comments about news events. As another writing exercise, it might be interesting to write down one childhood memory each day. Or discuss your current genealogical research and your successes and frustrations. If you hear a good joke, write that down for posterity.

    A journal entry can be any length, and you don’t have to write every day if you don’t want to. There are no rules. So grab a pretty diary with flowers on the cover and inspirational quotes on each page … or a handsome, leather-bound journal … or one of your grandkids’ half-used spiral notebooks from school, and arm yourself with one of your favorite pens. (We genealogists always have favorite pens, don’t we?) Or boot up the computer and open a blank document in Word. Whatever tools you choose to use, get started today!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • More New Year's Resolutions

    Thursday, Dec 30, 2010

    by Dawne

    Other resolutions that may help you “make your own luck” in 2011 could be:

    4. Get organized! You will find material in your piles and files that you have forgotten you have. Also, you will be able to see clearly what your next steps are and be a more effective researcher.

    5. Be kind to record keepers. Many times they are not genealogists. You know what this means. They don’t always “get it.” Sometimes they even get tired of dealing with genealogists – imagine that! – We can be a demanding group.

    6. Be flexible. Sometimes there are unscheduled closings of offices and libraries. It is frustrating, but it is not life or death. If you can’t stay another day until the facility opens, see if you can get the material you need another way, such as by mail, email or an onsite researcher. Sometimes it costs money (sometimes A LOT of money), but there is almost always a way to get what you need.

    7. Volunteer for something, even a small “something.” There is no doubt that your local or state society could use your help. You will meet more people, talk about genealogy, and you may learn something you didn’t know.

    8. Become immersed in a project that thrills you. This may be writing a book about one of your own family lines, compiling an index to a record group, or studying something that has nothing to do with your own family – think of the people you can help with your project and let it warm your heart! Get it out there online or in segments in a genealogical society publication.

    9. Do a little something every day that you can: Organize a file, write a biography of your grandmother, scan a few pictures.

    10. If you have put aside this hobby because life has intruded, refer to Resolution 9 and try to get back the joy of why you got involved in the first place!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Year's Resolutions

    Wednesday, Dec 29, 2010

    by Dawne

    Who has heard the phrases “Make your own luck,” “What goes around comes around?” and “karma?” These complement one another and can go hand-in-hand when a genealogist is contemplating making New Year’s resolutions!

    “Make your own luck” means that by taking action rather than relying on luck alone, a positive outcome is more likely.

    Therefore, Resolution 1 might be: Let others know of your research interests. By participating in online forums, submitting queries to genealogical journals and writing articles for the newsletters of the societies in the areas where your ancestors lived, you are more likely to hear from someone who is tracing the same lines, knows of records in the area that may help you … perhaps even owns a family bible or photographs and is willing to share!

    “What goes around comes around” means that a person generally gets what is deserved. Good=good and bad=bad.

    Interpreting this concept in a similar way to the first phrase, Resolution 2 might be: Do your homework before going on your research trips this coming spring and summer! The genealogist who prepares for a research trip by making a to-do list of needed records and facts, gathering call numbers from library online catalogs in advance, and doing the necessary homework to determine where records are kept, the hours of facilities, etc., probably will have a more successful research trip. Those who travel a distance to visit a facility that does not have the records they need are likely to be frustrated!

    If we translate “What goes around comes around” to be less literal and controllable and more nebulous, it can be similar to the third phrase, “karma.” In that case, he or she who does good deeds will be the recipient of good things via the balance of the universe.

    A resolution that might match this concept is, Resolution 3: Help others by doing the occasional free lookup in your local area. Will this bring genealogical luck your way? Who knows? But we have nothing to lose by trying and a great deal to gain by helping another genealogist. In these days of scanning and email attachments, copy and postage costs may not apply; helping a fellow genealogist in this way may cost us nothing but time.

    Next time, we'll offer additional resolutions for a Happy Genealogical New Year.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Value of Using

    Monday, Dec 27, 2010

    by Cynthia

    The Genealogy Center and its patrons are lucky that people remember to donate old yearbooks, published family histories, church directories and other books to our collection. Some of these volumes arrive with additional treasures: photographs, newspaper clippings, certificates and other items that were tucked inside the volumes for safekeeping. When our staff finds these gems, they are scanned and digital copies are uploaded to, a free wiki-based website. Often these pieces of memorabilia have a connection to the books in which they are found, such as programs for athletic banquets or prom photographs found in a school yearbook. On WeRelate, these usually are added to the photo gallery area of the page for the town where the school, church or other entity is located. For example, photos that were found in a donated 1941 Centenary College yearbook recently were added to the photo gallery area of the Shreveport, Louisiana, page. In some cases, if the photo or piece of memorabilia is specific to an individual who can be identified and is no longer living, a page can be created in WeRelate for that individual and the scans of the photos or memorabilia can be placed on the individual's page. So the next time you are paging through yearbooks at The Genealogy Center and a treasure falls out, please bring it and the volume in which is was found to the Ask desk, and we will add it to WeRelate so that anyone interested can use and enjoy it.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Interrogator

    Tuesday, Dec 21, 2010

    by Melissa

    As genealogists, we compile information and analyze the data often feeling like detectives, searching for those elusive facts and connections. We may spend months, even years, looking for the one record that will link two of our ancestors. At times, we may question if our ancestors were criminally minded since they’ve managed to remain obscure. We are continuously unearthing the mysteries of our family while researching our genealogy.

    Being a genealogy librarian, the discovery process is two-fold. I feel like a detective when searching for my own family, but working the reference desk, I sometimes feel like a cop. I become The Interrogator.

    The questions I hear are sometimes vague, lacking detail, such as “I’m looking for my family” or “…a birth certificate” or “…a newspaper article” or “…my immigrant ancestor.” With each of these questions, the adrenaline kicks in as I try to determine the best course of action. Usually I begin by asking my own questions in return. Sometimes I receive clear answers and direct people to the best resource. At other times, I have to dig for more detail.

    I feel like Sgt. Joe Friday stating, “Just the facts, ma’am,” as I filter through the data. I’m tossing out questions left and right, seeking more detail. “What county and state did great grandma live in?” “What year are we looking for?” “Okay, what decade?” “Have you already looked at the census?” “How did she answer the question concerning how many years she had been married?” “Did they own land?” “Do you know her religious affiliation?” Bam, bam, bam. My brain produces one question after another in an effort to pinpoint the best course to direct the customer.

    Once the customer has the information in hand, a sense of completion fills me until my next opportunity to play The Interrogator. The lesson is: Don’t hesitate to ask your local librarian for help in your genealogy research. We’ve got lots of questions of our own.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Holiday Closures

    Saturday, Dec 18, 2010

    by Melissa

    Another friendly reminder that The Genealogy Center will be closed:
    Thursday, December 23
    Friday, December 24
    Saturday, December 25
    Friday, December 31
    Saturday, January 1

    We will be open the day before closures from 9am to 9pm and open the Sunday after closures from noon to 5pm.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Our New Website: Making a List!

    Thursday, Dec 16, 2010

    by Delia

    Our new web page continues to improve and now you may create a list of volumes that will include our call numbers. To use this resource, perform a search:


    Check the box accompanying the items you wish to include in your list. 



    At the top of the results list, a note will appear that  "you have selected [x] items," and a drop down box that says "select an action." 

    Then to generate the list, select "View Shelf Locations."

    And at the dialog box, select "Open."


    Your list will appear in a very simplified text. Remember that the Genealogy Center has a call number system that differs from that of the rest of the Allen County Public Library, and those call numbers will also appear in your list. If you are unsure which call number to use, contact a staff member.


    To print, either use your browser's print option, or right-click your mouse and select print.

    When you are finished, make sure you "clear" your check marks before making another list. And that's it! Use this feature to prepare lists either while you are here, or before your visit.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Seeking Missing Family Members in Indiana?

    Tuesday, Dec 14, 2010

    By Delia

    All researchers have experienced the family member who goes missing. Often the young sibling of a direct ancestor, these strays leave a hole in our research when we fail to locate the family member anywhere in subsequent census records, and yet a death record, cemetery listing or obituary eludes us. Additionally, it may seem that the family member disappeared from all family records, not being mentioned in letters, perhaps not even in diaries. So we wonder, "Where did he or she go?"

    In some cases, the child may have had developmental problems, handled today within the family and community, but which, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, may have resulted in the removal of the child to an institution elsewhere. Historic records from many mental health institutions may now be filed in various archives, but many are still held under the highest privacy restrictions and even determining if a relative was a patient may be difficult. But mortality lists for two of these Indiana institutions were published in Annual report of the Indiana School for Feeble-Minded Youth, Ft. Wayne, Indiana (977.202 F77FMY).

    Although the annual reports for Indiana State School for Feeble-Minded Youth begin with 1899, mortality lists were not included until 1912. Available records continue until 1937. All of the information from the annual lists, including name, date and cause of death and a grade indicating severity and nature of their handicap, has been transcribed into a searchable index, along with a very brief history of the institution. The Allen County Public Library's Community Album also has several photographs of the institution. It should be remembered that the term "youth" in the institution's name does not always reflect the age of the residents. Although most were aged under 35, resident Martha Zolman died in 1935 at age 71.

    The Annual Reports also included mortality lists from 1926 to 1937 from the Indiana Farm Colony for Feeble-Minded, also known as Muscatatuck Colony, located in Jennings County. Like the school in Fort Wayne, the Farm Colony drew patients from all over the state. Data similar to the other Fort Wayne lists have been transcribed into a separate index.

    So if you are seeking a missing relative in Indiana, take a few minutes to check these indexes.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Online Books

    Thursday, Dec 09, 2010

    By Melissa

    We are often asked if we have books or microfilm online? The answer is yes, we do. Thanks to partnerships with Internet Archive and the BYU Family History Archives, public domain material may be found through the Internet. There are several ways to discover which of our books and film are available for you to access from home.

    The first access point is The Genealogy Center website. Under the Family History Archives heading, choose from among our partnerships to view available material. Family History Archive searches by surname, author, or title of the book, while Internet Archive searches by keyword.

    Another access point is to Search the ACPL Catalog on our website.

    On the results page, if the title has a web address (see image below) then there is a link to the book online. Clicking on the address will take you to the online book, which you can read page by page.

    Enjoy exploring the digitized books available from The Genealogy Center.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Holidays

    Sunday, Dec 05, 2010

    It’s that time of year! You’re sending out family newsletters, holding family gatherings, recalling family traditions and reminiscing with loved ones. The holidays are a great time to focus on genealogy. As with many places you visit this month, we have holiday hours too. The Genealogy Center is open normal hours most of the month, with the following exceptions: Closed December 23rd - 25th and Closed December 31st – January 1st. We are open normal hours on Sunday, December 26th and January 2nd from noon – 5 pm.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Our New Website: Donate!

    Friday, Dec 03, 2010

    by Delia

    The Genealogy Center enjoys a wide variety of support from the genealogical community, and anyone can be a part of building our collection. By clicking on Donate on our new webpage's Menu Line, you will learn of the variety of opportunities available to help.


    Of course, the first method is to make a monetary donation to the Genealogy Center's endowment fund to support the collection. One can contact the Allen County Public Library's Develpoment Office to discuss planned or annual gifts, or make an immediate online donation through our Donate Online portal.


    The second way is to share your own research with us, and through us, other genealogists. We are happy to accept books, papers or information in a digital format, as well as family Bibles, military documents, photographs to digitize and place on one of our free webpages. Use the Share Research link to learn more.


    The last way take part in supporting the Genealogy Center is to donate your time! There are many way to share your expertise, through various projects in the Center or providing assistance to visitors. Click the Volunteer button to begin your volunteer adventure.


    There you have it! Explore the possibilities to Donate to the Genealogy Center.



    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Our New Website: Services

    Thursday, Dec 02, 2010

    by Delia

    On the Menu Line of The Genealogy Center’s new webpage is an intriguing word: Services. So what kind of services do we offer, aside from an excellent collection and a knowledgeable staff to guide your research? You can either roll over the list and select, or click Services to go to the page that will describe the available services.

    Ask a Librarian allows you to ask a Genealogy Center staff member if we own a specific item or ask for advice on a knotty research problem. You can also link to the Article Fulfillment, Quick Search and Research Services forms if you would like to take advantage of the various research services available for a fee.

    Orientation links to a 15-minute video to help you prepare for your visit to Fort Wayne, and Genealogy Tours explains the opportunities available for groups planning a visit to The Genealogy Center.

    Take a few minutes to check our Services page!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • 'Net Treats

    Monday, Nov 29, 2010

    The Genealogy Center is hosting WinterTech 2010-2011. Every second Wednesday of the month starting in November and ending in February, a technology program will be presented from 2:30-3:30 PM. After the class, participants can spend a few hours researching before attending the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana's monthly meeting at 6:30 PM.

    We all know there are lots of sources on the Internet for doing genealogy. 'Net Treats on Wednesday, December 8, from 2:30-3:30 PM, will highlight a few genealogical web sites that may open new research windows.

    Please call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info to register for this program.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center