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  • Genealogical Road Trip to New York

    Thursday, Oct 02, 2014

    by Sara
       
    Last fall, I embarked on a genealogical road trip with my mom and her brother to New York State. Apart from observing lovely scenery along the way and the autumnal colors peeking through the trees in the Finger Lakes Region, we spent our time visiting the usual genealogical tourist attractions of court houses, libraries, museums and graveyards. Because we had done some (but not all) of our homework before we left, we also knew that New York has county or town historians that should be visited as well.

    The New York County historian usually has an office in the county office buildings with regularly scheduled hours (but be sure to call ahead), while town historians may work out of their homes at irregular hours. In general, county and town historians often have published and manuscript copies of genealogical print materials, as well as original county or town records such as deeds, wills, marriage records, and so on. Our experience was very positive, though it did vary from office to office. We gained copies of county records, and we also accessed family files for several ancestral families, which contained good clues for us to follow up on. Many of the historians were knowledgeable about the immediate area and its records, and could refer us to other useful repositories if needed. A list of historians is available online.

    We did not do all of our homework, however, before embarking on this trip. I am embarrassed to say that we showed up at two repositories with mistaken information about the hours they were open to the public. As a genealogy librarian myself, I should know better! We drove through Syracuse on our way out and found out that the Onondaga Historical Museum was closed on Tuesdays, so we missed out that day. On the way back, we got there at 2:30 p.m. and found out the archives had closed at 2, while the museum stayed open until 4. We were able to gain access for a few minutes because the librarian was still in the building, but were very rushed, and felt terrible for inconveniencing the staff. A few days later, we had another incident of bad planning. I did not realize that the Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz had separate archives and library buildings, with different hours and staffing, both of which required advanced appointments. We were able to use the library by virtue of an appointment set up a few days before, but missed out on the Archives, which was very disappointing.

    We were very lucky that in two of the three situations, it worked out that we were able to access the materials that we driven cross-country to view. You might not always be that lucky. A thorough perusal of the websites of these organizations would have provided us with the necessary information, although sometimes hours of operation can be hidden several pages deep on a website. In addition, it is a good idea to find a telephone number and call ahead, just to be sure. Also, you might peruse a guidebook about genealogical research in the particular state you intend to visit so that you are informed of any research peculiarities of that area before you arrive. So, take a lesson from my sad experiences and be sure to plan ahead for your research trips to avoid disappointment.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Be a Storyteller!

    Monday, Sep 29, 2014

    by Delia

    I just had a customer regale me with a story! Since I don't have permission, I can't share it here, but suffice it to say that it involved a woman, her soldier husband and a state governor. It was a short tale, but very amusing. I'm lucky that I get to hear so many family tales.

    I was reminded that my father, who was 55 years of when I was born, told and re-told numerous stories while I was growing up. These stories were related so many times that I can repeat them with my father's verbiage and inflections. I've tried to pass many of them along to my own daughter and I hope to tell my grandchildren, too, maybe even adding a  few anecdotes of my own.

    We family historians are the keepers of the family stories, but so often we relegate ourselves to being the keepers of the family statistics: who, what, when and where, without bothering to add the why or how. There are more to our stories than just the facts, ma'm, and we need to tell the tales as well as the data.

    To get you in the mood, join us Wednesday evening, October 1st, for An Evening of Storytelling for a selection of inspiring stories and music. The evening starts at 7:00pm in the Theater of the Main Library. Don't miss this great event!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Family History Month Highlights Polish Culture

    Friday, Sep 26, 2014

    Family History Month offers two fantastic opportunities to learn more about Polish people in recent history, both in Europe and in the United States, and the subjects are not limited to those interested in Polish history and ancestry.

    The first is Sunday, October 5, 2014. Millie Zygmunt Rytel will provide a first-hand account of her "Four Continents to Freedom." Millie was born in Poland 90 years ago. In 1940, the Russians forced the family to leave their farm for a "temporary" journey which ended up as 18 months in a slave labor camp in Siberia. When released, she, her mother and sisters worked hard to make their way to freedom in America. Millie's story will be that of a twentieth century refugee. Take advantage of this unique event that starts at 1:00pm in Meeting Room C.

    Sunday, October 12, 2014, brings the opportunity to see The Fourth Partition
    “Cwarta Dzielnica."
    In the early 1900s, Chicago was the second largest American city and home to many of the nation's four million Polish immigrants. These immigrants worked hard establishing communities in Chicago and remained active in the fight for Poland's independence. This film will provide history of interest to any interested in Chicago's history, the Polish people in America, and the immigrant experience as a whole. Director Adrian Prawica and Associate Producer Rafał Muskała will attend and will be available after the screening. We invite you to join us at 1:00pm in the Theater of the Main Library.

    Both events are sponsored by the Polish National Alliance.

    Please call 260-421-1225 or send us an email to register for either of these free events.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Genealogy Center Closed Friday, October 3, 2014

    Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014

    The Genealogy Center, like other Allen County Public Library facilities, will be closed on Friday, October 3, 2014 for Staff Development Day. The Allen County Public Library Board is sponsoring the day to inspire and educate the 300+ employees. Classes include a wide variety, such as use of Freegal, and hoopla!, tours of the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection and the Maker Lab, a presentation on African American pioneers in Fort Wayne, a class in CPR, a short history of the library itself and much more. Our hardest part, aside from choosing which classes to attend, will be that we will miss our wonderful research customers, but will be back and ready to assist on Saturday, October 4th, at 9 AM.

    So please, do not come to visit on Friday October 3rd, but do return on Saturday!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Family History Month Events Announced!

    Friday, Sep 19, 2014

    October, Family History Month, is just a few days away, and The Genealogy Center has a fantastic slate of events for your entertainment and education.

    October 1st brings An Evening of Storytelling at 7:00 PM in the Library Theater. Storytelling is a great way to engage relatives in the saga of your family. Join us for an evening of stories and music to be inspired to start storytelling!

    Sundays, October 5th and 12th bring two opportunities to learn about Polish history. Millie Rytel shares her journey over Four Continents to Freedom on Sunday. October 5, 2014 in Meeting Room C at 1:00 PM. Then, take a look at Chicago when it was the center of Polish culture and political activism in The Fourth Partition “Cwarta Dzielnica” on Sunday, October 12, 2014, at 1:00 PM in the Theater.

    October 15th through the18th brings The Genealogy Center's Archives Crawl! Meet us for tours of Concordia Theological Seminary's Walther Library, the History Center, the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection and the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Archives. For times and meeting locations, see the Family History Month brochure.

    We also have a week of research resources for the Great Lakes states October 19th through the 24th, many opportunities for One-on-One Consultations and the month will end with Midnight Madness, our extended research hours, on Friday, October 31st. Treat yourself to six extra hours of research and take in one or more of our mini-programs: "How to Use the FamilySearch Wiki" at 6:30 PM, "Using WeRelate to Post Your Family Tree to the Internet" at 7:30 PM and "A Brief Tour of the U.S. GenWeb" at 8:30 PM.

    For more information about any of these programs, see the brochure. Get ready to celebrate Family History Month!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Take Advantage of Regional Seminars for Motivation & Learning Opportunities

    Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014

    by Dawne

    A few weeks ago, I attended the McHenry County (IL) Genealogical Society’s seminar on the same day that my colleague, Cynthia, attended Abrams Foundation Family History Seminar in Lansing, Michigan. Both took place on a Saturday and both featured some nationally-known genealogy speakers as well as some talented and knowledgeable local or regional speakers. Then a week or two later, our manager spoke at Midwestern Roots down in Indianapolis and Cynthia attended that seminar. That was three superb learning opportunities less than a day’s drive away within a couple of weeks.

    This is not an unusual occurrence. Especially from Spring to Fall, local, regional and state genealogical societies around the country sponsor partial day or day-long seminars and bring in one or more of the nationally-known genealogy speakers to anchor their programs. What this means for you and me is the opportunity to learn from these national experts, as well as hear from local experts on a variety of topics with which they have familiarity, commune with other like-minded individuals (our fellow genealogists), and get motivated by new ideas, techniques, sources and technology!

    National conferences are terrific! I would always recommend that if you have the opportunity to go to one, you do so! But sometimes it is difficult to clear the calendar for about a week’s worth of time and travel to a distant location for a national conference. Or the personal budget doesn’t allow a week’s worth of hotel nights and meals out, combined with the registration fee for a national conference and the airline or gasoline expense to get there. That’s where these regional events can shine. There are many of them. Chances are good there have been several of them within a day’s drive of you this summer. Registration fees usually are modest. Sometimes a box lunch is included. You might need to get up very early on seminar day to drive there, or pay for a hotel room the night before, but you won’t have the expense of multiple hotel nights.

    To find a seminar near you, consult the following resources:

    •    Federation of Genealogical Societies/Society Events listings
    •    Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter/Calendar of Genealogy Events
    •    Conference Keeper

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is?

    Saturday, Sep 13, 2014

    by Delia

    When I moved to Indiana in the mid-1970s, I was amazed to learn that most of Indiana (like the states of Arizona and Hawaii) did not adhere to Daylight Saving Time. Each spring, the world shifted around Indiana going from Standard Time to Daylight Saving, with Indiana remaining on Eastern Standard Time, then, each fall, the country shifted again and Indiana stayed put. In effect, however, it seemed to non-residents that Indiana switched time zones twice a year: Eastern Standard Time from October to April and Central Daylight Saving Time from April to October. It was very confusing to my parents in Arkansas, since sometimes time in Indiana was the same as theirs, and the rest of the year it wasn’t.

    Once I started working in the Genealogy Department, the precursor to The Genealogy Center, I realized that many of our customers had the same problem: What time was it in Fort Wayne? Many got here too early, and had to cool their heels for 60 minutes before we opened at 9 a.m., or got here at 10 a.m., and wasted a whole hour when they could have been researching. A frustrating situation indeed. We tried our best to educate everyone who called, wrote or emailed, but there were still people who didn’t get the message.

    Then, in 2006, most of Indiana (except those areas around Evansville and Gary, which stay on Central/Central Daylight Saving Time all year) started following the rest of the country into Daylight Saving Time. Now we are Eastern/Eastern Daylight Saving Time, and one would think that that would solve the people of our customers being early or late for researching. However, we educated some of our customers all too well. There are still folks who show up early or late and are confused (still!) by Indiana’s time.

    So, you just think of what time it would be in New York or Ohio. That’s what time it is here. Or just call or email! We’ll be happy to give you the time of day!

    For more information on Indiana time, see timeanddate.com's Indiana's Time Zones and Daylight Savings Time.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • "Amid the Din of Arms: The Election of 1864"

    Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014

    There is still time to register for The 29th Annual Lincoln Colloquium, “Amid the Din of Arms: The Election of 1864,” in the Main Library Theater of the Allen County Public Library on Saturday, September 27 from 9:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The Lincoln Colloquium is a national conference at which Lincoln scholars and enthusiasts meet for presentations and discussion regarding Abraham Lincoln and his place in history, and this will be the first time it will be held here in Fort Wayne. 

    Sponsored by the Allen County Public Library, the Friends of the Allen County Public Library, and the Abraham Lincoln Association, the Colloquium will offer four views of the contentious election of 1864 by an array of experts, and will conclude with a panel discussion with audience question and a tour of the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection.

    For a better description of the day’s events, speakers and lunch selections, as well as the registration form is available online. For questions, email Lincoln@acpl.info or call 260-421-1378 or 260-421-1379.

    And start the day the night before by attending the 34th annual R. Gerald McMurtry Lecture “The Emancipation of Abraham Lincoln,” on Friday, September 26, 2014 at 7 pm in the Theater. This event, sponsored by the Lupke Foundation, Parkview Health, and Steel Dynamics, is free and open to the public.

    Don’t miss this unique opportunity in northeast Indiana!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Family History at the Senior Information Fair!

    Sunday, Sep 07, 2014

    The Genealogy Center is hosting a table at the Senior Information Fair this year on September 18th at the Allen County Public Library. There will be information on discovering your family stories and on getting started finding your ancestors. Curt Witcher will be doing a presentation at 10:30 a.m. that day in the library’s computer training room on the first floor entitled, “Telling the Stories of Our Lives.” Bring your friends who are interested in getting started with their family history!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Digital Discoveries: Discovering Newspaper Databases

    Thursday, Sep 04, 2014

    Our summer series, Digital Discoveries, ends with Sara Allen’s presentation, “Discovering Newspaper Databases,” on Wednesday, September 10, 2014, in Meeting Room A, from 3 to 4 p.m. Many genealogists know that newspapers provide a wealth of information about their ancestors, including vital records notices, probate notices, land and tax records, personal items, gossip, and – oh, yes – actual news. How can you find this material? You can access a variety of newspaper titles and from many locations through our online databases, including Newspaper Archive, Newspapers.com, African American Historical Newspapers, The Journal Gazette Online and others. Learn more about why newspapers are wonderful resources for family history research and how to use our databases to find articles you want. For more information, see the “Discovering Newspaper Databases” program flyer. To register for this free class, call 260-421-1225 or send an email to Genealogy@ACPL.info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Occupational Surnames

    Monday, Sep 01, 2014

    by Delia

    On this Labor Day, we as genealogists might want to give some thought to the occupations of our ancestors, and how those occupations may be reflected in the surnames we search. Some occupational surnames come readily to mind, such as Archer, Baker, Bowman, Brewer, Butcher, Carpenter, Farmer, Fisher, Hunter, Mason, Miller, Miner, Singer, and the ubiquitous Smith. But there are many more like Buller (a scribe), Chandler (a candlemaker), Gage (an assayer), Nadler (one who made needles), Pease (a grower of peas), Plowright (a maker of plows), and Slater (person who covered roofs with slate), which also defined someone by their labor.

    When you encounter a new surname in your research, take a few minutes to examine the meaning of the name to see if it reflects a progenitor’s work life. Many occupations were passed down through generations, so the meaning of the name might provide clues to the family origins.

    In the meantime, enjoy your Labor Day holiday!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Participate in A Day in Allen County Photography Event

    Friday, Aug 29, 2014

    We invite you to capture a day in Allen County, Indiana! Sunday, September 21, 2014—the last official full day of summer—take pictures of anything and everything that is happening in our county in that twenty-four hour time period, and send them to us! What is your view of Allen County that day?
     
    These pictures are not limited to marquee events. We want to capture what is going on throughout the entire community, so pictures can be of people at work, children at play, baseball games and sporting events, weather and blooming flowers, homes and buildings, traffic scenes, hikers and bikers, and people just hanging out. Include a description you would like put with the picture. If it’s happening in the twenty-four hours of September 21st, it’s worth capturing!

     Send pictures:
    • Email them to Genealogy@ACPL.Info
    • Upload pictures on our Facebook
    • Twitter #DayinAllenCo2014

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Free Event! 34th Annual R. Gerald McMurtry Lecture

    Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

    Historian Eric Foner will present "The Emancipation of Abraham Lincoln," the 34th Annual R. Gerald McMurtry Lecture, at 7 pm on Friday, September 26, 2014, in the theater of the Allen County Public Library. Sponsored by the Lupke Foundation, Parkview Health, and Steel Dynamics. This event is free and open to the public.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Open Sundays Starting on September 7th!

    Saturday, Aug 23, 2014

    The Allen County County Public Library's winter hours go into effect after Labor Day, which means that, starting on Sunday, September 7, 2014, The Genealogy Center will be open for your research pleasure from 12 noon to 5 PM each Sunday. When combined with our Saturday hours (9 AM to 6 PM), this makes a wonderful research weekend trip! So make plans today to come and visit!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The 29th Annual Lincoln Colloquium at Allen County Public Library

    Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014

    The 29th Annual Lincoln Colloquium, “Amid the Din of Arms: The Election of 1864,” will be held at the Allen County Public Library in the Main Library theater on Saturday, September 27 from 9:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The Lincoln Colloquium is a national conference at which Lincoln scholars and enthusiasts meet for presentations and discussion regarding Abraham Lincoln and his place in history. 

    The 2014 Colloquium features four outstanding speakers who will provide a variety of perspectives on the 1864 election:
    * Nicole Etcheson, Alexander M. Bracken Professor of History at Ball State University, will discuss “Sustaining the National Government: The Election of 1864 in Indiana.”
    * Jeffrey J. Malanson, Assistant Professor of History at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, will present “‘George Washington, the founder of American independence, and Abraham Lincoln, the liberator of the slave’: The Founding Fathers and the Election of 1864.”
    * Jennifer Weber, Associate Professor of History at the University of Kansas at Lawrence, will talk on “The Summer Lincoln Lost the Election.”
    * Jonathan W. White, Assistant Professor of American Studies at Christopher Newport University, will speak on “Emancipation, the Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln.”

    The formal program will conclude with a speakers’ panel discussion and audience questions moderated by Lincoln Lore editor Sara Gabbard. Colloquium attendees may tour the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection following the panel discussion.

    “Amid the Din of Arms” is sponsored by the Allen County Public Library, the Friends of the Allen County Public Library, and the Abraham Lincoln Association. For registration information, email Lincoln@acpl.info or call 421-1378 or 421-1379. A printable registration form is available online.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • One-on-One Consultations for September

    Sunday, Aug 17, 2014

    Do you have a brick wall in your research? Would you like a greater understanding of some aspect of your research? The Genealogy Center is offering 30 minute personal research consultations with a staff member on some troublesome aspect of your search on Wednesday, September 24, 2014. Times for consultations will be from 2pm to 4pm. Call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.info 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 is limited, so check your calendars early to take advantage of this unique offer!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Making Genealogical Connections via Facebook

    Thursday, Aug 14, 2014

    By Dawne

    Sometimes when I tell people what a fan I am of Facebook, I hear that it’s such a waste of time, or kids’ stuff. That hasn’t been my experience with this social media outlet at all. I have long been a fan of Facebook for a number of reasons:
    •    It helps me keep in touch with friends who live all across the country
    •    It allows me to keep the family bonds strong with my first cousins – who used to be like brothers and sisters to me when I was small. I love seeing the pictures of their children and grandchildren!
    •    It helps all of us – friends and family – keep up with what is going on in one another’s lives.
    •    It helps me strengthen the networking contacts I have made in the genealogical world.
    •    It has allowed me to post ancestral photos so that interested family members can see them.
    •    The special interest groups, such as Technology for Genealogy and Ancestry.com’s Facebook page have allowed me to learn.

    Some time ago, I was contacted by someone who saw the small family tree I have on Ancestry. She is my third cousin and we became Facebook friends. Since that time, we have sent private Facebook messages back and forth numerous times about our common ancestors and have shared stories and pictures more publicly. We discovered that we knew some of the same members of the older generations of our family when we were children. The personal stories of these people we have been able to exchange are priceless!

    Not very long ago, this cousin posted a video of a family reunion she attended the previous weekend, panning around the crowd and narrating, showing the “old timers” – the oldest generation – in attendance. She “tagged” me and two other distant cousins in her post and comments on the video thread. One of the two names caught my eye – that of another third cousin I DID know.

    My family spent a week each summer in western Pennsylvania when I was a child, visiting my father’s relatives. For two of three summers, we stayed at the home of this woman’s parents. She was a teenager at that time and I was a pre-teen. We hung out together and had a lot of fun. But I hadn’t had contact with her since I was about 12 years old. Our mutual cousin, who posted the video, has never met either of us, but found us through her interest in family history.

    I posted on the thread, “Is that the Linda ***** who was the granddaughter of Jane and Andy Lawrence?” She responded in the affirmative and I sent her a friend request, which she accepted. Imagine if you can, how much fun we have had the past few days reconnecting and exchanging memories, not only of the fun times we spent together as kids, but of those older relatives who are now gone. And now we are sharing photos, too, and news of the still living older members of our families who had largely lost touch.

    Between the connections that can be made with friends and family, the institutional pages (like The Genealogy Center’s Facebook page) that give news of those facilities and organizations, the family or surname pages where pictures and stories are shared, and the special interest pages where you can get help on everything from choosing a scanner to how to research ancestors in a particular state, I’m convinced that Facebook can be a valuable learning and enrichment tool, as much as it can be a venue for posting cat pictures and pithy quotes.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Closed Labor Day

    Monday, Aug 11, 2014

    he Genealogy Center, like the other agencies of the Allen County Public Library, will be closed on Monday, September 1 for Labor Day. We will be open our regular hours on Saturday, August 30, and will reopen for our normal winter schedule on Tuesday, September 2nd.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Thousands Opted to Marry Secretly in Michigan

    Friday, Aug 08, 2014

    by Cynthia

    While searching The Genealogy Center’s catalog for basic information on Michigan, I discovered “It Happened in Michigan: Remarkable Events That Shaped History” by Colleen Burcar (GC 977.4 B892IT). The table of contents of this book included the chapter “Thousands Vowing ‘I Do’,” which seemed intriguing. What did this mean? The author noted that beginning at the end of the 17th century through a change in law in 1925, thousands of people from neighboring states went to Michigan to marry because there was no waiting period. In 1897, Michigan adopted a secret marriage law (Act 180 of 1897) that allowed the issuance of marriage licenses without publicity. 
     
    Issuance of Marriage License Without Publicity (Section 551.202  - excerpt of Act 180) stated that if a couple wanted anyone other than the judge of probate to perform a marriage, the judge of probate could issue a permit, as long as the official was legally competent to perform marriages in the state. However, only the probate judge could make a record of the marriage. The law also stated that the judge’s records and the copy that was filed in the State of Michigan’s Public Health Department were permanently sealed and could not be opened unless one of the couple produced legal identification to get a copy of their marriage record.

    The cost of a “secret” marriage was three dollars. Two dollars were for the judge’s service and one dollar was forwarded to the state register to be added to the state general fund (Section 551.202). 

    St. Joseph, Michigan, was a well-known wedding site of choice for individuals from other states. Thousands took advantage of the no waiting period. The majority of the marriages performed there were for residents of Chicago. On April 30, 1925, Michigan Governor Alexander Grosbeck took a huge step toward discouraging people from other states from coming to Michigan to be married. His new statute required a five-day waiting period after the license application.

    While researching what was meant by secret marriages, I found that only two states have passed legislation on secret marriages; Michigan and California. If you are having trouble finding a public record of a marriage in Michigan for an ancestor or a collateral relative, he or she may have had a secret marriage. 

    A circulating copy of Burcar’s book is in Readers’ Services (REA 977.4 B89I).

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Digital Discoveries in August

    Saturday, Aug 02, 2014

    There are only two Digital Discoveries left for this summer’s series. August’s offering is “Discovering PERSI.” Cynthia Theusch will demonstrate the new Periodical Source Index that’s now available on FindMyPast. She will show you a variety of ways to search for items mentioned in the genealogical and historical newsletters, quarterlies, journals and magazines. This session will be held in Meeting Room A on Wednesday August 13, 2014, from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM. To register for this free event, call 260-421-1225 or send us an email. Take the time to learn the new PERSI!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center