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  • 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

  • Family Stories

    Monday, Jul 11, 2011

    by Dawne

    Family stories – you have to love them. Let’s see a show of hands for how many of you have been told that you are related to someone famous of the same surname … or have Native American ancestry (particularly a Cherokee Indian princess) … or that your ancestor was one of three immigrant brothers and of those brothers, one went north, one went south and one went west … These particular themes are very common, but even if your own family’s oral history doesn’t include one of these, chances are quite good that you have encountered some sort of undocumented family lore.

    New genealogists often love these family stories and sometimes accept them as Gospel. In fact, occasionally it is these colorful tales that get a budding genealogist hooked on beginning the hunt for his or her ancestry. Last name of Davis? We must be related to Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Mom’s mother was a Hatfield. Bet she was related to the Hatfields of the famous Hatfield-McCoy feud. Great-Great-Grandpa served in the Union Army. He was supposed to have been a body guard for Abraham Lincoln! Unfortunately, family stories can be very difficult to document. And when they can be tracked, often the facts don’t match the tale that has been passed down through the family.

    The frustration involved in trying to pin down nebulous stories and match them with facts, coupled with the disappointment when the tale turns out not to be true (you mean Gramps’s great-great uncle wasn’t a jockey in the Kentucky Derby, but a horse thief?) can cause the veteran genealogist to become skeptical of family stories and may lead to the dangerous practice of ignoring them all together. But sometimes they are true! Or, sometimes they at least have an element of truth to them.

    A family’s stories that are passed from one generation to another are retold for a reason. Often there’s an element of family pride involved, either they demonstrate pride for the family name in associating it with someone who was famous or great (or infamous!), or they illustrate some desirable trait, such as bravery or perseverance. There’s a story in one of my family lines about a woman left alone on the frontier in her cabin with her children while her husband was away, and defending the home from some potentially dangerous Indians. This tale is recounted about this woman in a published county history. A lecturer on family folklore at a conference once told me that this is an extremely common theme in family oral history that reinforces the concept of the bravery of women on the American frontier. Whether the story was true in my ancestor’s case, I have not determined.

    Recently I heard once again a story about a female relative of my Bane family in Washington, Pennsylvania, who married an older, rich business tycoon in the West. She was supposed to have been my great-grandmother’s half-sister, and came back to this poor area of southwestern Pennsylvania in her private railway car to visit, then left money in her will to all of her Bane relatives. She also was supposed to have had a son who went down with the Titanic. I first heard this story years ago and did not follow up at that time. When I heard it again recently, I focused in on the fact that this woman was supposed to have been my great-grandmother’s half-sister and was extremely skeptical. I have researched my great-grandmother’s family fairly thoroughly and was pretty sure that if she had a half-sister, I would have known about it.

    It turned out that much of the story was true, but some of the details were not accurate. The woman was not my great-grandmother’s half-sister, but her first cousin – the daughter of a sister of her mother. I had researched this family prior to census schedules being available online and although I knew the surname of the man my great-great-grandmother’s sister had married, I had lost the trail of that branch of the family when it moved west. The woman did marry a railroad vice president (although he was not a very old man as the story indicated; he was about 9 years her senior and younger than 30 when they married), so it is possible that she returned to Washington County in a private railway car. And her son did put his young wife into a lifeboat and go down with the Titanic!

    The key is to keep an open mind. Don’t accept a literal interpretation of your family’s oral history to the point that you ignore solid facts that your research uncovers that don’t fit into the legend. But also don’t discount a family story completely just because it seems too grandiose to be true, or when a piece of it proves to be inaccurate or embellished. There may be important clues to your family history in those stories that Grandpa told!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Scheduling Time for Genealogical Research

    Wednesday, Jul 06, 2011

    by Cynthia

    Some genealogists, including me, remark that it is hard to find time to do genealogical research in our already hectic and busy lives. We schedule doctor appointments, family events, and sport activities. Why not schedule some time or even full days to work on our genealogy research and projects?

    You can plan at least an hour to file documents, update your family genealogy software with recent research finds, or review your files to see what dates, events, or documents are missing on various family members. You will be amazed by how quickly and easily it is to update your family files.

    Or you could schedule time blocks to write family stories or books, create family tree scrapbooks, or design special gifts for family members. Remember that small increments of time can build large projects.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Genealogy Center History, part 5

    Thursday, Jun 30, 2011

    As final touches were being put on the new building at 900 Webster Street (same location, just facing east instead of north), books, record albums, furniture, and many other items were being moved in. Shelving books was a major task. With hundreds of thousands of books to move, strong boxes were at a premium, so the local Falstaff Brewery provided hundreds of boxes that were used and reused.

    The new library was dedicated 21 August, 1968, with the American Legion Post 47 Band playing.

    The new library had a pair of fountain pools that graced the lobby.

    Next time: The Genealogy Department, 1960s-1970s.

    Note: Computer system changes made it impossible to insert the photos this time.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Ancestry in a Month

    Thursday, Jun 23, 2011

    We’re a month away from the first ever “Fort Wayne Ancestry Day,” which brings together not only the expert knowledge of The Genealogy Center’s staff, but also the skill and technological capabilities of A number of representatives from will be here to answer your questions and instruct on how to best use their website, which is one of the leading genealogical databases available. Combine that with the knowledge base and years of experience of The Genealogy Center’s staff and a wealth of information will be shared on July 23rd. Cost for the event is $20, which is a steal at $4 a session.

    So don’t miss out on this opportunity. Register now at

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Genealogy Center: Closed July 4th

    Tuesday, Jun 21, 2011

    Please be aware that The Genealogy Center, as well as the entire Allen County Public Library system, will be closed Monday July 4, 2011 in honor of Independence Day. We will be open our regular hours Saturday July 2nd (9 A to 6 P), and Tuesday, July 5th (9 A to 9 P). Enjoy the day!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • September Consultations Closed

    Tuesday, Jun 21, 2011

    One-on-One consultations for September 28 have filled. If you're interested in scheduling an appointment for a 30 minute consultation, held on the 4th Wednesday of the month, please call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Page Numbering

    Tuesday, Jun 14, 2011

    by Melissa

    Upon discovering a family document, you might notice several stamped or handwritten numbers on the edges or corners of the page. Or when looking at microfilm, there can be numbers stamped on the film below the document image. It’s hard to determine which one is the official page number. If an index provides you a page number, assume that any of the numbers appearing on the document might be the page number referenced in the index. For example, one indexer of a census may have used the stamped number, while another indexer may have noted the handwritten page number. Both would be correct because each number was used as a page number at some point in the document’s existence. When citing your own research, consider specifying which number you are using. You could say, “the hand written page number in the upper right corner” or “the stamped page number in the lower right corner,” or even more simply, "p. 34 (stamped)" or "p. 112 (penned)" in an effort to help future generations locate the document.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center