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  • Databases -- Free, Free, FREE!

    Monday, Apr 18, 2011

    by Delia

    That always catches your eye, doesn’t it? Something for free? Even when you think it’s probably a come-on, you still have to look, to check, just in case it might be something you would like and it really IS free. Well, The Genealogy Center is the site for some amazing – and free! – databases.

    Of course, I hope you are familiar with our Microtext Catalog. Using it in advance of your visit can help you decide what records you need to examine. The Genealogy Center Surname File enables you to locate others researching the same name you are. And the African American Gateway provides links to all types of resources for African American research.

    The rest of the databases are divided into two types, collections of indexes and transcriptions, and those databases that are primarily collections of digital images. The latter are Our Military Heritage, Family Bible Records and Family Resources but for now I am going to concentrate on the other three: Allen County, Indiana Resources, Indiana Resources, and Other States Resources.

    Not too surprisingly, there is a tremendous amount of material in the Allen County, Indiana Resources, including an index to Allen County marriages from 1993 to the present, an obituary index that covers 1837 to the present; several transcriptions of cemetery records; indexes to Poor Asylum records and State School deaths; African American and German ethnic records; extensive records from the Fort Wayne Fire Department; scrapbooks and minute books; digitized wills of some early Native Americans in the area; maps; military resources; and an index to the names appearing in extensive runs of several local high schools.

    The Indiana Resources databases include lists Central Normal College students, 1877-1934; collections of pre-1882 and World War I deaths; and information on the county courthouses. County specific records include many cemetery listings, but also 1873 cholera deaths from Posey County, Hendricks County business directories and divorces (1891-1960), and the Jacobs Funeral Home records from Marion County.

    Other States Resources has material from only thirteen other states right now, but includes colonial Massachusetts military records, a World War I memorial book from New Hampshire, American Ancestors of Michigan Governors and many cemetery listings.

    Some of these various databases have been compiled by Genealogy Center staff and volunteers, but many more have been donated by researchers just like you, and we are always interested in adding to the collection.

    So take a bit of time and explore the free, free, FREE databases offered through your Genealogy Center!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • More Improvements to the Catalog

    Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011

    The Genealogy Center catalog received an upgrade this morning, which has vastly improved its functionality for genealogy researchers. One of the first changes you’ll notice is the appearance of call numbers on the results page. Each record also has a description of the book that includes its size in centimeters, number of volumes and number of pages. This can help you identify books that may be housed in the oversize section, as well as give you a general idea of whether the book is short or long and if you are looking for a single volume or a multi-volume set.

    The list function is easier to use with the new upgrade. Just click on the box below the word "books" next to each of your selections on the results page. As you click on the boxes, the heading at the top of the page will update the number of books selected. Once you’ve selected all your books, click on show. And your new list appears along with the call numbers for the books.

    The new and improved catalog should make your genealogy experience easier!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Brief Catalog Blackout

    Tuesday, Apr 12, 2011

    For those who are night owls or who are planning to get a jump start on planning your genealogy search for the day, The Genealogy Center catalog will be unavailable on Wednesday, April 13, from 1:00 am - 9:00 am.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Importance of Church Affiliation

    Monday, Apr 11, 2011

    by Delia

    Remember to note religious connections as you research your ancestors. Joining a new church was often one of the first actions of emigrants. Family and friends might belong to the same denomination and congregation, and fellow worshipers often provided marital prospects and business alliances. Church records provide not only baptismal, marriage and funeral notes, but also activities such as musicals, plays, picnics, Sunday school and children’s groups, and discipline records. And when people moved on, their church records may indicate a destination. Even if your ancestor is not specifically mentioned, cluster genealogical research may provide clues in the church records of friends and neighbors.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Time is Passing, Part 2

    Friday, Apr 08, 2011

    By Dawne

    Once I decided to write, and what format to use, the next questions were where to begin and what to do with the “unknowns” and the research that I had done on families that weren’t mine. To use a cliché, I decided to “jump in with both feet.” In other words, I picked up a stack of papers from my desk that pertained to different families, opened several files in Word and started writing on a half dozen of my families at once! I also decided to create narratives for those mini one-name studies and for my “unknowns” of each surname.

    In the files containing material on the “unknowns” and the one-name studies, the sketches are arranged alphabetically by first name since I do not yet have all of the necessary information to know if – and how – the individuals fit together as families. Fortunately, cut and paste allows me to move things around and even move individual sketches from the “unknowns” file to one of my family files once I find a link!

    My goal is to compile everything in my files into a format that genealogists and non-genealogists alike can understand, and have those finished products on the shelf in The Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library.

    That’s HUGE, I realize. Will I get it done? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I have more than 300 pages of written narrative on my families today than I had in mid-November of last year when I started. And that’s more than 300 pages (and counting) of information that perhaps will not be lost to my descendants.

    This genealogy thing that we do is for most of us a true labor of love that lasts many years. How sad to think that years’ worth of work can be lost when the person who set it in motion is no longer there to maintain it. I encourage you to write about your families and your research – in whatever style or format is comfortable and right for you – and place your work in The Genealogy Center to be used and enjoyed by researchers for years into the future.

    Click to read the first part of this article.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Time is Passing

    Thursday, Apr 07, 2011

    By Dawne

    Tick-tock. Time is passing. We talk about how it seems to go by faster the older we get. Whether you are a young genealogist just getting started, or someone who has been researching for many years and beginning to think about the disposition of your genealogy files, the fact is, no one knows how much time is left.

    The deaths of a few genealogist friends during the past year have created an urgency in me to create written narratives of virtually everything that is in my genealogy files. It’s a huge task! I don’t know if I will be able to complete it the way I envision the project, but allow me to explain my reasons for trying, my process and my goals.

    I have started (and not quite finished) the task of organizing my genealogy files and papers a number of times and have entered much of my data into The Master Genealogist software program. I like The Master Genealogist and I know that there are a number of other genealogy software programs with much to offer. However, I had begun feeling that my genealogy data was essentially “trapped” in that kind of a program and beyond the reach of anyone who was not a genealogist. Would my family know how to retrieve the data? How to print it out so that it could be shared with others? Would anyone try?

    Even if a genealogy friend were to take charge of my TMG program files, what about my paper files with material on people who are not yet proven to be connected to my family – the “unknowns”? Also, there are several instances in my family lines where I have done extensive one-name studies in particular areas in order to sort out individuals of the same name and age. Some of these families are not connected to mine at all, but I would not want this research to be lost.

    After worrying about this for a while, I finally decided that my best course of action was to begin writing. I am used to writing genealogy narratives in a modified National Genealogical Society Quarterly style, so that seemed like a natural format. It is one that most people – even non-genealogists – can catch onto and follow fairly easily. In each family’s sketch I am not tethered by fields; I can write freely, including personal memories, quotations from letters and diaries, extracts from obituaries and county history biographies, and more. In contrast to book printouts from genealogy programs, I can word the sketches the way I want to so that they do not all sound the same. I can include endless explanations in endnotes.

    Part II of this article will continue tomorrow.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • 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