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  • Get Ready -- Get Set -- RESEARCH!

    Friday, Sep 24, 2010

    Of course, we all just want to jump right into the research. Whether it's wandering through the cemetery, cranking through microfilm seeking that elusive ancestor or dancing through the various databases in pursuit of great-great-grandma, for most of us, the fun is in the hunt. We sometimes forget to prepare to do our research. If you are getting online to do a bit of electronic sleuthing, prepare yourself by reviewing the family you are chasing. Recheck the vital dates that you have, as well as locations. Think about the names you are seeking. If you are looking for a Mary, remember, she might have been Molly or Polly, or even Marie! Contemplate the many ways that the names could be misspelled. Ask yourself why someone may have provided erroneous information. When you want to go to a courthouse to research, organize what you have and know what you want to learn. Find out, in advance if possible, if the records you want exist and how to access them. For example, a courthouse fire in 1896 may have destroyed civil marriage records, so you won't want to waste time hunting for them. However, it may occur to you that the family was, say, Catholic, so a call to the parish or to a diocesan office may guide you to church marriage records. Also, check to be sure the office you wish to visit will be open the day you plan to be there. And have a back-up plan. Power outages, plumbing problems and severe illness could result in a sudden office closing, so a tentative plan to visit a nearby cemetery or church is good to keep in mind. As you see, preparing for a research trip is always a good idea. Seeking advice from an archivist, librarian, or another researcher can bring fresh ideas to your research, and such consultations are the best part of my job here at the Genealogy Center, but an inadequately organized query can only hinder the success of the quest. Re-evaluate your data to make sure that it follows a logical path. At age 8, that woman was too young to have given birth to your great-grandfather. And your grandmother's uncle really wasn't born 15 months after his father died. Reassessing the information you have may open new avenues of research. So take a few minutes while planning your research activities to consider what you you wish to achieve, what's impossible, and how you might make the impossible, possible.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Lincoln & Civil War Politics

    Monday, Sep 20, 2010

    Running the country and conducting a Civil War weren't the only things on Abraham Lincoln's mind. Political controversy was a daily occurrence. The Lincoln Financial Collection, housed at the Allen County Public Library, contains a vast collection of broadsides, pamphlets, booklets, maps, photographs, and cartoons that provide in-depth background on Lincoln and the politics of his time. To highlight this material, The Genealogy Center Gallery is hosting a display of facsimiles of some of these original documents. Stop in and see this fascinating display.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Are You Ready?

    Tuesday, Sep 14, 2010

    The month of October is always wonderful in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Between the fall colors, the cooling temperatures, the wonderful groups who visit, and of course, the events at The Genealogy Center, we have 31 days of research fun planned. Woven within our various offerings are several special programs that might entice a visit. Every Tuesday (10/5, 10/12, 10/19, 10/26) from 2:00-4:00 pm, we are offering 30 minute one-on-one consultations with our staff concerning your research problems. Please email your consultation request or call 260-421-1225 to schedule your appointment. On Friday & Saturday, 10/8-10/9, the 3rd Annual Military Symposium will feature national speaker, Amy Johnson Crow, who will present The Last Full Measure: Military Burials, Researching Your Civil War Ancestors Online, State and Local Records for Civil War Research, After Mustering Out: Researching Civil War Veterans, and For Benefit of the Soldier: Civil War Fraternal Organizations. Registration is required. The last Friday of the month, October 29, we are celebrating Family History Month with our annual Midnight Madness. From 6:00 pm to midnight, researchers will have six extra hours to delve into the Center's collections. Friday, October 29, through Sunday, October 31, researchers are invited to participate in Start Sharing the News! A Celebration of Collaboration. It begins Friday with a dinner at the historic Baker Street Station, followed by multiple sessions on Saturday, ending with a tour of the Lindenwood Cemetery on Sunday. Registration is required. Take time now to schedule your trip(s) to Fort Wayne to take advantage of all these opportunities.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Sunday Hours Returning

    Friday, Sep 10, 2010

    Beginning Sunday, September 12th, The Genealogy Center will once again be open 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm on Sundays. It's a great time to plan a weekend at The Genealogy Center! Our regular hours will be: Mon-Thurs 9:00 am - 9:00 pm Fri-Sat 9:00 am - 6:00 pm Sun 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm With planned events in October with Family History Month, think of visiting us this fall.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Orientation Video

    Saturday, Sep 04, 2010

    Before visiting The Genealogy Center, you may want to consider viewing our Orientation Video. The video is a 17 minute virtual tour through our department that orients the viewer with all five rooms, how we're organized, ways to access our material, and patron responsibilities. It's one more step to insuring you make the best use of your time when visiting our facility.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Beyond the Basics Mini-Course Update

    Wednesday, Sep 01, 2010

    The waiting list for the September 17-18, 2010 Beyond the Basics Mini-Course is now closed. While we are disappointed that everyone who has expressed an interest cannot attend, we are very pleased with the high demand. We hope to offer this course again soon. Keep watching!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Pre-1882 Indiana Deaths

    Monday, Aug 30, 2010

    Of course, The Genealogy Center offers a wide variety of databases for your use. Some are subscription databases can only be used by those visiting one of the Allen County Public Library's branches. Our other databases include ones we've created in which many are centered on Allen County, including indexes for obituaries, some cemeteries, early death records and modern marriages. But there is also a section of Indiana and Other States Resources that includes a wide variety of free information. Now, we all know that the recording of deaths was not mandated in Indiana until the 1880s, although there are many various sources for locating a death date. But trying to recall all possible sources can be frustrating. Fortunately, Dawne Slater-Putt, Certified Genealogist and professional librarian with the The Genealogy Center created a database using county histories, family Bibles, and other published and unpublished sources to create Pre-1882 Indiana Deaths, and has allowed it to be posted on the The Genealogy Center's site for your use. You may search by first and/ or last name, and employ exact, Soundex or Fuzzy (any part of the name) search. The results will supply date and location of death, parents' names, if supplied, and source with page number. It is always advisable to proceed on to the source, which may supply more information about the person's life and survivors. If you are seeking an elusive Hoosier, take a few minutes to check this wonderful source!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Labor Day ... and Beyond

    Thursday, Aug 26, 2010

    The Genealogy Center, like the rest of the Allen County Public Library, will be closed on Monday, September 6, 2010, in observance of Labor Day. We will, however, be open our regular hours, 9 am to 6 pm, on Saturday, September 5th. Sunday hours, 12 noon to 5 pm, begin the next weekend, Sunday September 12th.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Flexible Genealogist

    Monday, Aug 23, 2010

    By Dawne The process of doing genealogical research causes us to change our perceptions regularly. Television and the Internet have brought genealogy into the public eye and in many cases have given beginners the notion that researching family history is simply a matter of typing a name into a computer database. When they do not get the results they expect, they understandably are disappointed. At this point, if they persevere and ask questions at their local library, or of a friend who does genealogy, they will learn about record books, courthouses, research libraries, cemeteries and, yes, more locations on the Internet, as well as the rest of what makes up the mosaic of resources for family history research. Similarly, one of the earliest lessons we learn as genealogists is that government records are not infinite. There is a starting date for civil vital records in every U.S. state, and it usually is well after the date of statehood. Even if our ancestor was born or died after the commencement of vital records, he or she still may not have a birth record or a death record. And so we change our perception and learn to turn to alternative records to find the information we seek. Genealogists hear about the Mecca that is the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the “other” Mecca that is the Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library. Yet neither of these facilities has resources for every location, time period and family. When genealogists visit these libraries with a narrow idea of what they expect to find, for example, Grandpa’s adoption record, they may come up empty handed. Then they will have to change their perception to realize that for that particular resource, they will need to research in a state archives, a local courthouse or the local public library, etc. At one time or another, virtually every genealogist will need to do long-distance research and it may not be feasible to visit the area where an ancestor lived. Sometimes it is possible to request needed books via Interlibrary Loan. And occasionally a fortunate researcher may be able to get information or request photocopies by telephoning the public library or courthouse in the remote location. However, to avoid frustration, the flexible researcher should expect that these cases of “telephone fulfillment” are the exception rather than the rule. So when you cannot immediately have Great-Grandma’s obituary read over the phone, ask “Is there a procedure for getting a copy of the obituary?” Don’t give up; just look for another way. In other situations, ask, “Who might have this record?” or “Is there another record that might give me the same kind of information?” or “How can I get access to your collection from long distance?” or “Do you have a suggestion for solving this problem?” or “What should I do next?” Because the Genealogy Center is a reference collection, its books are not available via Interlibrary Loan. However, this does not mean that people who live long distance do not have access to the material in the Genealogy Center’s books! On the contrary, researchers simply need to change their perception of how they gain access to the material. There are a number of options, including having the Research Center – the Genealogy Center’s research branch – photocopy materials from a specific source or do open-ended research. (See the Quick Search Form and Research Request Form.) Researchers also can request photocopies of needed pages through the Interlibrary Loan service or hire a professional researcher to do work in the collection. If finances are tight, perhaps it would be possible to find someone who has a need (research, proofreading, web site design, typesetting) and arrange an exchange of tasks, or prioritize needs and order a little at a time. The flip side of this last idea is when copies of journal articles are needed, however. With the Genealogy Center’s Article Request Form, it is possible to get six articles for one base fee, plus the per-page copy charge. So rather than request just one article each time you locate one, why not save them until you have six that you can request at once? Try to look at the process of researching your family history as a journey rather than a destination, and remain flexible rather than becoming frustrated by challenges. Instead of trying to leap-frog back through the generations as quickly as possible, change your perception to realize that genealogy isn’t always quick and easy, but that’s part of the joy in it. Take some time to explore alternative resources and fully extract all clues from each record that you find. Treasures are waiting where you least expect them.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Mini-Course Update

    Thursday, Aug 19, 2010

    Family History: Beyond the Basics, scheduled for Friday and Saturday September 17-18, 2010, is filled. We will be establishing a waiting list, so you can still send in your registration and we will notify you if space becomes available. This mini-course will be offered again in the future. Watch Genealogy Special Programs to keep informed of this, and all of our courses, symposiums and classes.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Preparing for a Conference

    Tuesday, Aug 17, 2010

    Since our colleagues and researchers are at the FGS Conference this week, we thought we should share some ideas of how we prepare for a conference. 1. Review the program schedule ahead of time and print items from the syllabus that way you have it available to write notes. 2. Create handy "business cards" with your name, contact information, and surnames you are researching. It makes it easy to share and connect with new friends and family. 3. Read the websites and blogs for the organizations hosting the conference. Most groups want you to have a fun and productive time, so they will post information concerning local restaurants, events, research facilities, and sites to visit. 4. If setting aside time for genealogy research, create a research plan. Review research center/ courthouse/ library hours, rules, and catalog to save time.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Family Documents

    Friday, Aug 13, 2010

    What should I do with my family bible? I have my grandfather's military papers, but am unsure if it will help anyone. I discovered letters among my family papers. Would you be interested? The Genealogy Center is currently working on several digitization projects. If you would like to share your family documents and make them available online, consider donating or loaning your material to the Genealogy Center to digitize and make publicly accessible.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Family History Month Is Coming!

    Tuesday, Aug 10, 2010

    The Genealogy Center is again planning 31 days of research enjoyment and education for your genealogical gratification! As usual, we have something planned for each day, but this year, we've divided the month into sections highlighting different aspects of research.
    • General Week, October 1st through 9th, will include a beginning genealogy workshop, classes on land records and Genealogy Center basics, and will finish with the third annual Military Symposium.
    • Preservation Week, October 10th through 16th, will offer classes on preservation, scrapbooking, scanning, as well as a basic lecture on wiring a family history.
    • Technology Week, October 17th through 23rd, will provide information on useful websites and databases, as well the use of Adobe Elements software and creating a family website.
    • Death Week, October 24th through 31st, will highlight death records, obituaries, haunted sites in Fort Wayne, Midnight Madness Extended Research Hours on Friday, and will end with a bang with the Cemetery Seeker's Start Sharing the News! three day conference.
    And every Tuesday afternoon, Genealogy Center staff will offer 30 minute one-on-one consultations to advise you on your knottiest research problems. For class descriptions and registration information, check our calendar, then mark yours to take part in this exciting month!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Thank You!

    Saturday, Aug 07, 2010

    Who knew genealogy was so popular? Or that a genealogy collection could have so many wonderful people enjoy its services? Our Facebook page has reached its 1000th fan! We, at The Genealogy Center, would like to thank you for your continued support.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Your Story

    Thursday, Aug 05, 2010

    StoryCorps has finished its month long visit to Fort Wayne. The trailer located outside the Allen County Public Library was a continuous reminder to researchers to record their personal history for future generations. The Genealogy Center held four wonderful programs in July commemorating Preserve YOUR Story. We should all continue focusing on the theme to share our stories. Some ways we can insure our lives are remembered are by maintaining journals or blogs, sending postcards documenting our travels, completing a family newsletter once a year, and organizing our photos.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center


    Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010

    Footnote, a database available at the Genealogy Center, maintains partnerships with the National Archives, Library of Congress, and other institutions, including the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library, in an effort to provide unique historical documents online. Besides searching for historical and genealogical records for an ancestor on, you can also browse their varied collections of material. One unique collection on their site is the Interactive Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where you can view a digital image of the wall and read comments and stories concerning the soldier. The Black History Collection contains documents, photos, and pages pertaining to Slavery, Civil War, Reconstruction & Jim Crow Laws, World Wars, and the Civil War Movement. The Holocaust Collection carries stories, maps and facts from concentration camps, details from the Holocaust Assets Collection, and National Archives records and images. Other specialized collections currently on are the Native American Collection, Interactive Census Project, World War II Collection, and the Great Depression.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Taking it with you

    Friday, Jul 30, 2010

    As you plan your genealogical research trip, you may decide to bring your computer with you. After all, you have all of your research notes, your scanned images, and your genealogy software, not to mention the Internet capabilities for mapping the location of the courthouse, your hotel, and the next White Castle. But there may be a few things to check on before you arrive:
    • Make sure that you can bring it with you into the court house, archives or library. Some institutions have limitations on what you may bring with you. The Genealogy Center allows you to bring your computer, scanner or digital camera to record your findings and check your notes.
    • See if your destination has wifi capabilities. It's best to know before you arrive whether or not you can access your own Ancestry account, or if you can only check the notes that you have on your hard drive. The Genealogy Center has wifi, but, because we also have an Ancestry account, if you want to access your own account while here, you need to log on to Ancestry before you arrive at the library (and leave it running) to keep your own account live.
    • Ask if there is electricity available for visitor use, or if you need to draw on your battery. The Genealogy Center has electrical outlets on all tables, but only about two-thirds are actually live. Check with a staff member to be sure the outlet you are using is actually supplying "juice."
    • Invest in, and use, a lock for your computer. Sold most places that sell electronics, a computer lock usually consists of a combination or key lock on a plastic covered metal cable that can be looped around a table leg. We genies tend to get very involved with our research, but there are thieves everywhere who prey on our inattention.
    • Last but not least, back up your files before you hit the road. An electrical surge, a spilled drink in the car, or an overly helpful relative cleaning your computer can spell disaster.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Local Entities

    Monday, Jul 26, 2010

    by Dawne By now you probably have discovered that when it comes to genealogy, it is not *ALL* on the Internet. However, if you are reading this, then you probably are someone who knows that the Internet can be a useful tool for the family historian. During the online portion of your research, be sure to recognize that everything useful online is not *ALL* on FamilySearch, nor on HeritageQuest Online, nor on Footnote. It’s not even *ALL* on … or the Allen County Public Library’s website! Many societies, libraries and even courthouses, funeral homes and cemeteries have useful websites for the genealogist. If you are very lucky, some of these websites that are pertinent to your own research will have digitized copies of original records or photographs of tombstones that you can view, download and print. Others may have databases or indexes that you can search. At the very least, you will find helpful information such as business hours for libraries and courthouses, and contact information so that you may write, call or email the library, courthouse, cemetery, funeral home or other entity. Some websites may include links to other helpful, related sites. For example, check out the “databases” area of the Genealogy Department of the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library in north central Indiana. The site includes a number of databases created and maintained by department staff and links take the researcher to other databases and websites of interest. One of the links is to the Cemeteries of Howard County, Indiana website. This website includes databases of individuals buried in the various cemeteries in the area, often with pdf files of corresponding obituaries and jpegs of tombstone photos! Funeral homes have begun to post obituaries on their websites. Many of these are limited to recent deaths, but they can be helpful for those researching current branches of their families. As an example, one of our local Fort Wayne funeral homes posts obituaries with color photographs of the deceased. Others are posting similar information on their sites, including memorials posted by relatives and friends. These may include some priceless family stories! The Beallsville Cemetery in Washington County, Pennsylvania, has its own homepage. In addition to the database of the individuals buried in this cemetery are digitized images of tombstone photos, obituaries, civil death records, military records, cemetery plot maps, interment books, lot owner books and even photographs of some individuals! Don’t get in a rut with your online genealogical research! Use your favorite search engine to discover helpful websites for the local area where your ancestral families lived.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Microtext

    Wednesday, Jul 21, 2010

    The Genealogy Center owns 592,000 pieces of microtext material, which consists of film and fiche. The information contained within the microtext items include census, passenger lists, military records, city directories, and locality specific records, such as local histories, land records, probates and wills, court records, and vital records. To locate what is available at the Genealogy Center you can search the microtext catalog. With state of the art film/ fiche readers, you can view, scan, print, and save your images on a jump drive.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • News article on Internet Archive in the USA Today

    Monday, Jul 19, 2010

    Perusing my home copy of the USA Today one day last week, I noted this article on Internet Archive, and was pleased to see it garnering national attention. In my own insular way, I hadn't realized the wonderful applications for researchers with various physical challenges who have trouble holding or reading a book. I only know it as a wonderful source for some rare genealogical and historical sources, and that many volumes that are part the Genealogy Center's collection have been digitized and added to Internet Archive's collection to be freely used by all. Although not shown with the online version, the print article included a photograph of IA's employees and volunteers at the San Francisco facility, I was struck at how similar the area was to the space in the Allen County Public Library's Lower Level 2 that Internet Archive occupies to scan the material from the Genealogy Center and the rest of the library's collection. If you haven't already explored this site, or haven't checked it out in a while, take a fresh look!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center