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  • 10 Tips for Researching at ACPL

    Monday, Mar 05, 2012

    by Tina Lyons of Gen Wish List

    The following are 10 tips for getting the most out of your research trip from home and at the library. Even if you aren't planning a visit to ACPL (Allen County Public Library), you can still conduct a ton of research from the library's online databases and digitized books.

    1. Familiarize yourself with the library.

    At Home: Take time to explore the Genealogy Center’s website. Watch the library's Orientation video. Check out their State and Subject Snapshots to view the highlights of their collection. Learn how to search their print and microtext catalogs (PDF).

    At ACPL: If you have the option, take the tour. Otherwise, pick up the map of the library and the map of the microfilm collection at the “Ask Here” desk upon entering the library. Walk around and explore where everything is located before you start researching. Also don’t be afraid to ask the librarians on duty for help locating materials.

    2.    Research in local history books.

    At Home: Search the online catalog for the locations where your ancestors lived. Make sure to check links to Internet Archive for books that have been scanned. For example, Volume 2 of History of Dearborn, Ohio and Switzerland Counties, Indiana (1885) is available online.

    At ACPL: Local histories are shelved using the Dewey decimal system. You can browse the books easily if you know the pattern. Books that are general to the state are listed as XXX.X, county level books are XXX.X01 and city books are XXX.X02. (The Xs here represent the call numbers specific to a location.) For example, Indiana books are 977.2, Indiana county books are 977.201 and Indiana city books are 977.202. County and city books are then arranged alphabetically by the county or city.

    Note: Indiana books are in their own special section. When you enter the library, turn right and the Indiana collection will be in the stacks to your right.

    3.    Research in the Family Histories.

    At Home: Search the catalog for family histories by typing the surname you are seeking and then “family.” For example: “Lyons Family” or “Eiswerth Family”. Look for links to Internet Archive for books that have been scanned.

    At ACPL: The family history books are to the left of the entrance. They are arranged alphabetically by the principal surname in the book. Searching in the catalog will bring up many books that won’t be found just browsing the shelves for a specific surname.

    4. Research in online databases.

    At Home: Check the lists of the library’s subscriptions and online databases. They have a number of subscription databases that are free to search within the library, including Ancestry, Fold3, Heritage Quest and more. They also have many free databases to use at home or at the library. These include Indiana Resources, African American Gateway, Our Military Heritage and others.

    At ACPL: Feel free to bring your own laptop, tablet or other device and use the library’s WiFi. Otherwise you can use the many computers in the department. If you don’t have a library card, ask a librarian for a temporary number. It will last for 24 hours and give you access to the library’s computers. Printing from the library’s computers costs 10 cents (using a print card charged with paper currency) or you can save any images you find to a flash drive.

    Note: If you have your family tree online at Ancestry, you will not be able to access your tree. The library automatically logs into the ACPL library account and you cannot access another account on the library’s internet. (Actually you can find your tree if you search for someone in your tree, but that can be a pain.) If you have a tablet or smartphone with the Ancestry tree app, you won't have a problem.

    5. Take a break.

    Note: There is no food or drink permitted in the department to protect the collection.

    At Home: Check out the map for restaurants (PDF) within walking distance of the library.

    At ACPL: Remember to take a break to stretch and refuel your body. Take care of yourself so you can research at your best.

    6. Research in Genealogy Periodicals.

    Note: ACPL has the largest collection of genealogy periodicals in the country (probably the world). They maintain an index of articles called the PERiodical Source Index (PERSI) based location and surname. Articles are not indexed by every name, but by overall topic.

    At Home: Search for your ancestors’ surnames and locations on PERSI. It is available through Heritage Quest (if your local library has access) and Ancestry. Make sure to check the ACPL catalog to make sure they have the periodical you are seeking and to record the call number.

    At ACPL: The newest editions of periodicals are located on the East wall of the department (turn right when you enter the library and go straight back to the wall.) They are organized alphabetically. When the library has enough issues of a periodical, they bind them into a book and put them on the shelves based on location or topic. Searching in the library’s catalog should help you determine if a periodical has been bound or not by whether or not it has a call number.

    7. Research in Microtext Collection.

    At Home: Check the microtext catalog and newspaper holdings to view the library's collections. Many of these items, but not all, can also be found in the library’s main catalog.

    At ACPL: If you want to save or print an image from microfilm, use the readers connected to computers. Bring a flash drive to save your images. Currently printing from microfilm is free, but that could change. Or you can just view microfilm from the many other readers in the Microtext Reading Room.

    Note: Check the binder at the Microtext Ask Desk to find out what FHL films are on loan to ACPL.

    Extra special tip: The Microtext Reading Room is cold (probably from having the lights turned low). Bring a sweater if you plan to spend a lot of time with microfilm.

    8. Research in City Directories.

    At Home: Search the catalog and microtext catalog to find what city directories the library has in its collection. They have a large collection of directories from across the country.

    At ACPL: Older directories are available on microfilm. Modern directories are available in book form in the western part of the department (to your left as you enter the library, past the family histories).

    9. Ask the librarians.

    At Home: The Genealogy Center’s website has bios of the librarians that you might meet during your visit. If you have a question about the department, you can contact them before your visit.

    At ACPL: Can’t find the materials that you are looking for? Ask. Can’t figure out the microfilm readers? Ask. Want some research advice? Ask.

    10. Stay in Touch with the library.

    At Home: Sign up for the library’s free monthly e-zine filled with information about their collection and upcoming events. Follow the Genealogy Center’s blog and “Like” them on Facebook. Check the event calendar for programs that might interest you.

    At ACPL: Come back to research again. Or move to Fort Wayne.

    Some extra special tips:
    • If you can't find a book on the shelf, check the oversize section. Or ask a librarian. Or ask the people researching and possibly find a cousin using the same book.
    • ACPL has open stacks. Find and take the books you want to use from the shelves to a table. Want a bunch of books? Use the convenient black carts. When you are done with the books, put them on the wooden carts by the tables for the staff to return. Microfilm has a special table for returns.
    • Fort Wayne is on the Eastern time zone and follows daylight savings. 
    •  Library Hours:
      • Monday-Thursday: 9AM - 9PM
      • Friday-Saturday: 9AM-6PM
      • Sunday: Noon - 5PM (closed Memorial Day to Labor Day)
      • Check ACPL website for closings due to holidays and professional development
    • Parking is $1 per hour in the library lots (PDF). Maximum charge is $7 a day. You can pay by credit card or cash at the kiosk on the first floor by the checkout area. ACPL library card holders get free parking. Street parking is free on the weekend.
    • There are 4 copiers in the department. Copies cost 10 cents. They take copy cards than can only be charged with paper currency.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Save the Death Index

    Saturday, Mar 03, 2012

    by Melissa


    Do you use the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) in your research? Many family historians use this wonderful database regularly to garner information on their mid to late 20th century ancestors. In this era when state and local governments are closing or further restricting access to birth, marriage and death records, the Social Security Death Index has been a boon for many genealogists. The data provided in this index is limited, yet informative. For lucky researchers, birth and death dates are listed in the index, but generally, a birth and death month and year are provided, the state where the Social Security number was issued, along with the town, state, and zip code of last residence. The other piece of data supplied in the index is the individual's Social Security number.


    In order for the person's number to appear in the index, the individual must be deceased. Banks, credit card companies, and the IRS should not accept Social Security numbers which appear in this index. They should be required to use the SSDI. There is currently proposed legislation that will deny public access to the SSDI. The reported reason for this proposed legislation is to prevent Social Security numbers of the deceased from being used for illegal purposes. In actuality, the only people this decision hurts are genealogists. Identity thieves and those using fraudulent Social Security numbers will continue using any means currently at their disposal, while this wonderful resource will no longer be available to family researchers.


    If SSDI is gone, how will you find your 20th century ancestors when more and more records are being privatized and protected behind governmental legislation?


    The genealogical community needs 25,000 signatures by March 8 to let legislators know the Social Security Death Index is a resource that should be saved. To sign the petition, go to the We the People Petition. The petition requires that you create a account before signing. Instructions for creating an account and signing the petition can be found on the Federation of Genealogical Societies site.


    What can you do? In the next few days, genealogical societies and libraries can offer guidance in signing the petition for those who may be uncomfortable with the online aspect. Consider having a member of your society available to help those who may not have much computer experience. Tell friends, family, and colleagues about this wonderful resource and what will be lost should we no longer have access to the information.


    Because once the Social Security Death Index is gone, what will you do?

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Genealogy Center History -- Part 12

    Thursday, Mar 01, 2012

    Renovation of the building at 900 Webster took place began in 2004, which entailed gutting the structure and almost doubling its space, as is shown in this view from this Washington Boulevard view and by 2006, the building was nearing completion. New shelving went up in the new Genealogy Center and new equipment was installed, including computer tables and chairs.

    All was ready for Opening Day!

    Next (and last) installment of Genealogy Center History: Opening Day!


    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Print Card System Streamlined

    Thursday, Mar 01, 2012

    Beginning immediately, only one print card will be needed in The Genealogy Center to photocopy pages from books or to print documents from the research computers. Cost for each service is 10 cents per page. Allen County Public Library cardholders may use their regular library card as their print card. Out-of-town visitors or others who do not have ACPL cards may get a $1 print card from a vending machine in The Genealogy Center. More money may be added to the cards at the same machine, using $1 or $5 bills. Put your coins in your piggy bank! It no longer is necessary – or possible – to use coins in the photocopy machines at The Genealogy Center.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Two Classes of Family Tree Maker Sessions Closed

    Thursday, Mar 01, 2012

    Registration for the first two classes in the Family Tree Maker Sessions, Getting Started on March 14, and People on March 28, are closed.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Genealogy Center History - Part 12

    Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012

    Rebuilding building and move out and in...

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Interested in your family’s history? Visit our Genealogy Center

    Monday, Feb 27, 2012

    by Becky Carden

    Photo courtesy of the Genealogy Center Facebook page

    Did you know that ACPL has the second-largest genealogical collection in the United States?  It’s true!  The only collection larger than ours is the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  While we are primarily a North American collection and the Family History Library collects for the world, our partnership with them provides access to filmed records from all over, making our “virtual collection” quite large indeed.  Today our growing collection includes 413,000+ print volumes, 659,000+ items of microfilm/microfiche, and subscriptions to well-known databases like

    How did we come to have such a large collection?  It all began with Rex Potterf and Fred Reynolds back in the 1930s.  The Great Depression was in full swing and there simply wasn’t much money in the library’s budget to purchase new books for the collection, so Potterf and Reynolds scoured used bookstores in order to add titles to the ACPL’s shelves.  Along with standard fiction and nonfiction, they chanced upon county histories and genealogical periodicals at bargain prices and decided to purchase those as well.

    Potterf retired in 1959 and Reynolds succeeded him as director.  The financial hardships of the ’30s were a thing of the past, but Reynolds’ clever means of building the collection was not.  In 1965, he made an arrangement with R.L. Polk & Company and the American Association of Directory Publishers to secure annual copies of directories for hundreds of U.S. cities.

    Reynolds also developed a unique partnership with the Newberry Library in Chicago.  The Newberry Library had been one of the major local and family history research centers in the country for more than half a century, but it was facing difficulties in the 1960s.  Hundreds of books in its collection had fallen into such a state of disrepair that they were relegated to storage, unable to be used.  Over the years, Newberry sent titles from its collection to ACPL and we made two high-quality photocopies of each book sent –  one acid-free copy for us, one for them, preserving precious volumes for generations to come.

    Similar partnerships continue to this day;  the Genealogy Center maintains strong relationships with other family history collections and genealogical societies.  While the print collection continues to grow, the Genealogy Center also welcomes donations of electronic files and indexes.  Digitization of family Bible records, photographs, and military records are among the goals for this unique collection.

    While Genealogy is considered North America’s fastest-growing hobby today, genealogical collections in public libraries were rare when Reynolds assumed directorship of the library, and it’s fortunate for us that he possessed the foresight to fill that void.  He reasoned that an excellent genealogical collection and services would attract more people to the library, and he was correct;  not only is today’s Genealogy Center a wonderful resource for residents of Allen County, it also draws visitors from all over the United States.

    For Further Reading:  Genealogy Center brochureBeyond Books: Allen County Public Library’s History, 1895-1995, A Commitment to Excellence in Genealogy.

    Blog post originally appeared on the Allen County Public Library's ... As You Like It ... blog.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Gold Fever

    Sunday, Feb 26, 2012

    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.

    How do I find out if my ancestor was part of the Oklahoma Land Rush - any homestead records?

    An excellent website is available with this information and an overview of the settlement.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • My Civil War Ancestor

    Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012

    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.

    I have an ancestor with a Grand Army of the Republic marker on his grave, but haven’t found him in the Civil War database. Did he have to have fought to be eligible for the marker?

    He had to be a member of the Grand Army of the Republic organization to have a GAR tombstone. To be a member of the GAR he should have been a Union soldier. However, occasionally, men would join by stretching the truth (i.e.: lying) in their applications. However, although the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System database is terrific, not everyone is listed. Check to see if records for the local GAR post survive. Beyond that, research him as you would any Union soldier.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Indiana Genealogical Society Conference

    Monday, Feb 20, 2012

    The Allen County Public Library will be the site of this year’s Indiana Genealogical Society's Annual Meeting and Conference on 28 April 2012. The conference will include a wide variety of topics for all levels of genealogists.

    Featured speaker for the event will be Debra S. Mieszala, CG..

    Debbie is a nationally-known genealogical lecturer, teacher and writer. In addition to her presentations at the National Genealogical Society and Federation of Genealogical Societies conferences, she has taught at the prestigious Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University, and at the Salt Lake City Institute of Genealogy. Her “day job” is as a forensic specialist who works with the United States military to identify the recovered remains of soldiers. She previously did adoption-related research as a Confidential Intermediary in Illinois. Debbie will be presenting the following topics:

    • Lessons from a Snoop: Collaterals and Associates
    • Bringing Our Soldiers Home
    • Digging Through Documents Word By Word
    • Patently Unique: Locating Patent Records, Online and Off

    The IGS Conference will feature two tracks. Other topics being presented are:

    • What’s New With FamilySearch? (Michael Hall of FamilySearch)
    • Becoming Expert On Using Ancestry (Melissa Shimkus of The Genealogy Center)
    • Finding Indiana Records and Research in FamilySearch (Michael Hall)
    • Writing a Book Using Family Tree Maker and Microsoft Word (Curtis Sylvester of the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana)

    The day also will feature IGS’s annual meeting, awards and the induction of the first members of the Territorial Guard Society of Indiana, a lineage society open to those who can prove direct ancestry to someone who resided within the present boundaries of Indiana on or before 11 December 1816 (statehood).

    Cost for the conference is $30 for IGS members in advance, $40 for non-members in advance, and $45 at the door. Check the Conference website for more information or to register.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Writing Family History

    Saturday, Feb 18, 2012

    by Dawne

    It’s been a mild winter – so far! – here in the Midwest. But if the mild weather doesn’t hold, or if it’s inclement where you are and you are hibernating inside until the days get longer, take advantage of the time at your computer to compile some family history from the contents of your files. If you are like most genealogists, you plan to write a book (or more than one) of your family history “someday.” But again, if you are like most of us, the task feels overwhelming! Why not get started on “someday” right now by writing just a little piece of that book that’s in your future? Even better, why not partner with another genealogist, or a whole society of them, and set some goals for family history writing? Then you cheer each other on and hold each other accountable! Maybe a family history writing interest group would be an appropriate arm of your local genealogical society.

    Writing family history isn’t hard, just time consuming! And you don’t have to be finished researching to begin writing. For example, start like this with one ancestral couple: John Brown was born 14 November 1845 in Allen County, Indiana [insert a footnote or endnote here]. He married Mary Smith 29 October 1871 in Allen County [another note]. Mary was born 2 May 1847 in Noble County, Indiana [note], the daughter of James and Elizabeth (Green) Smith [note]. Tell what you know about John and Mary: Where they lived at the time of each census, whether they owned land, what John did for a living, whether they were affiliated with a church and which one. Finish with a list of their children: Children of John and Mary (Smith) Brown: [insert a note here explaining how you know each of these children belonged to John and Mary].

    Once you complete this sketch, you have started your family history book! Now challenge yourself to write a certain number of words by the end of the month. By the time spring comes and you head back out to the cemeteries, your project will be well underway.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Getting Ready for the 1940 Census: Step # 2

    Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012

    Now that you have your research targets, you will need locations. As mentioned last time, family letters or address books would be great, but most of us don’t have access to that information. City directories are an excellent source for locating addresses. Unlike a telephone book (another alternative for locating addresses), city directories usually list both husband and wife, as well as adult children, and their occupations. You can also locate those who are lodgers or boarders by name as well. The address section of the directory allows you to identify the names of the householder and lodgers, as well as cross streets near the address. These cross streets will be vital in identifying the enumeration district in which the person is listed on the census.


    City directories are available for many large towns and cities. Local libraries often have directories for their own communities, but The Genealogy Center has one of the largest collections of city directories in books and on microfilm. Be sure to check both the Microtext Catalog and Genealogy Center Catalog for our holdings.

    Other sources for locating addresses include other types of directories (church, alumni) and the World War II draft lists.


    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Fees to Borrow FHL Microfilm to Rise

    Monday, Feb 13, 2012

    FamilySearch has announced that, due to rising costs of microfilm stock and the increases in shipping rates, the cost of borrowing microfilm will increase as of February 15, 2012. The new price structure will be:

    - Short-term film loan $7.50
    - Short-term film loan renewal $7.50
    - Extended film loan $18.75
    - Microfiche loan $4.75 (this price has not increased)
    These prices will be applied when ordering through the Online Film Ordering
    The Genealogy Center has been an Affiliate Library to the Family History Library for a number of years, and this is the first price increase since January 2006. This is still a great deal for genealogists who cannot travel to Salt Lake City.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Getting ready for the 1940 census: Step #1

    Saturday, Feb 11, 2012

    by Delia

    In order to get you ready for the opening of the 1940 census (April 2, 2012!), we're going to break the steps down one at a time, so that, instead of waiting, you can methodically get all of your ducks, ah, ancestors in a row. Remember that, although the census will be available at the National Archives and Records Administration site immediately, and several other sites in quick order, the census will not be indexed. Being prepared will save you a great deal of time once you finally get a chance to browse.

    Your first step is to identify for whom you will be searching. Parents or grandparents? Siblings and cousins? At this point, create a file, paper or digital, on each person or family group, noting names, ages or birth dates and places, and where you think they might be living in 1939 or 1940. Check the files you already have, old letters and address books to see if you have possible addresses for them.

    That's it! That's step #1. Step #2 will be coming soon!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Exploring Rescheduled

    Thursday, Feb 09, 2012

    The "Exploring" class has been rescheduled for the week of March Madness: Genealogy Style(March 18-24). This is a great fit for our week of ethnic genealogy research classes as the Origins database covers British, Irish, and Scots records. The class will discuss the many databases, CD products, research articles and other resources available through The Genealogy Center’s subscription to the Origins Network. So visit us on Wednesday, March 21, from 10 am - 11 am in Meeting Room A for "Exploring"

    And stay for an informal discussion in the afternoon with the Daughters of the American Revolution concerning patriots of all ethnic backgrounds who participated in the Revolution. The discussion is scheduled for 2 pm entitled "It Was Everyone's War."

    Please register for these informative sessions by calling 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Closed on February 10

    Wednesday, Feb 08, 2012

    You may have noticed recently on our facebook page and website that we will be closed on Friday, February 10. The Genealogy Center, along with the entire Allen County Public Library, will be closed for Staff Development Day. We will be open Thursday, February 9, from 9 am - 9 pm and Saturday, February 11, from 9 am - 6 pm. Though we are closed on February 10, we will be open on Presidents Day, Monday, February 20, so take advantage of a long research weekend over the Presidents Day weekend!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Canceled Exploring

    Monday, Feb 06, 2012

    Unfortunately, the Exploring class scheduled for Wednesday, February 8, from 2:30 - 3:30 pm has been canceled. The Genealogy Center will offer more classes on ethnic genealogy research during our March Madness: Genealogy Style sessions the week of March 18-24.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Exploring

    Sunday, Feb 05, 2012

    On Wednesday, February 8, from 2:30-3:30 pm, join us in a survey of the website for British, Irish, and Scots research. For more information, see the flyer at Please call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info to register.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transnational Archive

    Friday, Feb 03, 2012

    by Melissa

    Family historians and academic researchers visiting The Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, now have access to an online digital archive of historical court records, maps, books, newspapers and periodicals from the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Europe that focus on the topics of slavery and abolition. The new database, “Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transnational Archive,” is comprised of documents previously available only on microfilm or at academic institutions. One of the collections available through this database is “Debates over Slavery and Abolition,” which covers the history of slavery from the 16th century to 1888 and the resistance that led to abolition. Another collection, “Slave Trade in the Atlantic World,” records the history and impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade in numerous countries. These records not only document the history of slavery, but also illustrate effects on women and children, as well as the religious and legal issues involved. Researchers can utilize this unique and informative collection of databases in The Genealogy Center and at any Allen County Public Library location through the On-Site Databases tab on The Genealogy Center’s website.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Who Do You Think You Are, 3rd Season

    Thursday, Feb 02, 2012

    by Dawne

    Who Do You Think You Are, the first program since the 1970s miniseries Roots to bring genealogy to mainstream television, begins its third season Friday, February 3rd at 8 p.m., EST, on NBC. Produced by Shed Media U.S. and the production company Is or Isn’t Entertainment, owned by Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky, Who Do You Think You Are follows the steps of celebrities as they, with the help of genealogical professionals, discover their roots. Featured in this season’s episodes will be Martin Sheen, Marisa Tomei, Blair Underwood, Reba McEntire, Rob Lowe, Helen Hunt, Rita Wilson, Edie Falco, Rashida Jones, Jerome Bettis, Jason Sudeikis and Paula Deen.

    To learn more about the third season or to watch episodes from the second season, visit Who Do You Think You Are at

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center