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  • One-on-One Consultations for July!

    Thursday, Jun 21, 2018

    Have a brick wall in your research? Would you like a greater understanding of some aspect of your research? The Genealogy Center is offering 30-minute personal research consultations with a staff member on some troublesome aspect of your research from 2PM to 4PM on Tuesday July 17, 2018 and Tuesday July 24, 2018. Call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info for an appointment, requesting a Consultation and providing basic information concerning the nature of your quandary. A staff member will be assigned and a time established for your consultation. Be sure to bring your research notes to your consultation.

    Space is limited, and pre-registration is required. Register today!

    The Genealogy Center, 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

    To register, call 260-421-1225 or send us an email.
    Consultation 1

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Rotary Club of Fort Wayne Resources

    Monday, Jun 18, 2018

    The Rotary Club of Fort Wayne has donated some of their material to create an archives for the society and we have an entirely new section devoted to these materials. Sections include copies of their newsletters, Rotary Spin and Tickler, and rosters. And now the Archives section includes 25th, 50 and 75th anniversary materials, their constitution and by-Laws, and a timeline from 1905 to 2015.

    There are lots of photos in Rotary Events for 100 PENTX; the Elks Golf Outing and Washington School, 2004; Foreign Rotary Dignitaries, 25 March 2005; Golf Outings, July and August; River Cleanup, 2004; River Greenway Opening, 2005; and events from Washington School I 2004 and 2005.

    Finally, there is Celebrating 100 Years of Service, to observe their Centennial, and fundraising, construction and dedication documents, photos and videos of the Rotary Clock Tower, located on the Library Plaza on Wayne Street.
    Clocktower

    Thank you to the Rotary Club of Fort Wayne for allowing us to host their materials!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Free African American Databases!

    Thursday, Jun 14, 2018

    We have some fabulous new items in the Marsha Smiley African American Collection!

    Subpages have been added for the African/African American Historical Museum Highlights, Fraternal Organizations, and Spirit Flight. 

    We have new biographies on Judge William L. Briggs, Terra Brantley, Verna M. Adams, Levan Scott, Hana Stith, Edward Elkins, Walter Tharp, Jr., Lionel Tobin, Barker Davie, Jr., Lewis Sims, Rae Pearson, Barker Davie, Marshall White, William Hayden, Eric Wilson, and Veronica Townes in the Crossing Opportunity’s Threshold. These are terrific articles, like the ones for Victor Eugene “Gene” Butler: Community Pharmacist, Owner of Community Care Pharmacy and Helen S. Pickett: 1st Black Female License Mortician in Indiana.
    Smiley AfAm
    There is also a new subheading for Publications which include: Art of the Alabama Road Trip; Condra Leach Ridley; Edna Rowland Williams; Impacting Democracy; Purple Hull Peas Offer Rich Taste, Rich Heritage; Pushing the Color Line: Race and Employment in Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1933-1963; The Children’s Crusade; CitiLink Celebrates Multigenerational Tradition; Eddie Noel; Fort Wayne’s Early African-American Settlers; A Legacy of Trailblazing and Activist Women in Fort Wayne; Robert Hayden; Roma Stewart: Fort Wayne Pioneer Families; Metro Youth Sports, Inc. Celebrates 40th Anniversary; Paying Tribute to Willie Long; Black 1st; Illuminating a Legacy; Johnny Bright: Feats/Feet of Strength; Slavery in New York; Showing Gratitude Where It’s Due; Voice of the Elders: Building a Life in Our Own Community; and the ALA Report; June 23-25; 2017 of Connie Scott; President of Indiana Black Librarians Network.  2017.
    ALA

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • More Cemetery Records!

    Sunday, Jun 10, 2018

    A non-genealogist may think that family history research is only done with books or maybe computers, but we all know the joys of tramping through cemeteries, searching for that one specific marker to provide the information that we really, really need. We may have to travel hours or days to visit the right burial ground. But if we are lucky, someone may have visited the site and transcribed all of the markers. At one time, this sort of record might be in a volume some enterprising individual or society published, or in a society journal. But now we have the Internet! And The Genealogy Center hosts many of these records on our Free Databases page.

    For Bartholomew County, Indiana, we’ve recently posted Bryant Cemetery, Burnett-Bennell Cemetery, Azalia Methodist Cemetery, Bush Family Graveyard, Carney Cemetery, Carson Family Graveyard, Carvin Family Graveyard, Clemons Family Cemetery, and Robertson Cemetery, and for Henry County, Indiana, Bell Cemetery, Berger Family Cemetery, Bowers Cemetery, Brookshire Duck Creek Wesleyan Methodist Cemetery, Bundy Cemetery, Shepherd Cemetery, Beech Grove Cemetery, Bunner Cemetery, Christian Friends/Finch Cemetery, Conway/Kessinger Cemetery, Devon Universalist Church Cemetery, Ebenezer Cemetery, and the gravesite of Martha Bucy. We also have Apostolic Cemetery, B’nae Zion Jewish Cemetery, Beatty’s Corner Cemetery, and Faith United Methodist Cemetery in LaPorte County, Indiana.

    In Adair County, Kentucky, we have Bailey Cemetery, Banks Cemetery in Absher, Banks Cemetery in Columbia, Bardin Family Cemetery, Barnes Cemetery, Barr Cemetery, Benjamin Evans Cemetery,  Bennett Cemetery, Bennett Family / Nalley Cemetery, Bennett Family Cemetery in Cane Valley, Bennett Family Cemetery in Weed, Bethany Baptist Church Cemetery, Beulah Chapel Cemetery, Blair Cemetery, Blakey Cemetery, Blessed Hope Old Regular Baptist Church Cemetery, Botts-Orr Cemetery, and Bradshaw Cemetery. And for Woodford County, Kentucky, we have Adams Family Cemetery, Allen Cemetery, Ayres Family Cemetery, Cherry Grove Cemetery, Cook-Mitchell Cemetery, Guyn Family Cemetery, Josiah Felix Family Cemetery, Mortonsville Black Cemetery, Paul Family Cemetery, Reuben Young Cemetery, Singleton Hill Cemetery, and the Thomas Steele, Sr. Cemetery.

    A few for Adams County, Illinois include Adams County Poor Farm Cemetery, Adamson Cemetery, Allen Family Cemetery, Amen Cemetery, Baker Cemetery, Banton Cemetery, Benton Family Cemetery, Beverly Cemetery, Booth Memorial Cemetery, Bowles Cemetery, Britt-Hultz Cemetery,  and Broady Cemetery.

    Four cemeteries in Atlantic County, New Jersey are Estellville M.E. Cemetery, Somers Burial Ground, Steelman Family Burial Ground, and Steelmans Creek Burial Ground.

    All of the above have been made available through the hard work and generosity of Jim Cox. Thanks, Jim!


    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • More for Our Military Heritage!

    Wednesday, Jun 06, 2018

    There are a few new records on Our Military Heritage.

    We have a couple of World War I large group photos this time, including the 36th Infantry, “I” Recruit Company, Fort Snelling, Minn., in 1918, 4th Co., 1st Battalion, 159 Depot Brigade, and a Preview of 12th Division, Camp Devens, Sept. 14, 1918. The great thing about these photos is that you can click anywhere and see an enlarged single section, like this one of Purdue University WWI unit.
    Purdue

    Also for World War I, we have records for Howard Carling, 27th Engineers, and the Warren Longstreth, 349th Infantry, National Army collection, including diaries, sketches and souvenirs.

    We also have some large group photos for World War II, including
    Co. 1743, 20 December 1043 and 31st Regiment Personnel, 6 April 1945, both from the U.S. Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, Illinois (see below), for Co C, 31st Infantry Training Battalion, a Photo from March 1944 & Roster, December 1943-April 1944, and, finally, a photo of the Men of Diehard, 2nd Platoon Company, 309th Infantry Regiment, 78th Infantry Division.
    Naval Station

    We also have the 1943 and 1944 issues of The Stout Fielder, from Stout Field, Indianapolis, Indiana, and material for the USS Colorado, including Photographs and a scrapbook that contains a number of pages from the ship’s newsletter, Shorebird.

    For specific servicemen, we have a memorial card for Walter Werner, 9th Armored Division, and various records for Private Daniel Allgeier, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 423rd Infantry Regiment, who was killed in action in Germany on 21 December 1944. We have materials for Wendell Wayne Fenn, 101st Airborne, 327th Glider Infantry, Doyne L. Ferris, U.S. Army Air Corps, Harold Talmage Hawkins, 602nd and 609th Field Artillery Battalion, U.S. Army, Robert Eugene Hawkins, U.S. Navy, and from our colleague, Allison DePrey Singleton, records for Harold Edward DePrey, U.S. Signal Corps (see below) and Merlin Francis Hillman, Marine Fighting Squadron 413.
    DePrey

    We also have collections of letters of Charles Harris, U.S. Navy and William Lynn Killen, U.S. Army, who died in 1945 in France.

    And finally, we have material for James Andrew McBride, U.S. Naval Academy, 1922 and for Phillip Ardath Hawkins, U.S. Air Force, Peacetime Service from 1958-2004.

    Take a few minutes to browse these items and think about the sacrifices these people made.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • More School Material in Free Databases

    Thursday, May 31, 2018

    We recently detailed some of our newest Free Databases for that are Indiana school oriented, but we also get lots of materials for mother states as well, like the yearbooks for Skinner School (Bloomington, McLean Co., IL), 1908-1909 and Marysville (Nodaway Co., MO) High School, 1917, a list of graduates for Lebanon (Smith Co., KS) High School, 1895-1984,  and a nifty photo of the 6th grade of Bunker Hill School, Ashtabula County, Ohio, with the students identified on the back of the photo.
    Blog - Ashtabula

    There are several items for Continental High School in Putnam County, Ohio including the 1912 annual and commencement program, and several miscellaneous photographs, and Class of 1945 50th and 55th Reunion booklets for Lemoyne High School in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, but one of my favorite items in this batch of new databases is the booklet for the Hinsdale Township (DuPage Co., IL) High School Class Trip of 1935. The mimeographed booklet details the 10-day educational journey by rail, bus and automobile to several spots in the east including Pittsburgh, Annapolis and Williamsburg from April 6 through April 12. Parents are advised to provide $5 to $10 for incidentals such as tips or souvenirs. Students are also cautioned that they must be in bed by 11 p.m., ready for breakfast by 7:30 a.m., and that the chaperones reserve the right to send troublesome students home.
    Blog - Conduct

    Take a stroll down memory lane, someone’s memory land anyway, and enjoy browsing these items.


    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Additions to Our Military Heritage for Memorial Day!

    Monday, May 28, 2018

    Originally known as Decoration Day, the day when people decorated the graves of those fallen in battle during the Civil War, Memorial Day has been celebrated for more than a century but has only been an official federal holiday since 1971. So, in honor of the day, let’s take a look at some of our recent additions to Our Military Heritage.

    Donated by Jim Cox, we have two accounts from the Red River Campaign, Mrs. S.G.M. (Sarah Gardner Moss) Bannerman’s memory of the Battle of Mansfield (April 8, 1864) and a description of the Battle of Pleasant Hill (April 9, 1864). Also from Jim Cox, we have a list of Louisiana Soldiers Killed in the 1st and 2nd Battle of Manassas, Buried in Manassas Cemetery, Fauquier County, Virginia, the Pensioners Roll, 1883, St. John Parish, Louisiana and Letters Written by William Beaird, Jr. (1833-1914) Concerning His Louisiana Confederate Pension Application.

    On the Union side, we have Some Soldiers' Service Records for Company C, 100th Indiana Infantry, and the discharge papers of John Rose, 74th Ohio Infantry along with his marriage record to Elizabeth Stepps. And, to wrap up the Civil War material, we have the National Cemetery Administration's Federal Stewardship of Confederate Dead, published in 2016.
    Rose Mil dis

    There are also a number of records for Revolutionary War Soldiers, including John Blizard, and John and Strangeman Hutchins of Virginia, Johannes Krick, Capt. Joseph Bowman’s Company, Virginia, William Lawson, Montgomery County Militia, Virginia and
    Moses Taylor, Albemarle Guards, Virginia. For Maryland, we have

    Zepheniah Dowden, Montgomery County Militia, James Thompson, 1st, Maryland Regiment, Dennis Dunham, Captain Anderson’s Company. Pennsylvania soldiers include Devault Koons, Northampton County Militia, John Meason, 3rd Battalion, Westmoreland County Militia, Cheney Ricketts, Bedford County Militia,Private Henry Shideler, Captain Miar's Company, 5th Pennsylvania Battalion, and David Pernod, Patriot. And also, Nathaniel Satterlee, New York, and Marmadule Vickrey, North Carolina.

    And, finally, we have the Congressional Research Publication “Military Service Records, Awards, and Unit Histories: A Guide to Locating Records,” which provides information on locating service and pension records at the National Archives, locating unit histories, information on awards and decorations, web addresses and much more!

    Take a few minutes on this Memorial Day to read and think about some of our fallen military men!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Free Database - Indiana Schools & Colleges

    Friday, May 25, 2018

    Ah, the end of the school year approaches, with graduations galore, so we’d like to highlight some of our newest Free Databases that are Indiana school related!

    We start with Fort Wayne Central High School with a large collection of publications, including all yearbooks from 1911 to 1971, various items on historical aspects of the school, such as alumni quotes, sports photographs, and information on sports legend Johnny Bright. There is also the 1934 commencement program, and reunion booklets and photos for that class from 1959 to 1989. One other addition to our Free Databases is the 1920 Commencement program for Fort Wayne High School, Central’s predecessor in name.

    We have a new splash page for North Side High School that includes all of the yearbooks from 1929 to 1977, several scrapbooks, reunion booklets for the classes of 1956 and 1970, videos for the 1969 and 1971 basketball seasons and photos of the entire 1938 and 1956 North Side High School graduating classes. Click on any section and see an enlarged view! And, finally, we have the 1966 South Side High School Totem Yearbook.
    NS1938-2

    We’ve also added commence programs for 1930 Allen County Common Schools, 1962 Bishop Luers High School and Fort Wayne’s Central Catholic in 1941 and the New Haven High School Class of 1938 Reunion Booklet of 1998.

    Going a bit further afield, we have Horace Mann School Memories, Huntington County, Indiana, written in 1989, as well as the South Adams Elementary (Adams County, IN) Reunion Booklet for the Class of 1956, the Whiting (IN) High School Commencement Announcement for 1965, and Reunion Booklets for Washington High School, East Chicago, classes of 1945 and 1946 in 1981 and Classes of 1945, 1946, and 1947 in 1986. Additionally, we have the Vevay High School (Switzerland County, IN) 1938 Commencement, the 1940-1941 Directory for Vanderburgh County-Evansville (IN) Public Schools, and several photographs from Mill Creek High school in LaPorte County.

    Now, we can’t forget that we also have college materials, starting with the 1908 Commencements for Marion Normal College and Valparaiso University and the 1912 Commencement for Tri-State Normal College, and a 1904-1905 Tri-State Normal State Catalogue.

    Adding the Purdue University 1923 Commencement program, the Evansville College 1927 Commencement program and the Franklin College Bulletin for 1934 and we’ve got a good start, though, of course, we can’t pass Indiana University when we now have Commencement programs for 1920, 1921, 1924, 1925, 1927, 1932 and 1936 and a 1953 Emeritus Club directory. And then we have the Indiana State University, and its predecessor, Indiana State Teachers’ College Commencement programs for 1930, 1939, 1954 and 1969, and for DePauw University, the 1957 Commencement program and the 1983 Alumni Luncheon program. And, finally, the 1930, 1937 and 1963 Commencement programs for Norte Dame University.

    So take a few minutes to browse through these great new items!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • One-on-One Consultations in June!

    Tuesday, May 22, 2018

    Have a brick wall in your research? Would you like a greater understanding of some aspect of your research? The Genealogy Center is offering 30-minute personal research consultations with a staff member on some troublesome aspect of your research from 2PM to 4PM on Tuesday June 5, 2018 and Wednesday June 27, 2018. Call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info for an appointment, requesting a Consultation and providing basic information concerning the nature of your quandary. A staff member will be assigned and a time established for your consultation. Be sure to bring your research notes to your consultation.

    Space is limited, and pre-registration is required. Register today!

    The Genealogy Center, 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

    To register, call 260-421-1225 or send us an email.
    Consultation 1

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Free Database - French Families of Allen County, Indiana

    Saturday, May 19, 2018

    The French connection in Allen County goes back centuries, to the founding of the first fort at the Miami village of Kekionga in 1715. The British, then the Americans gained control of the area, but ethnic French continued to arrive, especially in the 1820s to 1840s, coming from Ohio and New York, and these French descendants are one of the largest ethnic groups in Fort Wayne. Now, thanks to the generosity of Martine Copeland, we have her research, “French Families of Allen County, Indiana” online for searching.

    The Compendium and four surname based volumes total more than 18,000 pages of biographical information, and the Online Tree provides connections for more than 30,000 people. And don’t think that this material contains only French surnames. Other families that married into the French families are also included. In fact, The Compendium section includes lists of surnames, French and others, with brief explaanations of why they are included or not, as well as maps and lists of departments and regions in France, a glossary for translating French abbreviations, and a list of French archives and web addresses.

    Anyone researching the ethnic French in Indiana or the Midwest should certainly examine this wonderful addition to our Free Databases.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Closed Sunday and Monday, May 27 and 28, 2018

    Saturday, May 12, 2018

    The Genealogy Center, like all other agencies of the Allen County Public Library, will be closed Sunday May 27, and Monday May 28, 2018 in observance of Memorial Day. We will be open our regular hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 26, and on Tuesday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • One-on-One Consultations for May 2018!

    Tuesday, Apr 17, 2018

    Have a brick wall in your research? Would you like a greater understanding of some aspect of your research? The Genealogy Center is offering 30-minute personal research consultations with a staff member on some troublesome aspect of your research from 2PM to 4PM on Tuesday May 15, 2018 and Thursday May 24, 2018. Call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info for an appointment, requesting a Consultation and providing basic information concerning the nature of your quandary. A staff member will be assigned and a time established for your consultation. Be sure to bring your research notes to your consultation.

    Space is limited, and pre-registration is required. Register today!

    The Genealogy Center, 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

    To register, call 260-421-1225 or send us an email.
    Consultation 1

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • IPFW - UC2 Digitization Days: April 7 and April 21

    Tuesday, Mar 27, 2018

    Did you or a family member work in manufacturing here in Allen County? Do you have nifty "souvenirs" like photographs, name badges, time cards, old manuals? Bring them to The Genealogy Center on Saturday April 7 or Saturday April 21, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the IPFW - UC2 Digitization Days to preserve this material for the future! We will scan them while you wait!
    Harvester

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • April One-on-One Consultations

    Wednesday, Mar 21, 2018

    Have a brick wall in your research? Would you like a greater understanding of some aspect of your research? The Genealogy Center is offering 30-minute personal research consultations with a staff member on some troublesome aspect of your research from 2PM to 4PM on Thursday April 12, 2018 and Tuesday, April 24, 2018. Call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info for an appointment, requesting a Consultation and providing basic information concerning the nature of your quandary. A staff member will be assigned and a time established for your consultation. Be sure to bring your research notes to your consultation.

    Space is limited, and pre-registration is required. Register today!

    The Genealogy Center, 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

    To register, call 260-421-1225 or send us an email.
    Consultation 1

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Preservation Week - April 23 - April 27, 2018

    Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018

    An important part of family history is preservation: preservation of family and community history, preservation of family and community documents and heirlooms, preservation of stories and oral history. The Genealogy Center will celebrate Preservation Week April 23 to April 27, 2018, with information on the care and preservation of your family’s, and your community’s, legacy. Sessions will be held in the Discovery Center during the last week of April. For information about the events, see the brochure.

    Monday April 23, 2018, 6:30 p.m., Discovery Center
    Save Me! Recreating Professional Archivist Strategies at Home - Emily Rapoza
    When looking at old documents or photographs, the first questions asked are often: “What do I do with this?” or “How do I save this?” Learn the initial steps to help keep documents safe and preserved at home, including encapsulation and digitization. Emily will include some demonstrations!

    Tuesday April 24, 2018, 6:30 p.m., Discovery Center
    Your Home Archives: Organizing and Preserving the Heirloom Paper in Your Life - John Beatty
    This session will offer guidance on how to preserve and arrange those precious documents so that they can be kept safe for today and passed down to the future.

    Wednesday April 25, 2018, 6:30 p.m., Discovery Center
    I Have My Family “Stuff” (Photos, Papers, Diaries, etc.): What’s Next? - Melissa Tennant, Kay Spears, Emily Rapoza
    Do you have a box of stuff? Do you have photographs, letters, diaries, cards and scraps of paper that you don’t know what to do with? How does one preserve a photograph, a journal, a diary, etc.? How does one go about scanning? What are the recommended ways of preserving family memories? What tools are available on Apple or Windows computers which may be used for preserving family images, etc.? How do you label photos, letters and journals? How do you organize, number, label and store items? This is the time to ask your questions! Our panelists are ready to answer these questions and more!

    Thursday, April 26, 2018, 6:30 p.m., Discover Center
    A Need to Remember: Preserving Memories - Allison DePrey Singleton
    Trying to keep someone’s memory alive can be difficult as the years go by. Realizing your children and grandchildren will have questions for you after you are gone can raise awareness of a need. Losing a dear friend or family member can trigger a need. The desire to preserve our history or a loved one’s history can pop up at any time. This presentation will explore different options for preserving stories, photographs, and memories.

    Friday, April 27, 2018, 2:30 p.m., Discovery Center & Maker Lab, Allen County Public Library
    Using the Maker Lab to Preserve Family History - Sara Allen
    Learn how ACPL’s Maker Lab can be used to preserve your family history. Join us as we tour the Maker Lab and learn how to convert family wedding videos to DVD; convert family vacation slides to digital files; make 3-D replicas of family memorabilia, sports logos, company logos, and more.

    To register for any or all of these free events, call 260-421-1225 or send us an email!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • One-on-One Consultations for March!

    Sunday, Feb 18, 2018

    Have a brick wall in your research? Would you like a greater understanding of some aspect of your research? The Genealogy Center is offering 30-minute personal research consultations with a staff member on some troublesome aspect of your research from 2PM to 4PM on Monday March 19, 2018 and Tuesday, March 27, 2018. Call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info for an appointment, requesting a Consultation and providing basic information concerning the nature of your quandary. A staff member will be assigned and a time established for your consultation. Be sure to bring your research notes to your consultation.

    Space is limited, and pre-registration is required. Register today!

    The Genealogy Center, 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

    To register, call 260-421-1225 or send us an email.
    Consultation 1

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • HOLLYWOOD AND THE GENEALOGIST: FAMILY RESEARCHERS DEPICTED IN ART AND FILM

    Friday, Jan 26, 2018

    By John D. Beatty,CG

    How have artists and film-makers depicted genealogists in their respective work? It’s a fair question, given the booming interest today in family history and the extent to which genealogy has been integrated in modern American culture. By a recent estimate some 11.2 million people in the English-speaking world have undertaken genealogical research (http://www.genealogyintime.com/articles/how-popular-is-genealogy-page03.html). Tracing ancestors has given rise to a $1.6 billion industry and has become the second-most popular reason to search the Internet. Many families across America and the British Isles have at least one family member who is interested in genealogy. So the question posed seeks to determine the degree to which art has imitated life, both on canvas and on the screen.

    To be sure, the question remains problematic to answer and has been seldom addressed in any formal way. François Weil and Michael Sharpe, historians of genealogy, fail to mention the visual arts in their respective cultural histories of the pastime, and there are few studies of the images of genealogists. They are rarely a subject for artists, and when they have appeared as fictional characters in films, especially before the 1970s, they played only incidental roles in eccentric, snobby, or dysfunctional veins. In the last forty years a dramatic transformation in genealogy has occurred, however, and in at least a few instances on the silver screen, these roles have been more positive, reflecting the evolution of public attitudes about family history and those who undertake it.

    Daughters of Revolution by Grant Wood, 1932 (Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati)
    Daughters of Revolution by Grant Wood, 1932 (Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati)

    One of the earliest known artistic depictions of genealogists is Grant Wood’s 1932 painting, Daughters of Revolution. Intended as satire, the work was created in response to the opposition Wood had faced five years earlier when working on a commission to construct a stained glass window for the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Finding domestically-produced stained glass was inadequate for his work, he decided instead to use German-made glass, which earned him the ire of the local DAR chapter, who objected to German glass in a work meant to honor American war veterans. Wood completed the window, but it was not dedicated until 1955. He complained at the time that the DAR was “trying to set up an aristocracy of birth in a Republic,” and he sought revenge through his art. In his painting he juxtaposes the faces of aged women, whom he deemed self-important, against the backdrop of a famous painting of Washington crossing the Delaware created by the German artist Emanuel Leutze. Wood intended to depict the genealogical-minded women as hypocrites for their opposition to his window.

    Cinematic portrayals of genealogists are equally rare. In the few times they have appeared on screen, their roles (in most cases) have been peripheral. One of the earliest depictions occurred in the 1942 B-movie, Castle in the Desert, which starred Sidney Toler as the detective Charlie Chan. In the opening sequence Professor Gleason, an elegantly-attired genealogist with a moustache and walking stick, arrives at the forbidding desert mansion of Paul Manderley, a peculiar, affluent man with a patch covering half his face. Manderley’s wife Lucy introduces Gleason as a genealogist who will “tell us about the monkeys in our family trees.” He makes the mistake of inquiring about Mrs. Manderley’s descent from the notorious Borgia family, but she admonishes him that the two things “we never talk about” are her family and Paul’s accident (a strange warning, given that he had been hired to trace their genealogy). Her branch of the Borgias, she said, “didn’t go in for poison.” Moments later, the genealogist dies after drinking a poisoned cocktail, and the plot of the film is thus established. Gleason’s character here is so superficial that there is little opportunity for meaningful development other than to show him as well-mannered but elitist. The underlying message here is that genealogy was something that only interested the upper classes and involved the lineages of famous families. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBtPu2qF2so&t=302s

    Castle in the Desert movie poster, 1942

















    Castle in the Desert movie poster, 1942
    (https://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/34621/charlie-chan-volume-5/)

    This elitist view of genealogy came up again in 1961 in an episode of The Andy Griffith Show titled “A Plaque for Mayberry.” The mayor of the little town summons Sheriff Andy and his hapless deputy, Barney Fife, to his office, where he introduces them to two ladies of the so-called Women’s Historical Society. The ladies, elegantly dressed in mink stoles and pearls, inform the men that they are attempting to trace the descendant of a Revolutionary War hero, Nathan Tibbs, who had played a pivotal role at the Incident of Mayberry Bridge, an event that supposedly had turned the tide of the war in Washington’s favor. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACxYT0pMj9c&t=566s) They seek access to the town records so that they can identify his only descendant, who likely lives in the town. How they know that the soldier has only one living descendant prior to doing research is not explained. The bumbling Barney believes he is that descendant, but the ladies, who are the sole keepers of genealogical knowledge, discover that the true descendant is Otis Campbell, the town drunk. While the genealogists serve again only as incidental characters, they support the view that genealogical research is a blue-blooded occupation and those who pursue it do so only to find links to prominent forebears.

    Still photograph from “A Plaque for Mayberry,” The Andy Griffith Show 1961.

















    Still photograph from “A Plaque for Mayberry,” The Andy Griffith Show 1961.
    (http://mayberry.wikia.com/wiki/A_Plaque_for_Mayberry)

    The 1960s brought other depictions of genealogists in more prominent roles. Not all were elitist, but they were invariably quirky. In the 1969 comedy-drama, The Sterile Cuckoo, Liza Minnelli plays Pookie Adams, an eccentric, unstable teenager who stalks a fellow student played by Wendell Burton, with whom she eventually has a relationship. While not a genealogist per se, Pookie has a love for cemeteries and takes her boyfriend to a graveyard, where she extols the ability to find stories of the departed by reading their epitaphs. “Sometimes you have to get away from the noise, you know?” she says as she invites him in, adding later, “Great spot, huh?” Later in the film it becomes evident that Pookie has deep emotional problems, and the two break up. Minnelli won an Academy Award nomination for her performance, but her flawed character suggests that cemeteries were not places that psychologically-healthy people ever visited. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL5lb7V6PNY).

    The cemetery scene from The Sterile Cuckoo, 1969, with Liza Minnelli and Wendell Burton.



     













    The cemetery scene from The Sterile Cuckoo, 1969, with Liza Minnelli and Wendell Burton. (http://lecinemadreams.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-sterile-cuckoo-1969.html)

    Another film from 1969, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, featured George Lazenby as the iconic James Bond and Telly Savalas as his arch-enemy, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. The plot features Bond going undercover as a genealogist in order to investigate Blofeld’s claims of nobility. Oddly, it also involves studying his earlobes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Q8ch2ARXIg). Bond goes first to the College of Arms to investigate his own genealogy and is presented with a coat of arms. To the film’s credit, the College served as an advisor, and its staff presented the Bond character with an authentic coat of arms belonging to an actual Bond family. Later, dressed in a kilt and posing as genealogist Sir Hilary Bray, Bond visits Blofeld’s headquarters, where, at dinner, he is surrounded by beautiful women intent on seducing him. He announces, “I’ve never had much to do with the young ladies,” a cover that attempted to cast doubt on his sexuality. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_m4hj5fIvIg). True to form, Bond later romances various women, but his version of Sir Hilary, even if only feigned, promoted a view of genealogists as effete elitists, a campy profession that attracted only eccentrics. 

    A still from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969, featuring George Lazenby as James Bond.
    A still from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969, featuring George Lazenby as James Bond.
    (http://lifebetweenframes.blogspot.com/2012/03/on-her-majestys-secret-service.html)

    By the late 1970s, the explosion of interest brought about by Alex Haley’s novel, Roots, changed the public perception of genealogy as a pastime and transformed the image of genealogists in a way that made them more mainstream. Roots shattered the notion that genealogy was only for the blue-blooded. The image of an African American man discovering his ancestors symbolized for many that anyone could undertake such research – and that there was no social stigma in doing so. In the 1979 television mini-series, Roots: The Next Generations (a sequel to the 1977 original), Haley’s character, played by James Earl Jones, travels to Africa and unearths clues from a griot that his ancestor, Kunta Kinte, belonged to a tribe in Gambia. The discovery brings elation and emotion for the persistent genealogist: “I found you, Kunta Kinte, I found you!” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfcpxetTHr0). Unlike Pookie or Sir Hilary, Haley was a real person who appeared frequently on talk shows in the 1970s, and he embodied a sense of normalcy that had eluded earlier caricatures of genealogists. Jones played him with a booming voice and a sensitivity that showed no sign of weakness or eccentricity.

    James Earl Jones as Alex Haley in Roots: The Next Generations, 1979



















    James Earl Jones as Alex Haley in Roots: The Next Generations, 1979
    (https://www.google.com/search?q=james+earl+jones+alex+haley&tbm)

    In spite of the success of Roots, genealogists remained scarce on the screen for the remainder of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. The field of genealogy may have expanded, but screenwriters took little interest in creating such characters. Indeed, a whole industry of genealogical fiction blossomed in the last forty years, with genealogists as protagonists who solve mysteries, but none have made it into film. Genealogy, when it has been depicted, often assumes a magical quality. For example, when developing the complex world of the wizard Harry Potter, author J. K. Rowling created intricate genealogies for her characters extending back two centuries. Viewers are given a glimpse of an elaborate tapestry of the Black family in the 2007 film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The genealogy is not explored at length on screen, and none of the characters are genealogists. Nevertheless, the tapestry serves as a prop that establishes Sirius Black, Harry’s friend, as part of an old, pure-blood wizard family. Harry is amazed by the elaborate pedigree, but it serves only as a minor plot device.

    Daniel Radcliffe and the Black family genealogy in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 2007






     





    Daniel Radcliffe and the Black family genealogy in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 2007
    (https://anmysite.com/top/harry-potter-black-family.html)

    In the 2006 film, The Da Vinci Code, the genealogy theme is more fully developed, even though none of the characters are genealogists. Tom Hanks plays Robert Langdon, a professor of religious iconology at Harvard, who studies clues in Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper to reveal the identity of the Holy Grail, which, in the film, is embodied in the character of Sophie Neveu, the last living descendant of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Genealogical research plays an important role in the film, though little of it is actually shown on screen. Hanks’s Langdon is a robust man of action who solves historical problems, even if the ancestors being researched are famous.

    Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code, 2006












    Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code, 2006
    (https://lifeand100books.com/tag/the-davinci-code/)

    Popular television shows, such as Who Do You Think You Are, Genealogy Roadshow, and Finding Your Roots, have brought new media attention to the search for ancestors. The latter program features Harvard history professor Henry Louis Gates as the host, lending an authoritative legitimacy to researching genealogy as both a profession and pastime. To the credit of these programs, they discuss ordinary ancestors, even if they display their links to famous living people. The process of research takes place off-screen and is greatly minimized, but they do provide some insight into research methodology, even if the producers keep it to a minimum.  

    The evolution of the image of genealogists reflects the larger transformation of the genealogical field in the popular mind. Its professionalization has played a role in that change, but its democratization as a pastime of the masses has proved even more influential. Don’t expect genealogists ever to become commonplace on the silver screen even if they have shown up increasingly on television. When writers do create fictional genealogical characters, let us hope that they are complex and diverse and devoid of the stereotypes that have afflicted so many other fictional representations of similar professions. Genealogists are problem-solvers, and we can only hope that future screenwriters will see them in that light.
     

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Finding Free Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Online - January 10, 2018

    Wednesday, Dec 27, 2017

    Make your winter errands count by combining an afternoon event from our WinterTech 2017-2018 slate with the evening Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana meetings, the second Wednesday of each month.

    In January, WinterTech offers"Finding Free Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Online," on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm, in the Discovery Center. Created to provide insurance agents information concerning the areas for which they would offer insurance coverage, the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps are a valuable resource for historians and genealogists who wish to learn about the neighborhoods in which their ancestors lived and conducted business. Many maps have been digitized and are online at free websites, but finding these resources can be challenging. In this session, Delia Cothrun Bourne will demonstrate what the Sanborn maps can provide and techniques for locating them.

     And remember, WinterTech is offered in the afternoons of the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana’s monthly meeting, so stay to hear ACGSI Members will present Great Discoveries and Unique Ancestors, in Meeting Room A at 7:00 p.m.

    Melissa Tennant will finish the series with "On the Record: African American Newspapers" in February. For more information, see the WinterTech 2017-2018 brochure. To register for any of these free events, call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info.
    SanbornBlog

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • One-on-One Consultations for January!

    Thursday, Dec 21, 2017

    Have a brick wall in your research? Would you like a greater understanding of some aspect of your research? The Genealogy Center is offering 30-minute personal research consultations with a staff member on some troublesome aspect of your research from 2PM to 4PM on Wednesday January 17, 2018 and Tuesday, January 30, 2018. Call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info for an appointment, requesting a Consultation and providing basic information concerning the nature of your quandary. A staff member will be assigned and a time established for your consultation. Be sure to bring your research notes to your consultation.

    Space is limited, and pre-registration is required. Register today!

    The Genealogy Center, 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

    To register, call 260-421-1225 or send us an email.
    Consultation 1

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • WinterTech for December: Using Evernote for Your Genealogical Research

    Saturday, Dec 02, 2017

    Make your winter errands count by combining an afternoon event from our WinterTech 2017-2018 slate with the evening Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana meetings, the second Wednesday of each month.

    For December, WinterTech offers "Using Evernote for Your Genealogical Research," on Wednesday, December 13, 2017, 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., in the Discovery Center. Cynthia Theusch will discuss Evernote, a digital notebook that interfaces between your computer, smartphone, and tablet. She will show you how to enhance your notes with links, checklists, tables, attachments, and audio recordings. Even handwritten notes are searchable. So come and learn how Evernote can help you in all areas of your family history research. And remember, WinterTech is offered in the afternoons of the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana’s monthly meeting, so stay to hear Curt Witcher discuss “The Genealogy Center Online,” in Meeting Room A at 7:00 p.m.

    Delia Bourne will continue the WinterTech series in January with "Finding Free Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Online" and Melissa Tennant will finish the series with "On the Record: African American Newspapers" in February. For more information, see the WinterTech 2017-2018 brochure. To register for any of these free events, call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info.
    EvernoteBlog

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center