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  • August One-on-One Consultations!

    Saturday, Jul 20, 2019

    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 on Tuesday August 13, 2019 and Thursday, August 29, 2019, both 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. 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 Allen County Digital Resources

    Friday, May 17, 2019

    We have added some terrific new items to our Fort Wayne and Allen County online resources!

    First off, the Central High School Class of 1939 Golden Anniversary brochure was added to our Central High school materials, and we have added the 1912 Fort Wayne Board of Park Commissioners Annual Report, which includes photos, various reports and maps of the parks. 

    We also have the Johnny Appleseed Memorial Association Record Books, and, thanks to our good friends at the Fort Wayne Baseball Oldtimers' Association we have their Newsletter, Line Drives (newsletter), and Hall of Fame Annual Banquet programs.

    There are a number of great supplements to our General Electric Collection, including the Elex Club Scrapbook, 1946-1947, the Partizan Scrapbook, 1988-1994, and Quintus Scrapbooks for 1987-1991, 1991-1995, and 1995-2002.

    Finally, the 2018 burial records were added to the Lindenwood Cemetery database, bringing that to 22771 names in the 1976-2018 collection, and abstracts for Lot 21 of Branning’s Addition, Lots 21 – 22 for Elzey’s 4th Addition to Waynedale, Lot 38 of Lakeside Park Addition, Lots 1 – 56 and 65 – 132 of Kekionga Shores, and Range 13, Township 30N, NE 1/4 of NW 1/4 Section 13 and part of Range 15E, Township 31N, E 12 of NW 1/4 of Sec 29 were added to the Allen County Abstracts of Title.

    Take a moment to explore all of these great new local resources!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New African American Additions to Our Free Databases

    Tuesday, May 14, 2019

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • March Madness: Act on Your Family History!

    Wednesday, Feb 13, 2019

    Beginning to gather family stories and history may be as simple as acting on a first step. Join us in March to learn about several easy actions you can take!


    Sunday March 3, 2019, 2:30 p.m., Discovery Center

    Sharing: Non-Traditional Family History Books

    Betsy Thal Gephart

    Publishing a family history needn’t be a heavy lift.  There are easier ways to share your research than a huge, formal genealogy.  The most important thing is to share your stories!  Using the thirteen books she’s written for her daughters as examples, Betsy hopes to inspire you to get started on a project that’s just the right size.


    Monday March 4, 2019, 6:30 p.m., Discovery Center

    Writing: Simple Steps to Begin Writing Your Family Stories

    Curt Witcher

    For many, writing is just another chore. Where does one start? How long does the piece have to be? The blank screen, the empty piece of paper—both can be very intimidating. Explore some techniques for making writing easier, and maybe even enjoyable with this evening of simple steps.


    Tuesday March 5, 2019, 6:30 P.M., Discovery Center

    Publishing: Various Options for the Family Historian

    John Beatty

    This class will examine the different publishing options for the genealogist. We will look at going out on your own with a printer, such as the HF Group of North Manchester. We evaluate online publishers such as Lulu and Createspace and publishing options. We will also examine some of the vanity presses available for publishing a genealogy. The author will come away with several options for getting their family history in print.

    MM for Blog

    Wednesday March 6, 2019, 6:30 p.m., Discovery Center

    Preserving: Sharing New Ideas from RootsTech

    Allison DePey Singleton & Melissa Tennant

    Melissa & Allison are just back from RootsTech 2019! Come learn about all of the fabulous products they viewed there!


    Thursday March 7, 2019, 6:30 p.m., Meeting Room A

    Talking: Triggering Memories to Begin Conversations about Family History

    Allison DePrey Singleton

    Some of the best ways to remember something is through your senses.  In fact, the sense of smell is closely linked with memory. How do you utilize with for family history? Can you trigger memories with the other senses? Let’s explore this in an interactive presentation on triggering memories to begin conversations.  


    Friday March 8, 2019, 2:30 p.m., Discovery Center

    Organizing: Adventures with Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and Adobe Acrobat

    Kay Spears & Emily Rapoza

    Finally, after years and years of hard work you are ready to put everything together. Now what? Join Kay Spears and Emily Rapoza as they explore some tips, tricks, and hints when using Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and Adobe Acrobat when compiling your family history book.


    Saturday, March 9, 2019, 2:30 p.m., Discovery Center

    Interviewing: Life Stories Hands On

    Cynthia Theusch

    Have you been curious about what goes on in the Life Stories Center? Wondering if, and how, you can use it? Come for a live demonstration of the equipment and witness one or more interviews, interlaced with questions and techniques for getting your subject to open up!

     To register for this free event, call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info. Part of March Madness 2019!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Free Allen County Resources Online!

    Saturday, Jan 26, 2019

    There are some great new items in our Allen County Resources page, touching on many aspects of life in Allen County, such as schools, sports, religion, government and property, starting with the Fort Wayne Roundball, 1965-66, the first annual basketball preview for the county (see below). Included are photos and rosters for the various high school teams and includes photos of the cheerleaders and advertisements. Sticking with sports, we have Zollner Pistons: 1940-1957 From YMCA to NBA--The Rise and Demise of the Zollner Pistons, which contains information about Fred Zollner, team rosters, All-Stars, and a year-by-year history.

    We also have a few new General Electric Company materials, such as Elex Club scrapbooks for 1953-53, 1953, 1954-1955, 1954-1955 #2, 1955-1956, 1978-1984, a Pen-EL Scrapbook, GE Elex Partizan Scrapbook, 1952-1960 and the GE Elex Quintus Scrapbook, 1978-1983.

    Some new church records now grace our pages, such as Allen County Methodist Church Records for Arcola 1914-2015, Hoagland 1892-1921, and the Sheldon Circuit of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1879-1891. There is a Faith United Church of Christ 25th Anniversary booklet, 1968-1993, complete with photographs, a booklet for the Golden Jubilee Honoring the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Charles H. Thiele, 1888-1938, St. Peter Church, and a booklet for the St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Diamond Jubilee, 1872-1947.

    Dutch Ridge Remembered--1900, Cedar Creek, Allen County, Indiana recalls the community on Old Auburn Road, just south of the DeKalb County line, and has many families noted and a great map (see below), and Community Development Photos include a number of historic houses arranged by district.
    Dutch Ridge

    You can examine the Park Master Plan Phase I for Fort Wayne, part of the Parks and Recreation section of the Community Development Library, 1974-2002, and see the
    Fort Wayne Board of Park Commissioners Annual Reports for 1925 through 1932.
    And there is the Pleasant Township Road Tax Lists, 1880, and in Fort Wayne City Documents, you can find the Fort Wayne City Inaugural Ceremony, 1960, and Fort Wayne Police Department the 1990 annual report.

    A very useful addition is the Aboite Township School Enumeration, 1866-1895, and we also have the Aboite Township School Trustees Records, 1867-1893, Allen County, Indiana, as well as additional Fort Wayne Public Schools and Public Library directories for 1929-1930, 1933-1934 and 1950-1951.

    We have club records for Morning Star 346, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Theta Upsilon Lambda Chapter, Fort Wayne, 2016, and Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Fall Reunion 1928, Valley of Fort Wayne.

    We have Updated Abstracts of Title (Williams Addition), Bercot Addition, Lot 20, Ewing Addition, Lots 5 and 10, and South Wood Park Addition, Lot 83.

    And finally, we have updated the Fort Wayne/Allen County Obituaries Index, which brings the total number of indexed obituaries to 11, 306 and the 2017 Lindenwood burials.

    Anyone researching Fort Wayne and Allen County needs to check out these great sources!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Items at Our Military Heritage

    Friday, Jan 18, 2019

    We have some great new military sources on Our Military Heritage, starting with the Civil War, we have a photo of Joseph Godfrey Swartz of Miller's Company, Rockbridge County, Virginia Reserves, and records for William Coil, 31st Ohio Volunteer Infantry and Christopher Lampy, 35th Iowa Infantry. The latter two include a variety of records, including service records, surgeons’ certificates, and pension records.

    We also have various materials for the 30th Regiment Indiana Infantry Volunteers, including the Nineteenth Annual Reunion booklet in 1902, and the Reunion Programme and Roster for 1911.

    And we have acquired an image of the Bugle Call, Exhibits of War Relics in Fort Wayne in 1886. The broadside indicates that the exhibit and entertainment will be at the Library Hall, December 9 to December 24.

    For World War I, we have various records for Henry Greenhagen, U.S. Army, including a photo, his honorable discharge and his 1970 obituary. We also have the World War I Honor Roll of Wapello County, Iowa, which includes photos and a brief biography for most of their service people and nurses, and a list of their Gold Star Men.
    And we have a 1961 publication entitled Naval Forces Indiana From 1921, a short history of the Naval reserves of Indiana.

    There are photos an brief biographies for Carlyle Swartz and Joseph Gibboney Swartz, both in the Army in World War II, and photos and clippings for Robert Seibold, 141st and 36th Infantry Division, U.S. Army, as well as a service diary for Robertson B. Clarke of the U.S. Navy, which includes pages of autographs of various people he met. We also have a group photo of Co. D, 61st Medical Training Battalion, A.S.F.T.C., Camp Barkeley, Texas, June 16, 1944.

    And finally, we have From Kinsmoor to Korea: The Korean War Letters of Walter Harrison Sprunger by Douglas M. Lehman. This database is searchable and includes letters to as well as from Sprunger.

    And remember, you, too, can include your military life or ancestors by contributing photos, service records and collections to Our Military Heritage.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Using Indiana Township Trustee Records

    Wednesday, Dec 26, 2018

    by John

    The smallest level of local government administration in Indiana is the Township Trustee. An elected office since the nineteenth century, the trustee originally exercised responsibility for erecting schoolhouses, employing teachers, building roads, digging ditches, holding elections, maintaining cemeteries, and distributing relief for the poor. They kept a variety of record books in which they recorded minutes of meetings and a variety of other acts that pertained to their official duties. Often these books are filled with names of local residents in a variety of contexts.

    Genealogists today face a variety of challenges in locating township records. In some cases, these volumes may still be in the custody of a trustee, but that is in no way a certainty and the thread of custody may have gotten lost over time. Deemed unimportant, some records have doubtless been lost over the years or destroyed. Conversely, these volumes may be stored in attics, barns, or other locations where former trustees once resided. In the 1980s, the Genealogy Center received a number of records from Jackson Township, Allen County, which a researcher discovered stored in a chicken coop. Genealogists who take the time to examine these township trustee records may find their efforts rewarded with information not found anywhere else. Particularly valuable are lists of local residents who sent their children to school in a given year or the names of students, serving as a kind of census substitute for years when there are no federal census schedules.

    The Genealogy Center recently digitized several record books originally held by the Aboite Township, Allen County, Trustee. They include:

    School Enumeration Records, 1866-1895 
    School Trustees Records, 1866-1893 

    John's Blog Teachers employed

    Going through the records one sees such familiar names as William Hamilton and Thomas Covington, for who West Hamilton and Covington roads are named, as well as lists of all of the parents or guardians who sent children to school.

    What exists for some of Allen County’s other townships? The Jackson Township records, all recovered from the chicken coop, are the most extensive and have either been restored or microfilmed. They include ditch fund records, road supervision records, miscellaneous school reports (1879-1909), school enumerations, cash books, and poor fund claims. Among the more unusual is a so-called “Sheep Record,” in which the owners of sheep, fowl, hogs, and other livestock made claims for those killed or maimed by dogs between 1928 and 1979. Check the library catalog under “Jackson Township Allen County” for a list of the variety of books for this township.

    Other townships have turned in fewer records, but we are unable to say other records are not now extant. A single volume from Lake Township, Allen County, 1842-1846, GC 977.201 AL5La, contains trustee meeting minutes that followed the creation of the township. The pages record the outcomes of local elections and the names of voters as well as constable reports, fee assessments, and records of oaths for such offices as fence viewer and road supervisor. Two original schoolhouse grade books, 1888-1889, GC 977.201 AL5sr, and 1901-1903, GC 977.201 AL5sra, contain records of pupils, the schools they attended, their teachers, and the grades they received.

    The Trustees’ School Record of Monroe Township, Allen County, 1866-1880, 977.201 AL5mou, contains lists of names to whom the trustee disbursed school funds, mostly for the construction of schoolhouses or the purchase of school land. A record book from a single school, the Stephenson School District 1 at Hoffman and Morgan roads, 1923-1925, GC 977.201 AL5mot, records a list of the pupils and their attendance. There is also a Voting Record and Expense Accounts volume, 1858-1872, GC 977.201 AL5monv, for Monroe Township, including a complete list of voters at the poll on 2 April 1860 and the tally of votes for various offices.

    Several volumes from Washington Township, Allen County, are extant, including School Attendance Records, 1904-1907, GC 977.201 AL5scht; the Register of the District 5 School, 1910-1912, GC 977.201 AL5schr; and another School Register, 1919-1925, GC 977.201 AL5schu. Each book is filled with the names of local pupils, their teachers, and grades. On microfilm there is an Enumeration of White and Colored Males over the Age of 21, dated 1901, which serves as a census substitute.

    Finally, a single volume of records from Perry Township School District 1, 1867-1904, GC 977.201 AL5perr, contains minutes of meetings held for the maintenance of the so-called Dutch Ridge Schoolhouse at Chapman and Auburn roads. The volume includes expense account records for repair work to the school, but it has no lists of pupils.

    John's Blog Dutch Ridge School

    We in the Genealogy Center would like to digitize other township trustee records, if they can be located, for any county. We also encourage researchers to explore these little-used sources for information not found in other places. The variety of information they contain should tantalize any researcher.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Family History Month - Week 2!

    Wednesday, Oct 03, 2018

    So, now that you've learned how to search for information about your house, and the use of city directories, and all of the other great events of the first week of Family History Month, you're ready to run onto Week 2!

    Sunday, October 7, 2018, 1:00 p.m., Discovery Center, 
    Tracking Your Illinois Ancestors, Sara Allen
    Learn about the essential websites and important physical repositories for Illinois genealogical research.

    Monday, October 8, 2018, 6:30 p.m., Discovery Center
    Beginning to Tennessee Research, Delia Cothrun Bourne
    The sixteenth state admitted to the Union, Tennessee‘s rich history is one of contrasts as pioneers settled or passed through to points west. Learn about the wide variety of sources available to researchers of the Volunteer State!

    Tuesday, October 9, 2018, 6:30 p.m., Discovery Center
    Genealogical Research in Maryland, John Beatty
    As one of the original thirteen colonies, Maryland is a pivotal state for exploring ancestors who later moved into the Midwest and Deep South. It has some of the most complete extant records of early America, many of which are published. This session, intended for the beginner, will explore the many available records available in this state and how to find them both in books and online.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2018, 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m., Meeting Room A
    Crazy Horse: The Lakota Warrior's Life and Legacy - Floyd Clown Sr and author William Matson
    Crazy Horse family elder Floyd Clown Sr and author William Matson will discuss and sign their book "Crazy Horse: The Lakota Warrior's Life and Legacy" based on the family’s oral history.
    Wednesday, October 10, 2018, 6:30 p.m., Meeting Room A
    Non-population Schedules, Randy Richardson
    Join the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana for their monthly meeting. All are welcome!

    Thursday, October 11, 2018, 6:30 p.m., Discovery Center
    Empire State Genealogy, Sara Allen
    New York ancestral research can be challenging, due to record loss and lack of civil marriage records prior to 1880. Fortunately many other valuable types of genealogical resources exist. Attendees will learn about the records that are available for New York State and NYC and where to find these great resources.

    Friday, October 12, 2018, 2:30 p.m., Discovery Center
    Hoosier Hospitality: Immigrating to Indiana, Allison DePrey Singleton
    Indiana is considered the Crossroads of America. Many families passed through Indiana on their way west but many stayed. Join us as we look at immigration to the Hoosier State and some uniquely Hoosier resources for family history.

    Saturday, October 13, 2018, 10:00 a.m., Discovery Center
    Basics of Adobe Elements, Kay Spears
    A walk through Adobe Elements. What’s new? What’s exciting? What’s useful? Discover some techniques, tips, workarounds, which may be used when restoring, enhancing, and retouching scanned documents, photographs, and family artifacts in Adobe Elements.

    To register for any of these free events, call 260-421-1225 or email Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Part of Family History Month 2018.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • 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

  • 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.

    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


    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 ( 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.

    Castle in the Desert movie poster, 1942

    Castle in the Desert movie poster, 1942

    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. ( 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.

    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. (

    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. (

    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 ( 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. ( 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.

    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!” ( 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

    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

    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

    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.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • One-on-One Consultations for July 2017

    Monday, Jun 12, 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 Tuesday, July 11, 2017 and Thursday July 20, 2017. 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.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Yizkor Books & Jewish Research

    Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017

    by Delia

    World War II was a desperate time for Europe’s Jews, with millions slaughtered in the Holocaust and more fleeing the Nazi death machine, resulting in the wholesale disappearance of Jewish communities. After the war, the dispersed survivors created Memorial (Yizkor) books to commemorate these lost communities and their residents. The original volumes were in Yiddish, and The Genealogy Center has had a collection of these Yizkor Books for many years.

    JewishGen has undertaken the Yizkor Book Project to republish 800 of these volumes with added translations for ease of use. The Genealogy Center has recently acquired the first 52 of these newly published resources. Read more about the project and come in to take advantage of these wonderful sources.

    Congregation Achduth Vesholom, has also created the Madge Rothschild Resource Center at 5200 Old Mill Road in Fort Wayne, with their Grand Opening scheduled for Sunday April 30, 2017. Join them for an Open House at 2:30 p.m., and keynote speaker, author David Laskin on “One Family, Three Journeys: How One Family Embodied The Sweep Of 20th Century Jewish History,” at 4 p.m. Laskin's family's journey began with a Torah scribe and his family in Russia 150 years ago. Events around the family scattered them to America, to Palestine and into Germany to to fall prey to the Holocaust. Join them for this inspiring lecture!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Our Military Heritage – New 20th Century Documents

    Friday, Apr 14, 2017

    Our friends have been very generous lately with military records. This time we will look at new 20th Century records.

    We have Story of the Thirty-Third Division in World War I. This regimental history was published by the Chicago Daily News and mentions many of the soldiers by name. Third Squadron Air Service: September 15, 1918 to January 24, 1919 consisted of 152 men, mostly from the Midwest. Each man is listed with his rank and home address. 
    We have a high resolution image of a photograph of the 375 Co., 409 M.S.T., Lt. Morris Knapp, Commanding, also from World War I. Finally we have an update consisting of “Letters Received” and “Miscellaneous Documents” for the Alois Masbaum WWI collection.

    We have images of W.A. Clarke’s V-Mail from Europe in 1945 to his family in Crown Point, New York. We have records for Allen Henry Wisely and Walter Wisely, of Fort Wayne, both in the US Navy in World War II. The records were scanned by family friend and Genealogy Center volunteer, Don Weber, and contain photographs, Christmas and post cards and clippings.
    Ornell Stauffer, US Army Air Corps, was a hero in World War II. This Hoosier was shot down over Japan in 1944 in his plane. “Calamity Sue,” named for his baby daughter. His widow and daughter finally received his medals in 2015.

    Images of War: The Pacific Theater, published by the World War II Memorial Society offers pages of photographs of events in the South Pacific. And we have a commemorative booklet for Aro Equipment Corporation, Bryan, Ohio, in 1943 when the company won the Army Navy E for Excellence Award, which includes a list of all employees serving in the military.

    We have a history of the 3rd and 14th Field Hospital in the Korean War. Besides a history of the combined units, there are photographs of the officers and enlisted personnel.

    Donald G. Allen of Bedford, Indiana served in the United States Navy from 1951-1955. He was a fire control technician third class on the battleship USS Wisconsin and saw combat in the Korean War. Sara Allen donated his photograph collection from his time in service, including other service members at work or play and visitors to the ship.

    Geo & Don 
    Finally, we have various military records of our fabulous volunteer, Don Weber, who served in the US Navy during peacetime. These documents include ID cards, evaluations, shore patrol assignments, examinations and much more. Don also provided the World War II records of his father George Anthony Weber, who served with the US Army in Europe. These records include his discharge, ration cards, Christmas cards, post newsletters, post cards, and letters. One photo, shown here, is of George holding hands with his young son, Don, all dressed up in his miniature uniform. It’s a beautiful family moment!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Historical Weather

    Sunday, Apr 02, 2017

    Have you ever wondered what the weather was like in past years?  There is a way to look at the average temperature for a month at a time beginning in 1895:  The Farmers’ Almanac website has the history of the weather each day going back to 1945:  You can also get the history of the weather going back to the 1700s through the National Weather Service:  The website only requires payment if you request a certified copy of the documentation.  However, you will still need to make a selection and add it to your cart.  When you check out, an email address is required in order to send the information.  You will not get the information right away but they will email you when the information becomes available.
    For more weather history, check out:

    Henson, Robert. Weather on the air: a history of broadcast meteorology. Boston (Mass.): American Meteorological Society, 2010.

    Mergen, Bernard. Weather matters: an American cultural history since 1900. Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas, 2008.

    Moore, Peter. The weather experiment: the pioneers who sought to see the future. London: Vintage, 2016.

    Williams, James Thaxter. The history of weather. Commack, NY: Nova Science Publ., 1999.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Stephen King lived in Fort Wayne, Indiana

    Thursday, Feb 16, 2017

    Written By: John

    A reference question came to us recently about the author Stephen King and the exact location of his childhood residence in Fort Wayne, Indiana. King, who was born in Portland, Maine, in 1947, was the son of Donald and Nellie Ruth (Pilsbury) King. The father was born “Donald Pollock” in Peru, Indiana, and later changed the family name to King, and he separated from Stephen’s mother not long after Stephen’s birth. At the age of two Stephen moved to Delafield, Wisconsin, with his mother and brother, and later, about 1949, they came to Fort Wayne to live with relatives. But where specifically did they live?
        David King, Stephen’s older brother, provides some sketches details in an account published in George Beahm’s Stephen King Companion: Four Decades of Fear from the Master of Horror (p. 9). “After Wisconsin, we then went to live with my father’s sister Betty, and a lady she lived with named Rudy. We have a picture of that, too – Stevie and I sitting on a lawn in front of a house. That was in the Fort Wayne, Indiana, area. Aunt Betty was a schoolteacher … After that we lived in an apartment of our own in Fort Wayne … We shared the apartment with a number of cockroaches. It was an apartment house, but I’m not sure if it was a single-family dwelling or if there were a number of apartments in it.”
         Most references to Stephen’s childhood lack specifics due to the family’s difficult economic circumstances. However, from the above account and other biographical references, we have enough information to identify Donald Pollock and his sister Betty on the 1920 census. Going forward and looking at the Fort Wayne city directories, we can locate Betty L. Pollock in 1951, living at 1227 Lake Avenue in Fort Wayne and working as a teacher at the Hamilton School. In 1954, she resided at 3529 Lake Avenue, then outside the city limits, and was teaching at the Hanna School. Undoubtedly, the Kings spent time at these two addresses, but the identity of their apartment house remains uncertain. The 1954 directory lists a Mrs. Ruth King living at 1234 Ewing Street, but this was a residence, not an apartment house, and it is not certain this was Stephen’s mother. The family later moved to Stratford, Connecticut.
         It is worth noting that none of King’s residences are marked or celebrated in Fort Wayne’s historical literature. Perhaps more specific information will come to light about his time here.  We were able to find an image of the 1227 Lake Avenue house.  It is a multi-family home.  


    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Indiana and Allen County Free Databases Additions

    Monday, Nov 07, 2016

    We have a few more additions to our Free Databases to share!

    Pioneer Families and Descendants of Tobin Township in Perry County, Indiana contains a list of the Heads of Households form the 1820 and 1830 censuses, then information on families in alphabetical order. Some of this material is searchable by name or keyword, but as many of the pages are handwritten, they are not included in the search. Browse for more information.

    We have the Lot 16 Abstract in the Deer Trail Addition in Marshall County, Indiana. The property was originally owned by William C. VanHorn in 1843, and the abstract lists the owners to Clarence and Marilyn Gay who purchased it from Francis and Delores Bergeron. As usual, the abstract is a fascinating read.

    We have three other Abstracts of Title, these from Allen County for (1) Lot 84 of Eliza Hanna’s Addition, (2) Lot 32 of Johnson’s Addition, and (3) for Range 11E Township 31N Section. These, and many more abstracts, are linked on the following website.

    A commencement booklet for Fort Wayne’s Central Grammar School for 1894 is now available. The booklet lists and contains photographs of the graduates and the teachers.

    And, finally, we have a 1935 Map of the Fort Wayne Business District. The map covers the area of the city bordered by Clinton, Lewis, Harrison and Main Streets, and notes the location of each business.

    Have fun searching and browsing these collections!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Groups at The Genealogy Center

    Saturday, Sep 03, 2016

    It has been a busy month here at The Genealogy Center.  We hosted the IFLA Preconference here three weeks ago, followed by a family association researching and collaborating for a couple of days.  Then two weeks ago, we had the NGS group and the Montgomery County Chapter of OGS visiting.  We love having groups visit!  

    When planning your next family reunion, genealogical society outing, or a friend trip, consider making The Genealogy Center part of your gathering.  Our new Discovery Center is the perfect place to have meetings, pop-up consultations, and/or presentations.  

    We ask that you let us know when you plan on coming.  While discussing your group’s visit, you can request and arrange brief pop-up presentations and tours. It’s a win-win, with a great collection and a wonderful space for discovering family connections.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Free Family Resources

    Friday, Aug 05, 2016

    We’ve been very fortunate recently with a large number of new Family Resources on our Free Databases!

    Susan McNelley produced several works that she has allowed us to post, starting with her Following the Maple Leaf Trail: The French-Canadian Ancestry of Joseph Gilman of Taylor County, Wisconsin. This work not only discusses the Gilman family who came from Quebec to New York and on to Wisconsin, but also life among Canadian fur traders, dit names, King’s daughters, midwives of Quebec and more. A very informative work and worth the time to peruse! There are two volumes of Ms. McNeeley’s Aschenbrener family histories: Aschenbrener Roots in the Bavarian/Bohemian Borderland: George and Monika Aschenbrenner of Northern Wisconsin and Aschenbreners of the Wisconsin Northwoods: George and Marietta Aschenbrener of Northern Wisconsin. The first volume covers George and Monika, the immigrants to America, their ancestors and home in Europe and their children. The second volume details the family of their son George and his wife Marietta Gilman. Both volumes are keyword searchable and contain photos and other documents. Her Johnston Family History: Ancestry of the Edward Johnston Family of Fort Wayne, Indiana is the story of the lives of Norma, Edward and Gerald Johnston and their Scots-Irish and German ancestors, and McNelley Family History: The Ancestry of the Oscar McNelley Family of Chicago, Illinois is the history of the McNeeley-Lamb family of New England and the Mikkelsen-Holmes family of Denmark and Chicago. Finally, The Middletons of Gibson City, Illinois chronicles the story of the Middleton, Hoover, Cackley and Howver families. We thank Ms. McNeeley for all of these great family histories!

    James Eckland Dwyer was born in 1944 and died in 2011. His daughter-in-law, Karen Emery Dwyer compiled James Eckland Dwyer's Irish Ancestry to chronicle his Dwyer, Bennett, Murray and Loftus families. Ms. Dwyer also compiled Papa: Gordon Charles Emery which details the Emery, Foote, Donovan and Clancy families. She also produced From the British Isles to America (Williams & Associated Families), which covers the Williams, Pratt, Gough, Butcher, Nibbs, Brennan, Donahue and Shedd families in the British Isles and the United States. We thank Ms. Dwyer for permission to post these items!

    Cindy Peterson of Westerville, Ohio allowed us to post Descendants of Cutlope Gotlieb Hancock, a detailed work of the first four generations of the Cutlope Gotlieb Magdalena Clair Hancock family of Germany, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. One can use a keyword search to find names.

    Phillip A. Hawkins generously his two publications on the descendants of John & Mary Molly (Moore) Hawkins, The Jeffery Hawkins's In 1692 America and Sons of Nathan Hawkins. The first provides evidence as to which son of John and Mary was the father of the Hawkins of Union County, South Carolina. The second discusses John and Mary’s second son Nathan. These items provide a detailed analysis of the problem.

    Lorraine C. McClanahan has provided us copies of her Irvine Genealogy and Irvine Index, which begin with John Irvine and Catharine Garrioch of Scotland. Both works have keyword search capability.

    We have the 1989 program of the Fred W. Jones Appreciation Dinner in Merrillville, Indiana where he was a teacher and coach for many years. And we have two silhouettes and brief biographies of William Haight Leggett and his wife Margaret Peck Wright of New York. These images were donated by Cory Randall.Randall

    Finally, we have Descendants of John Vestall, and The Family of Anne Russell, 1548-1593, both of which were by researcher Drew Blaha of North Carolina. We thank all of these researchers and donors for making our Family Resources page their home.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center