by Delia

Since the call numbers for genealogical material can stretch from the 200s to the 900s, many years ago, the staff of the Genealogy Department and the catalogers for the old Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County created a modified Dewey System just for the Genealogy Collection. Within this modified system, most of the volumes in The Genealogy Center have numbers in the 900s, and are cataloged and physically organized by geographic locality - region and state - rather than by subject, such as church records or cemeteries. For example, northeastern states (Maine, Pennsylvania, New Jersey) are all 974s and southern states (Kentucky, Florida, Texas) are 975s and 976s. Then, each state has a number after the decimal point, creating a distinctive number for that state, i.e., Pennsylvania is 974.8, Texas is 976.4 and California is 979.4. General, statewide material is classified with these numbers. These are sources like state or regional histories, biographical works, statewide lists and indexes of cemeteries, Bible records, naturalization records, and more.

For county-specific material, our modified Dewey system adds an 01 following the state number. This new number (for example, 974.801), indicates that the volume is a Pennsylvania county-specific book. The first part of the second "deck" of the catalog number signifies the county and causes books to be arranged alphabetically by county within each state section. For example, York County, Pennsylvania's number is 974.801 Y8, and Lincoln County, Nebraska's number is 978.201 L63. Additional letters are assigned to the end of the county designation so that each book has a unique number.

Following the county books in each state area, is a section of books specific to cities and towns within the state. The top "deck" of modified Dewey numbers for city books end in 02. So Pennsylvania statewide books (974.8) are followed by Pennsylvania county books (974.801), which are followed by Pennsylvania city/town books (974.802). The second "deck" of the city and town books are assigned similarly to those of the county books, and their numbers cause the city/town books also to be shelved alphabetically within that section.

So, as you see, understanding this modified (and simplified) Dewey system will make it easier to browse our stacks when you visit, but if you are seeking something specific, checking our own catalog, rather than that of another library is vital. Get ready for your visit by checking our catalogs in advance!