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  • Becoming Expert at Ancestry.com

    Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012

    by Dawne

    Has this ever happened to you? You are doing a search in Ancestry.com and you ask for 1860 census entries for an individual in Allen County, Indiana, but the first several results you get are for another county entirely. Yet there are Allen County, Indiana, results further down in the list. WHY does this happen and how can you get the results that you really want? Genealogy Center librarian Melissa Shimkus will demonstrate tips for getting the most meaningful results for your searches in Ancestry.com at a presentation titled “Becoming Expert on Using Ancestry” at this year’s Indiana Genealogical Society Conference, Saturday, April 28, at the Allen County Public Library. The conference also will two talks by FamilySearch’s Michael Hall and one by Allen County Genealogical Society President Curt Sylvester, as well as four presentations by featured speaker Debbie Mieszala, CG(sm). The IGS Conference is open to the public. Cost is $30 for IGS members and $40 for non-members. To register online or print a registration form, visit the IGS website.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • What's New with Family Search

    Monday, Apr 16, 2012

    by Dawne

    If someone suggests that you search for material for your ancestors at FamilySearch.org and you think, “Been there, done that,” think again! New material is being added to this free site at an amazing rate. Some of this material is indexes and abstracts, along with the film numbers of microfilmed records that you may order from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, to be used at The Genealogy Center. For other record types and localities, FamilySearch is linking digital images of the original records. FamilySearch employee Michael Hall from Utah will present a lecture on “What’s New With Family Search” at the 2012 Indiana Genealogical Society Conference, Saturday, April 28, at the Allen County Public Library. The conference also will include a second lecture by Hall, talks by Genealogy Center librarian Melissa Shimkus, and Allen County Genealogical Society President Curt Sylvester, as well as four presentations by featured speaker Debbie Mieszala, CG(sm). The IGS Conference is open to the public. Cost is $30 for IGS members and $40 for non-members. To register online or print a registration form, visit the IGS website.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Preserving the War of 1812 Pensions

    Sunday, Apr 15, 2012

    by Delia

    We like to think that all of the records that we will ever need for our family history research will always be available when we want to need them. And we just know that all of these records will eventually be digitized and available online for us to examine at our leisure. But the sad fact is that some records from the War of 1812 languish in the National Archives, difficult to search; protected and preserved, but slowly deteriorating all the same. The federal government does not have the $3.7 million to digitize the pension records from that war.

    The Federation of Genealogical Societies is spearheading a fund-raising project among historians, family historians and others interested in preserving our heritage. Preserve the Pensions! wishes to have these records digitized and made available for free by the end of the War's bicentennial in 2012. The cost of preserving two documents is only $1, and since Ancestry is matching the project's donations, every dollar that is donated will actually digitize four documents! More than seven million documents are waiting. One can donate in honor of a living person, as a memorial for a deceased loved one, or in honor of a specific War of 1812 service person.

    Learn more about how you or your society can assist in this vital project by visiting Preserve the Pensions! Help preserve their stories!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Centennial: Sinking of the Titanic

    Saturday, Apr 14, 2012

    by Delia

    As I am sure you've seen in the news media, one of the most famous ship wrecks of all time occurred one hundred years ago tonight. Of course, the Titanic was famous even before it sank in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912. It was one of the largest passenger ships at the time, and with all of its safety features, it was reported to be unsinkable. The various stories and legends of the event have been told and retold, and many of us have watched movies fictionalizing the event, including the 1958 "Night to Remember," based on the Walter Lord book of the same title. When the 1997 James Cameron movie came out, a number of people came into the department, asking to see the "Titanic passenger list."

    First of all, the Titanic never made it to port in New York, so a passenger list was never submitted to US immigration authorities. Most of those who survived arrived on other ships, most notably the Carpathia. The bodies that were recovered were, for the most part, buried in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

    Feisty Rose, doomed Jack and evil fiance Cal from the movie "Titanic" were fictional, although, yes, we've been asked about them. Other figures in the movie were real, including "the unsinkable" Molly Brown, who survived; John Jacob Astor, who did not; and Ida Strauss, who declined to flee on a lifeboat, preferring to stay with her husband Isadore, one of the owners of Macy's Department Store.

    There are many sources, both books and online, for research on Titanic passengers and accounts of the events of that night, or you can just get a box of tissues and watch one of the movies. Since this event combines popular culture with our own historical leanings, others can enjoy the movies in memory of the disaster, while we as genealogists will look further for the historical background.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Patent Records

    Friday, Apr 13, 2012

    by Dawne

    Sometimes the most interesting information about our ancestors can be found in records that we don’t use on a daily basis. These less common sources are the ones that can “put flesh on the bones” of our ancestors and make them more to us than someone who was born, married and died. One of the four talks to be presented by featured speaker Debbie Mieszala, CG(sm) at this year’s Indiana Genealogical Society Conference will be on one of these less-common record groups. Debbie will discuss locating patent records in her lecture, “Patently Unique: Locating Patent Records, Online and Off” at the Allen County Public Library on Saturday, April 28. The conference also includes a second track of lectures and the society’s annual meeting and presentation of inductees into the Society of Civil War Families of Indiana and the Indiana Territorial Guard. It is open to the public. Cost is $30 for IGS members and $40 for non-members. To register online or print a registration form, visit the IGS website.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Averting Disaster: Back-up Your Files

    Thursday, Apr 12, 2012

    by Delia

    There always seemed to be disasters in every place I have lived. There were hurricanes in New Orleans, brush fires in southern California, and, of course, tornadoes in Indiana. While we can't avert those disasters, we can mitigate the damage to our genealogical research files if those disaster do occur around our homes.

    You already know that you should back up your computer files, preferably each time you do research. Backing up from the USB drive you carry with you to a research facility or backing up your work on your computer to an external hard drive is always a good idea in case of a computer crash. But picture what will happen if a devastating event (flood, fire, tornado) occurs and wipes out all of the back-ups, paper files, and photograph books that are in your home. Spring is a good time to consider your options:

    • For computer files, consider sharing files with relatives and other researchers on a regular basis. You may lose recent information, but the bulk of your information would survive if you have sent copies away.
    • Backing up to a cloud is also a way to protect digital information. Since the physical storage is not on-site, damage to your home would not wipe out all of your information.
    • Consider scanning and identifying old photographs and documents, then provide digital copies to relatives, store them on external drives, or allow The Genealogy Center to share them with everyone via The Genealogy Center's Family Resources, Family Bible Records, or Our Military Heritage web pages.
    • Scan your paper files into digital format or consider using one of the many good genealogy software systems to organize and document your research, and regularly share that information with distant relatives as an off-site back up.

    Not all of these suggestions will appeal to you, but it's up to you to make the move to insure that your years of research findings are not borne away on a strong wind or disappear in a puff of smoke.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • How I Got Started, Part 7

    Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012

    by Cynthia

    I was first introduced to family history shortly before I graduated from high school. My mother and grandmother decided to put together a brief example of a family tree on the William and Margaret (Pettigrew) Stacy family who came from Wood County, Ohio to Gratiot and Isabella counties, Michigan. My mother’s family tree example showed at least three generations. The third generation (her aunts and uncles) listed the number of children. My grandmother also gathered information about her parents (Edward Bosley and Phila Butterfield). My mother now had three family lines showing three generations each. I really didn’t catch the desire to research my family history until 1977.

    When I really got into researching, I began with my four grandparents’ families as well as my husband’s grandparents. I have faced a few roadblocks in trying to get some basic information from two of my grandparents. My grandmother told me to talk to my cousin, and a grandfather kept stating he didn’t know anything.

    One of my greatest thrills is breaking through brick walls. I searched about ten years before I found where my husband’s third great-grandfather was born. I located a letter that he wrote to his brother posted on the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg’s web site. And a twenty-year brick wall was knocked down when I did a Google search, last year for my second great-grandfather’s obituary. I found it and gleaned some great stories. And just last month I came across photographs of him and his wife: WOW!

    Throughout my years of research, there have been twists and turns to stories and in the process locating information. Learning different ways to solve the mystery and networking with other genealogists and family researchers. What a joy it was to see my parents in the 1940 census. I hope to be around in twenty years to see some of my siblings and me in the 1960 census.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Digging Deeper into Our Research

    Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012

    by Dawne

    Once you have received that death record by mail, or found a digital image of it online, you enter the death date and place for your ancestor into your genealogy computer program and file the record away … but, wait! Have you squeezed every bit of information out of that record that you can? What else might it reveal that you haven’t considered? Can it lead you to other potential avenues of research? Do you really know – and understand – what it says and what the record implies? Debbie Mieszala, CG(sm) will teach listeners about “Digging Through Documents Word for Word” at this year’s Indiana Genealogical Society Conference, to be held at the Allen County Public Library Saturday, April 28. As featured speaker, she will present a total of four lectures. The conference also includes a second track of lectures and the society’s annual meeting and presentation of inductees into the Society of Civil War Families of Indiana and the Indiana Territorial Guard. It is open to the public. Cost is $30 for IGS members and $40 for non-members. To register online or print a registration form, visit the IGS website.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Beginning Genealogy Classes

    Sunday, Apr 08, 2012

    The Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana is pleased to offer "Getting Started in Family History & Genealogy Research," on Saturday April 14, 2012, from 9:00 am to 12:00 Noon, in Meeting Rooms A & B. This three-hour workshop, presented by Margery Graham, will show one how to begin a family history search, how to gather and organize information to produce the best results, and how to employ basic research methods. The workshop will end with a tour of The Genealogy Center. The fee is $10 and pre-registration is required. To register or to obtain more information, contact Marge at 260-672-2585 or by email at gramar57@aol.com.

    This workshop will lead into The Genealogy Center's Tree Talks series (May through August) which features classes aimed to aid the beginner in family history. To learn more, please view the Tree Talks for Beginners brochure.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • How I Got Started, Part 6

    Saturday, Apr 07, 2012

    by Melissa

    Genealogy and I have experienced all the twists and turns expected of a tumultuous relationship. As a child, I spent every summer on my grandparents’ farm. Those days were spent roaming the hills, hearing stories about my grandfather’s experience in World War II, and anecdotes about the additions to the family home. During church, my grandmother would point at someone and say, that is your great aunt or your fourth cousin once removed or your cousin through grandpa’s cousin’s aunt’s family. I grew up with many aunts and uncles who were actually third and fourth cousins, but I did not know it as a child.

    Twenty plus years later, I started library school with the intention of being a university librarian, but fate stepped in. The only job opening I found that worked with my school schedule was a position in the “history and geology department” of my public library. My first day on the job, I was shocked to discover I was employed in the history and genealogy department and that instead of working with questions concerning rocks and history, I would help people with their family history. My supervisor handed me a pedigree chart and advised me to begin my own genealogy research so I could understand the customer’s experiences. Once I began digging, I became obsessed with piecing the puzzle together. The search was fascinating and the stories revealed with each record, painted such an amazing landscape, and I finally began to recognize those names my grandmother used to mention in church. As with most people though, other obligations prevented me with my ancestors although I helped others daily, I drifted apart from my personal genealogy.

    As I prepared to graduate with my new degree, I attended a library conference so I could interview for my dream job with a university. Hour after hour of lectures on reference material left me feeling confused and disillusioned by my career path until I asked to listen to a discussion concerning a new online database called Heritage Quest Online. Imagine my shock at discovering my love of genealogy once again. This chance meeting changed the course of my career and life forever. Listening to the flow of discussion and being asked to participate, I realized genealogy was my future.

    For me, genealogy is not only the study of family history, but it is an insight into the sociological history of our country, our communities, and our family. I spend every day placing the pieces of my family and my customer’s family together. The stories shared and the mysteries unfolding hold me engrossed. As for my personal family history, I have a better appreciation of the individuals who kept making additions to that old family home. I discovered that the hills I had roamed as a child have been in my family for the past two centuries, giving my youthful moments more meaning. Though genealogy and I have been together for many years, it took a while for me to accept it is a true passion.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • National Tartan Day -- April 6

    Friday, Apr 06, 2012

    by Kay

    National what day, you ask. Never heard of it. Hoots mon, there's probably a good reason for that. Unlike St. Patrick's Day, Tartan Day has only been recognized as a national observance in the United States since 2005. So what do we do on Tartan Day? Och, dinna fash yourself! We celebrate our Scottish heritage and we do it by wearing our tartan. Now, I'm not going to talk about the story of the tartans and whether or not a family tartan is really a family tartan; that's a different story. What this day is for is to celebrate Scottish heritage. There are approximately 6 million people in the United States who can claim Scottish descent. Maybe you are one of them, but even if you're not you can still celebrate the day!

    The date of April 6 was chosen to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath, in 1320, which is also another story. So, dust off that bagpipe, have a dram of whiskey and a bite of haggis, pin some heather to your bonnet and wrap yourself in a tartan. Celebrate your heritage. And my wish for you on April 6: Lang may yer lum reek.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • How I Got Started, Part 5

    Thursday, Apr 05, 2012

    by Kay

     My fascination with genealogy began with a pair of eyes.  When I was a child, I used to spend a great deal of time with my grandmother – she lived just a hop, skip and a jump away.  She was an interesting woman, with a lot of stories and best of all, a big box of old photographs.  As a girl, I was totally obsessed with high neck lace dresses or dresses with bustles, so I became rather knowable with the clothing of 1800-1920.  The photographs in this box fit the bill, and it’s even better that they happened to be my relatives.  Of course, most of the people in the photographs were dead, but my grandmother had stories about some of them.  But even her knowledge was limited.  There was one photograph in particular I became attached to – it was a photograph of my grandmother when she was about 18.  I loved that photograph.  Well, years passed and my grandmother was no longer with us, eventually those photographs came into my possession.  And, I put them aside in a closet and went on with my life.

    Then one day while applying my makeup, I was startled when I noticed that my grandmother’s eyes were regarding me in the mirror.  Well, not her real eyes - that would be creepy. They were in fact my eyes but they looked exactly like her eyes when she was 18.  Or at least how remembered them.  So, I went to that closet and pulled out those photographs and I looked at them.  This time I looked at more than clothing, I looked at the faces.  I found more similarities than just eyes and more than just with me.  It was amazing how much the people in the photographs looked like my brother, mother and cousins.  However, for the most part, I had no idea who the people silently gazing back at me were.

    And, that is where it began, the searching for the stories behind the photographs – the need to know who they were.  Along the way, I’ve had some surprises.  I never had any idea my grandmother’s forbears were Swiss Anabaptists or Mennonites.  And for some reason I was excited when I discovered one of them had been forced to leave Switzerland.  For every discovery, there was a mystery – why was my aunt left a bucket of pennies?  Where is my g-g-g-g-grandmother's grave and was she really married to my g-g-g-g-grandfather?  Among all of the Mennonites in my family I have found a Catholic priest.  I have found the grave (and planted flowers there) of my g-g-g-uncle who died at Shiloh at the age of 21.  With every discovery I stumble across, every story that I record, every fact I uncover, I become closer to the people frozen in time in those old photographs, my family.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Identifying Soldiers

    Tuesday, Apr 03, 2012

    by Dawne

    The bodies of thousands of American soldiers and airmen from past wars were never recovered or have not yet been positively identified. Debbie Mieszala, CG(sm), featured speaker for the 2012 Indiana Genealogical Society Conference, works on a project to help identify the remains of these lost American soldiers and bring them home to their families. Debbie will describe that project during one of her four lecture sessions at the conference Saturday, April 28, at the Allen County Public Library. The conference also includes a second track of lectures and the society’s annual meeting and presentation of inductees into the Society of Civil War Families of Indiana and the Indiana Territorial Guard. It is open to the public. Cost is $30 for IGS members and $40 for non-members. To register online or print a registration form, visit the IGS website.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • It's Here! It's Here! 1940 Is Here!

    Monday, Apr 02, 2012

    by Delia

    Well, perhaps in my excitement, that's a bit unclear. It's still 2012, but since it's April 2, 2012, that means that the 1940 Census is open for viewing, and we are all very happy! For the census releases since I have been on staff with The Genealogy Center (the 1930 in 2002 and 1920 in 1992) and in an earlier position with the  Allen County Public Library (1910 in 1982), we had to purchase the film and await its arrival. Then we had to wait, just like everyone else, for it to be processed and placed in the cabinets until we could begin searching. If we were lucky, it might be late April or early May before we could take advantage of the newly released source.

    Of course, this time, the newly available 1940 will be available online TODAY, the day of release, first at the National Archives website, and soon after at Archives.com and other sites. This a first, the idea that anyone, anywhere can search it the first day it's available. So this is a great day to celebrate! Take a few minutes, do a little searching. Don't just read history; be part of today's events!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Genealogy Center History -- Part 13

    Saturday, Mar 31, 2012

    Crowds awaited on the Plaza for the Grand Opening of the renovated Allen County Public Library on Sunday afternoon, January 27, 2007.

     


    People flocked to see the new building, and the Great Hall was packed for the speeches.


    Packed shelves in The Genealogy Center awaited researchers...


    ...as did our Staff.

       


    Many changes, large and small, have occurred since the "new" Genealogy Center opened, but our wish to be the best place to visit for family history research remains the same. Join us for our next 50 years --- and beyond!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • How I Got Started, Part 4

    Friday, Mar 30, 2012

    by Adam

    At an early age, I remember sitting with my mother looking through my baby book, looking at pictures and listening to her stories.  One page of the book was a four-generation pedigree chart.  Mom pointed out her late grandparents and told me about them.  When I was about seven years old, my father took me on a memorable 19-mile motorcycle ride from our Fort Wayne home to a cemetery in Monroeville.  He showed me the grave of my great-great-grandparents, Michael and Polly Barrone.  The stone was shaped as a tree trunk and towered above us.  I felt an immediate curiosity about these people who gave us our last name.  The only Barrones I knew were my grandmother, parents, and sister.

    A year or two later, I realized that the four-generation chart did not tell the whole story.  I made an expanded chart, showed it to my maternal grandmother, and asked her questions to fill in the blanks.  She encouraged me, but promptly informed me that my chart was missing branches for some of the grandmothers.  She told me that the women in the family were also important.  Soon after, she gave me a paperback book by William Latham entitled How to Find Your Family Roots.  As the book instructed, I acquired a file box, file folders, and used my mother's typewriter to make a family group sheet.  After making photocopies of the form, I was off to work quizzing both grandmothers and filling in the blanks.

    After much work on the project, I got bogged down with the paperwork and relegated the file box to my closet.  For Christmas of 1993, my parents gave me Family Tree Maker v1.0.  I began entering data and quickly monopolized the use of our family's new computer.  My mother soon realized that there is a fine line between passion and addiction for genealogists.

    As a teenager in the 1990s, I began researching at ACPL and other repositories.  When I saw police officers while reading 19th-century deeds in the recorder's office, I realized a trip to the City-County Building was not the best choice of senior-skip-day activities. 

    In the same period, I was mentored by our church's historian, Elva Gaskill, while assisting her with organizing church records and preparing for our congregation's centennial.  Rose Newton, also from our church, gave me a gift membership to the Allen County Genealogical Society, coaxed me to submit articles for Allen County Lines, and provided advice along the way.  I printed my first book on the Strahm family in 1994. In 1998, a 330-page book of West Creighton Christian Church's membership records was my first foray into record indexing.  My first society position was coordinator for OMII (now the Swiss Anabaptist Genealogical Association) from 1999-2002.  I joined The Genealogy Center staff in 2004.

    In addition to my duties with the Genealogy Center, I presently serve as webmaster for the Allen County Genealogical Society and archivist for the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • How I Got Started, Part 3

    Wednesday, Mar 28, 2012

    by Delia

    I became interested in family history research through a convergence of events, listening and luck. My parents were older when I was born (she was 39 and he was 55), so in hearing tales of their childhoods, they were covering two generations of time in an historical sense. We visited my mother's family regularly, but most of my father's family was dead before I was born, so I only heard about them through the vivid stories Daddy could tell. So I was immersed in hearing about family from the time I was a small child. And Mother had done family history research before I was born, in the era before computers or even many indexes.

    In the mid-1970s, when I told a friend that my husband and I were moving to Fort Wayne, she remarked, "Oh,that's where the big genealogy library is." I thought nothing of it.

    I began working for the then-Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County in 1977. The next year, when we visited my parents, Daddy said, since Mother had already worked on her family, could I do some research on his. So before and after work and on lunch hours, I began researching. I asked questions and learned bit by bit. It was nice to be an employee and roam the closed stacks. I learned about Daddy's people, and discovered more about Mother's. I disproved several of my maternal aunt's fondly held beliefs about the family and its connections, taking great pleasure in her increasing annoyance as my ancestors stopped being heroic figures and became people.

    I've been doing my research for 34 years now, and have been working in The Genealogy Center since 1983. I have helped a lot of beginners as well as experienced researchers seeking additional information. I've pried a lot of people off of brick walls, and occasionally helped chip the mortar to find a way through. It's fun to help with the challenges knowing I won't dream about other people's missing ancestors like I do my own.

    One of my great pleasures in recent years has been the little sprouts that my daughter has produced for our family tree, in addition to the new lines to research that her husband provided. I still have a long way to go in my research, but I'm having so much fun that the next 35 years will fly by. I hope that everyone who comes in to do family research will find it as enjoyable and satisfying as I have.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Indiana Genealogical Society Conference

    Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012

    by Dawne

    What happens when you have looked at every record you can find that was generated by your immigrant ancestor and his children and you still haven’t determined his place of origin in the Old Country? Use a family tree metaphor and branch out! Study your ancestor’s siblings, cousins, neighbors and associates. According to Debbie Mieszala, CG (sm), nationally acclaimed genealogical speaker, “Crucial information on direct ancestors is often found by nosing into the lives of collateral relatives, associates and neighbors.” Families traveled together as they migrated across the country, and even from other countries to the United States. The key to the information you are seeking about your direct ancestor may be in a record created by his first cousin’s grandson!

    Debbie Mieszala will be at the Allen County Public Library Saturday, April 28, to present “Lessons from a Snoop: Collaterals and Associates,” along with three other lectures, to attendees at the 2012 Indiana Genealogical Society Conference. The event also includes a second track of lectures and the society’s annual meeting and presentation of inductees into the Society of Civil War Families of Indiana and the Indiana Territorial Guard. It is open to the public.

    Cost is $30 for IGS members and $40 for non-members. To register online or print a registration form, visit the IGS website.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • How I Got Started, Part 2

    Sunday, Mar 25, 2012

    by John

    My Grandfather and Grandmother Beatty owned an estate with an apple orchard beside a lake in Oxford, Oakland County, Michigan, in the 1950s and 1960s. When I was a small boy, I was always awe-struck when visiting their house that was filled with fine antique furniture, oil paintings, Oriental rugs, and Chinese porcelain that my grandfather, the owner of a lumber company, avidly collected. On a wall in the guesthouse on the property was a lithograph of an odd-looking nineteenth century man with a beard that jutted down from his jaw-line in the style of Horace Greeley. The picture fascinated me, and I always made a point to study it intently whenever I visited. When I asked my grandfather who he was, he told me proudly that it was his grandfather, Ross Beatty, who had owned a large farm near Leesburg in Kosciusko County, Indiana, during the 19th century. “He was a very fine man,” my grandfather said repeatedly. “He built a Methodist church on his own land where he could worship every day.” In addition to this story, which I heard over and over, Grandpa regaled me with other stories of our family – tales of Irishmen and Indians and pioneer hardship. His favorite collateral ancestor was Rufus King, a first cousin of his great-great grandmother, who had signed the Constitution, served as a senator from New York, and had run unsuccessfully for president on the Federalist ticket against James Monroe in 1816. Grandpa commissioned an artist to copy one of King’s oil portraits and hung it over one of his fireplaces. He was always eager to talk about Rufus. Grandpa also wrote a short family history in the 1940s which he shared with the extended family and which I enjoyed.

    And so my interest in family history began. By the time I was eight, I was hooked. I relished the chance to hear the old stories, and I was fortunate that all four of my grandparents were alive to tell me about their ancestors. All were nurturing, loving people who were eager to share their heritage with me. As a small boy I spent hours and hours looking at photo albums and asking questions. The seeds were planted firmly and deeply, but it was not until I was slightly older that I realized genealogy was something one could research in historical sources at libraries and courthouses, and not merely something that grandparents bequeathed to you.

    In the early 1970s, my mother was passing through a supermarket check-out lane and off-handedly picked up a paperback copy of Gilbert H. Doane’s Searching for Your Ancestors: The How and Why of Genealogy. It was one of the best gifts I ever received, and I read it over and over. While not entirely a research manual, Doane captured the essence of what was fun about genealogical research – the thrill of the hunt and the amusing and intriguing anecdotes that one often encounters in searching historical records. It only whetted my appetite for more. The publication of Alex Haley’s Roots and the subsequent television series added to the excitement. By the time I was in my mid-teens, I was writing letters to relatives, researching at the Burton Historical Collection of the Detroit Public Library, and visiting graveyards and ancestral farms.

    When I was a freshman at the University of Michigan in 1978, I stumbled upon the published Civil War diary of a distant cousin, General John Beatty. General John had predicted in his introduction, written in 1878, that one, two or five hundred years from that time, a wonder-eyed boy, curious youth, or inquisitive old man would stumble on this volume in a library. “Dull and uninteresting as it may be to others, for him it will possess an inexpressible charm. It is his own blood speaking to him from the shadowy and almost forgotten past…In leaving this unpretentious record, I seek to do simply what I would have had my fathers do for me.

    I suppose I am not overstating it to say that genealogy, by this time, was more than just a pastime. For me, it had a deepening spiritual resonance. I knew then that the gathering, research, and writing of family history was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It became my calling. Since then I have written a number of books on various branches of my family, chipping away at the many years of research and getting it into print. But I am in no way finished. I am grateful to have worked at The Genealogy Center for almost thirty years now and to be able to share with others what I have learned from experience and from working here. The thrill of genealogy librarianship, however, is that you never stop learning and you get back every bit as much as you give.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • 1940 Census Classes

    Friday, Mar 23, 2012

    At last, the 1940 Census will be available for free online on Tuesday, April 2, from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) website. Shortly after appearing on the NARA site, the 1940 census will be available at Archives.com, FamilySearch.org, and Ancestry.com. The indexing process will begin immediately, but it will be months before the entire 1940 census index is completed. While you are waiting for the name indices, you will need to search page by page for your ancestors, so The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, IN, is offering "Introduction to the 1940 Census" to provide information on narrowing your search. Sessions are available on Wednesday, March 28, from 2:30 - 3:30 p.m., in Meeting Rooms B &C; Monday, April 2, from 2:30 - 3:30 p.m., in Meeting Rooms A & B; and Saturday, April 7, 10:00 - 11:00 a.m., in Meeting Rooms A & B. For more information, please see the brochure at http://www.genealogycenter.org/Libraries/2012_Brochures/Census.sflb.ashx. Please register for either of these classes by calling 260-421-1225 or send an email to Genealogy@ACPL.Info.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center