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  • Closed on Sunday, April 20th

    Sunday, Apr 13, 2014

    The Genealogy Center, like the rest of the Allen County Public Library system, will be closed on Sunday, April 20, 2014, in observance of Easter. We will be open our regular hours on Friday and Saturday, April 18th and 19th, and will reopen on Monday, April 21st at 9A.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Discovering Your Female Ancestor: April 9!

    Tuesday, Apr 08, 2014

    Researching female ancestors can be difficult. Women usually lost their birth surnames when they married, and were often only referred as "Mrs. Husband's Name." Women couldn't vote until the 1920s, and usually were not naturalized. But there are many "hidden" sources that can assist you in understanding the laws and situations that affected whether or not she might be named in various documents and other clues that will be shared with you when Melissa Shimkus presents "Discovering Your Female Ancestors" at the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana Meeting on Wednesday, April 9th, at 6:30 pm in Meeting Room A. The Society welcomes guests, so join them and Melissa for this informative and entertaining session!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Unexpected Benefits to Researching Family Occupations

    Thursday, Apr 03, 2014

    by Sara

    In your search for your family history, have you gone beyond just recording names, dates and places?  It is interesting and worthwhile to try to flesh out other details of our ancestors’ lives, including such information as church membership, hobbies, club memberships, military service, residences, and occupations of our family members.  Sometimes these details will provide clues that lead you to further records about your ancestor. All of this description about their lives helps to humanize the persons we are researching and will provide great reading for future generations perusing the family history we have left behind.  

    Beyond genealogical reasons, knowing our ancestor’s work history and occupation can have far-reaching health and legal ramifications.  Several months ago, I helped a gentleman in The Genealogy Center to document his deceased father’s work history.  We reviewed Fort Wayne City and Allen County Directories for the 1940s (we have a complete run of these directories for all years published) and made copies of his father’s entries, which listed his employer. In the course of our conversation, I learned that the patron had seen a notice in the Journal Gazette that former employees of the Joslyn Manufacturing and Supply Company (now defunct) were being sought by the United States Department of Labor in regard to benefits that may be due to them or their heirs because of hazardous work conditions. This company was located on Taylor Street in Fort Wayne, and in the 1940s manufactured rods made of uranium to be used in the atomic bomb. Many former employees, including this patron’s father, developed health problems after working with the uranium. In order to claim benefits, he explained to me that he was accumulating paperwork for the government: including proof of employment (from the directories); Social Security Administration Earnings Information; death certificate; medical records; and related records.  

    The patron recently returned to the library and gave me an update. He sent in the required paperwork and his mother, as surviving widow, was awarded compensation.  He is now helping several of his dad’s buddies also gain benefits. The government is actively looking for other affected workers and their families.  If you or your family may have been affected, while working at the Joslyn Manufacturing Company from 1943 to 1952, look into this program. For additional information, contact the Labor Department's Paducah Resource Center at 866-534-0599. The same program also has compensation available for workers in other energy-related fields.  See the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act website for list of companies.  

    If this patron hadn’t known where his dad had worked, he might have missed out on legitimate money owed to his family.  What might you learn about your ancestors’ occupations?

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • More Entries for the Evangelical Messenger Obituary Index

    Monday, Mar 31, 2014

    "The Evangelical Messenger" was a weekly newspaper published in the 19th and 20th centuries devoted to church news of The Evangelical Church in the United States. For many years, one of our great volunteers has devoted herself to indexing the obituaries appearing in The Messenger. These obituaries are rich in family information on the descendants, which may include maiden names, children, parents and residences, as well as much more, and are valuable to anyone searching members of this denomination. She has now sent yet another year (1937), which is now searchable! We thank her for this wonderful contribution!

    As an aside, she has single-handedly entered 173,356 citations into this database over the last few years. This is a great example of what one person can accomplish and contribute to family history.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Professional History and Professional Genealogy

    Friday, Mar 28, 2014

    by John

    Historians who teach in academia and professional genealogists have had, at best, a peripheral and tenuous relationship. For much of the last half century, academics have viewed genealogists as amateurs whose work is provincial, at best. They viewed with derision the activities of earlier generations of genealogists whose interest in historical research was almost solely geared toward gaining admittance into hereditary societies. They also faulted genealogists for being so focused on specific families that they failed to place them into historical contexts and thereby give their work deeper meaning and relevance. This disdain continued into the 1970s, when many academics began to focus their own work on specific communities, using them as microcosms for understanding larger historical trends or the social and cultural dynamics of families. Works such as Kenneth Lockridge’s A New England Town: The First Hundred Years, Dedham, Massachusetts and John Demos’s A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony broke new ground for their use of local records (the same used by genealogists), but these and other studies did little to bridge the gulf between the two disciplines.

    For its part, the field of genealogy underwent a major metamorphosis during the same period, becoming more professionalized and increasing the scope of what genealogists researched. All families, regardless of race, ethnicity, and social status, became subjects of scholarly interest, leaving the old stereotypes of WASP-ish exclusivism in the dust. While plenty of newcomers continued to produce work that lacked documentation, a new wave of genealogical scholars, both professional and amateur, began to apply new standards of documentation to their work. The Board for Certification of Genealogists established a means for granting professional credentials, and through its promotion of the Genealogical Proof Standard, it provided new benchmarks for evaluating genealogical evidence.

    This evolution became evident in a variety of publications. Journals such as The American Genealogist, the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, The Genealogist, and the New England Historical and Genealogical Register began to publish articles that embodied high standards of documentation and deductive reasoning. Robert Charles Anderson and a team of other researchers produced the highly-acclaimed Great Migration series that raised the bar for all newly-published genealogical books. His accompanying Great Migration Newsletter offered advanced discussions of how to evaluate evidence at the New England town level, and in doing so he offered new insight about the process of English immigration that extended well beyond what had appeared in academic works.
        The publication of Anderson’s first installment, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, proved to be a seminal event in getting academics to take notice of a professional genealogist’s work. The noted Puritan historian Roger Thompson of the University of East Anglia, hailed it as “invaluable to future researchers in many specialisms” and a “marvel of the age” for the new century; see Roger Thompson, review of The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, by Robert Charles Anderson et al, Journal of American Studies 30 (August 1996): 298-300, specifically 300. Gloria L. Main of the University of Colorado at Boulder echoed the praise, recognizing Anderson’s high evidentiary standards for his work. “Although anyone can practice genealogy, just as anyone can practice history, professional genealogists hew to stricter rules of evidence and more rigorous citation practices than even professional historians… As a consequence of the rigor and discipline that have come to mark professional genealogists’ efforts, their work furnishes excellent material for social historians, although they may not condone the ways historians use it;” see Gloria L. Main, review of The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, by Robert Charles Anderson et al, William and Mary Quarterly LIV (October 1997): 857-861, specifically 856.

    While this recognition marks significant progress, a gulf endures between genealogists and academic historians. Some genealogists, while appreciating the macro-research of academics, have faulted some assessments of micro-evidence, alleging that some community studies have fallen into the trap of “same name, same person.” By failing to follow the Genealogical Proof Standard or accepting as evidence secondary works now considered of dubious value, these university-press studies have failed to meet professional genealogical standards. Many professional historians, while accepting the value of such works as the Great Migration, also admit that they do not read genealogical journals.

    Other attempts at bridging the continuing divide have had only limited success. Conferences featuring both academic historians and professional genealogists as speakers have led to some conversations but have not paved the way for many interdisciplinary projects. If the gulf has begun to narrow, it remains a slow process. In a recent blog post, genealogist Elizabeth Shown Mills, who has also written academic works, discusses the progress of the dialogue in an insightful article: Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 18: Genealogy? In the Academic World? Seriously?” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage ( posted 9 January 2014).
    What may bring the groups even closer together is the prospect of joint advocacy for record preservation and digitization. The rise of such websites such as Ancestry, Fold3, and FamilySearch, and the plethora of digitized records contained in them, while geared for genealogists, has also proven of value to academic historians. Many smaller websites with localized focuses have followed suit.
    As proof of this trend, one might consider an article by Loren Schweninger, a professor emeritus in History at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, appearing recently in the William and Mary Quarterly, volume 71, no. 1 (January 2014): 35-62. Titled “Freedom Suits, African American Women and the Genealogy of Slavery,” the article explores how mixed-race descendants of free white women used the courts to win their freedom in antebellum Maryland. Significantly, Schweninger uses a number of sources found on websites traditionally associated with genealogists to develop his thesis, and the result is a well-researched study that could have found a home just as easily in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.
    Historians and genealogists can join forces by demanding that historical records be made more publicly accessible without restrictions and supporting efforts to make more documents available digitally. Indeed, records once stored behind archival walls and under the exclusive purview of academics are increasingly finding wider audiences through digitization, which can only help the research interests of both groups.

    Libraries like The Genealogy Center at the ACPL can also play a role in bridging the divide by collecting the publications of both academic historians and genealogists and providing access to historical and genealogical websites. Both are fundamental components of our collection-development policy, and we encourage both historians and genealogists to use our resources.
    The two groups have far to go to achieve full cooperation and mutual respect. But the gulf is not insurmountable. More articles like Schweninger’s will bode well for the future.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Who's the Oldest Person You've Known?

    Sunday, Mar 23, 2014

    by Sara

    Have you seen the television commercial for insurance that asks, “Who’s the oldest person you’ve ever known”? My answer to that question is my great-aunt Thelma who just celebrated her 101st birthday! She attributes her longevity to clean living and laughter. Thelma is a selfless, giving person, who spent over 20 years caring for her bedridden husband in their home, rather than sending him to a nursing home. My childhood memories of her are of a jolly, happy, joking woman who, looking back on it, had a cross to bear, but I don’t remember ever hearing her complain or indulge in self-pity. She still plays the piano, by ear, never having had lessons, and played and sang “Tie Me To Your Apron Strings Again” and “Show Me the Way to Go Home” the last time I saw her. She inspires me!

    I’ve known many others who were also long-lived, including my grandma Fannie, who lived to the ripe old age of 97. She was probably disappointed when she died, because she told us that she wanted to live forever, or at least until she was 115. Grandma loved to spoil her grandchildren, so she bought us lots of presents “just because,” fixed our favorite foods whenever we visited, and implored our parents not to punish us when we were naughty. Fannie’s best friend from childhood, Lottie, also lived well into her nineties. Grandma’s older sister, great-aunt Mary died at age 95. She told everyone at the end that she was grandma’s “younger” sister. That sure steamed grandma. Mary did have a bit of senility late in life, but we’re pretty sure, since the sisters never really got along, that she was fully aware that she was older than Fannie. Mary was so vain about her age, that on her tombstone, she arranged for there to be no birth date, just her name and the word, “Passed.”

    What did these four grand-dames have in common? For one thing, they all lived in and around Bedford, Indiana most of their lives. For another, they were all born in the earliest years of the twentieth century, in a very different era and time. Why did they live so long? Was it the water? (Grandma believed her well water from deep out in the hills had special healing properties). Was it genes? (Only 2 of the 4 were related by blood). Was it good luck? We may never know. No matter the reason, we are thankful that we had them around for so long!

    Who is the oldest person you’ve known? Or the oldest person you’ve uncovered in your family history research?

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Filial Piety: False Tradition Exposed!

    Monday, Mar 17, 2014

    by John

    The term for today is “filial piety,” also known as filiopiety. The dictionary defines it as “relating to an excessive veneration of ancestors or tradition.” As genealogists who spend a lot of time researching our forebears, it is very easy for us to fall into the trap of filial piety – in our thinking, in our writing, and in the way we evaluate evidence. Venerating one’s ancestors has many gratifying aspects. It is, after all, biblically sanctioned, since the Old Testament is full of references to Abraham and the patriarchs. Moreover, our nineteenth and twentieth century forebears were fond of boasting when they compiled genealogies and obituaries or drafted sketches for inclusion in county histories.

    Beware! One of our tasks as genealogists is to evaluate the evidence we find from many different sources and viewpoints. We can sometimes spot filiopietistic writing in a genealogy or county history when an ancestor’s deeds appear too “golden,” his or her character is “beyond reproach,” or his or her accomplishments are touted too reverently. If we are reading a county history about an ancestor who was deceased at the time, the information was derivative and likely provided by a child, grandchild, or descendant, in order to give the family an air of status. Even people submitting autobiographical information tended to put the “facts” in the best possible light. When we encounter such stories, we, as genealogists, can avoid getting burned by keeping on our guard. By comparing the information from published sources with other sources – preferably direct sources of information in original records – we can often expose the hyperbole for what it is.

    I can find filiopietistic writing in accounts of my own family. In the 1893 Biographical and Historical Memoir of Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties, Indiana, one of my third-great uncles provided information about his father, my third-great grandfather, Dempster Beatty.  Dempster, he said, had settled near Niles, Michigan, and entered “300 acres of land.” He was “a man of excellent education and great strength and integrity of character.” After settling in Indiana, he “was an early justice of the peace and was one of the judges of the county of Kosciusko.” He “lived to the age of 75 years.”

    Do these stories square with reality? A search of the deed records of Cass County, Michigan, for example, shows that Dempster only owned 120 acres, far less than the 300 boasted of in the history. False tradition, exposed! He did become a justice of the peace for a short time, but was never elected judge. Another falsehood exposed. His tombstone shows his death in 1852 at the age of 71, not 75. The account is filiopietistic, since the writer wanted the family to appear more elite than the historical record suggests. It was only natural for him to boast – everyone else was doing it.

    When we go to write our own family histories, we need to be careful in several ways. First, we should not accept uncritically the information provided in a county history or obituary. We need to constantly evaluate each piece of evidence we uncover and compare it against other sources of information. And when we go to write, we have to be carefully that filial piety doesn’t creep into our own writing. Our ancestors were people, just like us, with many of the same foibles and faults. The best genealogists don’t try to hide behind such writing, but present all of the evidence, evaluating each source and judging its origin and quality.

    The best genealogies are those that are fully documented and in which the evidence is carefully evaluated using the genealogical proof standard.  When we find an article that is filiopietistic, the fact that it was written in such a manner is historically important. By all means cite and quote the source. But then deconstruct it, if possible, into smaller components and compare each boastful statement with other sources, especially those recorded at the time your ancestor lived. If we do this, we can keep filial piety in check. Our historical and genealogical writing will be all the better for doing so.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Potawatomie Travel Journal of 1838 Now Available Online!

    Monday, Mar 17, 2014

    by Delia

     A new original document has been added to The Genealogy Center's Native American Gateway that details the journey of removal of a group of Potawatomie from Indiana to Kansas in 1838. Entitled “Journal of an Emigrating Party of Pottawattamie Indians from the Twin Lakes in Marshall County, Iowa (sic) to Their Homes on the Osage River in the West Territory,” this handwritten document details a journey known as The Potawatomie Trail of Death.

    By the 1830s, the federal government already was moving many Native American groups from all over the eastern United States to lands in the west. In the early 1830s, most of the Potawatomie had signed treaties and had already moved, but Chief Menominee’s band at Twin Lakes, near Plymouth, Indiana, refused to leave. Indiana Governor David Wallace instructed General John Tipton to utilize the Indiana Militia to gather the Band for the journey.

    The Potawatomie, conducted by William Polk, left their home September 4, 1838, and arrived at Osawatomie in eastern Kansas on November 8, 1838. The heat of late summer, the scarcity of water, and the poor quality of the provisions all contributed to make the reluctant emigrants miserable and susceptible to disease. Forty-two of the 859 Potawatomie died during the journey, and more died after arrival from disease facilitated by exhaustion. Deaths are recounted day by day, such as “A child died to-day” (September 10th), “A child died since we came into camp” (September 10th), and “A very old woman … died since coming into camp” (September 12th), but no one, other than chiefs, are identified by name.

    The typed cover of the bound photocopy that The Genealogy Center owns states that these Potawatomie were from Twin Lakes, in Marshall County, Iowa, but the handwritten, original cover properly says “…in Marshall County, IA.” The old abbreviation for Indiana, before Iowa was a state, was “Ia,” hence the error in transcription. Both covers further indicate that the journey was “conducted by Wm. Polk, Esq.,” and, written in a different hand, “Property of Judge William Polk, if called for. S.M.” It is assumed by some that Polk is the author of the diary, but that statement seems to be in dispute.

    It has been reported that the Allen County Public Library owns or owned the original journal. However, when queried by a customer recently, all the staff of The Genealogy Center could locate was the negative image photocopy that had been bound. When it was realized that we had such an important document, steps were immediately taken to digitize it and post it on our Native American Gateway page, both for preservation, but also to make the fascinating original document readily available to all.

    There are several online sources that can provide more information concerning this document, and the forced journey described, which I have used in the writing of this piece. They are The Pottawatomie Indians of Elkhart and South Bend, by Richard Dean Taylor (2005), the Indiana Magazine of History article on the event (December 1925, last updated 2012), and Wikipedia.

    Take a few moments to examine this original document to see the events of one who was there.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Preservation Week, April 27th to May 3rd: Pass It On!

    Thursday, Mar 13, 2014

    This year's American Library Association Preservation Week’s theme is “Pass It On,” which devotes an entire week to the care and preservation of documents, artifacts and information. To celebrate Preservation Week, The Genealogy Center is offering a week of events designed to capture, preserve and disseminate the information and heirlooms of your family. Classes are:

    *Sunday, April 27, 1-2 p.m., Meeting Room A.
    “Heirloom Succession Planning” – Amy Beatty, C.E.S., G.P.P.A.

    *Monday, April 28, 2-3 p.m., Meeting Room A.
    “‘To Infinity and Beyond:’ Ensuring Our Family Histories Live Well Beyond Our Years” – Curt Witcher

    *Tuesday, April 29, 2-3 p.m., Meeting Room A.
    “Archives 101: Organizing and Preserving the Heirloom Paper in Your Life” – John D. Beatty

    *Wednesday, April 30, 2-3 p.m., Meeting Room A.
    “Archives 102: Organizing the Bytes in Your Life” – Dawne Slater-Putt

    *Thursday, May 1, 6:30-8 p.m., Meeting Rooms A & B.
    “An Evening of Storytelling”

    *Friday, May 2, 2-3 p.m., Meeting Room A.
    “Using iMovie to Capture Family Memories” – Mari Hardacre

    *Saturday, May 3, 10-11 a.m., Globe Room
    “Up in Lights: Your Family History on Screen” – Cynthia Theusch

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Indiana Genealogical Society Conference Here on April 5th!

    Tuesday, Mar 11, 2014

    Residents of Indiana and surrounding states have a unique opportunity in less than a month to hear nationally-known genealogical lecturer J. Mark Lowe, CG*, present here at the Allen County Public Library. Mark will give four lectures at the Indiana Genealogical Society Conference on Saturday, April 5.

    Mark is a Board-certified genealogist from Robertson County, Tennessee, who works full time as a researcher, author and lecturer. He did research and was featured on camera in the hit genealogy program “Who Do You Think You Are? and has also worked on the television programs “African American Lives 2” and “UnXplained Events.” He is an engaging and popular speaker and very knowledgeable on a wide variety of topics. His presentations for this conference will be:

    • Pioneers of the Frontier: Using Online Newspaper to Find Early Settlers
    • Quick, Complete and Accurate: Document Analysis for Researchers
    • Finding Freedmen Marriage Records
    • Out on a Limb: Trapped by Bad Research

    A second track of lectures for the day is technology-based and will feature:

    • Apps and Programs for Genealogy, by The Genealogy Center librarian and IGS Recording Secretary Dawne Slater-Putt, CG*
    • Cousin Bait: Using the Internet to Reel in Family Treasures, by IGS Vice President Tina Lyons
    • Preserving Your Family History in Print and Online, by Indiana Genealogist editor Rachel Popma
    • Scanning, Digitizing and Records Preservation: High Tech Results on a Low Tech Budget, by IGS Publications Committee Chair Diana Biddle

    The cost is for the day is $30 for IGS members and $40 for non-members. Interested individuals may register online at, or print the form and mail it to the society.

    *“CG” & “Certified Genealogist” are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, and are used by authorized associates following periodic, peer-reviewed competency evaluations.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • It's Time for March Madness, Genealogy Style

    Sunday, Mar 09, 2014

    Every year, The Genealogy Center celebrates spring with March Madness, Genealogy Style. This year, we are offering a full week of Skill Building sessions to aid researchers who are just starting, those who need to start in a new direction, and anyone who may feel the need of a refresher. Classes include:
    • Sunday, March 16, 1pm-2pm., Meeting Room A. “Starting, or Starting Again: Having Fun Finding Family” – Curt Witcher
    • Monday March 17, 2pm-3pm, Meeting Room A. “What's So Vital About Vital Records?” – Delia Bourne
    • Tuesday, March 18, 2pm-3pm, Meeting Room A. “Tallying the Census: Counting Down Its Uses” – Melissa Shimkus
    • Wednesday, March 19, 10am-11am, Meeting Room A. “Using Tax Records in Genealogical Research” – John Beatty
    • Thursday, March 20, 10am-11am, Meeting Room A.“Read All About It! Historical Newspapers for Your Research” – Delia Bourne
    • Friday, March 21, 10am-11am, Meeting Room A. “More than a Prayer: A Look at the Records of American Churches” – Curt Witcher
    • Saturday, March 22, 10am-11am, Meeting Room A. “Breaking Down Ancestral Brick Walls” – Sara Allen
    For session descriptions, see the brochure. To register for any of these free classes, call 260-421-1225 or send us an email. Join us to build your knowledge, your skill and your success!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Finding the Women in Your (Ancestors') Lives

    Friday, Mar 07, 2014

    As part of The Genealogy Center's Celebrating Women's History Month, Melissa Shimkus is presenting "Finding Her: Our Female Ancestor," on Thursday, March 13th, 2:00pm to 3:00pm, in Meeting Room A. She will discuss how our female ancestor may have interacted within her community, and how to use that interaction to locate more information about her. Although this is a stand-alone presentation, it can be considered as the first of a two-part series on researching women in our ancestry. The second part, which is also a stand-alone presentation, is "Discovering Your Female Ancestors," to be presented at the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana monthly meeting, April 9th, in Meeting Room A at 7:00pm. This presentation will focus on how understanding a woman's legal standing can lead to locating the female whether or not she is named in a document. The public is invited to attend the ACGSI meeting and hear Melissa as she shows you how to expand your search to find Her.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Family Resource Online - An Example of What's Possible!

    Thursday, Mar 06, 2014

    There’s a new set of records on The Genealogy Center’s Family Resources page: Kincaid and Related Families of North America. Containing more than 109,000 names, this new database is based on the research of Michael B. Clegg, Associate Director of the Allen County Public Library, and many other researchers who have shared information with him during the past 40 years of research. A simple name search is possible from the database’s introductory page as well as The Genealogy Center’s federated search (enter the surname in the “Search Our Free Databases” box on our homepage). One can also use the advanced search feature found on the collection’s introductory webpage.

    This wonderful addition to our collection is an example of how The Genealogy Center can help you preserve and share your own files. Utilizing the Next Generation of Genealogy Site Building Software, we can incorporate your GEDCOM-compatible files to create a searchable and viewable location for your research.

    If you are interested in contributing, please contact us at Genealogy@ACPL.Info for more information.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Celebrating Women's History

    Thursday, Mar 06, 2014

    In honor of Women's History Month, The Genealogy Center is offering a series of talks to help us find our sometimes-hidden female ancestors, learn about a special group of women pioneers, and learn about one special Fort Wayne native who impacted the world!

    Starting on Thursday, March 13th, Melissa Shimkus will present "Finding Her: Our Female Ancestor," followed on Friday, March 14th, when Cynthia Theusch will focus on "The Harvey Girls." And on Saturday, March 15th, Dr. Victoria Houseman will examine the life and work of "Edith Hamilton, Citizen of Fort Wayne, Citizen of Athens." All three of these free presentations will be from 2:00-3:00 PM, in Meeting Room A. For more information, see the Celebrating Women's History brochure. To register for any of these free events, call 260-421-1225 or send us an email.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • One-on-One Consultations Available

    Tuesday, Mar 04, 2014

    Do you have a brick wall in your research? Would you like a greater understanding of some aspect of your research? The Genealogy Center will be offering 30 minute personal research consultations with a staff member on some troublesome aspect of your search. Upcoming dates are Wednesday March 12th, Wednesday April 9th and Wednesday May 14th. Times for consultations will be from 2pm to 4pm. Call 260-421-1225 or email for an appointment. You will be asked to provide information concerning the nature of your quandary. A staff member will be assigned and you will be contacted with a time for your consultation. Be sure to bring your research notes to your consultation. Space each month is limited, so check your calendars early to take advantage of this unique offer!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Our Personal New Year Genealogy Goals

    Thursday, Jan 02, 2014

    by Delia

    Around The Genealogy Center, when we talk of New Year goals, it's usually what we are planning for The Center. What new sources we'd like to acquire, what new databases might be available, planning for programs and events, and whether we need to shift material again.

    But all of us also have our personal research, which isn't done on work time, and we all have goals in mind for the new year and we thought you'd like to see what we, as fellow genealogists are doing.

    John, who will celebrate his 30th anniversary with The Genealogy Center in 2014, wants to complete all of the pieces of the portfolio for the submission to the Board of Certification of Genealogists and, if the judges approve, become a Certified Genealogist. That will be quite an accomplishment!

    Sara would like to scan all of her family photographs and save copies to the "cloud," as well as to a CD. She'd also like to organize the physical copies of the pictures and store them in a more archival environment than the shoe-boxes in which they currently reside. See? We, too, keep our precious material in places we shouldn't!

    Cynthia's plan is to digitize all of her family records and documents. Sounds simple, but doing it well will take time and patience.

    Dawne will continue to work on her writing and wants to reanalyze documents she found in her early years of research. Re-evaluating is often a path to additional clues.

    Melissa plans to take some road trips to further her investigation of her husband's and her own ancestry. Genealogy road trips can be time consuming, but are often the only way to discover obscure information.

    My plan is to identify and document items inherited from my parents, my aunt and my husband's family. I may know what these things are now, but my daughter will have no clue as to the importance of these objects unless I take the time to do this now.

    And Curt? Well, he's a very busy person. His personal research goal for 2014 is to actually find the time to do some personal research. He's still looking for that 25th hour of the day for that!

    So as you see, we all have different plans for the New Year. Share your goals with us, either as a comment here or on our Facebook page!

    And have a happy, research-successful New Year!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • End of the Year Reminder: Copying

    Monday, Dec 30, 2013

    As we finish the year and you begin to plan your visits to The Genealogy Center, please remember that our copiers no longer accept coins. Our copiers and our computer printers use a card based system wherein you place money on the card, then the system uses the funds as you make your copies. The system will only accept bills ($1s, $5s, $10s).  Researchers have arrived in recent weeks with pockets and purses loaded with coins, resulting is frustration and wasted time as they have to go somewhere to change the coins into bills. So remember to bring bills for your copying.

    And remember to bring a UBS drive as well. Often, the images on our computers are more readable (as well as cheaper) as an electronic copy rather than paper. You may also want to save digital images from books, instead of paper copies, as there is no cost to scan images.

    Whether at The Genealogy Center or another research center, a call or quick email before you visit may provide basic information about the facility.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • A Handful of Treats

    Saturday, Dec 28, 2013

    Our WinterTech series continues on January 8, 2014, when Delia Bourne will share some 'Net Treats, databases and information sites available for free on the Internet, from 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM in Meeting Room C. To register for this free event, call 260-421-1225 or send an email.

    After this event, stay for the monthly meeting of the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana at 6:30 PM.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Year's Eve and Day Closings

    Thursday, Dec 26, 2013

    The Genealogy Center, like the rest of the Allen County Public Library, will close at 5 PM on Tuesday December 31st for New Year's Eve, and will remain closed on Wednesday, January 1st for New Year's Day. We will reopen on Thursday January 2nd at 9 AM. Whether you come here to do research or party elsewhere, drive carefully. And have a wonderful New Year filled with lots of new family history information!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Christmas Traditions and Genealogy

    Monday, Dec 23, 2013

    by John

    The holiday season is a great time to investigate traditions associated with our families. When we interview older relatives, asking them to share holiday memories often elicits an animated response, and the information can be valuable material for us to preserve later on. One of my best Christmas gifts occurred in the early years of the 1980s, when I decided to write to several of my elderly great aunts and first cousins of my grandparents about their earliest Christmas memories. In several cases these were ladies born in the early 1890s whose earliest memories pre-dated the twentieth century. I still have their letters, which they wrote out in a shaky hand, setting out how my great-, and in some cases, great-great grandparents celebrated Christmas. One great-aunt on the Neal side, who had grown up in an upper middle class home in southern Kentucky, described the paper bell that was hung in the hall, the Roman candles that were given to the children to shoot off (one flame nearly missing another aunt), and a recipe for Christmas custard (egg nog, Kentucky-style), that my great-great grandmother (born in 1843) had always made. I still make it for guests, a Civil War era symbol of hospitality.

    Another great-aunt, who had grown up in Goshen, Indiana, in the 1900s, talked about how her parents would decorate the family’s modest tree while the children attended evening church services. My grandfather had gotten stage fright and refused to say his lines in the Christmas pageant, so his little brother had stepped in for him. When they returned home, they found that Santa had come while the kids were at church. Money was tight, but my great-grandmother had scraped up enough money to buy each of the younger girls a bisque head doll. Candles were lit on the tree, but there was always a bucket of water handy in case of fire. A Beatty cousin who lived in the country in the early 1900s said her grandmother, my great-great grandmother (born in 1834), would never light the candles on her tree for fear of fire, since there was no fire department in rural Kosciusko County at the time.

    My maternal grandmother, born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1899, remembered Christmas mornings with presents that Santa had carefully stacked on chairs in the parlor. They had only a very simple tree with handmade ornaments and popcorn strings. Her mother and grandmother, born in Switzerland, would bake Mailänderlis, a Swiss butter cookie cut in shapes and painted with egg yolk before baking. The tradition was carried down, I loved them as a child, and I got the idea in 1990 to video my grandmother (then a spry aged 91), preparing the dough and rolling the cookies out, giving an explanation in the style of Julia Child. Today, sadly, my children hate the cookies, I’m a vegan and can’t eat them, and the tradition has been allowed to go dormant, but I still have the video for any future descendant who wants to take on the challenge.

    I’m also fortunate to have a short 78 rpm record, made for Christmas 1939, with greetings from the family, my grandfather singing “O Holy Night” in his baritone voice, and a precious clip of my great-grandmother (born in 1863), sending greetings. My project this year is to photograph and catalog all of my Christmas ornaments (some of which go back to the 1930s), and put together a kind of ornament heirloom catalog with information about where the ornament came from, if known, and who had it before. (Most are of the German painted blown-glass variety).

    All of these stories are among my holiday treasures, and you can make treasures like this, too, by sending emails to older relatives, cataloging decorations, and, yes, making videos of traditions and events. The stories and traditions won’t just descend to you – they take effort to record. But in the end, you will find it is definitely worth it.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center