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  • Recreational Activities

    Saturday, Nov 16, 2013

    by Delia

    Our ancestors worked hard all week, on the farm, in the shop or factory. At the end of the day, they went home, ate dinner and went to bed. On the weekends, they attended religious services.

    Well, not really. They did have many chores, no matter the station in life, but there was often time for play, and they did play. And The Genealogy Center owns sources on all manner of play in our ancestors’ lives.

    Our national pastime, baseball, is represented nationally in a number of sources, including The baseball necrology (973 L512BN) by Bill Lee, The biographical encyclopedia of the Negro baseball leagues (973 R453BI) by James A. Riley, and Today's News (973 AL512TA), the journal of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Players' Association. But there are also volumes relating to locations, such as Larry Lester and Sammy Miller's Black baseball in Kansas City (977.802 K13LES) and Robert Ashe's Even the Babe came to play: small-town baseball in the dirty 30s (971.502 SA28AS). 

    Basketball is not forgotten in our collection, with Todd Gould's Pioneers of the hardwood: Indiana and the birth of professional basketball (977.2 G737P) and Rankine Smith's The history of basketball in New Brunswick, Canada, 1892-1985 (971.5 Am596H).

    A number of sources pertain to sports in academia, such as Ken Kessinger's Sioux Falls Washington High School sports heritage, 1899-1989 (978.302 SI7KE), and Jim O'Brien's Hail to Pitt: a sports history of the University of Pittsburgh (974.802 P687HAI). 

    But it's the more unusual accounts of recreational activities that catch my interest. Norman Peterson's Index of about 11,000 1911 Michigan and Wisconsin billiard hall & saloon merchants (977.4 P442I) provides a list of what towns in those states hosted the dreaded pool halls that lured men into drink and play. And From buckskin to baseball; glimpses of Tiogans at work and play (974.702 T49FR) provides just the sort of overview to a community at play that should interest all researchers.And some are rife with history, such as Timothy McCann's Sussex cricket in the eighteenth century (942.2501 SU82P, V.88), and William Perkins Bull's From rattlesnake hunt to hockey; the history of sports in Canada and of the sportsmen of Peel, 1789 to 1934 (971.3 B87FR), which was limited to a thousand copies in 1934.

    So when you are investigating the lives of those that have gone before, pay attention to what they did in their free time to add another layer to the stories of their lives.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Remembering Together

    Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013

    by Delia

    Where were you and what were you doing when you heard that John F. Kennedy had been shot? It may very well be the defining moment in American history for those currently age 55 and older. For most of us, it’s a moment frozen in our minds. Just after 12:30 PM CST, shots rang out in Dallas, Texas, ending the life of the President of the United States. Days of mourning culminating in a televised funeral, then years of investigation, theories and accusations, but what most of us who were alive then remember is what we were doing.

    I was a fourth grader in a Catholic school in central California. We were herded into the fifth grade classroom, along with the sixth graders, to listen to events unfold on the radio. A Michigan colleague was in third grade, and recalls hearing the president died which was followed by three days of televised coverage. Another colleague was a high school student in Columbia City, Indiana, and just happened to be in an assembly when the announcement came. Another, only four years old at the time, recalls how shaken his parents were by the news. All are very vivid memories from four different people in four places, all about the same event.

    We aren’t going to go into the history and aftermath here. There have been many books, documentaries, movies, articles and investigations over the years for that. We are interested in making sure that all of us pass along for posterity our experience and reaction at the time. And we invite all of you to share, either here in a comment to this blog, or on our Facebook page, one or two sentences about your memories of that day. Where were you when you heard?

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Celebrate Veterans Day by Honoring (and Researching) a Veteran

    Sunday, Nov 10, 2013

    by Delia

    So, maybe you’ve got the day off to celebrate Veterans Day. You could go to the various sales and spend some money. You could sleep late, relax, watch television all day. But, really, it’s Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor all veterans. So you could…

    • Organize information about the various veterans in your family history, making sure that you have all of the facts you can locate about his or her service. The Genealogy Center is open regular hours (9A to 9P) to make research convenient.
    • Or just pick one veteran, gather photographs, service records, pension information and a brief biography to be published in a journal, or send a digital copy to The Genealogy Center for inclusion in Our Military Heritage website.
    • Research a veteran, using websites like Fold3, Ancestry or FamilySearch. Write a letter (or an email) to a county court house to see if the officials there have the veteran’s discharge papers, or to a library to get the veteran’s obituary.
    • Seek out a veteran, a relative, friend or neighbor, asking about military service, as well as other biographical details of his or her life. You can preserve these details in various ways, including sending us a copy for Our Military Heritage. Just being asked will remind the veteran how much that service is valued.
    • Add a World War II veteran into the National World War II Memorial Registry. This website allows you to honor any WWII veteran with his or her name, service, photo, etc. This is a great way to insure a veteran's service is remembered.
    • Or you can place flowers or a small flag on the grave of a veteran. Go ahead and take a photo while you are at it, note the information on the headstone and add any details you know. Send the photo and notes to Find a Grave or Billion Graves

    So you can just take the day off, or you can really use Veterans Day to recall our veterans!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Veterans Day

    Thursday, Nov 07, 2013

    For many years, the 1914 to 1918 conflict was known as the Great War, the European War or the World War, because of the wide reaching effects of those hostilities. Optimistically, it was also known as the War to End All Wars, until unrest in the 1930s brought about another wide-ranging conflict. The date the the Great War ended, November 11th, was first celebrated as Armistice Day in 1919. In 1926, that date became an officially recognized day and in 1938, it became a federal holiday. In 1954, recognizing the great contribution of soldiers in World War II and the Korean War, the name changed to Veterans Day, in honor of all veterans.

    The Genealogy Center, like the rest of the Allen County Public Library, will be open on Monday, November 11th, for anyone wishing to come to research. Take a few minutes on that day to remember all of the veterans in your family history, and all of the living veterans that you know.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Gettysburg 150 Years Later

    Tuesday, Nov 05, 2013

    From “Four score and seven years ago…” to “…shall not perish from the earth” Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address contained many phrases that ring through time. Lincoln was not the featured speaker that day, but his short speech of November 18, 1863 is the one that is recalled by Americans today.

    This Sunday, November 10, Sara Vaughn Gabbard, Director of the Friends of The Lincoln Collection of Indiana, will discuss “The Gettysburg Address 150 Years Later,” focusing on how his words still resonate today. In the speech, Lincoln said, “The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here,” but the truth is that the words and phrases still speak to Americans today.

    Join us Sunday, November 10th, at 2:00 PM in Meeting Room A & B, in celebration of this this important event in history.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Daylight Saving Time and Families

    Sunday, Nov 03, 2013

    by Delia

    Time keeping in the United States, indeed, in many parts of the world, was very much a local option based on the movement of the Sun, until railroads began to cross great distances in short amounts of time. The variations in local times caused confusion to travelers and employees alike, so in 1883, the railroads established a standardized time for the country, allowing for movement of the Sun by creating time zones.

    Some areas were reluctant to have big business, in the form of railroads, dictating something as personal as time, but by the time of World War I, so much of the country had accepted it that when the Calder Act was passed in 1918, it was just a legal acknowledgment of what was common practice. However, the Calder Act also established Daylight Saving Time, which did not meet with approval by many and was repealed in 1919.

    The advent of World War II resurrected the idea of Daylight Saving Time, making it year-round in an effort to conserve energy. The end of the war signaled the end of Daylight Saving Time as a standard, but communities were allowed to use it as a local option, usually from the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in September, although some areas extended it to the last Sunday in October.

    The Uniform Time Act was passed in 1966, which standardized DST as the last Sunday of April to the last Sunday in October. States were allowed to opt out, and Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Indiana, and Michigan did so. Over the years since, some of these states have opted in and and out, as the various populations pushed. Indiana finally went to all DST in 2006, after many years of wrangling in the state legislature.

    Daylight Saving Time has had an impact on many lives through the years. My uncle, a farmer in Kentucky, railed against it every year. His day, like that of most farmers and many others, ran by when the Sun came up in the mornings, and altering the pattern of the day seemed foolish. My father always considered my oldest sister's birth day "wrong" because she was born during WWII, and without DST, she would have shared her birthday with George Washington. But growing up, I never minded Daylight Saving Time. With a birthday in late October, it was thrilling to a 13-year old to have an extra hour in her birthday!

    So use this extra hour this fall to consider what effect standardized time and DST have had on you and your family, and remember to pass those stories along to the next generation!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • More One-on-One Consultations!

    Saturday, Nov 02, 2013

    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. The available appointments are on Thursday, November 7th, 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM, and Thursday, December 5th, 2:00 PM to 4:00 pm. Call 260-421-1225 or send an email for an appointment, 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!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Family History Month - The Last Week!

    Monday, Oct 28, 2013

    Monday starts our last few days of Family History Month with Cynthia telling us about "Finding Research Facilities Using the Internet," at 2:00 PM on Monday, October 28th in Meeting Room A.

    Melissa will guide us in "Telling Our Story," on Tuesday, October 29th, at 2:00 PM in Meeting Room A. Oral history is a great way to begin research, and is suitable for all ages.

    Big city problems? Sara will help in "Beginning Chicago Research," on Wednesday, October 30th at 2:00 PM in Meeting Room A. remember that techniques learned about Chicago may also be applicable to other large metropolitan areas.

    To wrap up Family History Month on Thursday, October 31st at 10 AM in Meeting Room A, Dawne will share the woes for researchers with "Murphy's Law Applied to Genealogy."

    For more information about these events, see the brochure.

    Call 260-421-1225 or send an email to register for any of these free classes.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Lincoln at the Library: The Gettysburg Address: 150 Years Later

    Tuesday, Oct 22, 2013

    The final program in the 2013 Lincoln at the Library Series will be presented on Sunday, November 10, 2013, at the Allen County Public Library’s Main Library, 900 Library Plaza, Fort Wayne, Indiana, in Meeting Rooms A-B at 2:00 p.m. The program, “The Gettysburg Address: 150 Years Later,” will be presented by Sara Vaughn Gabbard.

    President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is one of the best-known speeches in American history. Lincoln delivered his address on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, four and a half months after the Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg. Edward Everett delivered a two-hour oration before Lincoln's three minutes of dedicatory remarks, yet it is Lincoln's words that are remembered. Come to this engaging program to learn why that is.

    Sara Vaughn Gabbard is the Executive Director of the Friends of the Lincoln Collection of Indiana, Inc. She is the editor of the acclaimed Lincoln Lore and has co-edited three works about Lincoln for the Southern Illinois University Press—1863: Lincoln’s Pivotal Year; Lincoln and Freedom: Slavery, Emancipation, and the Thirteenth Amendment; and Lincoln’s America, 1809-1865—with a fourth book to be published in 2015. She is also co-editor of the Concise Lincoln Library for the SIU Press and is widely recognized in the field of Lincoln scholarship.

    Make plans today to attend this free event on Sunday, November 10, 2013, in Meeting Rooms A-B at 2 PM!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Extended Research Hours Highlight Family History Month This Week!

    Sunday, Oct 20, 2013

    This week starts with Tech Talk II on Monday afternoon, October 21st at 2 PM in The Genealogy Center. Delia will provide an in depth look at using and printing from microfilm and microfiche.

    On Tuesday October 22nd, Dawne will discuss the problems of researching people who may, or may not, be the "Same Name, Same Person?" at 2 PM, in Meeting Room A, and John will cover "Allen County in Print," on Wednesday October 23 at 2 PM in Meeting Room A.

    Curt will advise about "Helping Our Families Tell the Stories of Their Lives: Basics of Interviewing," on Thursday October 24th, at 10 Am in Meeting Room A.

    Friday October 25th offers a double header with Kay providing the "Basics of Adobe Elements Workshop" from 10 AM to 3 PM (with a one hour break for lunch) in the Computer Classroom. You can still register for this workshop, but space is limited, so register soon.

    Then our Midnight Madness Extended Research Hours begin at 6 PM. You will be able to stay to research and visit with other genealogists after the rest of the library closes, just be here by 6 PM!

    On Saturday, October 26th, Melissa will guide us to "Overlooked Records for Hurdling the Census Chasm," at 10 AM in Meeting Room A, and the weekend wraps up on Sunday October 27th with Dawne providing instruction on "Making the Best Use of Citations & Notes," at 1 PM in Meeting Room A.

    For additional information, see the Family History Month brochure.

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

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Family History Month Events This Week!

    Sunday, Oct 13, 2013

    Monday October 14th begins the week with the crackle of electricity as "Tech Talk I" provides a hands-on demonstration on using the copier/scanners and the digital sender at 2:00 p.m. in The Genealogy Center. At 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 15th, Kay Spears will show you "How to Look at Your Photographs, Analyze & Organize," in Meeting Room A.

    On Wednesday, October 16th, John Beatty will tell you about "Writing Your Family History." This 90-minute session starts at 2:00 p.m., in Meeting Room A. Stay the afternoon and attend the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana's Computer Interest Group Meeting at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room B.

    Thursday, October 17th has Melissa Shimkus providing a "Gateway to Your Pre-20th Century Immigrant," at 10:00 a.m., in Meeting Room A, and on Friday, October 18th, Sara Allen will discuss "Finding Your Ancestral Homeland," in Meeting Room A at 10:00 a.m.

    On Saturday, October 19th, at 10:00 a.m., we will offer a "Tour of The Genealogy Center," and on Sunday, October 20th, Delia Bourne will discuss "The New PERSI" at 1 p.m., in Meeting Room A.

    For more information about any of these free classes, please see the Family History Month brochure. To register for any of these classes, send an Email, or call 260-421-1225. Don't let these great opportunities pass you by!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Discover Ancestors on Columbus Day!

    Thursday, Oct 10, 2013

    The Genealogy Center, like all agencies of the Allen County Public Library, will be open regular hours on Monday October 14, 2013 on the observance of Columbus Day.

    A holiday to honor Christopher Columbus, the Genoa native who "sailed the ocean blue" in 1492 has always been a contentious notion. In the 1800s, many Americans were opposed to the idea because of its significance to immigrants, especially Italians, and Catholics. In the Twentieth Century, awareness of the effect of European settlement on the native peoples had a negative influence on the popularity of honoring Columbus.

    October 12th became a national holiday in 1934, and in 1970, the observance was shifted to the second Monday in October. But even now, not all states observe the holiday as Columbus Day, but rather as alternative holidays.

    All Federal offices, many state and local government offices and schools will be closed as usual, but the library will be open! So come on in and make your own discoveries!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New Finds and Tips for Brick Walls!

    Tuesday, Oct 08, 2013

    Do you have brick walls holding you back in your research? Would you like a few new ideas for tackling those pesky road blocks? Want to hear how others have circumvented their obstructions? Come to the monthly gathering of the African American Genealogical Society of Fort Wayne on Thursday, October 10, 2013, at 6:30 PM, in Meeting Room B. Members will discuss new genealogical finds, as well as research brick walls, what's  available and what avenues can help you overcome barriers in your research.

    Non-members welcome! Bring your finds and your brick walls!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • This Week for Family History Month

    Sunday, Oct 06, 2013

    Family History Month continues on Monday, October 7th, at 2 p.m. in Meeting Room A, when Cynthia Theusch will talk about School Records, how they may be useful in your research and how to find them. And then on Tuesday, October 8th, Delia Bourne will be Introducing the New PERSI, in Meeting Room A at 6:30 p.m.

    Wednesday evening, October 9th, the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana will hold their monthly meeting in Meeting Room C at 6:30 p.m., featuring Debbie Muntz on Research by Reading Abstracts. Non-members are welcome to attend.

    The African American Genealogical Society of Fort Wayne will welcome all to their meeting on Thursday October 10th, in Meeting Room B for a lecture of African American genealogy.

    On Sunday afternoon, 1 p.m. in Meeting Room A, John Beatty will discuss Mapping Fort Wayne and Allen County, Indiana, illustrating how the early maps of the region can aid genealogists and historians.

    For more information about any of these programs, see the Family History Month brochure, call 260-421-1225 or send us an email. Take advantage of as any of these educational opportunities as possible!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Preserve Your Bible Records

    Monday, Sep 30, 2013

    The Mary Penrose Wayne Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is hosting a Preserve Your Bible Records Project that will preserve the family stories that reside within these pages. As part of their records preservation project, the DAR will copy, scan, and transcribe the family information recorded in Family Bibles so that it will be available for future generations. These images and transcriptions will be bound into a book published by the DAR and available for research within The Genealogy Center. If interested in participating in this project, please bring your Family Bibles to The Genealogy Center on Wednesday, October 2nd, and Saturday, October 5th, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to meet with the DAR.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • This Week's Family History Month Offerings

    Sunday, Sep 29, 2013

    Curt Witcher, Manager of The Genealogy Center, kicks off Family History Month on Tuesday October 1st, at 2 p.m., in Meeting Room A with “What Am I To Do With This?!” A Basic Preservation Presentation on Caring for Family Treasures, concerning the basic best-practices regarding repairing, storing, and sharing family treasures.

    Wednesday, October 2rd is Daughters of the American Revolution Day, with the ladies of the Mary Penrose Wayne Chapter in The Genealogy Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., to offer assistance to those interested in membership. At the same time, they are also hosting their Preserve Your Bible Records Project, for which you may bring in family Bible records for them to scan, then transcribe.

    On Thursday, October 3rd, Delia Bourne will Introduce the New PERSI, at 10 a.m. in Meeting Room A, and on Friday, October 4th, Cynthia Theusch will explain Using Interlibrary Loan to Enhance Your Research, in Meeting Room A at 10 a.m.

    Saturday, October 5th, Margery Graham of the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana will host Beginning Genealogy, a workshop for beginning family historians. For more information, see the Registration form. Plus the DAR will be back on Saturday with another session of their Preserve Your Bible Records Project in The Genealogy Center.

    The week finishes on Sunday, October 6th, with Sara Allen providing an Introduction to DNA for Genealogy, in Meeting Room A at 1 p.m.

    For more information about any of these classes, see the brochure, and to register for any of these events except Beginning Genealogy, call 260-421-1225 or send an email. There's a lot of good information just waiting!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • It's Almost Time for Family History Month

    Thursday, Sep 26, 2013

    For many years, The Genealogy Center has made a point of offering some family history event every day during the month of October to celebrate Family History Month.But this year, we have a number of days with additional events to supplement your research skills! This year's offerings include classes on technology and databases, immigration, locality based searching, research methodology for beginning and advanced family historians, consultations, and extended research hours. For a calendar and more information about the sessions, please see the Family History Month brochure!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Closed September 27th!

    Monday, Sep 23, 2013

    On Friday, September 27, 2013, The Genealogy Center, like the rest of the Allen County Public Library facilities, will be closed for Staff Development Day. While we will miss our customers, we look forward to the opportunity to learn about new sources, sharpen our skills, and a chance to touch base with colleagues from other departments and branches. We will reopen with our regular hours, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Saturday, September 28th. Join us then!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • New York Neighborhoods: The 18th Century

    Friday, Sep 20, 2013

    by John

    Sometimes a new book comes into The Genealogy Center that commands our attention on account of the novelty of its thesis or because it breaks convention with its approach to a particular subject. One such title was added to our collection this week, and while it is not “new” by its publication date, it does represent a wonderful new addition to our collection.

    The book is New York City Neighborhoods: The 18th Century by Nan Rothschild (San Diego: Academic Press Inc., 1990) GC 974.702 N422rn. What makes it wonderful is its interdisciplinary approach to local history, employing a paradigm that is refreshingly different and even groundbreaking. It weaves together historical writing with ethnography, archaeology, cartography, urbanization, and architecture, giving us an unusual glimpse into the rise of New York City neighborhoods in the eighteenth century. Beginning with a detailed study of Manhattan at a grassroots level from the beginning of the eighteenth century, when there was still a strong Dutch cultural influence, it carries us to the period after the Revolution, when New York had become transformed into a modern urbanized setting stratified by economics and restructured by many new arrivals that had diluted the former Dutch colony.

    Rothschild’s thesis is this: “Early in the century, clusters of people that shared an ethnic identity lived and worked near each other. They spoke the same language, had a cultural heritage in common, and worshipped at the same church, but worked in a variety of occupations and lived at different economic levels. By the end of the century, after the Revolution, many of these early ethnically defined groups had dispersed, and people lived instead among those with similar occupations and levels of wealth.”

    She argues further that by 1790, powerful landowners had begun to exert influence on residential choices and together with new groups of immigrants and free blacks, shifted the spatial clustering of households and altered a larger pattern of how the city functioned. In support of her thesis, she uses a variety of tools, including archaeological studies of house foundations and animal bones found at the sites of taverns and markets, historical maps, and lists of residents from 1703 and 1789, all of which document this transformation.

    What does this have to do with genealogy? In short, everything. The lists of residents derive from the 1703 and 1789 tax assessment rolls of Manhattan in the Municipal Archives of the City of New York. Like census records, they include the resident’s name, tax rank (by number) street of residence, occupation, job class (by code), ward, and religion. Keys to the codes are provided at the end of both lists. In addition to some reprinted historical maps, a variety of new ones are included throughout the work showing the locations of churches, taverns, markets, and the distribution of ethnic groups by neighborhood and street.

    We learn, for example, that in 1703, the Dutch were found widely in all wards but were concentrated heavily in the North Ward, while few English and Huguenots lived there. The English dominated the East Ward, especially on Queen Street, and in the Dock Ward, and were drawn to Trinity Church. Huguenots also frequented the East, Dock, and South Wards, and many lived close to the Dutch Reform Church. By 1789, Dutch- and English-descended residents were evenly dispersed through all the wards. Scots were spread through the East and Montgomerie wards, Germans lived primarily in the North Ward, Jews in the Dock and East wards, and free blacks almost entirely in the Montgomerie Ward. In other chapters Rothschild correlates the wards and ethnic groups by occupation, and she even studies specific varieties animal bones from archaeological sites to determine what kinds of fowl and fish people ate.

    Even beyond these lists and the amazing array of sources, what makes the book instructive is its highly localized approach to the study of urbanization. By focusing on neighborhoods and using an integrative approach, Rothschild almost puts the reader onto the streets of New York in the eighteenth century, and she reconstructs those worlds in a way that a more generalized history of New York does not. She goes on to say, “The analytic method used here can be applied to any community where the appropriate documentation exists …The research presented is also of concern to many urban scholars, namely, how do people really live in the city? What are their lives like? What kinds of strategies do they use in adapting to the great numbers of these people, most of whom they do not know?”

    These are the same sorts of questions genealogists should ask about their ancestors. As many professional genealogists will tell us, research is all about location, about connecting ancestors to the communities and neighborhoods around them. We do this not only to find associates and possible relatives of our immediate family (which may give us clues of earlier connections), but we should also do it to write more accurate and engaging family histories.

    While New York remains among the best documented places in the United States and offers a wealth of material for any local historian, Rothschild’s book challenges scholars everywhere to take similar multi-disciplinary approaches in more communities. The problem is that many places do not have the treasure of archaeological and textual sources to do them. But where the sources are extant and the interest exists, the possibility for more studies like this one abounds. And for genealogists, that would truly be wonderful.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • My Birth Certificate is Not Online (And Neither is Yours)

    Monday, Sep 16, 2013

    by Sara

    Birth records can be found in many forms, but birth certificates remain the most restricted to genealogists. A living person’s birth certificate will not be posted online, unless that person or another family member has scanned it and made it available online. And we recommend that you do not post your birth certificate on the Internet, even on websites like Facebook, Ancestry trees or elsewhere, due to the high risk of identity theft. Hospitals, doctors, government officials, and businesses are prohibited from publishing full birth certificates for the living online because of privacy laws.

    If you need to order a copy of your own birth certificate, you must contact (in person, by telephone or mail) either the official state vital records office or the county health department in the state or county where you were born. You may also order a copy online via the Better Business Bureau accredited website, Vitalchek. Each state has differing laws, but generally speaking, the person named on the certificate, his/her parents, other close relatives, or his legal representative are the only persons authorized to request a copy of a living person’s birth certificate. Adopted persons seeking copies of their original birth certificate should consult our guide to Adoption Research for more information on how to begin their search.

    For deceased individuals, privacy laws vary from state to state concerning who can access historical birth certificates. In Indiana, the law states that anyone can request the birth certificate for a person who was born 75 or more years ago and is now deceased (with proof of death provided). Only close relatives or legal representatives can request birth certificates for deceased persons born less than 75 years ago. Keep in mind that some states did not start issuing birth certificates until the early twentieth century; so if you are seeking birth records from the nineteenth century and earlier, you may need to look at other sources such as church records as alternatives. To learn more about state laws regarding birth record availability, consult a reference book such as Ancestry’s Red Book or Handybook for Genealogists, or the Where to Write for Vital Records website from the Centers for Disease Control.

    Other sources of historical birth records include online databases, compiled books, and microtext in local libraries. A few states have begun posting historical birth certificates from the late 1800s and early 1900s online on genealogical websites such as Ancestry or FamilySearch, but Indiana is not one of those states. Other states such as California, Kentucky, Minnesota and Texas have released indexes to birth records for individuals born up to and including the 1990s, which would include living persons. These indexes are available on Ancestry or FamilySearch as well. They often provide limited information abstracted from the original birth certificate, such as the child’s name, date of birth and birth location, but they do not include all the information from a full birth certificate. The Genealogy Center has many print, online, and microtext indexes to historical birth records from a variety of states. We also have copies of most Allen County, Indiana birth records from 1887 to 1920, and Fort Wayne birth records from 1882 to 1920 on microtext.

    Caution should be exercised when attempting to order copies of birth certificates over the Internet. Many websites claim to offer “birth records” in exchange for a large fee, but actually will send you reports compiled from telephone directories and voter registration databases, instead of the official birth certificates. Do not fall for this false advertising and do not pay such sites any money unless you know exactly what you are getting in return. Only order birth certificates from a reputable source, such as from the state vital records office or county health department, following the links on the Where to Write for Vital Records website, or using the VitalChek website.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center