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  • NGSQ 100th Aniversary

    Tuesday, May 08, 2012

    by Dawne

    An icon of genealogy, the NGS Quarterly, turns 100 years old in 2012. Those of you who are members of the National Genealogical Society will have noticed a history of the quarterly in the March 2012 issue. NGSQ debuted nine years after the establishment of NGS in 1903, and its early issues were filled more with record abstracts and indexes, as compared to the methodology articles and case studies that are published in later editions. Today’s NGSQ includes a smattering of previously unpublished source material, but primarily features compiled genealogies, case studies and “how-to” articles, along with descriptions of little-known resources and detailed articles about researching specific ethnic groups, record types and geographic regions. Detailed book reviews are another important part of the NGSQ. Whatever the content, throughout the publication’s history, the constant has been an emphasis on “scholarship, readability and practical help in problem solving,” according to the NGS website. The NGSQ is a benefit of membership in the National Genealogical Society, and today’s members may opt to receive the traditional paper copy by mail, or a PDF version. Members may access the NGS website to search or browse full-text issues from 1978 to the present. Anyone may search the complete NGSQ index (1912-present) by author or title, or browse lists of authors and titles, and order back issues from the society or search for articles on the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) available through Heritage Quest Online to order copies from The Genealogy Center. For more information about the National Genealogical Society or NGSQ, point your browser to

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Conference Season

    Sunday, May 06, 2012

    by Melissa

    We are in the midst of genealogy conference season in the Midwest. There are many wonderful opportunities for genealogists to connect with other researchers and learn new methodologies and sources. Both the Ohio Genealogical Society and Indiana Genealogical Society had their annual conferences in April, while May marks the National Genealogical Society Conference. The summer months are marked with the several regional conferences, ending with the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in August. This is the time of year to dust off the cobwebs from your research projects or plan a research trip and attend a conference in your area. In honor of conference season, Genealogy Center staff will be sharing their personal conference stories in the coming weeks.

    Subscribe to Genealogy Gems to learn at which conferences Genealogy Center staff will be speaking. And stop to say hello because conference season is the time to meet other researchers.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Beginners' Classes

    Thursday, May 03, 2012

    Learn the basics of starting your family history research with The Genealogy Center’s Beginners' classes during Summer 2012.

    Getting the Most from a Book

    Saturday, May 12, 10:00AM-11:00AM, Meeting Room A, Delia Bourne

    Sounds simple, doesn't it? But not all books are the same. Differing formats, different types of information, different indexing systems can actually make evaluating the information a little more difficult, especially for beginners. This class will discuss the basics of using books and how to retrieve and evaluate all possible information.


    How to Use the Genealogy Center: Basics

    Saturday, June 23, 10:00AM-11:00AM, Meeting Room A, Melissa Shimkus                        

    Have you taken a tour of The Genealogy Center and still feel confused? Do you wonder how all the details make sense to other people? Spend time with a staff member who will explain the catalog, microtext area, and how to use the facility. Note: This session is not a beginning genealogy class, but rather an explanation of the collection.


    Ancestry: The Beginner’s Way to Search

    Saturday, July 28, 10:00AM-11:00AM, Meeting Room A, Melissa Shimkus                           

    Are you new to genealogy? Have you tried and felt confused? If so, attend this session to learn the basic steps to begin your genealogy search and navigate this database successfully.


    Beginner's Guide to Vital Records

    Saturday, August 25, 10:00AM-11:00AM, Meeting Room A, Delia Bourne             

    Vital records are the Holy Grail of genealogical records, definitively providing a legal document that records a date of birth and parents, marriage date and place, or evidence of a death, perhaps providing parents or cause of death. However, birth and death records were not commonly recorded until the 20th Century, and even the availability of marriage records depend on the locale and culture. This class will explain what can be found in a vital record, and what other sources may be used when the official record is missing.


    For more information, please see the brochure. 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

  • Indiana Genealogical Society Conference Recap

    Monday, Apr 30, 2012

    by Dawne

    More than 100 attendees enjoyed two tracks of lectures, snacks, hospitality, networking with other genealogists, and an opportunity to research in The Genealogy Center during Saturday’s Indiana Genealogical Society Annual Meeting and Conference. The day featured lectures dealing with the nitty-gritty “how to” of genealogical research methods, navigating online databases like and, writing a family history, and exploring new sources like patent records. Speakers were Debbie Mieszala, CG, Melissa Shimkus, Michael Hall and Curt Sylvester. Between sessions, the local Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana provided hospitality in the form of conversation, cookies and drinks. During the IGS annual meeting, area residents Charlotte Blair of Whitley County and Judy Richter of Noble County were honored for their contributions to the field of genealogy. Three IGS members were inducted into the Society of Civil War Families of Indiana, having proven direct lineage to a Civil War soldier who served from Indiana. In addition, the first class of IGS’s newest affiliate society, the Territorial Guard Society of Indiana, was inducted. To qualify, five members proved direct lineage from someone who was a resident of Indiana before statehood, 11 Dec. 1816. President Michael Maben gave a “state of the society” address, and Vice President Tina Lyons announced that Indiana’s 1940 federal census is now 100 percent indexed. It was a memorable and motivating day!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Old Country

    Saturday, Apr 28, 2012

    During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following are questions asked and The Genealogy Center staff's responses.

    How do I find records in Poland with just a birth date and possible city?

    You don't give the date of the birth, and that is important. Some Polish records have been microfilmed by the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, including both civil vital records and baptismal records from churches. You should check the online catalog for the name of the town and see what is available for the years you are interested. You should know that for privacy reasons, the FHL was unable to microfilm records after a certain date, usually 1875. You may need to hire a genealogical researcher in Poland to do the research you need. One research firm advertises in the APG Quarterly.

    What is the best way to search for family in the "old country?"

    This question is difficult to answer because you do not state what country was your family's old country. The research procedures vary widely, depending on the country. It is always wise to check the Family History Library Catalog for the most specific place that you can find. "Germany" or "England" are too general. You will need to know a specific town before you can begin.

    What is the most effective search to find documents in a European city that is reported to have burned, along with the records?

    First, find a genealogical how-to book for the country. It will give you a brief history of the country, as well as listing archives, churches, and other facilities to locate records. You can also do a catalog search on Family Search. Besides checking their catalog, you may wish to check out their Research Wiki, which also explains what type of records are available and where they are located.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Space Available for IGS Conference

    Thursday, Apr 26, 2012

    It’s not too late! Join your friends and meet some new ones at the 2012 Indiana Genealogical Society Annual Meeting and Conference this Saturday, April 28, at the Allen County Public Library. Professional genealogical lecturer and researcher Debbie Mieszala, CG, is the keynote speaker and will present four lectures, three on methodology topics and one on her work with the U.S. Army attempting to identify the remains of U.S. soldiers located overseas so that they may be brought home for burial. The conference also features a second track with a session on by Genealogy Center librarian Melissa Shimkus, two sessions on FamilySearch by Michael Hall of FamilySearch, and a presentation on writing a family history using Family Tree Maker and Microsoft Word by Curtis Sylvester, president of the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana. Walk-ins are welcome! Registration begins at 9 a.m. just inside the Library Plaza doors of the main library.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Genealogy Gems 2011 Available!

    Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012

    All 2011 issues for our monthly e-zine Genealogy Gems are now available to read on our website! For those of you who have missed any issues, Issues 1 through 94, covering March 2004 through December 2011, are available for you to reference anytime you wish. Remember to subscribe by supplying your name and email address before the end of April to receive the next issue!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Writing a Family History

    Monday, Apr 23, 2012

    by Dawne

    Writing a family history is the goal of many genealogists who want to take preserve for future generations the material that they have found during countless hours of research. Allen County Genealogical Society President Curt Sylvester will present “Writing a Book Using Family Tree Maker and Microsoft Word” during the 2012 Indiana Genealogical Society Conference, Saturday, April 28, at the Allen County Public Library. The featured speaker for this year’s conference is Debbie Mieszala, CG(sm), of the Chicago area. Also presenting lectures will be Melissa Shimkus, librarian in The Genealogy Center, and Michael Hall of FamilySearch. 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

  • More on Family Search

    Saturday, Apr 21, 2012

    by Dawne is a free website produced and maintained by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) with access to record abstracts and actual digital images of some records. Specific to Indiana, FamilySearch has more than 3,000,000 entries in four databases of births and christenings, marriages and deaths. Michael Hall of FamilySearch will be at the Allen County Public Library on Saturday, April 28, to speak on “Finding Indiana Records and Research in FamilySearch" at the 2012 Indiana Genealogical Society Conference. Michael also will present a second talk, “What’s New With FamilySearch.” The second track of the conference will be completed with lectures by Genealogy Center librarian Melissa Shimkus and Allen County Genealogical Society President Curt Sylvester. The featured speaker this year is Debbie Mieszala, CG(sm), of the Chicago area. 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

  • Becoming Expert at

    Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012

    by Dawne

    Has this ever happened to you? You are doing a search in 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 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 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

    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