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  • The Genealogy Center Catalogs

    Friday, Jun 14, 2013

    by Delia

    Whether you're coming to The Genealogy Center as a local resident or from two thousand miles away, preparing for your research time is vital to a productive visit. We've talked about what to bring, but doing your "homework" before even starting your journey will actually provide more solid research time.

    What's your homework?

    Check our catalogs and make lists of which books or microfilm you want to use while here. There is a guide to finding material in our catalogs that will help you get started. Gather titles and call numbers for books, and titles with roll or sheet numbers for microfilm sources. This way, when you arrive, you can immediately pull these materials for examination. But make sure you are really using our  print catalog and microtext catalog. Sometimes visitors have titles and call numbers from other libraries that they have searched instead of ours, including the Family History Library and other public libraries for Allen Counties outside of Indiana, and are frustrated that the numbers are not the same.

    Why are the numbers different from one facility to another? It's first important to know what a call number is. The simplest way to describe a call number is that it is the "address" where a specific book "lives" on the shelves. In the Dewey Decimal System (Dewey, for short), fiction is organized by author and biographies by the last name of the subject, but other material is organized by subject. There are large groupings of numbers from 001 to 999 signifying general subjects. For example, books with call numbers that are in the 500s are Science books, 700s are for the Arts, and 900s are for the Social Sciences, including history. Within the Arts classification, you have silk painting (746.6), ballet (792.8), and country music (781.6), for example.

    Genealogical material can fit into several categories, such as church records (200s), cemeteries (300s), census (also 300s), business (600s), and history and biography (900s).

    Confusing? Yes, it is. For people not steeped in the Dewey System, and to many of us who are, it is cumbersome, to say the least. Then add the fact that we now have more than a half million print volumes in The Genealogy Center, and it could have been extremely perplexing to have call numbers stretching from the 200s to the 900s.

    Many years ago, however, the staff of the Genealogy Department and the catalogers for the old Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County created a modified Dewey System just for the Genealogy Collection.

    To learn more about this modified Dewey System, check back tomorrow.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • WeRelate Overview - June 24th

    Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013

    WeRelate is one of the largest genealogy wikis. Explore this wiki and how it can help you post your family information on the Internet.

    Part of the Beyond Ancestry's Leaves & Branches series.

    Monday June 24, 2013, 2:00PM-3:00PM.

    Meeting Room A.

    To register for this free class, send an email or call 260-421-1225.

    For more information, see our brochure.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Date Confusion

    Saturday, Jun 08, 2013

    By Dawne

    Sources for the birth date of Daniel Krinn, Civil War soldier, disagree whether he was born in 1842 or 1843, but all sources except one that have been located concur that he was born on 1 December. His date of birth was Dec. 1, 1842 in “General Affidavit” dated 28 April 1913, Civil War pension file of Daniel Krinn, Claim No. 628706; Certificate No. 835785, National Archives, Washington, D.C., stating specifically “… that his father’s record of births was destroyed by fire …” and “… that he fixes the date of his birth from his father’s record showed and from what his mother often told him … That he was born Dec 1-1842.” The 1900 U.S. census, Grant Co., IN, pop. sch., Franklin Twp., ED 31, p. 17, dwell. 353, fam. 372, Daniel Krinn household, indicated that Daniel was born in Dec. 1843. And Daniel's death record, for which his son, George, was the informant, says that Daniel was born 1 December 1843.

    One lone source has a completely different day and month for Daniel’s birth – he was born 12 January 1843, according to Peggy Davidson Dick, Jahn Funeral Home Records, Wells County, Bluffton, Indiana, 1922-1956 (Bluffton, Ind.: Privately Printed, 1976), alphabetical listing. Why the discrepancy?

    Lightbulb over the head time! In either the original funeral home record or some derivation, Daniel’s date of birth probably was written in military style – day-month-year, but completely in numbers as opposed to spelling out the name of the month. So 1-12-1843 was interpreted as January 12, 1843 instead of 1 December 1843.

    I have not yet seen the original funeral home record, so I do not know where this error occurred. It could have been a misinterpretation on the part of the abstracter, or but it’s also possible that the funeral director or his clerk made the mistake when the information was copied into the official records.

    The lessons here are several:
    • Indexers and abstracters – Be careful when interpreting dates that you do not make assumptions. It is quite possible that some dates in this original source were written in military style and some were not. In often is best just to write what is seen and to leave the interpretation to your readers.
    • Researchers – Keep an open mind when you encounter conflicting evidence. Consider why the error might have occurred. And when possible, always try to seek out the original record to see what that record actually says.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • "Lost" Cemeteries

    Wednesday, Jun 05, 2013

    by Sara

    My grandpa’s cousin (once removed), Sue, is about 80 years old now, and unable to get around well, but she alone knows the location of many of my southern ancestors' graves. Some are buried in forgotten family plots on the land they farmed 200 years ago, others with only a field stone marking the spot, and still others in long-abandoned, overgrown, hidden cemeteries. When Sue passes on, this information will be lost. She spent a good part of her life interviewing old-timers in the community, visiting extended family members, and accumulating all sorts of family lore. She was always very gracious to my family, her northern cousins, probably because we were more interested in history than some of her closer relatives. She took us to see those cemeteries in the 1980s and 1990s. We wrote down directions as best we could, but without a modern GPS unit and very little familiarity with rural Tennessee, we weren’t able to exactly record the location of many of these rural, remote locations where we hopped fences, forded creeks, hiked up hills, and down ravines to reach the grave sites.

    I’ve decided that rather than continuing to worry about the possibility of losing this information, my mom and I need to take action and remedy the situation by scheduling a visit with Sue soon. At that time, we will try to get verbal directions from her and/or request that she send one of her kids or grandkids with us to access the graveyards. We will record the latitude and longitude of the cemetery locations via GPS. We will also document and photograph the tombstones and enter them on the free online grave transcription website Find a Grave.

    Do you or a family member have special knowledge about your family that no-one else has? Now is the time to stop worrying about and make a plan to document it and preserve it for those who come after you. You could write it down (long-hand or typewritten) and give copies to all family members. Or, you could make a scrapbook or a recording (video or audio) with the pertinent information. Also consider donating a copy of your finished work to a local library or historical society. The Genealogy Center accepts many types of genealogical and local history donations. Contact us to find out more. Don’t let your memories and unique family information end with you.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Primetime 39 - June 7

    Sunday, Jun 02, 2013

    Our very own John Beatty has been invited to appear on the local PBS station, WFWA on "Prime Time 39," with Bruce Haines, Friday, June 7, 7:30 - 8:00 PM. John will be sharing his knowledge of Fort Wayne's history as "The City of Churches." Not only has our city been home to a large number of churches, but also to a wide variety of denominations. Take a bit of time to watch as John's knowledge of the subject is unparalleled.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Finding Newspapers Online - June 8th

    Thursday, May 30, 2013

    “Hear ye, hear ye!” Newspapers chronicle the lives and times of our ancestors. Discover again what may be found in newspapers, and see how to find what is available online.

    Part of the Family History Fundamentals series.

    Saturday June 8, 2013, 10:00AM-11:00AM.

    Meeting Room A.

    To register for this free class, send an email, or call 260-421-1225.

    For more information, see our brochure.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Memorial Day: Honoring Those Who Died

    Monday, May 27, 2013

    by Delia

    Recently, someone who noticed signs indicating that The Genealogy Center would be closed on Monday, May 27th, for Memorial Day, asked, in a rhetorical fashion, "What's the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans' Day?" The difference is that while Veterans' Day honors all who served, Memorial Day is specifically for those who died in service to our country.

    This is an interesting concept, as as I thought about it, I realized that many who died in service or from injuries incurred in service were young and may not have had direct descendants to keep their memory alive. While I do not wish to disrespect any veteran, I think that this Memorial Day, I will I will concentrate my thoughts on those collateral ancestors who died young because of war.

    This is also a good time to organize what family military records I have acquired for addition to The Genealogy Center's Our Military Heritage website. We welcome your contributions, too, so take a look at the site, and send the records or digital images this week!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • "Who Do You Think You Are" Returning!

    Friday, May 24, 2013

    We've learned that the show "Who Do You Think You Are," which was canceled by NBC last year, has been picked up by The Learning Channel (TLC), and will premier on Tuesday, July 23, 2013. The show, which demonstrates the thrills and challenges of genealogy by assisting celebrities delve into their own families' histories, will air at 9 PM Eastern and 8 PM Central. This season's researchers include Christina Applegate, Cindy Crawford, Chris O'Donnell, Chelsea Handler, Kelly Clarkson, and Zooey Deschanel. We at The Genealogy Center are thrilled that this well-executed program is returning. Get your remotes and settle in for an hour of good and inspiring entertainment on July 23rd!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Accidental Finds

    Tuesday, May 21, 2013

    by Sara

    I suspect all of us have an immigrant ancestor or two that we’ve been seeking for a number of years. Sometimes the only way to find out more about this immigrant is to view records found in their country of origin, some of which may have been microfilmed by the LDS Church or made available on Family Search. But more often, the clue to our family’s origins may be right under our nose, in a standard American source, such as the census, a printed book, church register, obituary, newspaper article, Social Security application, or a birth/death record.

    Such was the case when I accidentally found a family's place of origin Ireland (!!!!) while trying to answer a totally different question. Originally, I was trying to find the parents of Patrick Hughes of St. Joseph County, Indiana. I hoped to find this information in his death record and/or obituary. According to the Vital statistics index to St. Joseph County, Indiana newspapers, 1831-1912 (977.201 SA2EIR), Patrick died in 1896. His obituary (found on microfilm in South Bend) did not list his parents' names, but listed several siblings. Those siblings had obituaries also, and in brother Edward’s obituary, their mother, Ann Hughes, was mentioned. Ann’s obituary finally gave the name of her husband Thomas, and his obituary yielded an unexpected clue: He was from County Kildare in Ireland. Through investigating all the children of the immigrant, clues were followed that pointed to the names of Patrick’s parents, and finally to a county of origin in Ireland. Should a more extensive, systematic search be undertaken on this entire family and their close associates in American records (especially Catholic Church records, home sources, land records, probate records, cemetery records, vital records, and military records), the name of their specific hometown or parish in Ireland might also be unearthed.

    So, the moral of the story is to take the time to view the obituaries for your immigrant ancestors and all their children. You may be amazed at what you find!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Summer Hours

    Friday, May 17, 2013

    Beginning on Sunday, May 26, 2013, The Genealogy Center  like other facilities of the Allen County Public Library, will begin to be closed on Sundays through the summer months. Other regular hours, Monday through Thursday, 9 Am to 9 PM, and Fridays and Saturdays 9 AM to 6 PM, will remain the same. Sunday hours are scheduled to recommence on Sunday September 8, 2013.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Memorial Day

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

    The Genealogy Center, like all of the Allen County Public Library agencies, will be closed Monday, May 27, 2013 in honor of Memorial Day. We will be open our regular house on Saturday, May 25, 9 AM to 6 PM, and on Tuesday May 28, 9 AM to 9 PM. Take this day to honor our veterans who fought and died for our freedom.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • May 29th: Finding Births, Marriages and Deaths Online

    Monday, May 13, 2013

     In research, we want to locate the most important records in recording an ancestor’s life, and, of course, we want it NOW! See how it may be possible to locate these “vital” records online.

    For more information about this or other Beyond Ancestry's Leaves & Branches series, see our brochure.

    Wednesday, May 29, 2013, Meeting Room A,  10 AM - 11 AM.

    To register for this free class, send an email or call 260-421-1225.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • May 25th: Researching Church Records

    Friday, May 10, 2013

    Churches played both a social and religious role in our ancestors’ lives. Enjoy a basic overview of the steps one needs to take in finding church records. This presentation will feature many different examples of records from different denominations and will offer strategies for research and interpretation.

    Saturday, May 25, 2013, 10 AM, Meeting Room A.

    For more information about this or other events in our Family History Fundamentals series, see the brochure.

    To register for this free class, send an email or call 260-421-1225.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Perserverance Pays Off

    Tuesday, May 07, 2013

    By Dawne

    I once heard it called “bulldog genealogy,” the tendency not to give up when the answer didn’t come easily, but to keep chewing on the problem from different directions until success was achieved. The worth of this technique was proved for a patron and me one evening recently in The Genealogy Center.

    He came into The Center looking for information about the death of his much older sister in a house fire back in the late 1940s here in Fort Wayne. He thought the year was about 1947, because she was born in 1931 and he believed she died at age 16. He was nearly certain that she was buried in Lindenwood Cemetery, because he remembered his father and mother going out to the cemetery to visit his sister’s grave when he was small. But he had been to Lindenwood and the cemetery had no record of someone with his sister’s name buried there.

    We checked the Lindenwood interment books here, even though those records are taken from the cemetery’s records and so likely would not be different. We also checked the obituary index with no luck. “Could she have gone by any other name?” I asked him. He didn’t think so. We tried the newspaper subject index, which isn’t very useful for this type of search, and my colleague, John, suggested that he check the collection of photocopied firefighters’ scrapbooks. Still no luck.

    Finally, I opened our Lindenwood Cemetery abstracts database on The Genealogy Center’s website and searched by first name only. Then I scrolled through the list, looking for young women who died in their teens in the late 1940s. One jumped out – An Ethel May who died at the age of 18 in 1949 and was born in Arkansas, which the patron had told me his sister was. But this Ethel had a different surname than the one we were searching.

    I checked the local obituary index and found an entry for the Ethel buried in Lindenwood – on Page 1 of the newspaper, a good indication that this was a news story rather than a standard obituary. And the article confirmed that we had found the correct person. The young woman died in a house fire at the home of her father – who had the surname that the patron had given me. The girl must have been newly married, because she was “Mrs.” in the article.

    As I was brainstorming with the patron before deciding to comb the Lindenwood abstracts, I kept thinking that there must be something else that we could check. We had talked about death records, but the library does not have them from that time period and the Department of Health requires an exact date, which he did not have. I suggested talking to relatives, neighbors and friends of the family, but he said there was no one still around who would know any specific information. We discussed pursuing funeral home records, and that might have been his next step.

    When you come up against that brick wall of a problem that you feel should be solvable, it probably is. You just haven’t figured out how to solve it yet. Sleep on it and maybe additional avenues of pursuit will occur to you the next morning. Put that problem aside and work on another for a while, then go back to it with a fresh outlook. Trade problems with a friend, or let someone else look at your research and give new suggestions. Think like a bulldog and don’t give up!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Source for Black Ops Ancestor's History

    Saturday, May 04, 2013

    by John

    The Genealogy Center holds a wide variety of books. We collect not only with current genealogists in mind, but also with an eye to future researchers who may be interested in records of more recent events of genealogical value. A good example is our collection of military histories. Yes, we have lots of books about the wars of the 19th and early 20th centuries, but we also have a strong collection of Vietnam War histories and memoirs, and even sources for America's most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The soldiers and veterans of today will become the ancestors of future genealogists.

    Military sources can vary in type. For these more recent conflicts, it is obvious that the veteran service records are not available to researchers. So instead, in order to document what little is available about these wars, we look for memoirs, first-hand accounts, unit histories, and even general histories, knowing that they may assist genealogists in the future. We also seek out books about military uniforms, medals, and insignia, since these sources may help researchers when evaluating ancestral photographs or heirlooms. Many such works have been published about World War II.

    Recently we obtained a most unusual new book by Trevor Paglen titled, "I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon's Black World" (GC 973.001 P148i). As the title would imply, Paglen attempts to bring together in one volume a collection of obscure patches from some of the most classified programs in the military. Many seem to be connected with aviation units that test experimental aircraft for the Pentagon. Paglen includes brief histories of these units based on what he has been able to determine from declassified sources. As to why these units have patches (considering they are so secretive), Paglen speculates that they provide a certain pride and esprit de corps that motivate the members of these units. "Without a doubt, many members of the black world are proud of the secrets they hold, and of the clandestine work they've done in the military or intelligence industries." He adds that he has found patches in unusual places such as on the walls of the watering holes of test pilots and even in private living rooms. Many contain unusual mottoes and symbols that he often cannot explain.

    This unusual book is not likely to be of help in tracing your ancestors today, but who knows? A generation from now a descendant who has inherited one of these patches may look to this source as a useful reference. As always, we will continue to collect for genealogists, both today and tomorrow.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The PERSI Generation

    Thursday, May 02, 2013

    The popularity of the PERiodical Source Index, a.k.a. PERSI, was once again evidenced this past weekend as more than seventy attendees of the Indiana Genealogical Society Annual Conference attended a session on this wonderful genealogical resource. Twenty-first century researchers are familiar with the online version of this subject index to more than 10,000 historical and genealogical magazines, but the new generation of family historians may not be aware that The Genealogy Center has been creating PERSI since 1986.

    Genealogy Center librarian Delia Bourne is someone who can recite the details of the migration of PERSI from print to electronic format, the facts and figures of the project, and the overall history of PERSI, while thoroughly explaining how to best use this valuable resource. She is one of the few people who has first-hand experience with the project from its creation through the present day.

    This week, Delia received a "Certificate of Appreciation for a Generation of Service to PERSI" as thanks for her commitment and dedication. Join us in thanking Delia for contributing to a generation of PERSI.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • May Brings Thoughts of Travel

    Wednesday, May 01, 2013

    by Delia

    I always get a bit excited on May 1st. Many people do. Yes, there are holidays, both religious and cultural on that day, but for me, it was always school's-almost-out excitement. Whether I might have been looking forward to long days of play and fighting with my sister (elementary school), reading and learning to drive (high school), or a summer job (college), doing something different was always fun, especially if my parents had planned a vacation somewhere, which was usually in August.

    As an adult, summer signaled that I had not only extra time to enjoy with my family, but also the influx of customers that we, at The Genealogy Center, attracted in the summer months. New people, mixing with our regular friends, intriguing research questions, and chatting with folks from far away.

    As you plan your summer, work in some time to come and see us. There's a lot of research material on the Internet, but we have many unique sources that aren't online. Plan a quick trip or change your route to spend a day or two or three with us.

    And then, of course, in August, right when my family took vacations, plan to come to the Federation of Genealogical Societties' Conference. It's being held at the Grand Wayne Center, here in Fort Wayne, a block from the Allen County Public Liibrary's main branch (home of The Genealogy Center). Four days (August 21-24) of great sessions, luncheons, evening events, extended research hours at The Genealogy Center (for conference attendees), the great camaradarie that only a genealogy conference provides, and if you can't find a session in one particular hour, it's over to The Genealogy Center, where our staff and volunteers are waiting to aid you.

    So as summer approaches and you are planning your travel, don't forget The Genealogy Center and the FGS Conference!

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • The Ugly Truth

    Sunday, Apr 28, 2013

    by Delia

    As both a researcher and a genealogy librarian, I don't like to give up on any family history question. I always think that searching church records, doing cluster research and reading newspapers, etc. will yield the answer, if only one will take the time.

    And often, I am right when offering these possibilities on finding that missing piece: spelling the names slightly different; switching the first and last name; looking in a neighboring county; the list goes on. But sometimes, I know that the information that is sought will probably never be found.

    Do you have an ancestor who was a child left abandoned on porch steps, a church pew or at a train station? The authorities would have sought the mother at the time, so once a search of the records of the abandonment have been searched and local newspapers have been perused, it's unlikely that the identity of the parents will be established. (Although my compulsion to continue the search tells me that if one reads all personal diaries and newspapers for the 25 closest counties and all communities on the connecting rail lines, it may be possible that someone mentioned a pregnant woman....) Or if your ancestor was a woman who married a man that was new in the community, about whom nothing was known, and who disappeared the minute the woman got pregnant and no records were ever found concerning the man.... Well, although one might get lucky in that he really did use his own name, chances are good that he made a practice of loving and leaving, and his real identity may never be discovered.

    While I am not advocating completely giving up on the brick wall, I am suggesting setting it aside for a while. New records become available on a regular basis, and you may pick up more experience over several years working on something else. Sometime in the future, you may come across something new. Or you might attend a conference where someone else, a speaker or fellow attendee, could make a break-through suggestion. Or perhaps genetic identification might make such strides that our whole ancestry will be identified with a single drop of blood, and family history research will only give substance to that information.*

    But there is always the possibility that the puzzle piece may never be found. This can be hard to accept, especially if you have a wall chart that displays a huge blank for 12.5% of the page. I've seen people frustrated, angry and dispairing over research issues like this, and it very sad because these researchers have exhausted every avenue, made every right move and still come up empty. So the important thing at this point is for us, as researchers, to accept that this may be an unsolvable problem, but not let it ruin our love of family history.

    Besides, you never know when you might get lucky....

    * Yes, I read science fiction.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • They Come in Buses!

    Thursday, Apr 25, 2013

    by Delia

    We love it when a group arrives to use The Genealogy Center. The first thing we do when a group presents itself at the Ask Desk is to check our "Talks, Tours & Groups" notebook to see whether the group leader requested a tour when he or she called to schedule the visit. Tours are fun! And any of our librarians may give a group tour. Although we cover a lot of territory, this helps our visitors get a feel for how large the Center is, plus we can demonstrate some of the equipment and make a few jokes along the way. Afterward, everyone settles down to work, but group members are encouraged to approach the desk at any time to ask questions that vary from in-depth research queries to questions on which button to press to make a copy.

    The tips we've passed along previously in this blog for individual visitors also apply to people coming in groups or on bus tours. Those include bringing a USB drive to download images of census, passenger lists and other documents; bringing $1 and $5 bills to charge copy cards; and bringing enough information to do research without bringing originals that could become lost. But visitors in groups have some special challenges to take into consideration.

    Time is one factor with which groups have to contend. Time of arrival at The Genealogy Center, especially if a group tour is requested, is a vital piece of information for us. We will organize the day - including staff lunch hours and breaks - around the tour(s) that have been requested. If a group is more than 15 minutes late, it may throw our planning into disarray, so a quick phone call letting us know of any delay is appreciated. Arrival time is also important to the visitors. Every minute of a visit is valuable, and no one wants to waste vital research minutes. And time is vitally important on the last day of a visit, as the minutes slip quickly past.

    What to bring is also important. If a visitor is away from home and without personal transportation, having all of those little things (that USB drive, an extra pad of paper, just the right pens or pencils, a sweater, and acetaminophen) may take on a greater importance than normal. On the other hand, one must remember that when bringing everything including the kitchen sink, the backpack or tote bag gets heavy after a while!

    Sustenance is vital. It is permissible to have a granola bar and a water bottle tucked away in your bag to eat outside of The Genealogy Center, but please remember that no food or drink may be consumed inside the department. You might decide to go out to one of the many eateries in the vicinity (ask for a map of Downtown Eateries at the Ask Desk), or bring a full sack lunch to enjoy in the Great Hall of the library or on the Plaza. It's a personal choice whether to take a break for a refreshing meal or to save time by just having a quick nibble before returning to research.

    Making photocopies as you discover new information is certainly preferable to waiting until the last minute of the day because everyone else may be doing the same thing, so, again, time management is important.

    Visiting the Genealogy Center in groups or as part of a bus (or airplane!) tour has its advantages: Travel with people with whom you share an interest, most arrangements are organized for the group, and no driving. It also has its disadvantages: One is without personal transportation, on someone else's schedule, and you can't just decide at the last minute to stay another day. But generally, our visiting groups seem to have a productive research experience and an enjoyable adventure. So, if you hear about a group that is planning a trip to The Genealogy Center, why not come along? Or consider organizing a group yourself and share the fun.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center

  • Spielberg's "Lincoln"

    Monday, Apr 22, 2013

    The Allen County Public Library will present a special screening of Steven Spielberg’s movie Lincoln on Saturday, April 27th at 1:30 p.m. in the theater of the Main Library. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited and will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis.

    Posted by: ACPL Genealogy Center