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Sara Allen, Genealogy Librarian
Sara Allen began researching her family history when she was eleven years old, using the collection of The Genealogy Center. She received her bachelor’s degree in History and Social Sciences from Wheaton College (IL). Upon graduation she worked in the college’s Buswell Memorial Library as a cataloger and reference librarian until 2006. She has her master’s degree in library and information science from Dominican University. Her first professional genealogy position began in 2006 when she became Genealogy Librarian and later Assistant Manager of Local & Family History Services at the St. Joseph County Public Library in South Bend, Indiana. She joined The Genealogy Center staff as a Genealogy Librarian in 2013.
While at South Bend, she served as a judge for 4-H genealogy projects, and spoke and wrote on topics of genealogy and local history for libraries and societies in the Michiana area. She is currently the co-administrator of the Mitchell y-DNA project at Family Tree DNA and is involved with Unclaimed Persons, a volunteer organization that works with coroners to try to locate the relatives of deceased persons whose families are unknown. She is a member of the Schuyler Colfax Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Her areas of interest include Indiana, the Midwest and the Upper South, twentieth and twenty-first century genealogy, DNA testing for genealogical purposes, Eastern European research, and scrapbooking family pictures and stories.
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John D. Beatty, Genealogy Librarian
John D. Beatty has been a reference librarian in The Genealogy Center since 1984 and also serves as its principal bibliographer. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree with high honors in History from the University of Michigan in 1982, and a Master of Arts degree in History and Library Science with honors from that university in 1984.
He is the author of sixteen books on local and family history, including works on German and early American families, abstracts of town vital records from Biddeford, Maine, and annotated narratives from the Irish Rebellion of 1798, as well as numerous articles on a variety of genealogical and local historical topics. In 2006, he served as principal editor for volume one of a two-volume History of Fort Wayne and Allen County, Indiana, 1700-2005, the first history of Allen County produced since 1917.
Because of a diversified family background, he has genealogical expertise in a variety of areas. He has conducted original research on families from colonial New England, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Kentucky, as well as on seventeenth and eighteenth century families from Ireland, Germany and Switzerland. He serves as archivist for the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana, and his interests also include local Fort Wayne and Allen County history.
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Delia Cothrun Bourne, Genealogy Librarian
Delia Cothrun Bourne has been a librarian at the Allen County Public Library for more than thirty-three years, first in the Reference Department, and since 1983 in The Genealogy Center. She holds a bachelor's degree in English with a Teacher's Certificate from the University of Arkansas.
Delia is co-coordinator of genealogy programming and co-administrator of the Genealogy Center’s blog and Facebook page. She has worked on the PERiodical Source Index project from its inception as an encoder and editor. Locally, Delia was a writer for the History of Fort Wayne & Allen County, 1700-2005. At the state level, she has been a contributor and is a past editor of Indiana Genealogist, and was that quarterly’s indexer for its first ten years.
Nationally, Delia served in the capacity of chair or co-chair for volunteers, registration and exhibits for several Federation of Genealogical Societies’ conferences, the Great Lakes Conference in 1994, the GenTech Conference in 1998, and the Millennium Conference in 2000. She has delivered presentations at the local, state and national levels, primarily on Civil War research and the use of periodicals. Her special interests include Southern and Western states as well as Civil War research. She is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
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Melissa Shimkus, Genealogy Center Assistant Manager/Public Services
Melissa Shimkus began her career as a genealogy librarian in Tampa, Florida in 2001. She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Florida and a Master of Arts in Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida. She was selected to participate in the Sunshine State Library Leadership Institute in 2006-2007. She previously supervised the History & Genealogy Collection for the Hillsborough County Public Library in Florida, which included managing the collection, programs, and services at the downtown facility and two satellite branch locations.
Melissa was an adjunct instructor for the University of South Florida’s M.L.S. program, teaching Introduction to Genealogical Research from 2006-2007. Her career focus has been genealogy instruction. She created a nine course genealogy series at Hillsborough County Public Library and has spoken for the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society of Tampa, the Indiana Genealogical Society and at the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree. She currently co-coordinates the programs and seminars held by The Genealogy Center. Her areas of interest are the southeastern United States, African American research, and the use of emerging technologies in genealogy, which has led to her being co-administrator of The Genealogy Center’s blog and Facebook page.
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Dawne Slater-Putt, Genealogy Librarian
Dawne Slater-Putt, CG, is a Fort Wayne native and has been actively involved in genealogical research for more than twenty-five years. She was supervisor of the PERiodical Source Index project from 1989-1991 and has been a Genealogy Librarian for The Genealogy Center from 1991-1996, and since 2009.
Dawne holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and French and a master’s degree in American history, both from Ball State University. Her master’s degree in library science is from Indiana University. She became a Board-certified genealogist in 1996 and operated the genealogy company Heritage Pathways, Inc., from 1996 until coming back on staff at ACPL in 2009. Dawne currently is recording secretary of the Indiana Genealogical Society. She was president of IGS from 1997-2001 and editor of its Indiana Genealogist quarterly publication for five years. Dawne currently serves the Board for Certification of Genealogists as secretary and has been the indexer for the National Genealogical Society Quarterly since 2001. She is a former director for the Federation of Genealogical Societies.
Her areas of specialty are genealogical writing and problem solving, Indiana research and 19th century African American research in the north. The Miami Indian Nation of Indiana is a developing area of interest.
Aaron Smith, Genealogy Center Assistant Manager/Materials Handling Unit
Aaron Smith, cataloger for The Genealogy Center collection, has served both public and academic libraries in the Midwest, and brings a love of human geography to his work. His undergraduate and graduate work in music and theology has led to a desire to provide access to the songs and stories of all peoples through librarianship, and he knows that providing extensive and quality access to such stories inspires more search and discovery. To this end, he understands the importance of keeping up with rapid technological change, and is closely involved in local efforts to make important genealogical resources available via the Internet.
He received his Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Kentucky, and has made presentations at meetings of the Ohio Library Council and the Indiana Library Federation. He led the Catalogers’ Interest Group of SWON (Southwest Ohio and Neighboring Libraries) from 2004 until 2007, when he joined The Genealogy Center staff in Fort Wayne.
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Cynthia Theusch, Genealogy Librarian
Cynthia Theusch is a native of Michigan and a member of several genealogical societies. She has served as vice president and president of the Mid-Michigan Genealogical Society and worked with the Michigan Genealogical Council’s Program Committee and the Death Indexing Project. Cynthia received a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science and a Certificate in Archival Administration from Wayne State University in 2007. During her study at Wayne State, she received a Student Writing Award on a reference project, a four-page pathfinder on the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Other written works include: The Descendants of Mathias Spang; The Descendants of Nicholas Emmer; The Bauches Who Settled in the Midwest and Other Related Families; The Theusches Who Settled in the Midwest and Other Related Families; and Marriages Extracted from The Social Secretary of Detroit, Volumes 1919-1930 (Covers Years 1917-1929). Cynthia has been a reference librarian in The Genealogy Center since February, 2008 and has spent more than twenty-five years researching her family.
Besides presenting programs at The Genealogy Center, she has spoken at the Michigan Genealogical Council’s annual workshop, as well as for several societies in Michigan and Indiana. Her expertise includes research in Michigan and Luxembourg, French Canadian ancestry, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and using WeRelate.org.
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Curt B. Witcher, Genealogy Center Manager
Curt B. Witcher is the library’s Senior Manager for Special Collections, a job which entails managing The Genealogy Center, serving as general curator for that institution’s Rare and Fine Book Collection, and supervising the new Lincoln Financial Collection’s Lincoln Library. He has worked at the Allen County Public Library for more than thirty years. Curt is a member of the Genealogy Committee of the American Library Association, a past chair of the association’s History Section, a former president of both the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society, and the founding president of the Indiana Genealogical Society.
Curt was distinguished in 1995 as a fellow of the Utah Genealogical Association (FUGA) and received the Federation of Genealogical Societies' highest honor, the Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern Humanitarian Award, in 1997. He was the 2002 ALA-RUSA History Section Genealogical Publishing Company Award winner and in 2003 was honored by the Indiana Historical Society as that year’s Willard Heiss Memorial Lecturer. Curt was recognized in 2006 by being named the first fellow of the Indiana Genealogical Society. He was honored in May of 2007 with the National Genealogical Society’s P. William Filby award for outstanding, life-time contributions to genealogical librarianship.
Curt’s interests are in United States local history, migration history and settlement patterns, African American research, First Nations/Native American research, and preserving living history.