Throughout the ages, curious people have wondered if they were descended from royalty, famous celebrities or notorious baddies. But beyond idly speculating about their ancestry or questioning whether there were any possible nuts in their family trees, few have pursued their curiosity seriously.
For those who would like to know more about those who came before them, the Allen County Public Library is regarded as one of the most complete genealogy centers in the nation. Its vast collection incorporates records from around the world. Several ACPL genealogy librarians with a wealth of information at their fingertips are eager to assist patrons.
Beginners wishing to begin their own family search before actually going to a brick-and-mortar genealogy resource can find plentiful suggestions on the ACPL website, such as first doing homework which may involve interviewing older relatives, checking birth and death certificates, obituaries, letters, diaries, the backs of photographs, family Bibles, yearbooks, diplomas, immigrant ancestors’ information and everything else at home. Also, visits to courthouses, county libraries and other facilities for records that are not available elsewhere can produce good results for the researcher.
It is helpful, too, to have one’s starting information organized on a standard genealogy chart, which will help the librarian know at a glance where a search should begin. Many varieties of charts are available free on the web as are varied databases.
According to Melissa Tennant, Genealogy Center assistant manager/ public services, some of ACPL’s patrons come in looking for different things such as the history of a house or a property or wanting to know about an entire military unit rather than a particular ancestor. “They want to understand the political or social atmosphere of the community their ancestor lived in so each person coming in asks different questions, yet they are all based on family history,” said Tennant, who also serves as director on the Federation of Genealogical Societies Board.
Are there any genealogy clubs locally? “There is the Allen County Genealogy Society of Indiana and there is also the state group which is the Indiana Genealogical Society,” said Tennant. “Finally, there is the African-American Genealogy Society. Surrounding counties often have their ownvclubs, which one can find on the Internet.”
The African-American Genealogical Society of Fort Wayne
The Allen County Public Library
900 Library Plaza
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
The Indiana Genealogy Society
P.O. Box 10507
Fort Wayne, IN 46852-0507
Genealogy Society of Indiana
Katie Poore, proprietor of Abby Brown’s Candy Shoppe in Fort Wayne, recalled an initial sibling foray into genealogy years ago which resulted in a surprise. “My sister discovered that our maternal grandmother had been married before marrying my grandfather!” said Poore, an avid reader who lives next door to one of the branch libraries. “No one ever mentioned that!”
Another highly-praised resource is Ancestry.com; much is readily available just by sitting at the computer. “I love living in this time when information is so easily available. Little did I know when I was young and reading the encyclopedias that I’d spend hours on the Internet reading all sorts of things,” Poore said. “Aren’t we lucky?”