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Nirvana in Indiana

There are a handful of genealogical meccas in the United States that are simply not to be missed.

The National Archives in Washington, D.C.

The Library of Congress.

The Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

And the Allen County (Indiana) Public Library.

No, The Legal Genealogist hasn’t lost it this morning. Yeah, I really listed a midwestern county library in my top four research meccas. And yeah, it really belongs there.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of using the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, you’ve missed a genealogical treat. You owe yourself a trip — and, by the way, when better than in combination with the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Fort Wayne on August 21-24, 2013, where the lineup of speakers includes (just sayin’) The Legal Genealogist?

If past experience is any guide, the library will have extended hours during the conference. It will be a hubbub of research activity. It will have special events and tours to help you get the most out of its resources.

But why wait?

Go early. Stay late. Research at Fort Wayne online.

And do it all with the help of a wonderful new free online guide, Finding Ancestors in Fort Wayne: The Genealogist’s Unofficial One-Stop Guide to the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center,1 by my friend and Indiana genealogist Harold Henderson, CG. [UPDATE: To download, please go to Harold’s blog post about the guide and use the download link in the text there.]

This 26-page free PDF guide will take you through everything you need to know about researching at the Allen County Public Library and the astounding resources of its Genealogy Center — its vast collection of city directories, newspapers, books, periodicals, microfilm, and more.

Harold’s reason for writing the guide was his recognition that “this is not a normal library. It’s big, it contains many unexpected resources on and off line,” and, despite many orientation materials from the library itself, “nothing quite gives the whole picture.”2 And so he set out to fill the gap.

And he succeeds very well indeed.

First, in a Before You Go section, he provides a guide to those online orientation materials from the library, its About Us brochure and its blog, for example. Each item he references is hotlinked to its location online.

Then comes what I personally consider the heart of this guide: an in-depth look at the six (yeah, six) catalogs or finding aids to the different elements of the Allen County Public Library Collections: “one catalog for books, another for periodicals, another for microtexts (divided into several parts), another for microfilmed newspapers, another for digitized newspapers, and another for databases.”3

One by one the guide takes you through each catalog, how to use it, even what it looks like, and why you might want to use that one instead of or in combination with another. Because these are all online and so can all be used at home, this know-before-you-go information can save a ton of time when you get to the library — and may well lead you to information available online without the trip.

There’s a When You Arrive section, including maps and a floor plan, and even a section entitled A Few Goodies You Might Miss if You Didn’t Know About Them.

It’s obviously a labor of love, it’s a great guide for any genealogist, and — did I mention this — it’s free to download: Finding Ancestors in Fort Wayne: The Genealogist’s Unofficial One-Stop Guide to the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center.

Kudos to Harold for sharing his knowledge of this wonderful library with all of us.

See you in Fort Wayne!


 
SOURCES

  1. Harold Henderson, Finding Ancestors in Fort Wayne: The Genealogist’s Unofficial One-Stop Guide to the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center (La Porte, IN: author, April 2013; http://www.midwestroots.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/ACPLGC-April-2013.pdf).
  2. Harold Henderson, “Finding Ancestors in Fort Wayne: The Genealogist’s Unofficial One-Stop Guide to the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center,Midwestern Microhistory, posted 31 Mar 2013 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com/ : accessed 1 Apr 2013).
  3. Henderson, Finding Ancestors in Fort Wayne, PDF at 4.
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