Discover Your Roots
October is Family History Month, so take advantage of having the nation’s largest public genealogy collection in your own backyard and begin to uncover where your family comes from and how its culture, lived experiences, traditions and stories passed down shape your perceptions of the world.
You can learn a tremendous amount about your family through good old-fashioned research and The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library is passionate about helping each person to make its immense collection accessible and assist you with discovering your family’s history.
The Genealogy Center is open seven days a week and is home to over 370,000 printed volumes, 590,000 microforms, military records that go back to the 1700s, city directories, census records, passenger lists and so much more in its collection that totals over 961,726 items. A little secret about the library’s Genealogy Center, it has a special licensing arrangement with Ancestry.com that allows you to access many of its services for free on the center’s computers.
The center is fully staffed with trained genealogists who can help you get started or dig deeper into your family research and a personalized research plan can be created for you. The center also offers free 30-minute personal research consultations if you are having difficulties with your research. Appointments are required. 900 Library Plaza, 260.421.1225, genealogycenter.org
From Generation to Generation
Irv Adler, a retired chemist, who became interested in genealogy when he began researching his family’s roots in Vienna, Austria; along with Curt Witcher, director of the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library; and Betsy Thal Gephard, assistant principal second violinist for the Fort Wayne Philharmonic established the Northeast Indiana Jewish Genealogy Society.
This non-profit organization is dedicated to collecting, preserving and disseminating Jewish genealogical information and research tools; it is a chapter of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Society.
“Betsy and I are members of the same temple and over the years we’ve talked about our interest in genealogy. Betsy has been interested in researching her Latvian ancestors and in my case, I was doing family research which morphed into my interest in genealogy,” said Adler.
The membership organization, established in 2018, is designed for those who are interested in learning more about their ancestry. Thal Gephard is overseeing the organization’s Fort Wayne Family History Project that is trying to build a family genealogical tree and database of Fort Wayne’s Jewish history dating back to the 1800s.
“I became interested in wanting to know about my ancestors and the family members that I lost in the Holocaust,” said Adler. “I didn’t know much about my maternal grandmother and other relatives and I wanted to make sure the memories of their lives weren’t lost.”
Adler believes that looking at history is important, “You need to know about the past, so it doesn’t repeat itself. It is necessary to understand the times in which past generations lived and how history relates to today.” Northeast Indiana Jewish Genealogy Society, 5200 Old Mill Road, neindianajgs.wordpress.com
EVENTS & ACTIVITIES
The Genealogy Center
Allen County Public Library • 900 Library Plaza, 260.421.1225 • genealogycenter.org
The Genealogy Center is offering a variety of programs throughout the month, here are just a few of its special events:
Food For Thought: Recipes as Memoir
Get ideas on how to collect and preserve family recipes for future generations. Wednesday, October 2, Shawnee Branch, 7 pm, 5600 Noll Avenue, 260.421.1355
DNA & Family History Interest Group Meetings
Learn more about DNA testing for genealogical purposes. Find out what is the best test for you. The beginners group meets at 6:30 pm and the more advanced group meets at 7:30 pm. Thursday, October 3, Discovery Center, Main Branch, 6:30 pm & 7:30 pm
Beginning Your Family History Journey
If you are interested in learning more about your family and where you came from, this class is an introduction on how to start your adventure and to begin to discover your family history. Saturday, October 5, Discovery Center, Main Branch, 2:30 pm
What Doesn’t Kill Us: Historical Illnesses and Causes of Death
This light-hearted overview of the medical conditions that plaqued our ancestors. Sunday, October 20, Discovery Center, Main Branch, 2:30 pm
Midnight Madness Extended Research Hours
6:30 pm: Finding & Using Catholic Church Records. An increasing numbers of Catholic records are available, learn how to find them and use the date they contain. 7:30 pm: What’s in the Collection? Tour and Introduction to The Genealogy Center Collection. This tour will give you a better idea of where to look to find what you are searching. 8:30 pm: Biographical Works in Genealogical Research. There are numerous sources of biographical works in the Genealogy Center. Discover how to find them and how to use them in discovering and documenting your family’s stories. Friday, October 25, Discovery Center, Main Branch, 6 pm – Midnight
A Day With Judy Russell
This is a special day for genealogists. The Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana presents Judy Russell a genealogist with a law degree who writes and lectures on subjects ranging from using court records in family history to understanding DNA testing. The day includes four lectures about legal matters associated with genealogy including private laws, using court records and copyright issues. Tickets: $40 for members of the Allen County Genealogical Society; $70 for non-members, includes lunch. Reservations Required. Walk-ins for lectures available at the non-member rate. Saturday, October 26, Theater, Main Branch, 8:45 am – 4 pm. 260.421.1225, acgsi.org