Allen County Public Library Research
9/28/2009
Why is Fort Wayne, Indiana a family history hot spot? Its Allen County Public Library is a perfect place to trace your roots, no matter where they lie.

Doing Your Homework

Before you make a genealogical pilgrimage to Fort Wayne, set yourself up for success: Comb the ACPL's online catalog from home so you can arrive at the library with a checklist of sources in tow. Then you'll be able to dive right into the library's resources rather than frittering away research time trying to identify them.

To access the catalog, follow the link on the ACPL home page or click WebCat on the genealogy page. You'll discover it works much like other libraries' catalogs. Its front door is a Quick Search, where you enter a keyword or phrase (choose exact) to search or browse. You can limit your query to family history holdings by selecting Genealogy from the library pull-down menu (a testament to the department's popularity—it's the only individual department on a list of ACPL branch libraries). Then click Author, Title, Subject, Series, Periodical Title or Search Everything to launch your query.

Complex Search gives you six fields to construct advanced boolean searches (using and, or and not) with keywords, authors, titles, subjects and series. You're also able to limit the query to a specific library branch (again, including the genealogy department), language, format, year of publication and other options. Call No. Browse is helpful if you've found a title and want to know what related material may be available; it's a way of virtually wandering the stacks.

Besides searching the general catalog, you can remotely tap the ACPL's mammoth periodical collection through GENESIS (olympus.acpl.lib.in.us/Genesis or use the link on the genealogy page). This database lets you look up titles and bibliographic records of family history-related journals, magazines, newsletters and other serial publications. (You need PERSI to search those periodicals' contents—see the next page.)

These catalogs cover only printed materials; to hunt for specific info in filmed resources, use the genealogy department's on-site microtext catalog. You'll find more tips for using online library catalogs in the February 2002 Family Tree Magazine and in Rhonda McClure's The Genealogist's Computer Companion (Betterway Books, $18.99).