Early this summer a group of us headed to the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne for a couple of days of intensive ancestor hunting. This came after a series of classes at the Seymour Library to prepare for the trip.
Did any of us feel completely prepared even after all the planning? Probably not. The things we all do feel, I believe, are that we wished we had been able to do more advance work - and that we were glad we made the trip.
The ACPL Genealogy Center has one of the largest (some say the largest and I certainly wouldn't argue!) genealogy and local history collections in the world. I've visited there a lot of years, through three or four incarnations of the physical location, each better than the previous. I've long admired the phrase uttered frequently by the Genealogy Center's manager, Curt Witcher: "Nobody leaves with nothing."
I don't miss the lines at the card catalogs and the call slips to request books from my first visit during a national genealogy conference - but I wouldn't have missed that conference for anything. It was one of the first of a series of conferences and workshops I've attended at both state and national level over the years. I find the conferences are great for learning how to do genealogy, for meeting others passionate about ancestor hunting, and for renewing enthusiasm for pursuing history.
The open stacks in the collections at Fort Wayne are amazing - and yes, all the choices a bit overwhelming. What should I look at first? Why didn't I think of this or that as I looked at the online catalog and the PERSI index to periodicals to put together my advance plan?
The group that came back from Fort Wayne this summer asked if we could have genealogy discussions to delve deeper into some areas of research -- and the answer is, of course we can.
The deal is that everyone who comes will have to help by reading a bit about the topic chosen for discussion and introduce themselves with some new tidbit they took away from their reading.
The plan is that everyone will learn something to help with their research and likely will help others at the same time. If we need to, we can revisit the topic at future discussion sessions to learn more. Beginners are welcome as are experienced researchers. Everyone can contribute and learn. I plan to have a bibliography available soon with book chapters and websites to help with the first topic.
Here is information on the first two sessions:
10 am Saturday, September 19
Using Maps To Track Ancestors' Migrations and Marriages
10 am Saturday, October 17
Digging Into Passenger and Immigration Resources
No registration is necessary. Just come prepared with a tidbit (doesn't have to be long and involved) to get started and then help us choose topics for future sessions. Don't forget to put the time and dates on your calendar! See you there!