Recent Posts

02 September 2011

Report from the 2011 Allen County Public Library Research Tour

This year's tour to Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana was led by CGS Vice-President Jeffrey Vaillant who sent this report:

The pressure is on to be back in 2013 when the Federation of Genealogical Societies holds its annual conference in Fort Wayne! That was one of many nuggets gathered during the week at the Allen County Public Library.

It was a great week for research with everyone devouring the stacks of information available in book form or in microfilm. We all agreed that the microfilm room itself could hold ice cream solid for days!

It was a great group of people – Cathy Gowdy, Nancy Peterson, Mary Lee Sammis, Patricia Smith and Duncan Tanner – who fanned out in the library hunting down new information and genealogical clues. Mary Lee thoroughly investigated the 50,000 family history books looking for her families. Cathy fed Mary Lee information as well as seeking her own. Nancy walked the book stacks with state and county histories finding in one Minnesota county history THE naturalization account with the local German town which had been eluding discovery. Duncan hunted down clues for his grandfather and Pat was the energizer bunny moving around at a frantic pace.

Nancy Peterson presented Curt Wicher with a copy of her second edition of Raking the Ashes: Genealogical Strategies for Pre-1906 San Francisco Research
There were many highlights of the time in Fort Wayne. Everyone agreed that the Wednesday night dinner with Curt Witcher was one of the best. He broke bread with us for two hours and talked about being at the Genealogical Department for 25+ years, the type of staff he hires (they are very very helpful), the challenges of being in a public library, the policies about collecting materials and what he foresees. [Hint: Subscribe to the Genealogy Gems from the ACPL.]
The next day Curt took us into the “basement” to see and ask questions about the scanning efforts taking place at the Library. There is excellent work being done to scan a multitude of records including the original New York Times newspapers from the 1860s!

Gastronomically we ate our way through Fort Wayne from Cindy’s Diner (only seats 15 at a time) to J.K. O’Donnell’s Irish Ale House for three dinners! Of course we did the Dash-In as well as the 13th floor Window Garden CafĂ© – the view of Fort Wayne from the 13th floor can be stated in one word: Flat! The Toscani Pizzeria, the 816 Pint & Slice together with the Loaf n’Ladle and even Dunkin Donuts at the Library got visits. Another highlight was the 1905 Pfeiffer House and Wayne Street Soda Shop. All of these were within a few blocks of the library and the weather cooperated by being in the low 80’s with reasonable humidity.

Another highlight was a good old fashion Midwestern thunder and lightning storm or the fireworks Saturday night after the Tincaps baseball game. A little something for everyone was provided.

The Courtyard by Marriott was a hit. As one participant stated “I have never stayed in a hotel with such fast, seamless internet…multiple public terminals and “Word” to boot. Staff is extraordinarily friendly.” There was a Starbucks onsite for all the breakfast needs so we ate our way through their offerings.

It was my good fortune to be with five completely self-starters. It was a wonderful way to “break” me into my first trip. My thanks to all the people for a great seven days at the ACPL and Fort Wayne. See you in 2013.
– Jeff Vaillant

Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library