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17 September 2018

Report from the field: The Allen County Library Trip

The Genealogy Center at Allen County Public Library

Last month, CGS led a research trip to the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It ran concurrently with the annual meeting of the Federal of Genealogical Societies. This year for the first time the trip was restricted to intermediate-level researchers. Everyone worked independently but there was a lot of networking and helping one another.

Led by CGS past president Jane Lindsey, the trip yielded some new discoveries for participants. Lavinia Schwarz, current researcher for the Cresap Family Association, was able to extend one of her long-neglected early female ancestors’ lines.  Kate Black was visiting the library for the first time and was so excited with the records available to her there. Wendy Polivka, Pat Smith, Sandy Fryer, Linda Darby, Alison Shedd, Kath Merilo, and Diana Edwards all were taking advantage of the unique resources at this library, the largest public genealogical library in the country. It holds more than 513,000 rolls of microfilm and 55,000 compiled genealogy volumes, as well as privately published family histories, an impressive collection of state and territorial censuses, and much more.

The gang: Diana Edwards, Pat Smith, Lavinia Schwarz, Kath Merilo, Wendy Polivka, Linda Darby, Alison Shedd, Sandy Fryer. Not shown: Kate Black. Photo: Jane Lindsey
We had dinner together every night. (Jane Lindsey notes, “Since my last trip there about eight years ago, the restaurants available have greatly improved!”) Regular breakfasts together at the hotel also provided more time for networking, and on Sunday morning we all gathered to brainstorm until the library opened at noon.

Trip leader and "mother hen" Jane Lindsey hoists a glass after a hard day of research
August is thunderstorm season in Indiana. Two members had flights delayed by a day due to the weather, and we had a few storms while we were in the library, too. Fortunately we didn’t have to go out in them!
For more than 10 years, CGS has organized research trips to this invaluable repository. We trust the tradition will continue.

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