Allen County Public Library

Jump to Access Fort Wayne, Discovery Center, Digital Center, Genealogy Center, Genealogy Gems, Lincoln Collection, More Infomation, PERSI, Timeline, Videos

Allen County Public Library
900 Library Plaza
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
Phone: 260.421.1225
Fax: 260.421.1386

Beyond books : Allen County's public library history, 1895-1995 1995, by Slater-Putt, DawneAllen County Public Library on Internet Archive.
Includes bibliographical references and index

June 7, 2023 post by The History Center on Facebook:

In Allen County, the public library system is a much revered institution. The roots of the public library date back to 1895, with the founding of the Fort Wayne Public Library. The library was originally located in the City Hall (today the History Center) from January to September of 1895 before moving into the former home of Sol. D. Bayless at the corner of Wayne and Clinton streets. Outgrowing this second location, the library moved once again in 1898 to the remodeled Brackenridge Home at the corner of Wayne and Webster streets. Once again outgrowing its location, the library moved into temporary quarters on the second floor the Elektron Building, 215 E. Berry, so the Breckenridge house could be razed to make way for a new building. On June 7, 1904, exactly 119 years ago today, the Fort Wayne Public Library dedicated their new building. It cost $110,000, with $90,000 coming from the wealthy industrialist Andrew Carnegie. The new building was built in the Neoclassical style, featuring a pediment with columns and a central circular hall. This library, which served generations of Fort Wayne residents, was razed in 1965 to make way for a new modern building. #sociallyhistory


  • 1895 – Library opened in City Hall on January 28 with 3,606 volumes.
  • 1898 – Library Board purchased the Brackenridge Home at Wayne Street and Webster Street for $14,000.
  • 1904 – Carnegie-funded library building opened after he gave the city $90,000 to build it. It was designed by Alfred Grindle of Fort Wayne. From comments by Randy Harter, Fort Wayne historian and author on April 22, 2020 library discussion on You are positively from Fort Wayne, if you remember... Archived group only visible to existing members on Facebook.
  • 1923 – Service to county residents began. Fort Wayne Public Library became Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County.
  • 1944 – Main Library expansion began with purchase of Hollywood Building on Washington Boulevard to house administrative offices.
  • 1952 – Young Adult Department opened in basement of main library, the first such department in the country.
  • 1968 – 173,500-square-foot (16,120 m2) building at Wayne and Webster Streets was dedicated August 21, 1968.
  • 1977 – Construction of the new addition to the Main Library began.
  • 1980 – Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County officially became Allen County Public Library by act of the state legislature on January 1.
  • 1985 – Estimated 5,500 people ate 2,731 pizzas during system's 90th birthday celebration.
  • 1997 – Library Board and staff began system-wide space needs analysis for all library facilities.
  • 2001 – Allen County taxpayers approved bond financing of the $84 million library expansion project.
  • 2007 – Renovation and expansion of main library nears completion. Grand opening held on January 27, 2007, with Randall T. Shepard, Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court, among the speakers. Copied from Allen County Public Library on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

May 26, 2023 post by the Genealogy Center on Facebook:

Did you know that we have been serving the Genealogy community since 1961? The collection started with 1,000 genealogical books on the shelves. This article, published in the Fort Wayne News Sentinel in 1970 discusses the growing Genealogy department at the Allen County Public Library, headed by Dorothy Lower at the time. By 1970, the collection contained some 40,000 volumes.

Today, our collection contains more than 1.3 million items!

Plan your visit to the Genealogy Center:

Shackelford, Carol (1970, April 06). “Family Tree Search Becomes Popular”. Fort Wayne News Sentinel, 1b.

April 18, 2023 post by The Journal Gazetteon Facebook:

Visits and borrowing at the Allen County Public Library increased last year, and the library had more registered users, internet users and program attendees than in 2021, according to a new report.

Access Fort Wayne

Public television channels at the Allen County Public Library. They have Access One, Access Two and a YouTube website where they post some of their current and historical videos also shown on cable television public access channels. A discussion with Alan Bengs February 26, 2019 on You are positively from Fort Wayne, if you remember... Archived group only visible to existing members on Facebookwas the source for these videos. A few are listed below and others are on some of our other pages:

  1. Access Fort Wayne collection is on
  2. ACPL Presents: Lincoln Highway Across Indiana - Show 13700, 54 minute video - November 27, 2018 lecture recorded at the library
  3. Street Series 1970s videos of various streets up to an hour long, those videos and more can be found on our Streets of Fort Wayne page.

The Genealogy Center

  1. The Allen County Public Library collection is from our local The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, some are Google ebooks and from other repositories.
  2. There are thousands of ebooks online depending on how you search such as City of Fort Wayne, Indiana with over 15,000 city documents, Fort Wayne Indiana with over 20,000 ordinance documents, Fort Wayne Americana 20,000 more items, and Allen County Indiana over 55,000 items including non-Allen County "stuff" online at
  3. The Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center-microfilm collection has over 36,000 titles on various topics and locations many from the National Archives.
  4. Links to some of those books are also organized by publication date or subject on our Timeline, People, and Places pages.

March 24, 2023 post by Fort Wayne Now on Facebook:

I found my great-grandmother in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Actually, she didn't live in Indiana but on an island in the Baltic Sea. After years of searching for her birthplace, experts at the second-largest genealogical research collection in the U.S. did what ...
Find your roots in Fort Wayne: Visit The Genealogy Center on a getaway to Indiana's second city  Katherine Rodeghier, March 24, 2023 in DailyHearld Chicago, IL.





March 1, 2023 post by Genealogy Center on Facebook:

Happy Wednesday! Take a look at these photos of the Genealogy Center from 1999! These pictures include a view of the open stacks, the microfilm room catalog and cabinets, and the reference desk and card catalog.

These photos are courtesy of our Community Album. View them and thousands more images here:















April 9, 2015 post by the Genealogy Center on Facebook:.

The Genealogy Center still has the Photocopy Exchange Program. If you have written a family history (it must be something YOU have written), you can give us a manuscript and we will make 1 bound copy for you and 1 bound copy for our collection. This is how we have obtained many of the very rare family history volumes in our collection.











October 2, 2021 post by the Genealogy Center on Facebook:

Meet the Genealogy Center: Curt Witcher Manager, The Genealogy Center Director of Special Collections

Learn more about Curt and our other genealogy librarians:



March 27, 2023 post by by the Genealogy Center on Facebook:

Have you checked out our Pathfinders? These handy lists of selected research guides and record indexes located within the Genealogy Center can help you get started on your research within a particular state, country, or subject!

Click the 'Pathfinders' link here to start exploring:
















Discover Your Family History in Fort Wayne, Indiana published October 19, 2018 by Visit Fort Wayne on YouTube
Fort Wayne is home to the nation’s largest public genealogy collection at The Genealogy Center, which visitors can enjoy for FREE! Whether you’re a casual family historian or a seasoned professional, the trained genealogists on staff will help you get started on your family history research, or help you dig deeper into your family research! Learn more at Find Your Story in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Virtual Tour of The Genealogy Center posted Feb 12, 2021 by Allen County Public Library on YouTube
Discover everything The Genealogy Center has to offer through this virtual tour!

Learning to Use The Genealogy Center Catalog posted Sep 12, 2021 by Allen County Public Library on YouTube
The Genealogy Center's Catalog is always updating and changing. Join us on July 8th for a live demo on how to best use the catalog for your genealogy research. Presented by: Allison DePrey Singleton

Meet the NEW Genealogy Center Online Portal posted Dec 9, 2020 by Allen County Public Library on YouTube
Join Curt Witcher as he dives into how to find our resources on our NEW Genealogy Center website. Presented by The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library. The ACPL Genealogy Center is a unique and valuable resource for the Northeastern Indiana community and the entire genealogical community at large. We have one of the largest research collections available, incorporating records from around the world. Our staff specializes in genealogy and is always available to help.

Researching Family History: Using the Genealogy Center Website posted Mar 30, 2020 by Allen County Public Library on YouTube
Our Genealogy Center website offers thousands of valuable resources and documents that can help you research your family history!

Even More New Treasures: The Genealogy Center's Digital Collections! posted Mar 30, 2022 by Allen County Public Library on YouTube
Discover some of the new collections that have been added to the treasure trove of more than five million searchable items accessible online from The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Join us for a virtual tour of The Genealogy Center’s digital collections. Presented by: Melissa Tennant Handout:

Meet the Genealogy Center Online Portal Version 2 posted Feb 14, 2022 by Allen County Public Library on YouTube
Join Melissa Tennant for Part 2 of the virtual tour of the recent updates to the Genealogy Center website and discover navigation techniques that will have you discovering your family.

Treasure Awaits: The Genealogy Center’s Digital Collections posted Aug 12, 2021 by Allen County Public Library on YouTube
Discover the treasure trove of more than five million searchable items accessible online from The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Join us for a virtual tour of The Genealogy Center’s digital collections.

Introduction to WorldCat Tools posted May 21, 2021 by Allen County Public Library on YouTube
Join us to find out how to turn WorldCat, the largest compilation of library resources in the world, into your discovery toolbox! We will walk you through creating a free account, setting up your profile, compiling lists and bibliographies, and even saving your search queries. You will learn how to designate your favorite libraries, including The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library, Family History Library and other major genealogy libraries. Presented by Aaron Smith and Kasia Young

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Discovery Center

Dedication of the Discovery Center published March 15, 2016 by Access Fort Wayne on YouTube.
The Discovery Center at the Genealogy Department in the Allen County Public Library is the latest resource provided by the ACPL. Director of the Library, Greta Southard, opened the ceremony hosted by Genealogy Manager Curt Witcher. Many notables were present including esteemed retired Library Director Jeff Krull. This video was recorded and edited by Access Fort Wayne, a department of the Allen County Public Library.

Digital Center

10 minute video Midwest Regional DigitizationCenter by Kay Gregg & Caitlin Crowley Publication date 2015-12-15
Discribes the Internet Archive operation digitizing various Allen County Public Library book collections.
Guess what we find in books? A look Inside our Midwest Regional Digitization Center
by Jeff Sharpe posted on March 11, 2016 by Wendy Hanamura on the Internet Archive Blog.

February 24, 2023 post by Allen County Public Library on Facebook:

Did you know, nestled in the lower levels of the Main Library, production to digitize public-domain materials, such as yearbooks from the 1920s, a collection of books dating back to the 1880s and old photographs is in full swing? This effort is led by a group of full-time volunteers who scan donated materials like family history logs and old newspapers for genealogy research, making them easily accessible in a community album, no matter your location. These detailed processes require handling materials dating back over one hundred years, which helps ultimately provide direction to researchers looking for a particular person in a particular place at a particular time. 






April 7, 2023 post by Allen County Public Library on Facebook:

The Genealogy Center is active in several initiatives to make significant public domain portions of its collection available online! This includes a partnership with Internet Archive.

View thousands of digitized materials from our collection at this link:









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10 minute video Making books is fun! (to watch) 1947 uploaded May 31, 2007 by Ziptrivia

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Lincoln Collection

Introduction to the Lincoln Collection published February 13, 2018 by The Lincoln Collection on their YouTubechannel.

The Lincoln Collection at the Allen County Public Library has a YouTubevideo channel with over 20 videos about Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States. The Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection at has over 15,000 ebooks available to billions of people around the world. Volumes that in the past may have been opened only a few times a year are now often downloaded thousands of times each month! Links to those ebooks are still being organized on our pages by topics such as cemetery, church, or school.

HUGE Abraham Lincoln COLLECTION (See the TOP FIVE RARE items inside) by Daniel Beals uploaded May 28, 2022 Story originally aired Dec. 17, 2020 on YouTube.
“A top five list for a collection like this is extremely difficult to pick.” Sr. Lincoln Librarian Emily Rapoza manages the massive Abraham Lincoln archive beneath the Allen County Public Library downtown. On normal days, she would be giving tours of the collection to families and students, but the pandemic put a temporary stop to that. Instead, we asked her to list the top five items that are either rare, have an interesting story, or popular to those who visit the library’s vaults. The five items are listed on YouTube.

Lincoln was shot April 14, 1865 by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., and died the next day. Andrew Johnson becomes 17th president of the U.S. after Lincoln's assassination. Thousands of Lincoln photos, documents and books are online in the Lincoln Collection at the Allen County Public Library which also has speaker presentation videos archived as Lincoln Programs at the Allen County Public Library on where the Description states: This collection showcases library-sponsored programs based around the life and times of Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States. The Allen County Public Library has been documenting Lincoln events at the library since 2010. These video clips are available to authors, scholars, TV producers, educators, students, Lincoln enthusiasts, and the general public. Topics include little-known facts about the Lincoln family, descriptions of life during the American Civil War, details about Lincoln’s assassination and much more. The Friends of Lincoln Collection and highlighted in Fort Wayne collection preserves impressions of Lincoln for the ages by Bob Caylor published April 15, 2015 now on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Stories, videos, photos and more to remember the day Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in Abraham Lincoln: 1809-1865 published in The News-Sentinel newspaper. There are over 3,500 Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection items on Internet Archive.

March 27, 2015 post by Lincoln Collection on Facebook:

This gilt-edged leather-bound copy of “Decisive Battles since Waterloo: The Most Important Military Events from 1815 to 1887” by Thomas Knox was printed in 1900. Four Civil War battles – the Monitor and Merrimac, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Five Forks – have chapters in the book, but otherwise there is no connection to Lincoln in the text. However, when the pages of the book are displayed in just the right way, Lincoln appears. The illustration of Lincoln’s life, from the cabin to the White House, is a fore-edge painting, hidden from view until the pages are correctly seen. Fore-edge paintings first appeared on books as early as the Middle Ages, but became especially popular in the late 19th century. 












February 20, 2023 post by Visit Fort Wayne is at Allen County Public Libraryon Facebook:

Explore the life and times of Abraham Lincoln at the Rolland Center for Lincoln Research inside the Allen County Public Library! Interactive, immersive technology brings to life this incredible collection of photos, letters, diaries, and more. Details:

ACPL The Rolland Center for Lincoln Research

Friends of the Lincoln Collection The Rolland Center for Lincoln Research: Now Open at the Allen County Public Library

The Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection and the Friends of the Lincoln Collection are thrilled to announce that the Rolland Center for Lincoln Research is officially open.










Web Extra: Tour of The Rolland Center for Lincoln Research by Daniel Beals posted January 11, 2022 on YouTube


April 10, 2023 post by Genealogy Center on Facebook:

Have you explored our YouTube channel lately? We have over 230 previously recorded programs available to view! Take a look here:


We have many of their videos scattered among our many pages.









  1. The Allen County Public Library has a YouTube video channel.
  2. The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana has over 200 genealogy videos on their YouTubechannel.
  3. WPTA 21 Country Stories is a collection of videos by Eric Olson their longest-serving reporter who is now retired. A journalist for 40 years, 30 of them working in Fort Wayne. Eric covered local news for many years but for two decades developed the 21Country franchise into a viewer favorite, producing nearly 3000 feature stories on interesting people, places and history that is now being adding to The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana online video collection.

    21Country to live on in ACPL archives August 21, 2020 ABC21 WPTA on YouTube
    The Allen County Public Library will be a permanent home for the work of Eric Olson, who retired after a 40-year career in broadcasting.

  4. 30 minute video The Fort Report: Allen County Public Library August 3, 2014 by The News-Sentinel on YouTube
    Kevin Leininger sits down with Allen County Public Library Director Jeffery Krull to discuss the libraries' challenges and opportunities, him imminent retirement and other issues. All episodes of The Fort Report air Saturday's at 5:30 p.m. on Comcast Ch. 57, FiOS Ch. 27, and on Sunday's at

  5. Rescuing Photos from Dying Digital Platforms: How to Save by Allen County Public Library published on Apr 30, 2019 on YouTube
    Presented by the Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library. "Rescuing Photos from Dying Digital Platforms: How to Save" With the news that Google+ is shutting down, people are scrambling to make sure they have saved their content. Let's explore how to save digital platform content that you and family members have put online. We will be focusing on Facebook, with additional tips for Twitter, Instagram, and websites. Macs, PCs, IPhone, and Android will be used for this presentation.
  6. Access Fort Wayne has an Access Fort Wayne channelon YouTube, 40 Things to Know About Access Fort Wayne Annual report Cable Fund Advisory Board Meeting April 29, 2021, and around 350 items on Access Fort Wayne This collection is an archive of the "Access Fort Wayne" Youtube channel: on the Internet Archive.
  7. 15 minute video Dedication of the Discovery Center by the The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana on YouTube published March 15, 2016 by AccessFortWayne.
  8. Genealogy Center, Allen County Public Library 9 minute video with librarians John and Amy Beatty published August 14, 2007
  9. Genealogy Center, Allen County Public Library II 7:30 minute video with librarian John Beatty published August 14, 2007
  10. Ancestors Are Interesting 7 minute video of school children published March 13, 2012
  11. Internet Archive Midwest Digitization Center 9:30 minute video published January 3, 2016
  12. Family History Month at the Genealogy Center one minute video published October 4, 2016
  13. The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library 4:30 minute video by Visit Fort Wayne published October 21, 2009 YouTube
  14. How to File a FOIA Request with the National Archives US National Archives published March 9, 2017 by the US National Archives
  15. Street Scenes--New Haven Public Library Published by Allen County Public Libraryon YouTube November 11, 2016. This clip is from the July 2nd, 1976 taping of New Haven from the Street Scenes Series created by Steven Fortriede. Produced by the Fort Wayne Public Library. Camera and Editing by Steve Fortriede.

Genealogy Gems

April 24, 2023 post by Genealogy Center on Facebook:

Are you subscribed to Genealogy Gems? Genealogy Gems is our free monthly e-zine, published at the end of each month. The e-zine contains information about the department's collections and articles discussing many useful research tips!

Click here to subscribe and to browse previously published editions:

A separate Genealogy Gems Archive back to the first issue September 30, 2004 is maintained by Friends of the Allen County Library.

Genealogy Gems: News from the Allen County Public Library at Fort Wayne, No. 230, April 30, 2023
Another Look at Reasonably Exhaustive Research
by Curt B. Witcher

Last week I had the very good fortune of being invited by Sarah Kirby to speak at the Huntington City-Township Public Library during National Library Week. I was asked to present a methodology talk on how we can find more records, access more data, in our quest to engage in “reasonably exhaustive research.” I thought it might be worthwhile to cover some of the points I shared in that presentation in this end-of-April column.

There are numerous ways one can approach the task of engaging in reasonably exhaustive research, and much has been written on the topic. One way I like to approach the topic is to be much more intentional in identifying a great number of repositories in which one will find records about people, places, time periods, and events. A good way to do that for ancestors in the United States is to divide records evidencing our ancestors’ lives into published, official or governmental, and unpublished. Further, explore for those records in repositories at the local level, state level, and national level.

The best among numerous places to look for published records at the local level is to explore the local public library. With very few exceptions, most public libraries have rich collections of materials that rather comprehensively cover the jurisdictions they serve. They typically collect histories of all types that cover the institutions, organizations and people of the particular area. Their collections most frequently contain city, county and rural directories, newspapers of all types, phone books, indices to vital records and court records, obituary and cemetery files, and pamphlet files that detail special events, individuals, and groups in the area. Yes, much of the aforementioned information can be found on the websites of large information aggregators such as Ancestry, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, FindMyPast, and the Internet Archive to name some of the largest. However, if one is committed to engaging in reasonably exhaustive research, one truly must visit the websites and use the catalogs of the local public libraries to ensure that one is truly looking at, taking advantage of, and benefiting from all available data.

State libraries represent significant record repositories that should be often visited for published information about the state in which one is researching. In some states, the state library and state archive are a combined entity; in a few other states that don’t have a state library, the state historical society often performs the major roles of a state library. In a way, state libraries function like the public library for the state. Their holdings of directories, newspapers, and published histories are significant collections that they make available to researchers. Engaging their online discovery tools will almost assuredly lead one to many resources. They also typically have very robust collections of state government documents. While those documents may seem dusty-dry at first glance, they can hold valuable information about aspects of our ancestors’ lives. I appreciate that library catalogs can be challenging to use and are not all together that intuitive. Alas, in most instances they are all we have to get a virtual look at a library’s collection. Hence, take time to play a bit, try different search terms, and engage any Ask-A-Librarian services that may be offered as methods to more clearly understand their resources and services.

At the national level, libraries that one should consider exploring when doing reasonably exhaustive research in published materials include the Allen County Public Library, the Clayton Library of the Houston Public Library, the FamilySearch Library, the Midwest Genealogy Center, the NSDAR Library in Washington, DC, the New York Public Library, the New England Historic Genealogical Society library in Boston, the Newberry Library in Chicago, the Dallas Public Library, the Los Angeles Public Library, the Library of Congress, and many more. As mentioned previously, each of their online catalogs works a little differently so expect to spend a bit of time exploring different search terms and engaging any advanced search features you may find. And keep an eye peeled for any chat or live information services they may offer.

The template we can deploy in seeking official or governmental records is relatively straightforward—local courthouses and record repositories, state archives, and the National Archives. It can be easy for some to forget that for most of the repositories in this category, they are collecting records of the various governmental units. They typically are not collecting family histories, newspapers, and directories. The various libraries we previously discussed tend to take care of that responsibility.

Birth, marriage and death records, will and probate records, land records including grantor and grantee indices, pleadings and proceedings of local lawsuits, payment of taxes and fees, records of licenses of all types—basically anything that is the work of local government and local government offices will be found for some period of time in local courthouses or local government archives. One should determine the official local office responsible for a particular record or record group, and then inquire about their holdings, record retention schedules, and the process for accessing information and copies of documents. In some communities, the local public library or a local college or university may serve as a repository for some of the records of a local governmental unit, particularly the more historic documents and records. Don’t expect a lot from the websites of local archives and record repositories. A lot of their web real estate is consumed with contemporary hearings, rulings, and public meetings as well as public and political initiatives.

At the state level, state archives truly are a genealogist’s friend. First, the records they curate and provide access to are rich with data relating to the lives and times of our ancestors--both specific details and excellent contexting data. And second, the websites of many state archives contain very useful finding aids, indices, and increasingly, digital copies of actual documents. I know since I am a Hoosier this may be viewed as a biased comment; however, the Indiana Archives and Records Administration is a great website to look at as an example of what one may find available online. <> Nearly one and a half million names are searchable from this website just for starters. The Tennessee State Library and Archives and the Missouri State Archives are two other excellent state archive sites.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) with its various regional branches is the national level archive that curates many hundreds of millions of historical documents of great value to genealogists and historical researchers. This tremendously large website may appear intimidating and challenging to navigate. As referenced previously, it is truly worthwhile to take time to explore and play with the various search and discovery options. NARA partners with numerous large information aggregators in making digital copies of many records available online, the two most prominent being Ancestry and FamilySearch. In the coming three to five years look for some of the records digitized through these partnerships to be even more widely available online as embargo periods expire. It would take me at least several columns to begin exploring even a part of what NARA has to offer online. One may just want to devote a bit of scheduled time to exploring the website.

The button on the main page of the NARA website that likely bears exploring first is named “Research Our Records.” Under that button one can find links to search the catalog (take your time as the catalog initially can be quite frustrating!), other online research tools including Access to Archival Databases (AAD), researching your ancestry, and researching military records. The sheer quantity of data on this site begs one to explore. This site is so consequential that the Genealogy Center has posted many NARA finding guides for easier viewing at <>. It’s worth at least a quick look.  

Exploring for unpublished materials--photographs, letters, diaries, daybooks, store ledgers, company records, and the like--may seem like a formidable task, particularly if we are committed to finding all the data possible. It helps to keep your geographic foci in mind. First, look on the local level, and for that we would be looking at local historical societies of all types. City and county historical societies typically have the most robust collections but don’t forget about ethnic, religious, and occupational historical societies. Some of these societies have very modest sized collections, while some are quite extensive. You won’t know until you look. Some local historical society websites are extremely poor relative to online indices, finding aids and collection descriptions. A phone call or email prior to a visit may be necessary to ascertain what resources are available to researchers.

State historical societies typically have amazingly robust collections of records and documents for the geographic areas they cover. In addition, their websites are typically quite good in providing meaningful discovery layers for their collections. Increasingly state historical societies are linking significant digital collections from their websites. Articulating Hoosier pride again, the Indiana Historical Society’s webpage offers much to explore. <> Two links that can quickly lead to resources include the library catalog and digital collections links. Online finding aids can greatly assist in finding specific collections worth further exploration. Among other state historical societies of note are the Wisconsin Historical Society, the Ohio History Connection, the Kentucky Historical Society, and the Georgia Historical Society. Please note, though, that the website of the state historical society in the state where you are conducting research is always worth exploring.

In the category of national historical societies, I would suggest we consider historical societies that cover regions of the country if not the entire country. Such historical societies or organizations tend to be occupationally or ethnically based. These national historical societies tend to be overlooked by genealogists. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Historical Society and the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia are two examples of such organizations that may benefit family historians.

Though I am a big fan of using our just articulated strategy of published, official/governmental, and unpublished materials collected at the local, state and national levels as a guide in conducting reasonably exhaustive research, I must also offer that nearly any library or archive may have a manuscript collection that is most relevant to one’s research. Further, this library or archive might be outside our articulated strategy for locating such materials. A supplemental strategy is worth embracing: consult NUCMC (National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections), ArchiveGrid, Google and ChatGPT to locate important manuscript collections in repositories you may not initially consider searching.

Keep brainstorming ideas for engaging in reasonably exhaustive research!

PERSI - PERiodical Source Index

A monthly section on using and searching PERSI is posted in the Genealogy Gems monthly E-Zine which lists information about the department's collections and useful research tips emailed to subscribers. A separate Genealogy Gems Archive back to the first issue September 30, 2004 is maintained by Friends of the Allen County Library. One example is shown below:

Genealogy Gems: News from the Allen County Public Library at Fort Wayne, No. 230, April 30, 2023


PERSI: A Research Gem
by Allison DePrey Singleton

The Genealogy Center is delighted to be the home of the Periodical Source Index (PERSI). Created in 1985, PERSI assists genealogy researchers in finding articles in more than 11,000 titles of periodicals and is designed to make that research easier, since many publications do not have their own indexes. Researchers have difficulty knowing every periodical that might benefit their research due to such factors as limited availability, the unexpected location of information, and the size of the organization that creates the periodical. The library staff designed PERSI to help overcome these obstacles and leave no stone unturned. Even though it has been around for more than 37 years, it has only come to be hosted on the Genealogy Center website this past year. Let’s explore how to use PERSI.

The indexed periodicals come from local, regional, and state genealogical societies, historical societies, museums, academic institutions, special interest groups, for-profit publishers, individuals, and many other organizations. Currently, the Genealogy Center receives more than 3,000 periodical subscriptions that are part of its permanent collection. Once we have a full run of a periodical, they are bound and shelved based on topic or location. The current periodicals are kept unbound in alphabetical order. All of them have been cataloged into our collection.

PERSI indexes the titles of articles. The content is not itself indexed, which means researchers need to look for topics and subjects surrounding their ancestors’ lives. PERSI has a surname index that can be searched, but it is unusual for entire articles to be written about one person or one family. Often, these articles include a wide variety of information, including transcriptions of court records, cemetery markers, wills, and other types of records or historical topics. It is best to look for both the surname and the topics or subjects for each ancestor being researched.

Searching PERSI is a learned skill. We recommend that you watch at least one of our videos on PERSI: Ask the Experts: PERSI or Welcome to the New, FREE, Periodical Source Index (PERSI)!. [SHOWN BELOW] Both of these videos will supply tips and tricks to get the most out of PERSI. Wildcards are not available at this time, but it is possible to enter search terms in quotes. More specific results will be found this way. It is also important to think of every term that can be used to describe an event in an ancestor’s life. For example, if seeking material on a death event, use terms such as death, die, funeral, wake, burial, bury, cemetery, grave, headstone, homicide, suicide, murder, kill, will, probate, etc. Be creative!

After an exciting discovery has been made within PERSI, obtaining a copy of the article is the next step. The first option is to visit the Genealogy Center to view the article in person. Researchers are able to make photocopies, scans, or take pictures. We then recommend contacting the publisher for each periodical to see if an inexpensive or free copy could be obtained. The next step is to see if there is a copy of the article in a local library. is the best option for finding locations of these titles. Lastly, an article order can be made through the Genealogy Center at a small fee. The order form needs to be filled out here: The form can be mailed or emailed. Pre-payment is no longer necessary. The best part of the Genealogy Center’s hosting PERSI, creating the index, and having the periodicals on the premises is that our staff are also here to assist. We want your search to be successful.

April 17, 2023 post by Genealogy Center on Facebook:

Have you searched PERSI lately? 🔍 PERSI, our Periodical Source Index, is the premier subject index for genealogy and local history periodicals, and is produced by the staff of The Genealogy Center. This valuable resource provides more than 3 million citations to readily-available periodical sources!

Start searching here: 

1:25 minute video October 31, 2022 post by Genealogy Center on Facebook.

2:07 minute video October 31, 2021 post by Genealogy Center on Facebook. Meet the Genealogy Center: Adam Barrone Genealogy PERSI Research Center Supervisor.

Periodical Source Index is free at the The Genealogy Center. PERSI is a subject index to genealogy and local history periodical literature started in 1985. See Check out the New PERSI! published January 12, 2022 on Genealogy PERSI scopes out genealogy journals - Index developed at ACPL gets to root of the issue a short history and future plans July 14, 2013 by Dan Stockman of The Journal Gazette newspaper. Some of the pre-1923 off copyright publications indexed on PERSI can be found on the Find My Past PERSI Collection on

Ask the Experts: PERSI posted Oct 3, 2022 by the Allen County Public Library on YouTube
Join the Genealogy Center's senior librarians on Thursday, August 18th at 6:30 p.m. EDT where we will discuss the amazing Periodical Source Index (PERSI). Participate in this discussion on how PERSI can assist you with your research.

Welcome to the New, FREE, Periodical Source Index (PERSI)! January 28, 2022 by the Allen County Public Library on YouTube
The Genealogy Center The Periodical Source Index (PERSI) is the premier subject index for genealogy and local history periodicals, and is produced by the staff of The Genealogy Center. This January, PERSI will be made available as a part of our FREE databases, and we want your feedback to make this the best tool in your family history toolbox! Join us for an informal first look at the new PERSI to ask questions and share your thoughts.

Finding Periodical Articles about Your Geographic Area of Interest Using PERSI published February 25, 2022 by Allen County Public Library on YouTube
Recently made free to the public, the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) is the premier subject index for genealogy and local history periodicals, and is produced by the staff of The Genealogy Center. Join Curt Witcher to learn more about how to use this powerful tool to find articles about where your ancestors lived! Handout:

AF-163: What is PERSI and How Can You Use it to Improve Your Genealogy Research? by Ancestral Findings on YouTube
What is the PERSI index, and why should you be using it for genealogical research? Here’s everything you need to know about this valuable resource.

Find Millions of Genealogy Clues with This Free Website posted May 6, 2022 by Genealogy with Amy Johnson Crow on YouTube
There are millions of genealogy clues published by genealogy societies that you will never find on Ancestry or FamilySearch. Here's how to use a free resource called PERSI to find those valuable clues. PERSI is now available for FREE on the website of the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It has references to more than 3 million articles. It's definitely worth exploring!

More Information

  1. Allen County Public Library Website
  2. Allen County Public Library Community Album digital images.
  3. Library transforms photos into history about the Community Album at the Allen County Public Libraryby Frank Gray published February 4, 2016 in The Journal Gazette newspaper now on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
  4. Archive.orghas a collection of over 60 volumes of pamphlets and stories on local people and places published by the Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County. Titles like Finding list of the Public Library ... 1897 .. by Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County, 1897 ; Bulletin by Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County, 1915; This is your library by Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County; Grimshaw, Ivan Gerould; Faust, Mary Craig, 1956;
  5. Allen County Public Library wiki at
  6. Allen County Public Library at the Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopediaarticle
  7. Allen County’s Amazing Library from Fort Wayne Monthly “Along the Heritage Trail with Tom Castaldi” – March 2011, No. 76. re-published November 24, 2015 on History Center Notes & Queries blog.
  8. Allen County Public Library Film local sports videos at the Internet Archiveon Zollner Pistons
  9. Genealogy Center web site
  10. Allen County Resources at The Genealogy Center
  11. ebooks 30,000 titles on Allen County, Indiana at the Internet Archive
  12. Friends of Allen County The Friends of the Allen County Public Library, a non-profit, membership organization, has a common concern for the library's expansion and participation in community life. Since 1981, the Friends of the Allen County Public Library has made significant contributions to the steady growth of the library and its services to the community. Facebook page:
  13. Over 36,000 rolls of Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center-microfilm at the Internet Archivefrom the The Genealogy Center Microtext by County list
  14. Over 90,000 eBooks digitized from the The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Libraryby the The Genealogy Center
  15. Instagram Account:
  16. Carnegie Libraries, Indiana received more Carnegie grants than any other state from Indiana at 200: Carnegie libraries distinguish Indiana's intellectual landscape by Andrea Neal published March 1, 2016 in The Herald-Tribune.
  17. Family Bibles list - More Free Family Bibles published May 9, 2017 on The Genealogy Center blog.
  18. Finding historical sports items at ACPL can be fun adventure by Blake Sebring published December 26, 2017 in The News-Sentinel newspaper.
  19. The Genealogy Center Our Blog, WordPress blog, Genealogy Gems list by year then month back to issue No. 1, March 31, 2004 with subscription form, and Genealogy Gems Mailling List monthly index from current issue back to issue 18A September 17, 2005 by the Friends of Allen County.
  20. Genealogical reference materials available in the Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County by Wilkens, Cleo Goff; Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County Publication date 1959
  21. History Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 on The Genealogy Center blog
  22. Harold Henderson Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog Finding Ancestors in Fort Wayne: The Genealogist's Unofficial One-Stop Guide to the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center.
  23. Indiana State Library has millions of records in their 18 Indexes - see their List of Indexes.
  24. Genealogy Librarian finds distant relatives of Vietnam veteran honored by community December 29, 2015 Facebook post.
  25. Librarian able to find family of WWII flier January 3, 2016 Facebook post.
  26. Microtext Catalog at The Genealogy Center
  27. Online databases at The Genealogy Center
  28. Records relating to War of 1812 over 450 rolls of microfilmed National Archive Indexes at the The Genealogy Center
  29. Think of Us Before You Move.... blog posted by The Genealogy Center May 28, 2015

  1. Beyond books : Allen County's public library history, 1895-1995 - Slater-Putt, Dawne, Includes bibliographical references and index
  2. Finding list of the Public Library ... 1897 .. (Volume yr.1897) - Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County published a book of all the titles in the library in 1897!

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