Thursday, November 06, 2008

Research Trip : Allen County Public Library, Ft. Wayne, IN

On Election Day, after voting, I headed up to the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne to spend the day doing genealogical research. It had been several years since I had been to the library. Geographically speaking, the trip to the library is only about an hour's drive, yet for a number of reasons I've been unable to break away and visit since they remodeled.

I was pleasantly surprised with the changes to the library - the parking garage for one was a nice addition. Previously, I remember parking a few blocks away at a fast food chain restaurant and walking a couple of blocks. I was expecting to pay to park, but on Tuesday I was not required to pay for parking. This may have had something to do with Election Day.

I arrived just before the library opened at 9:00 a.m. and quickly found my way upstairs to the genealogy section. The last time I was at the library I didn't have a laptop and I was looking forward to being able to have my database right in front of me as I searched. The reference librarian help me with questions that I had, including giving a nice map of the facility that showed the locations of all of the stacks. On previous visits, I remember the searching the enormous card catalog, filling out a paper slip to request a book, dropping it off and then having to wait for someone to retrieve the book from the stacks. Having the ability to wander around the stacks freely was a pleasant surprise.

I had tried to prepare as much as possible for this trip by limiting the family I was focusing on to the Wright and allied families of the Clermont and Brown County, Ohio area. I had already printed out a listing of several local history works from their card catalog that I wanted to research, and I eagerly dove in to my research. Although I was joined by others throughout the day, I was able to have a research table to myself, my laptop plugged in and ready to go.

I found some paydirt almost right away in the first work I looked into that showed the location of my relatives in Clermont County in the 1802 census prior to the Enabling Act that established Ohio as a state. I quickly made copies of these pages and others that I found, trying to make sure that I hit every work on my list and marking those that yielded negative research. More on this information later.

The family history stacks were another area that I was glad I could wander around. Though I had a few on my list to look into, as the day wore on and I was closing out the research on the Wright line, I decided to stray a bit from my research path and look into some other family genealogies. I managed to locate some possible further research on a line that ties into my wife's family.

One thing that I forgot to prepare for was more photocopy money. The library charges $.10 per copy, a really cheap price, and also offers you the option of purchasing a copy card where you can put the denomination you would like on the card. I did not do that this time, as I didn't know if I would use it all, nor did I know when I would be able to get back up to the library.

I didn't plan my lunch time well either, around 2 p.m. I was really getting hungry, was done with the research that I had originally come to the library to do, and decided to leave. I was conflicted in having a whole day to research in the library and yet here I was ready to leave so early. My wife was surprised when I called her and told her I was heading home early. I could have very easily grabbed something to eat and then returned to the library, but in the end I decided to head back home so I could watch the election returns. Now I wish I had just stayed at the library until it closed.

Overall, it was a good experience to get back to the ACPL and I didn't even touch on the microfilms, etc. this trip.
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