Now more than ever, any Indiana resident can discover or rediscover his or her family history. Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online family history resource with over 16 billion historical articles as of 2016, just got bigger. This past June, state officials partnered up with Ancestry.com and digitized around 17 million Indiana genealogy records, comprised of birth and death certificates from as early as the 1900s and marriage records from 1958 through 2005. In other words, a whole lot of Hoosier history just went online. This new influx of vital records pales in comparison to the amount of records already available, but it has given genealogical researchers and hobbyists of Indiana a lot to sift through.
There are many other genealogical websites out there. Some are free to use, some are initially free but reserve features for paying members, and others require paid subscriptions. You can decide for yourself whether the services fit the price tag, but you should consider what kind of tools each website offers. If the idea of wading into vital records excites you, WorldVitalRecords.com has billions of them. However, it lacks the family tree function offered by Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org, which let users organize their family history research and allows other members to see your work. For beginners or veterans, hard research or community building, there’s a lot that can be found online.
Of course, there's no substitute for a trip down to the library. For those in Fort Wayne, the Allen County Public Library is essential. The downtown main branch houses an impressive genealogical department full of microfilm, newspapers, and other records waiting to be uncovered. But it's more than just a useful source of information. Starting June 25th, visitors had the chance to attend a series of four programs in an event sequence called “Beginning or Beginning Again.” As the name suggests, beginners and veterans are encouraged to participate. These programs examine the awesome amount of family history that can be gleaned from county courthouses, property records, newspapers, and genealogical software. The last of these events was the highest-attended program in the department last year, with roughly 85 attendees. In October, also known to genealogists as "family history month," the ACPL genealogy department will host similar programs every day.
Whether you're an amateur or professional genealogist, now is the perfect time to dig up a little bit of your family history or add another branch to your family tree. Those interested in using Ancestry.com can access it free at a local library or can subscribe at www.ancestry.com.
To see ACPL’s full list and details of “Beginning or Beginning Again,” click here.
Finding & Using Newspapers: August 27, 2016, 10:00am - 11:00am - Discovery Center
Genealogical Data Management Program Exposé: September 24, 2016, 10am ‐ 11:00am - Discovery Center
Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County: Business and Technology Department, February 1952. Interior showing two women reading microfilm.
All photos by the author unless otherwise noted