Across the country there are a number of well-known genealogical libraries. Each year, thousands of genealogists will travel to these libraries to spend a precious few days conducting research. Library visits are so popular genealogical societies and organizations will often combine a conference like educational event with genealogical library visits into a single, fully-planned, week-long trip. This year’s 27th annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour is a perfect example.

But, what about local libraries? Do any of them have significant resources for the genealogist?

Public libraries don’t always have the funding, or local interest, to establish and purchase such resources. There is one, however, that stands out among its peers, the Allen County Public Library in Indiana. The Allen County public library system has established the Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne. Many experienced researchers know of the library as the creator of the PERiodical Source Index, a.k.a. PERSI.

Among its many resources, the Genealogy Center is home to the world’s largest collection of English-Language genealogy and local history periodicals. The library holds more than 6,200 current subscriptions and over 10,000 titles. Just the newspaper collection alone is impressive. These periodicals are available to any visitor of the library or through PERSI, accessible at HeritageQuestOnline.com (a paid service).

Periodicals aren’t the only resource the library offers. The library contains tens of thousands of family histories, family bible records, African American records, millions of vital records and documents on microfilm and microfiche. For a brief outline of all the library offers, read their brochure (pdf file).

The library also offers access to many fee-bases Internet databases. These service include:

  • Ancestry.com
  • AmericanAncestors.org
  • HeritageQuestOnline.com
  • Paper of Record: Historical Newspaper (paperofrecords.com)
  • African American Heritage (africanamericanheritage.proquest.com)
  • Fold3.com
  • Origins Network: British, Irish, & Scots (originsnetwork.com)
  • World Vital Records (worldvitalrecords.com)

Some of the libraries services available to the public from the Genealogy Center’s website include:

  • A variety of free databases, including the:
    • Microtext Catalog
    • African American Gateway
    • Allen County, Indiana Resources
    • Family Bible Records
    • Family Resources
    • Genealogy Center Surname File
    • Indiana Resources
    • Other States Resources
    • Our Military Heritage
  • A blog
  • Genealogy Gems, an e-zine
  • The Pathfinders section, with great research guides to:
    • Adoption Research
    • Censuses
    • Eastern Europe
    • English & Welsh
    • French Canadian
    • German
    • Heraldry
    • Irish
    • Modern Research
    • Newspapers
    • Religious Congregations
    • Scottish
    • Swiss

Online database services have made it easier for genealogist to find links to their ancestors without ever leaving home. These services can also help better prepare researchers for a trip to a genealogical library. Libraries will always offer one great advantage missing from online services, the knowledgeable librarian. The Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center has a fantastic staff of trained professionals ready to help you with your research. You can ever review short bios for the librarians on the Center’s website.

Those lucky genealogist living in Allen County should appreciate having such a fantastic local library. Few others have such a resource within driving distance of home. For those of you considering a trip to one of the big genealogical libraries, take a look at the Genealogy Center. The library may just have the records you need, and they may be a little closer to home.