One of the more popular hobbies today is genealogy. People want to know their family's history or the history of their church or community, among a multitude of other topics. It seems that everyone is interested in the past. How did we get to where we are now?
The Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library is a great place to find the answers. With all the information that is available online, you might believe that people would use the Genealogy Center less. In fact, it's just the opposite, according to Curt Witcher, the center's manager.
“The more information that is put online, the more people come to us for help,” said Witcher. “More people become interested in genealogy because of the Internet. And so much information is copyrighted and will not be put online in our lifetime. The people come to a wall online and come to us for help.”
The ACPL offers at least one research seminar each month on a variety of topics, but most months more are offered, he said. Seminars draw as many as 70 people.
The ACPL has three great things that make it unique from other genealogy centers, according to Witcher. And these are not listed in any particular order.
“No. 1, we have a great physical collection,” said Witcher. “Years and years of collecting books, microfilm and periodicals made available to the public.”
The physical collection only enhances the experience for the researcher.
“No. 2, we have the best collection of databases for people to use absolutely free. Otherwise the public would have to pay for access to these databases.”
Thirdly and perhaps the most important, is the genealogy staff at the ACPL. Besides Witcher, seven other Genealogy Center staff members are listed on the ACPL website.
“We have two centuries of experience on our staff. Every one of our genealogy staff has been in the business at least 15 years,” Witcher said. “We can answer any question. My staff doesn't like it when I say that. They're afraid it will jinx them.”