Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sometimes there's no substitute for bricks and mortar

Recently I visited the William H. Willennar Genealogy Center, a free-standing portion of the Eckhart Public Library in Auburn, DeKalb County, Indiana. If you have ancestors in the tri-state area where Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan converge, and they might have been in DeKalb, this is the place to start. Call first (they're opening an hour later these days than the web site says), and come prepared. The main library catalog is helpful in determining their holdings ahead of time. I can tell you they include local newspapers on microfilm and a wealth of vital and cemetery records and indexes, as well as vertical files and a plenty of school censuses and yearbooks. Few of these items are on line. And it's a beautiful and friendly place to work.

Not every county has a local philanthropist this generous, but more and more have their own unique go-to place. And it can be called many names. In some places it's a historical society, in others a genealogical society, in others it is in the local library. You won't know unless you ask.

Depending on the nature of your quest, the courthouse may be the next stop, which in Auburn isn't far at all. And if your research targets created some more records across a county or state line, it doesn't hurt any that the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center is a half-hour's drive south on I-69.

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