Genealogy Gems: News from the Allen County Public Library at Fort Wayne, No. 209, July 31, 2021
From: Genealogy Gems (
Date: Sat, 31 Jul 2021 18:43:40 -0400
Genealogy Gems: News from the Allen County Public Library at Fort Wayne
No. 209, July 31, 2021

In this issue:
*Publishing as Preservation and Progress
*African Americans and WWI
*Louisiana State Penitentiary Records on FamilySearch:  
*Technology Tip of the Month: Adobe Elements 2018, Enhance Tools—Blur, Sharpen, Smudge Tools
*PERSI Gems: Small Critters
*Library Catalog Insider: Deciphering the UNBOUND PERIODICALS Shelf Location
*History Tidbits: A Quick Look at Germany
*Genealogy Center’s August Programs
*Staying Informed about Genealogy Center Programming
*Genealogy Center Social Media
*Driving Directions to the Library
*Parking at the Library
*Genealogy Center Queries
*Publishing Note

Publishing as Preservation and Progress
by Curt B. Witcher
It is rather commonly understood that one of the best ways of preserving particular information is to disseminate that information. And that certainly applies to the histories of our families, the communities in which they lived, the places they worshiped, and the activities in which they engaged. In so many ways, to publish is to preserve. If you publish data about your family and the research you have done, and further, if you include references to your sources and images of documents and photographs, you are preserving that data for future users.

In the days of yesteryear, among the biggest challenges to publishing was cost. It was not a trivial undertaking to gather the resources sufficient to publish family and local histories on paper, and in sufficient enough quantities to satisfy requests from family members, immediate and distant. If paper is the only medium we consider for publishing, it will continue to be expensive and an impediment to sharing. I would encourage a much broader, twenty-first century view of publishing. Essentially, we should look at any medium in which we can make our work available for consideration, review, and enjoyment as a publishing vehicle. That would include web pages, electronic books, digital formats of all sorts (e.g. PDFs), blogs, and the next mediums currently in development.

I hear people wonder out loud, often with a tone of regret, if anyone a few years from now will remember Grandpa‛s stories, or recall Aunt Tillie‛s favorite way of describing a summer rainstorm. Will anyone remember the prayer cards used by a twentieth century Presbyterian choir member in Fort Wayne, Indiana a generation from now? The answers to the above musings clearly are no.  However, all is not lost. We can help ensure such treasures will be a part of family and local histories if we commit to doing more publishing, if we commit to publishing those entities in places where they will be valued and preserved. We need to take appropriate breaks from our hunting and gathering pursuits, and start engaging in much more organizing, analysis, and publishing.

With all the technology available to us today, we can take a much different approach to publishing. As an example, take three to five generations of one family line; gather all the information you have on just those family members; organize that data so you can clearly comprehend all the information you have and maybe even the sources from which you obtained the data; analyze what you have for completeness; and finally, begin to compile that information in an orderly, logical fashion for publication. Share your publication with family members, interested public libraries and genealogical societies, and certainly The Genealogy Center here in Fort Wayne.

If we emphasize publishing in our family history activities, there could be a number of unintended yet very positive consequences. One such positive outcome might just be having our family history research in much better order to pass along to children and grandchildren. More than a few people fairly persistently lament that no one in their family is interested in their family history research papers. Could it possibly be that our papers, notes, and research are unattractive to younger generations because they are messy, disheveled, and appear mostly unorganized--like recycling ready to take to the curb?

Let’s commit to having a summer of family gatherings and reunions lead to an autumn of compiling and publishing our family stories. We can assure that our family stories are preserved by recording them and publishing them. Today‛s technology gives us so many free and near-free options--we truly have little excuse not to publish in order to preserve and make progress on organizing our family papers and stories.

African Americans and WWI
by Melissa C. Tennant
As America entered the Great War, among the many decisions its military leaders made were whether African Americans should participate, in what capacity, and the organization of the military units. Almost fifty years after the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments abolished slavery, granted citizenship and civil rights, and offered protection for voting rights, African Americans still did not have equal and basic civil rights in 1917 as the U.S. mobilized for war. Though not treated equally in their daily lives, an estimated 380,000 African Americans served in World War I in the hopes of discovering that equality.

In his address to Congress, President Woodrow Wilson in 1917 proclaimed, “the world must be made safe for democracy.” W.E.B. DuBois wrote in “The Crisis,” the NAACP magazine, “First your Country, then your Rights!” Among those who served from the African American community, nearly 4,000 were volunteers and 367,710 were drafted.

While in the military, eighty percent of the African Americans served in labor positions rather than in combat units. The work expected of those in labor units included digging trenches, building railroad lines, loading and unloading trucks, and caring for the animals. Some officials did not want to provide African American soldiers with weapons and ammunition, but they were overruled. The 369th Infantry, the first African American combat group called the Harlem Hell Fighters, arrived in France on 1 January 1918. The 93rd Infantry Division, which included the 369th and three other African American units, was assigned to operate under French command within the French Army beginning in March 1918. Relations between the men and their French counterparts were vastly different than what had been experienced in the U.S. The men were treated as comrades in arms by the French soldiers and communities.

Though the Division had a number of detractors, the unit and its members received honors such as the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, and the Croix de Guerre, the French medal for valor. A key detractor for these men was the lack of combat training that African Americans received. Typically, American soldiers trained for six months in the U.S. followed by two more months in Europe before moving to the frontlines. African American units received less than eight weeks of training in the U.S. with limited practice with weapons, exercises with ammunition, or preparations for gas attacks.

The 93rd Division had a thirty-two percent casualty rate due to the men not being properly trained in combat skills, using French weaponry and equipment, and speaking a different language. The men in the frontlines also were confronted by German propaganda. The Germans disseminated leaflets along the lines, stating that African Americans should leave the war since they were not treated fairly in the U.S.

To learn more about other divisions and units, search the Genealogy Center catalog <> for the phrase “African American World War 1914-1918” and limit the Branch to “Genealogy” to see what is available. Discover a number of books on the history of the African American experience in the Great War, such as “Lost Battalions: The Great War and the crisis of American Nationality” (973.068 SL56LO) by Richard Slotkin or “Loyalty in Time of Trial: The African American Experience in World War I” (973.068 M69LO) by Nina Mjagkij as well as informative details on each of the units and divisions in “Willing Patriots: Men of Color in the First World War” (940.410 AA1CY) by Robert J. Dalessandro and Gerald Torrence. Also, do not forget to search the materials available on the Genealogy Center’s Free Databases such as the “African American Gateway” <> and “Our Military Heritage” <>.

Louisiana State Penitentiary Records on FamilySearch  
by Elizabeth Hodges
Our ancestors were not perfect, but not all of our ancestors accused or even convicted of crimes were hardened criminals. If you suspect that one of your ancestors might have been incarcerated, searching through prison records can open up new avenues for more research. For those of us who have family from Louisiana, a state currently holding the highest incarceration rate in the country, browsing through the Louisiana State Penitentiary’s records on FamilySearch might shed some light on the lives of incarcerated ancestors. While prison records are fascinating, it is important to try not to judge these individuals by present day standards or without attempting to understand the context of their world.

The Louisiana State Penitentiary as we know it today, is located on the former Angola Plantation in West Feliciana Parish. In 1870, the state awarded a convict lease, a practice that began in 1844 and was banned by 1898, to former Confederate Army officer, Samuel L. James. By 1880, James, who purchased several plantations in the years after the Civil War, moved the Louisiana State Penitentiary convicts to the Angola Plantation. The prison remained privately managed until the State of Louisiana purchased the property from the James family in 1900. Angola, as it is commonly referred to, has had an incredibly long history of deplorable conditions and abuse. This is an important fact to remember before diving into their records because they certainly do not make for light reading.

FamilySearch’s digitized collection of Angola records includes a seven-volume index of prisoners and thirty-six volumes of registers of convicts admitted to the prison dating from 1866 to 1963. The convict records include details such as what crimes each person was convicted of, their date of conviction and length of prison sentence (including release dates), the name of the Judge and court that convicted them, punishments received during their sentence, as well as other helpful information such as their last known address or the contact information for their nearest living relatives.

The records are searchable through FamilySearch, but it is important to keep in mind that not all of the record books contain the same information. While one book might be a book of registers, another book might be a register for escapees. Because of this, a single individual’s name might appear in more than one record book, so it is highly recommended to look for that person’s name in the other types of record books that correspond with the years they were incarcerated by browsing through the collection’s images. To do that from the image view of one record, click “Correctional Institution Records” in the top left corner of the page. A dropdown menu should appear showing links to each individual digitized volume. By browsing through the images of each volume, an incarcerated ancestor can be cross referenced from an index to prisoners, a register of convicts received, convict records, escapes, and even death reports. These records can offer such a wealth of information and lead to new paths to take in a research journey, so it is certainly worth the energy to search through their records for your ancestors.

Technology Tip of the Month: Adobe Elements 2018, Enhance Tools—Blur, Sharpen, Smudge Tools
by Kay Spears
And the journey continues. This month I’m going to talk about three Enhancement Tools: Blur, Sharpen, and Smudge, or as I like to call them, “my finger-painting tools.” To be perfectly honest, I very rarely use them. When I have used them for restoring photographs, I have not been happy with the results. When I have used them for graphic art work, they have worked a little better. But it doesn’t hurt to know how to use them, and maybe you can find them useful. Let’s take a look.

These tools are located on the tool bar in the Enhancement group. The Blur tools icon appears to be a drop of liquid, the Sharpen tool appears to be a triangle, and the Smudge tool is a hand with a finger pointing down. In the older versions of Elements, these three tools could be accessed by use of a drop-down box. In the more recent versions, when you click on the Blur tool, the Tool Options appear on the bottom of your workspace. As with others tools, you have the options of changing the brush size mode. I suggest that for all of these tools you use a soft brush. Basically, these are tools that you can use to fool the eye. They also test your ability to paint with a cursor/mouse/stylus pen.

Blur tool: What does this tool do? For once, the name says it all. It blurs. Well, why would you want to blur a photograph? Good question. Here’s where it might come in handy. Let’s say for some reason you have an image you copied from online, or someone saves an image as a JPEG. You might notice that these images seem to be “pixelated.” With the handy-dandy blur tool, you can smooth the pixels. I’m not saying that this will make the photograph any more clear, but it might get rid of the nasty pixels. But remember what I always say…save, save, save images as TIFFS/TIFS. Also, remember that almost any image you copy off the World Wide Web is probably a low-resolution image. There are exceptions to that rule, depending on where you are copying the image from. For instance, the Library of Congress, Getty, Bixabay, etc. have high resolution images which you can download.

Sharpen tool. The Sharpen tool sharpens the edges of objects in the photograph. It increases the edge contrast, and makes things appear to be in a little bit more focus. Click on this tool and paint along the edges of things in the photo. Beware, use a light hand with this tool. You can sharpen an edge so much that it loses its integrity.

Smudge tool is another tool that is amply named. It smudges. I would have to say that smudging something you are trying to restore doesn’t work. But the Smudge Tool does allow you to add special effects. It also has the ability to make things look wet.

As with everything else, experiment with these tools and see how you can use them to meet your needs.

Next month we will be exploring the last of the Enhance Tools: Sponge, Burn, Dodge.

PERSI Gems: Small Critters
by Adam Barrone and Mike Hudson
We at the Periodical Source Index are fond of stories of interactions of members of the Kingdom Animalia with their human neighbors. In hope that you, too, appreciate the smaller joys in life, we bring you PERSI citations referencing tiny critters in our midst.  

Try a search here:

Billy England acquired pet lion cub when the Parker and Watts Circus was stranded, 1936-1937
Fort Smith (AR) Historical Society Journal, v.31n.2, Sep. 2007

Christopher Saur Almanac excerpt, piglet born with human hand and hat, 1776
Goschenhoppen Newsletter (PA), v.46n.5, May 2012

Five kids born to family of goats at Blue Earth, 1935
Pastimes (St. Cloud Area Genealogists, MN), v.38n.6, May 2011

J. W. Mason has litter of kittens being raised by a hen, 1902, MO
Audrain County Area (MO) Genealogical Society Newsletter, v.25n.3, Sum. 2011

Leatherback hatchlings on Island
Cumberland Island (GA) Museum Newsletter, v.12n.3, Sep. 2001

Linda Masek recalls the Chesapeake and OH Railroad mascot, Chessie The Kitten, 1930s-1970s
Bend of the River (OH), v.39n.2, Feb. 2011

Margaret Naud Blake recalls ducklings, spring, mumps, pups and shoes
Big Smoke (Pend Oreille Co., WA), 2008

Missouri Dept. of Corrections Puppies for Inmates program, 2002
Missouri Life, v.38n.4, Aug. 2011

Seal pup found by Church Martin, photo and Boston Aquarium notes, 1987
Paper Talks: Washington County (ME) Edition, 1997

W. H. Wilcox sow produced ninety-two pigs in five litters, 1905, Waylands, Eng.
Buckets & Spades (Weston-Super-Mare Fam. Hist. Soc., Eng.), n.57, 2005

Library Catalog Insider: Deciphering the UNBOUND PERIODICALS Shelf Location
by Kasia Young
This month we wanted to write about a topic that was brought up by one of our patrons. While searching the catalog, they noticed that the shelf location of some of the periodicals showed up as UNBOUND PERIODICALS, even though they were able to find the items bound on our shelves. Let us explain!

When Allen County Public Library transitioned to the new catalog in 2019, all of our periodicals were imported with the UNBOUND PERIODICALS shelf location. Since then, our cataloging team was able to change the location designation for most of the periodicals, with the exception of the ones in the 929.1xx range.

As it stands, only the most current issues are actually unbound. You can find a couple of hints in the catalog to confirm this.

First, look for the note: Latest unbound issues: … which displays just underneath the title in the results list. Once you click on the title, you will be able to check which volumes were bound and shelved by looking at the Location column.

For example:

“Journal of the Alleghenies” has a note: Latest unbound issues: v. 55 (2021) in the results display. When you click on the title, all the bound issues are displayed, the latest one encompassing volumes for the years 2018-2020.

Second, look for publication dates, either under PUBLISHER or “SERIALS-DATE OF PUBL.” row. Both can be found in the More Info tab in the catalog record.

For example:

“Newsletter of the Society for German American Studies” shows publication dates 1979-1983, which means it is no longer received, and therefore all available issues should be bound and on our shelves.
We hope that we were able to shed some light on this peculiar quirk in our system. If you would like to read about a specific catalog topic, please let us know by sending a message to Genealogy [at]

History Tidbits: A Quick Look at Germany
By Allison DePrey Singleton
Many people do not realize that Germany is a much younger country than the United States. When researching German ancestors or looking at your DNA ethnicity estimates, this fact is important contextual history to keep in mind. Let’s look at a brief history of Germany as a country.

The area of Europe that became known as Germany was ruled by multiple independent rulers. Eventually, it became part of the Holy Roman Empire under the heirs of Emperor Charlemagne, the so-called First Reich, lasting from 800 to 1806. Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation in 1517 brought about major religious divisions: the North and East becoming largely Protestant and the South and West remaining largely Catholic. Years of unrest and disagreements over religion culminated in the Thirty-Years’ War from 1618 to 1648, during which a quarter of the inhabitants of the German states died. At the turn of the nineteenth century, the invasion of French troops led by Napoleon prompted the brief establishment of the Confederation of the Rhine. Afterward, sovereignty returned to a collection of German states through much of the nineteenth century until 1871, when Otto von Bismarck unified the country into the nation we now know as Germany.

This information is a broad generalization of the region’s history. Each individual state that eventually became part of Germany has its own history, customs, and traditions that influenced its inhabitants before they became part of the unified version of Germany we know today. It is highly recommended that genealogists research the history of the region where your family is from to understand more about where records might be located and to gain a deeper understanding of the historical context and customs of the area.

For a visual representation of how the country’s boundaries changed, check out this video:

Editor’s Note: The following titles are some useful texts to aid with the study of German history, culture, and genealogy.

Hansen, Kevan M. “Finding Your German Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide.” Orem, Utah: Ancestry, 1999. Gc 929 H198

Holborn, Hajo. “A History of Modern Germany.” 3 vols. New York: Knopf, 1959-1969. 943 H69h

Minert, Roger. “Researching in Germany: A Handbook for Your Visit to the Homeland of Your Ancestors.” Sacramento: Lorelei Press, 2001. Gc 943 M266r

Riemer, Shirley J., et al. “The German Research Companion.” 3rd ed. Sacramento: Lorelei Press, 2010. Gc 943 R44gb

Genealogy Center’s August Programs
The Genealogy Center continues its offerings of virtual programs throughout the month of August with Tuesday 2:30 p.m. EDT and Thursday 6:30 p.m. EDT offerings every week.

August 3, 2021, 2:30 p.m. “New York State Censuses: You Won’t Believe What’s Hiding In There!” with Jeanette Sheliga:
August 5, 2021, 6:30 p.m. “Testing Your Relatives' DNA: What You Can Learn” with Sara Allen:
August 10, 2021, 2:30 p.m. “Tracing Your New York Ancestors with the NYG&B” with Josh Taylor:
August 12, 2021, 6:30 p.m. “Scanning and Beyond” with Kay Spears:
August 17, 2021, 2:30 p.m. “Lifting the Curtain on East European Family History Research” with Joe Everett:
August 19, 2021, 6:30 p.m. “I Seek Dead People: Using America’s GenealogyBank to Find Obituaries and More!” with Allison DePrey Singleton:
August 24, 2021, 2:30 p.m. “Victor Henry’s Headstone” with April Earle:
August 26, 2021, 6:30 p.m. “Beginning Your Family History Journey” with Elizabeth Hodges:
August 31, 2021, 2:30 p.m. "Genealogy Resources at The Los Angeles Public Library” with Julie Huffman:

Please register in advance for each program.

Staying Informed about Genealogy Center Programming
Do you want to know what we have planned? Are you interested in one of our events, but forget? We offer email updates for The Genealogy Center’s programming schedule.  Don’t miss out!  Sign up at  

Genealogy Center Social Media

Driving Directions to the Library
Wondering how to get to the library? Our location is 900 Library Plaza, Fort Wayne, Indiana, in the block bordered on the south by Washington Boulevard, the west by Ewing Street, the north by Wayne Street, and the east by the Library Plaza, formerly Webster Street. We would enjoy having you visit the Genealogy Center.

To get directions from your exact location to 900 Library Plaza, Fort Wayne, Indiana, visit this link at MapQuest:

>From the South
Exit Interstate 69 at exit 302. Drive east on Jefferson Boulevard into downtown. Turn left on Ewing Street. The Library is one block north, at Ewing Street and Washington Boulevard.

Using US 27:
US 27 turns into Lafayette Street. Drive north into downtown. Turn left at Washington Boulevard and go five blocks. The Library will be on the right.

>From the North
Exit Interstate 69 at exit 312. Drive south on Coldwater Road, which merges into Clinton Street.  Continue south on Clinton to Washington Boulevard. Turn right on Washington and go three blocks. The Library will be on the right.

>From the West
Using US 30:
Drive into town on US 30. US 30 turns into Goshen Ave. which dead-ends at West State Blvd.  Make an angled left turn onto West State Blvd. Turn right on Wells Street. Go south on Wells to Wayne Street. Turn left on Wayne Street. The Library will be in the second block on the right.

Using US 24:
After crossing under Interstate 69, follow the same directions as from the South.

>>From the East
Follow US 30/then 930 into and through New Haven, under an overpass into downtown Fort Wayne. You will be on Washington Blvd. when you get into downtown. Library Plaza will be on the right.

Parking at the Library
At the Library, underground parking can be accessed from Wayne Street. Other library parking lots are at Washington and Webster, and Wayne and Webster. Hourly parking is $1 per hour with a $7 maximum. ACPL library card holders may use their cards to validate the parking ticket at the west end of the Great Hall of the Library. Out of county residents may purchase a subscription card with proof of identification and residence. The current fee for an Individual Subscription Card is $85.

Public lots are located at the corner of Ewing and Wayne Streets ($1 each for the first two half-hours, $1 per hour after, with a $4 per day maximum) and the corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Harrison Street ($3 per day).

Street (metered) parking on Ewing and Wayne Streets. On the street you plug the meters 8am – 5pm, weekdays only. The meters take credit cards and charge at a rate of $1/hour. Street parking is free after 5 p.m. and on the weekends.

Visitor center/Grand Wayne Center garage at Washington and Clinton Streets. This is the Hilton Hotel parking lot that also serves as a day parking garage. For hourly parking, 7am – 11 pm, charges are .50 for the first 45 minutes, then $1.00 per hour. There is a flat $2.00 fee between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Genealogy Center Queries
The Genealogy Center hopes you find this newsletter interesting. Thank you for subscribing. We cannot, however, answer personal research emails written to the e-zine address. The department houses a Research Center that makes photocopies and conducts research for a fee.  

If you have a general question about our collection, or are interested in the Research Center, please telephone the library and speak to a librarian who will be glad to answer your general questions or send you a research center form. Our telephone number is 260-421-1225. If you’d like to email a general information question about the department, please email: Genealogy [at] ACPL.Info.

Publishing Note
This electronic newsletter is published by the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center, and is intended to enlighten readers about genealogical research methods as well as inform them about the vast resources of the Allen County Public Library. We welcome the wide distribution of this newsletter and encourage readers to forward it to their friends and societies. All precautions have been made to avoid errors. However, the publisher does not assume any liability to any party for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions, no matter the cause.  

To subscribe to “Genealogy Gems,” simply use your browser to go to the website: Scroll to the bottom, click on E-zine, and fill out the form. You will be notified with a confirmation email.

If you do not want to receive this e-zine, please follow the link at the very bottom of the issue of Genealogy Gems you just received or send an email to kspears [at] with "unsubscribe e-zine" in the subject line.

Curt B. Witcher and John D. Beatty, CG, co-editors
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