History Is Its Own Reward Back Home in Indiana: Attending to the Needs of Local-History Buffs Has Paid off in America's Heartland

By Pierce, Jennifer Burek | American Libraries, August 2003 | Go to article overview

History Is Its Own Reward Back Home in Indiana: Attending to the Needs of Local-History Buffs Has Paid off in America's Heartland


Pierce, Jennifer Burek, American Libraries


The community has been in a centuries-long love affair with the library," says Curt Witcher, genealogy department manager for the Allen County (Ind.) Public Library, of the relationship between Fort Wayne residents and ACPL. The commitment to local history demonstrated by the library's genealogy section helps explain the community's passion for its public library. Besides preserving the past, the genealogy department plays a significant role in sustaining the economic health of this northeastern Indiana community.

Named after the 1960-79 ACPL director, the Fred J. Reynolds Historical Genealogy Department of the Allen County Public Library enjoys a national reputation as a strong research center. According to Witcher, who has worked there for almost 25 years, the Reynolds section currently includes 319,149 volumes and 388,616 microtexts--holdings that comprise the largest collection of genealogical materials outside of Salt Lake City's Family History Library.

Amassing this collection is the product of multiple approaches, Witcher explains. First, ACPL commits financial resources to the Reynolds collection that are proportionate to other departments--an atypical situation for library genealogy sections, according to Witcher. Second, the collection-development approach begun by Fred J. Reynolds 50 years ago is still used by the department today. "He watched the antiquities market and looked for bargains," Witcher said, "and there still are bargains out there." Additionally, the library solicits the unpublished work of family researchers, whose individually produced volumes can save other researchers significant time and effort. The department borrows the family researcher's unpublished manuscript and creates two bound copies: one for its collection and the other as a thank-you gift to the donor. "It costs us hardly anything," Witcher said, but the transaction "builds the collection, and it builds goodwill," likening the effort "on a small scale" to UMI's preservation of dissertations.

ACPL's genealogy section actively seeks other contributions as well. "We're not proud. In a professional and upbeat way, we'll beg," Witcher confides. The result is "donations literally every day," which amounts to thousands of gifts each year. When a contribution is a duplication of a holding, the library considers it reserve or trade stock. "We meet a lot of librarians who don't have the blessings of resources that we do," he said. What these other librarians have, though, is duplicates of their own; ACPL gladly trades its extras for materials not already in its holdings.

Some recent donations have also been digital ones, a development that Witcher sees as a "harbinger of the future." For example, ACPL recently received a digitized copy of an 1826 family Bible that contained scanned inscriptions of birth and death dates, as well as photographs that had been tucked into the volume. The library plans to make this and other digital materials--including more than 12,400 photos of the Fort Wayne area--available on its website (www.acpl.lib.in.us/ database/index/acpl_digital_library.html).

"All of this keeps us very busy," Witcher says, laughing at the understatement.

Pennies from predecessors

In addition to keeping the department's team of seven librarians and 18 paraprofessional and support staff gainfully employed, researchers who flock to Fort Wayne's genealogical division bolster area hotels and restaurants, too. ACPL's genealogy department is considered the area's number-three tourist attraction, after the zoo and the mall, Witcher said.

Concurring that the library's genealogy collection is "a local treasure" culturally as well as literally, former Fort Wayne mayor and current state representative Win Moses Jr. agrees that researchers' interest in the Reynolds collection "has had a significant impact on tourism and renewing relationships across the state," as well as adding "a quality of study that enhances the national stature of Fort Wayne. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

History Is Its Own Reward Back Home in Indiana: Attending to the Needs of Local-History Buffs Has Paid off in America's Heartland
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.