The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

March 11, 2012

Indiana to host genealogy series


— The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Ind., will be hosting its annual “March Madness: Genealogy Style” March 18-22 to “jumpstart your research for your ethnic ancestor.”

 “Researching Your Polish Ancestors” will be 1-2 p.m. March 18. “French-Canadian Research at the Genealogy Center” will be 2-3 p.m. March 19. Discover “The Riches of First Nations Heritage: Beginning Native American Genealogical Research” from 2-3 p.m.  March 20. Learn about Revolutionary War service in a discussion on “It Was Everybody’s War,” from 2-3 p.m. March 21. Locate those “Shadowed Roots: Antebellum Era Records for African-American Research,” from 10-11 a.m. March 22.

To register or obtain more information, call Melissa Shimkus at (260) 421-1225.

Why not plan to visit The Genealogy Center to do personal research that week and take advantage of the center’s special classes while there.

To learn more about the genealogical collection at that prestigious library, visit

Countdown to 1940 census

Only 22 more days until the 1940 U.S. Federal Census becomes available.

Federal law dictates that each federal census is not made public until 72 years after the census was taken. All responses on that census were to reflect individuals’ status as of April 1, 1940, even if the status changed between that date and the date the enumerator questioned the household. (That is to say, children born after April 1 would not be counted and people who died after April 1 should be counted.)

This census introduced several new questions that will be of special interest to genealogists, including each individual’s residence on April 1, 1935, and some employment questions including the total wages received in 1939.

This is the first census to identify the informant who provided the census taker with information. Also 5 percent of people (those who happened to fall on two pre-selected lines on each census page) were asked 16 additional questions — including information about their parents’ place of birth, native tongue, veteran status and marriage information.

Although there is no index to this census, a group of volunteer indexers will start indexing the census images the moment they are released to the public. (The rolls of microfilm containing the census have already been digitized by the National Archives. It took three  months to digitize the 3.9 million images.)

At 9 a.m. EDT Monday, April 2, the census will become available for free online at (Prior to then, one can learn more about the census at the website and also view a video pertaining to the census.) Eventually indexes to the census will become available on major genealogy websites, including free access at and

Queries, as well as a general exchange of genealogical material that readers would like to share, will be printed in the column for free. Contact Joan Griffis by e-mailing