Find Your Family Roots In Downtown Fort Wayne

By John W. Davis

June 18, 2010 Updated Apr 5, 2010 at 6:26 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's Newscenter) - Who Do You Think You Are? It's a hit family history show airing Fridays on NBC at 8 p.m. But Fort Wayne residents have a special genealogy research asset, right in their own backyards.

With a collection that will reach one million items by the end of 2010, researchers consider the Allen County Public Library, the premier family history library, east of the Mississippi River.

Only the Salt Lake City, Utah Genealogy Library has more physical resources, so for people who live closer to Fort Wayne than Salt Lake City, the Allen County Public Library is the mecca for your journey to discover your family roots.

But unlikely the Salt Lake City Genealogy Library, Allen County's public library boasts a professional staff, specializing in ethnic and minority family research.

The Fort Wayne Convention and Visitors Bureau is planning to capitalize on that with their new aggressive advertising campaign on Ancestry.com.

Genealogy managers say about 100,000 people visit the center every year.

NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are" show is expected to increase that number in the coming months, because the Visitors Bureau is already taking calls from people across the United States, who are planning trips to Fort Wayne to research their family history.

"Its so neat when the light bulb goes on and people say I have a story to tell," said Curt Witcher, a long time employee and Manager of The Genealogy Center.

"I think a show like "Who Do You Think You Are" lets peoples imaginations go, you know I can do that," said Witcher.

The 42,000 square foot section of the downtown library houses microfilm archives, access to online databases and books with information dating back several centuries.

For a link to The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library visit the news links section of this website.

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