Information at Your Fingertips: Exploring ISL’s Online Resources

So many roadblocks can put a screeching halt to a genealogist’s quest to find his or her lineage. The disheartening fact that the records do not exist can often be a turning point. While such matters can put a damper on your research efforts, exploring resources in unfamiliar territory is often a source of hope. Vastly different records can be found in the numerous databases that exist and can be very helpful in providing clues to put the genealogy puzzle pieces in place. The Indiana State Library provides access to numerous databases that serve as rich resources and sometimes provide much needed information. Continue reading

Evernote Assists Genealogists in Tracking Research

Genealogy remains one area of research where the latest trends in technology are often overlooked, especially in the area of digital organization. Family historians utilize searchable databases, internet searches, and digitization projects, but overlook one very powerful tool of organization: Evernote. In the search for an elusive ancestor or lost records, genealogists often amass a large amount of records or documents in both digital and print form. This collection of records can be gathered and archived with Evernote, a free, web-based downloadable program that allows users to collect and organize all their documents in one place.  Evernote has emerged as a clear winner for genealogy research, “It’s no exaggeration to say that this tool will change your research life. Evernote gives you a place to organize all your genealogical data,” stated Kerry Scott in the November 2015 issue of Family Tree Magazine.


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Genealogy & Local History Fair October 24

It’s nearly time for the 2015 Genealogy and Local History Fair at the Indiana State Library. With a theme of “Crime and Punishment in Indiana,” the Fair promises to be a fun and educational event for genealogists, librarians, and local historians.

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Judy Russell will speak at the Genealogy & Local History Fair October 24

The Fair is Saturday, October 24, and doors open at 9:30 am, with opening remarks at 9:45.  The first speaker of the day will be Keven McQueen, author of several historical true crime books. He will speak on unsolved murders in Indiana.  After lunch, Judy Russell, author of the Legal Genealogist blog will give two presentations covering court and prison records.

Between sessions and during the lunch break, attendees may browse the exhibition hall, featuring over 30 vendors, including historical societies, libraries, authors, and other organizations. Attendees may also explore the beautiful 1930s era Indiana State Library building or do a bit of research in the Library’s large genealogy collection. Also, there will be a raffle of several door prizes, including a Kindle and a handheld document scanner.

Admission is free and there is no registration required. All sessions have been approved for LEUs for Indiana public librarians. Parking is available in the Senate Avenue Parking Garage, 220 North Senate Avenue, for $5.00 per car.

If you have any questions about the Genealogy and Local History Fair, please don’t hesitate to contact the Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3689.

Genealogy and Local History Fair
9:30 am to 4:00 pm
Saturday, October 24, 2015
Indiana State Library
315 West Ohio Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202

This blog post was written by Jamie Dunn, Genealogy Librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317)232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at

Using School Records in Genealogy

Sugar Grove School, Henry County, Indiana, 1923. Don’t they look thrilled to be going back to school?

Sugar Grove School, Henry County, Indiana, 1923. Don’t they look thrilled to be going back to school?

As students across Indiana return to school, the Genealogy Division would like to highlight an often-overlooked genealogical resource: school enumeration records. Although an individual student’s records are protected by privacy laws, school enumerations functioned as a type of census and are therefore not private. School enumerations were created by local governments to document the number of school-aged students. Enumerators went from house to house, inquiring about the number of students in each household. Unlike the federal census, these enumerations took place every year in most areas. Continue reading

A One-on-One Conversation with Genealogy Librarian Crystal Ward

This article originally appeared in the December 24, 2014 issue of the Wednesday Word.

For the fourth installment of this five part December series, I sat down and had a conversation with Genealogy Librarian Crystal Ward. Genealogy is a huge part of the services that the Indiana State Library provides, and Crystal was more than happy to talk about all of the interesting artifacts in the ISL collection.

RB: Tell me about how you came to ISL, and what made you want to become a librarian in the first place?

CW: I started out working in libraries. In high school I was a page at the Haughville Branch, and then I worked at several libraries. I worked at academic libraries, the Indianapolis Museum of Art and Marion County Jail Library, so I’m used to working with the public doing reference work. When I saw the job listing for ISL I thought, “Oh that sounds very interesting.” I had done my own genealogy, so it was kind of a hobby to start with. When I had seen the position I thought, “Oh I can do that!” So I applied, and that is how I ended up here. When I was working in high school I never thought that I would be a librarian. I just needed some money to get a car and all that stuff.

RB: Were you volunteering there? Continue reading

Preserving Family History

My name is Crystal Ward, and I am a librarian in the Genealogy Division. I have been asked “what does a genealogy librarian do; what is your job like”? As a genealogy librarian, I work to preserve the family history of the citizens of Indiana, and to ensure that the items we collect are preserved and protected for use by future generations.

One often overlooked factor in librarianship: preservation and conservation, environmental control; or more specifically, dusting, is one way that I help conserve the materials that we have in the collection. Yes, like housework, librarians dust the books in the collection to keep them in good shape. By cleaning books and book shelves of dust, dirt, and debris, we are creating a happy and healthy environment for the books.

This is not a simple task, and comes with certain tools. For example, when I clean my assigned section of shelves, I wear an apron, rubber gloves, and a dust mask, as in the glamorous photos above. I use a special brush with horse hair bristles, a HEPA vacuum cleaner, and I always have my iTunes playing.

I will spend up to an hour cleaning and dusting one section of books, and this task is made more enjoyable by my iTunes playlist. While cleaning a section today, I played several songs by the Beastie Boys, “Float On” by Modest Mouse, and Will Smith’s “Summertime.” I also run across some really amazing books and often keep my eye open for unusual titles. I was not disappointed in the titles I found while dusting today: “Magician Among the Spirits” by Harry Houdini, ISLM 134 H836N; “Alcohol Education for the layman” by Monroe and Stewart, ISLM 16.178 M753A; “Sorry but you’re wrong about it” by Albert Wiggam, ISLM 133.7 W655s; and “Frustration: the study of behavior without a goal” by Norman Maier, ISLM 132M217F.

This blog post was written by Crystal Ward, Genealogy Librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317)232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at

Genealogy Librarians and Professional Development

Professional development is an important part of librarianship, so that librarians can keep up with innovations within the profession and thus provide the best possible service to the public. This is particularly important in specialized subject such as genealogy. With that in mind, two librarians from the Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library attended the Indiana Genealogical Society’s (IGS) annual conference at Indiana State University earlier this year, where they attended several presentations by Judy Russell, author of the popular blog The Legal Genealogist. Russell’s lectures were both informative and entertaining. She spoke on visiting county courthouses for genealogical research in original county records, finding ancestors’ military and military pension records and the abundant genealogical information they can contain, and tracking our “black sheep” ancestors using court and prison records as well as other contemporary sources, such as newspaper articles.
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If you were unable to attend the IGS conference or if you would like to hear Judy Russell again, she will be speaking at the annual Genealogy and Local History Fair held at the Indiana State Library on October 24, 2015. Russell will be speaking on research methods for finding your “black sheep” ancestors and utilizing underused collections, such as prison records, to further that research. This free event is open to the public and registration is not required.

For those in the library or legal professions, these sessions have been approved for LEUs and CLEs.

This blog post was written by Crystal Ward, Genealogy Librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317)232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at

Genealogy Division Provides ‘Family Search’ Service

The Indiana State Library Genealogy Division has many resources and services to make your family history search easier and more productive. An often overlooked and little known service is the ability to order microfilm from Family Search and view it at the Indiana State library. The library acts as a Family Search Affiliate location. Family Search’s microfilm ordering service is your gateway to a vast collection of genealogical and historical records.

Family Search is the world’s largest repository of free genealogical records and is managed by the famous Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. It has amassed billions of birth, marriage, death, census, land, and court records of genealogical significance from over 130 countries. Family Search is extending access to its collections by circulating microfilms of the historic records through select public library affiliates. The Indiana State Library is one of the Family Search Affiliates. The loan is free, but there is a small shipping and handling charge for each film. To order films from Family Search, create an account with family search and select Indiana State Library Foundation, Inc. as the destination for your microfilm order. To find records and microfilm available for loan, follow the easy steps below.

  • Go to the and select Search and click on Catalog
  • Search Place clicking on the tab
  • Search for a location such as Indianapolis, Indiana or any other location
  • Pick a topic and select available microfilm

Pets Are Family Too!

The Genealogy Division at the Indiana State Library does not collect just published books and materials.  They also have a small but growing collection of genealogy manuscripts.  These collections contain family papers, research notes, and other items that cannot be put out on the shelves due to their fragile state or because they are boxes of loose papers.  However, these items are available to researchers and may be requested at the Genealogy Division reference desk on the first floor of the Indiana State Library.

Some of these collections even contain family photographs, such as this studio portrait of chow chows from the Jackman family collection:

Jackman chows

The advent of photography made it easier for people to visually document every aspect of their lives, including their pets.

In the interest of family history… and cuteness, the staff of the Genealogy Division would like to share a few of their furry family photographs:

1 Jack McFarland Duty
Jack McFarland Duty

2 Dwight Hans Dieter Shrute Ward
Dwight Hans Dieter Schrute Ward

3 Odessa Jane and Mosiah Ward
Odessa Jane and Mosiah Ward

4 Julius Caesar JC Dunn
Julius Cesar “J.C.” Dunn

5 Jasper Dunn
Jasper Dunn

6 Liam Bohr
Liam Bohr, the perfect pet for the apart-ment dweller.

Liam would like to invite all Indiana State Library blog readers to Genealogy for Night Owls, April 29th 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Indiana State Library!

This blog post was written by Jamie Dunn, Genealogy Librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317)232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at

The Indiana State Library Genealogy Division

The Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library collects genealogy and family history materials from across Indiana and around the United States and the world. The collection includes over 80,000 books and other printed materials, over 17,000 reels of microfilm, and access to online genealogy databases such as Ancestry Library Edition and Fold3. These resources are kept in open shelving on the first floor of the library to allow for easy browsing and access by library visitors.  One of the most popular items in the collection is the indexes to Indiana birth, marriage, and death records compiled by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. These indexes cover two-thirds of the counties in Indiana and provide the book and page number of the original records, so that researchers can obtain copies of the records from county offices.  The collection also contains many other resources about Indiana, organized by county. There is information from all 92 counties. Resources include cemetery records and listings, indexes to vital records, indexes to marriage records, county histories, and other information on family history research in Indiana.

Although the collection focuses on Indiana, there are more than just Indiana resources in the Genealogy Division. Every state is represented in the collection, although certain states are spotlighted for their connection to Indiana history and national migration patterns. Since people tended to move from east to west and from south to north, our holdings focus on the “border” and “feeder” states: those states that touch Indiana and those states where Hoosiers lived before they moved to Indiana. These states include Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, North and South Carolina, and Virginia. Other popular items include the indexes to passenger lists compiled by William Filby.


Housed on the second floor of the library, the genealogy microform collection includes Indiana county records on microfilm, select records from other states on microfilm, and family and local history books on microfiche. The microfiche collection includes rare books that can be found in only a few libraries in the original print format.

The Indiana county records on microfilm collection contains records from all 92 counties, covering marriage records, land records, vital records, and will and probate records. These films were made from the actual records in county courthouses throughout Indiana, so that you can see the handwritten records as they originally appeared.

The Genealogy Division reference desk is staffed by genealogy librarians who are experts at answering genealogy questions and assisting with family history research. The librarians host genealogy events throughout the year, including:

  • One-on-One Genealogy Research Consultations: 3rd Saturday of each month
  • Family History Tours of the Genealogy collection
  • Genealogy and Local History Fair: 4th Saturday in October
  • Genealogy for Night Owls: After-hours research time

The Genealogy Division also answers questions via email, telephone, mail, and Ask-a-Librarian online question service.

This blog post was written by Jamie Dunn, Genealogy Librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3689 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at