Genealogy Gems from Allen County Library

by , under Allen County Library, Education, Epublishing, Finnish, Immigration

A free newsletter for genealogists and family historians is published monthly by the staff in the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Called appropriately enough, Genealogy Gems: News from the Fort Wayne Library, it is sent out by email on a monthly basis. Curiously, its publishing date is the last day of each month.

I subscribed to this e-publication for many years, but then I changed email addresses without updating my contact info, so naturally they stopped arriving in my email inbox.

I recently re-subscribed after I was reminded of the availability of this free publication when a friend sent an email to me about something she thought I might be interested in: “American Immigrant Autobiographies – Part 1,” by Cynthia Theusch, which included content about Finnish immigrants. Of course I was interested, being a third generation Finnish-American. Here is what that author wrote for the June 30, 2014, issue of the Allen County Library newsletter:

The “American Immigrant Autobiographies Part 1” microfilms include selected autobiographies from a larger collection of personal papers that are at the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul. This set of seven rolls of microfilm is stored in the U.S. Special Collections area (Cabinet 64, Drawer B-11). The manuscripts are either typed or handwritten in their native language. A guide to “American Immigrant Autobiographies Part 1” has been printed and is at the Microtext desk. This guide lists the names of 67 individuals and their answers to the 15 questions they were asked to help them write their stories. The first seven questions were genealogy related, such as country of origin, occupation, reason for immigrating, date of immigration, where they settled in the United States, and the type of job they had here.

Reels 1 through part of 6 contain 38 autobiographies of individuals from Italy, Sicily, Croatia, Yugoslavia, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, Hungary, Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine and Finland.  Reels 6 and 7 contain memoirs or autobiographies of 29 people from the Finnish-American Family History Project. This microfilm collection is only a small portion of the holdings in the Immigration History Research Collection housed at the University of Minnesota.

The next time I visit the Allen County Library, I will take a look at this set of microfilms. Chances of finding relatives among the “29 people from the Finnish-American Family History Project” are slim, but I would expect to learn some new things about the experiences of Finns as they immigrated to America.

If you want to sign up for this free e newsletter, go to FYI, past issues through mid-2012 are available for opening and browsing, but if you want to browse the entire run of Genealogy Gems, go to

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