• Welcome!

    The Special Collections Division houses the genealogy and local history materials of the Akron-Summit County Public Library. Our goal is to collect, preserve, and provide access to the history of Summit County, and to continue to maintain one of the area’s most extensive genealogy collections.

  • Local History Database

    The database contains references to the Library's local history collections as well as the Summit County Historical Society's collections. Search the index to the collections.
  • Summit Memory

    Visit the online scrapbook of Summit County History at www.SummitMemory.org
  • Summit County World War II News Index

    This database indexes the names of Summit County servicemen and servicewomen who were named in the Akron Beacon Journal during World War II. Some non-military names are also included. This database currently includes records up through April 30, 1943. World War II Database
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  • Ohio Obituary Index

    Search for obituary citations from select Ohio newspapers, including the Akron Beacon Journal, using the Ohio Obituary Index.

Classes & Events

Registration is required for all classes held at Main Library. To register for classes held at Main Library, contact Special Collections at 330-643-9030 or speccollections@akronlibrary.org. Walk-ins may attend if the class is not full.

Registration policies at branch libraries vary. If you are interested in attending a class held at a branch, please call that branch and ask if registration is required. Phone numbers can be accessed by clicking on the branch name.

All classes are free of charge and open to the general public.

Class Schedule through December 2015

 Getting Started in Family History
Join the Special Collections Division for an introduction to genealogy for new family historians. This class includes an overview of genealogical sources available at the Library, suggestions for getting started and tips for organizing your research. Registration is required for classes held at Main Library.
Saturday, July 11, 2015, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, Main Library, Meeting Room 2AB
Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 6 – 7:30 pm, Highland Square Branch Library
Saturday, September 12, 2015, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, Main Library, Meeting Room 2AB

Getting Started in African American Genealogy
Do you want to trace your African American family tree? Not sure how or where to begin? The Special Collections Division presents a two-hour class for genealogy beginners who have a specific interest in African American ancestral research. You’ll learn genealogy research methods, tips and tools for getting organized, common sources used by genealogists, resources specific to African Americans, and challenges in researching African American ancestors. Registration is required for classes held at Main Library.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015, 6 – 7:30 pm, Highland Square Branch Library
Saturday, October 31, 2015 , 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, Main Library, Meeting Room 2AB

marriage recordBranching Out: U.S. Vital Records and Obituaries
This class focuses on the types of genealogical information and sources researchers encounter, what to expect when working with United States vital (birth, marriage and death) records and obituaries and basic search strategies for finding these records. Because this class will use electronic resources, basic computer skills are recommended. Registration is required for classes held at Main Library.
Saturday, August 1, 2015, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, Main Library, Computer Lab 2

Using Ancestry in Your Genealogy Research
With more than 9,000 databases and billions of images, Ancestry is the premier online genealogy resource–and it’s available to you for free within any ASCPL location. This class will introduce you to the many features of Ancestry Library Edition and show you how to do efficient and effective searches. When possible, time for practice searching is also provided. Because this class will use electronic resources, basic computer skills are recommended. Registration is required for classes held at Main Library.
Saturday, July 18, 2015, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, Main Library, Computer Lab 2
Saturday, November 7, 2015, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, Main Library Computer Lab 2

1910UnitedStatesFederalCensusFinding Your Family in the U.S. Census
United States census records are rich sources of genealogical information. Join us to learn more about using these valuable records for your family research and how to effectively search the census using library databases. Because this class will use electronic resources, basic computer skills are recommended. Click here to view the workbookRegistration is required for classes held at Main Library.
Saturday, August 15, 2015, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, Main Library, Computer Lab 2
Saturday, October 3, 2015, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, Main Library Computer Lab 2

MC900441337[1]Internet Genealogy
There are an overwhelming number of websites for genealogy research. This class will provide tips for locating online resources for family history research and allow participants some class time to explore websites. The focus will be finding free online genealogy resources and brief introductions to the library’s genealogy databases. This class does not cover Ancestry Library Edition as there is a separate class for this resource. Because this class will use electronic resources, basic computer skills are recommended. Registration is required for classes held at Main Library.
Saturday, August 29, 2015, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, Main Library, Computer Lab 2
Saturday, October 17, 2015, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, Main Library, Computer Lab 2

Identifying Your Family Photographs
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but unlocking the stories of unidentified photographs requires some sleuthing. This class includes tips and techniques for identifying historic photographs. Learn to read clues, such as the type of photograph, clothing and hairstyles, and even whether or not subjects are smiling, to reveal the stories behind every photograph. The class will also take a look at how genealogy databases and local history resources can be used to identify your family photographs. Registration is required for classes held at Main Library.
Saturday, December 5, 2015, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, Main Library, Meeting Room 2AB

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Researching Your Immigrant Ancestors Before 1820
Tracing ancestors before 1820 can be extremely difficult due to a lack of documentation and limited accessibility of surviving records. Focusing on European immigrants to the eastern seaboard, this class is an overview of strategies and sources commonly used in researching early immigrants. Please note: This class is geared toward genealogists with intermediate research skills. Registration is required for classes held at Main Library.
Saturday, November 14, 2015, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm, Main Library, Meeting Room 2AB

Why, Who, What, When, Where & How: Digitizing Your Local Newspaper
A community’s history is often documented most completely and energetically by its local newspapers, and libraries and other cultural institutions, long recognizing their unique historical value, have sought to preserve and provide access to them. Now, with the advent of digital technology, organizations are exploring how to provide online, instantaneous access to these rich resources. Jenni Salamon, Coordinator for the Ohio Digital Newspaper Program at the Ohio History Connection, will explain how to navigate the complexities of a newspaper digitization project and how your organization can have its local newspaper digitized. This program is made possible through funding from the National Digital Newspaper Program, a collaborative grant program of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. Registration is required. 
Monday, July 13, 2015, 3:00 – 4:00 pm, Main Library, Meeting Room 2AB

Printable flier

Unearthing Your Roots with Ohio’s Newspapers on Chronicling America
Over 318,000 pages of historic Ohio newspapers published from 1836 to 1922 are available for free online, representing 58 counties and over 70 newspaper titles. Jenni Salamon, Coordinator for the Ohio Digital Newspaper Program at the Ohio History Connection, will show you how to access this content on the Library of Congress website Chronicling America and find clues to your family history. This program is made possible through funding from the National Digital Newspaper Program, a collaborative grant program of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. Registration is required.
Monday, July 13, 2015, 6:30 – 7:30 pm, Main Library, Meeting Room 2AB

 

Jim Beidler head shotDISCOVERING YOUR GERMAN ANCESTORS

Saturday, August 22, 2015
9:30 am-4:30 pm
Main Library Auditorium

 The Special Collections Division of the Akron-Summit County Public Library and the Summit County Chapterof the Ohio Genealogical Society are pleased to present Discovering Your German Ancestors, featuring genealogy expert James Beidler.

 James is a professional genealogist, author and lecturer specializing in Pennsylvania and German research.  He writes Roots & Branches, an award-winning weekly newspaper column on genealogy that is the only syndicated feature on that topic in Pennsylvania. He is also a columnist for German Life magazine and is editor of Der Kurier, the quarterly journal of the Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society. He is also an instructor for the online Family Tree University. In addition, he is a frequent contributor to several genealogy periodicals ranging from scholarly journals such as The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine to popular-interest magazines such as Ancestry and Family Tree Magazine. He also wrote the chapter on genealogy for Pennsylvania: A History of the Commonwealth, published jointly by the Penn State Press and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

Born in Reading, PA he was raised in nearby Berks County, where he currently resides. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Hofstra University in Long Island, NY, with a BA in political science in 1982.

Program Schedule:

9:30 – 9:45  Introductions

9:45 – 10:45

Contrasting German Migrations: 18th Century vs. 19th Century Waves

The 1700s “Pennsylvania Germans” were a different breed than the “German Americans” who immigrated in the 1800s. This presentation shows the differences in geography, economic class, religion, and aspirations of – as well as sources about – the two great waves of German immigration.

10:45 – 11:00  Break

11:00 – 12:00

Zigzagging Through German Church Records

Explaining the methodology of using the baptismal, confirmation, marriage and burial records from German church registers most effectively. By utilizing the different bits of information found in each, researchers can zigzag their way to adding centuries to a pedigree.

12:00 – 1:00  Lunch on your own

1:00 – 2:00

German Research Online

Searching for German-speaking ancestors is undergoing a paradigm shift in which the resources of Ancestry, FamilySearch and European-based Genealogy.net are all major players and German church records are being digitized. Learn about the many websites that can help you break down brick walls and find the villages of origin for your ancestors!

2:00 – 2:15  Break

2:15 – 3:15

German for Genealogists

A skills course going over the basic vocabulary and formats to enable the participants to read tombstones, church records and simple documents of German-speaking people.

This skills workshop teaches the basic vocabulary and formats to enable the participants to read tombstones, church records and simple documents of German-speaking people. Included is practice writing and deciphering handwritten cursive script from a variety of centuries as well as detailing the quirks of the printed Fraktur font.

3:15 – 3:30  Break

3:30 – 4:30

Success Story: Finding a European Village of Origin

The case study of Johannes Dinius, a 1765 immigrant to Pennsylvania, is used to show how scraps of evidence properly deployed can lead to the discovery of a European hometown.

For questions or to sign up for the program, contact Special Collections: 330-643-9030 or speccollections@akronlibrary.org


Learning Opportunities from other Organizations

Meetings of the Summit County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society feature speakers on a variety of genealogical topics. Meetings are free and open to the public. You do not have to be a member to attend. See their events calendar for upcoming topics.

 

Family Search offers a variety of free online classes.

 

Past Events

German Genealogy with Nancy Ottman May 2, 2015

Discovering Your English and Irish Ancestors October 4, 2014

Discovering Your Immigrant Ancestors August 3, 2013

Discovering Your Civil War Ancestors August 11, 2012

Photography for the Family Historian March 31, 2012

Discovering Your Ancestors Online August 6, 2011

Do You Have a Revolutionary War Ancestor? March 12, 2011

Preparing for an Adoption Search Spring, 2006

 

 

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