The Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society and the Allen County Genealogical Society have joined forces to compile and publish the first comprehensive narrative history of Allen County, Indiana in more than 87 years.
On Thursday, April 22, 2004 in the Lincoln Museum Lobby a press conference was held to explain the two-volume, coffee-table size hardbound book. Officials announce that it will contain over 800 pages of county history as well as biographies of local families, churches, schools, organizations, and businesses. The book also will feature hundreds of historical photographs and documents provided by the Historical and Genealogical societies, and will include past and present photos submitted by those families and organizations participating in the project.
"The purpose in publishing the Allen County History Book is to preserve our county's unique history for our future genealogists and historians," says Judge William C. Lee, president of the Historical Society and co-chair of the project. "There is no better time than the present to ensure that our history is not lost or forgotten over the years."
The last definitive narrative history of Allen County was published by Bert J. Griswold in 1917. Though many pictorials and topical histories of Fort Wayne and Allen County have been published since the Griswold book, none have been as comprehensive and narrative in nature.
In an effort to compile the most complete history of Allen County possible, the Historical and Genealogical societies have recruited a team of more than fifty literary volunteers to write articles on various aspects of the county's history, including the Waynedale area, in what will be presented as a historical anthology. In addition, biographical submissions from local families, businesses, schools and churches, and clubs and organizations will be strongly encouraged.
"This will be the first truly participatory history of Allen County since the first Griswold book," says John Beatty, bibliographer and reference librarian for the Historical Genealogy Department of the Allen County Public Library and the chair of the History Book's Narrative History Committee. Griswold published a second book in the 1920s. "Our goal is to publish a historically accurate resource for historians and genealogists while providing Allen County families with a cherished heirloom to pass down to generations to come."
Allen County families wishing to submit biographies will be allowed up to 500 words and a photograph free, while businesses, churches, schools, clubs and organizations will be charged a nominal fee to be included in the book. Submissions will be accepted until April 1, 2005, with an anticipated publish date in late 2005. Submission fees and book sales will entirely fund the project.
The book will be published by MT Publishing, an Evansville-based publishing company, which has published numerous county history books throughout the state. The Allen County History Book, however, will be by far the publisher's largest county project to date.
Participating in the press conference was Judge Lee and Beatty, as well as Katie Bloom, president of the Allen County Genealogical Society and co-chair of the Allen County History Book project; Darrel Jaggers, community president of Salin Bank, the project's corporate sponsor; and Mark Thompson, president of MT Publishing, which will publish the book.
Also attending the conference was the Historical and Genealogical society board members, advisors and volunteers.