900 Library Plaza
Fort Wayne Indiana 46802United States
Opened in 2007, this incredible genealogy center allows visitors to trace their ancestry with ease and perhaps even dig up some dirt to share at the next family reunion.
It's pretty rare that a public library makes our list of tourist destinations, but this place is AMAZING. Open seven days a week, the library has a warm-yet-sleek feel that successfully combines a Barnes and Noble awareness of presentation with a library's offerings. There is a Dunkin' Donuts contemporary cafe off the lobby, plus a huge computer room, cool music media rooms, periodical rooms and a room with just-published books -- just like a bookstore.The claim to fame: It has the largest free, public genealogical library in the country. At 60,000 square feet, this is the only place where amateur family tree researchers can come and put their hands on thousands of volumes of printed material, plus a dozen genealogical databases not available online, without paying a hefty licensing fee. About 10,000 come here each year to do just that. Genealogy is a field that mostly attracts retirees because of the time it takes, and when the library opens at 9 a.m., it often has a line outside of folks pulling suitcases full of research behind them. That was the case when we visited; we arrived at 9:01 and the library was already busy. Professional librarians who also are genealogists work the second floor and offer tips and help for researchers, who come from all over the East Coast and Midwest to do research. The records include completed family histories, census records, passenger lists, military records from the Revolutionary War to the present, city directories, periodicals and more.