Genealogy Librarians

Our librarians aren't just librarians - they're also genealogists!

sara allen

Sara Allen, Genealogy Librarian

Sara Allen began researching her family history when she was eleven years old, using the collection of The Genealogy Center. She received her bachelor’s degree in History and Social Sciences from Wheaton College (IL). Upon graduation she worked in the college’s Buswell Memorial Library as a cataloger and reference librarian until 2006. She has her master’s degree in library and information science from Dominican University. Her first professional genealogy position began in 2006 when she became Genealogy Librarian and later Assistant Manager of Local & Family History Services at the St. Joseph County Public Library in South Bend, Indiana. She joined The Genealogy Center staff as a Genealogy Librarian in 2013.

While at South Bend, she served as a judge for 4-H genealogy projects, and spoke and wrote on topics of genealogy and local history for libraries and societies in the Michiana area. She is currently the co-administrator of the Mitchell y-DNA project at Family Tree DNA and is involved with Unclaimed Persons, a volunteer organization that works with coroners to try to locate the relatives of deceased persons whose families are unknown. She is a member of the Schuyler Colfax Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Her areas of interest include Indiana, the Midwest and the Upper South, twentieth and twenty-first century genealogy, DNA testing for genealogical purposes, Eastern European research, and scrapbooking family pictures and stories.


John D. Beatty, Genealogy Librarian

John D. Beatty, CG, has been a reference librarian in The Genealogy Center since 1984 and also serves as its principal bibliographer.  He received a Bachelor of Arts degree with high honors in History from the University of Michigan in 1982, and a Master of Arts degree in History and Library Science with honors from that university in 1984. He became a Board-certified genealogist in 2014.

He is the author of sixteen books on local and family history, including works on German and early American families, abstracts of town vital records from Biddeford, Maine, and annotated narratives from the Irish Rebellion of 1798, as well as numerous articles on a variety of genealogical and local historical topics. In 2006, he served as principal editor for volume one of a two-volume History of Fort Wayne and Allen County, Indiana, 1700-2005, the first history of Allen County produced since 1917.

Because of a diversified family background, he has genealogical expertise in a variety of areas. He has conducted original research on families from colonial New England, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Kentucky, as well as on seventeenth and eighteenth century families from Ireland, Germany and Switzerland. He serves as archivist for the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana, and his interests also include local Fort Wayne and Allen County history.

Elizabeth Hodges

Elizabeth Hodges, Genealogy Librarian

Elizabeth Hodges, a Louisiana native, is a historian, educator, and genealogist. She received her Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. While pursuing her Master’s in Irish and Irish American Studies at the New York University, she became an educator at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York City. Elizabeth’s love and fascination with genealogy and family history grew exponentially through sharing the stories of immigrants, migrants, and refugees who once resided in a historic tenement in lower Manhattan with visitors. Upon graduating from New York University, she began working for the New York Public Library in the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division as a page while pursuing her Master of Science in Library and Information Science from St. John’s University in New York.

Elizabeth first began researching her own genealogy at the age of eighteen, and since then she has focused on tracing her ancestors’ journeys within southwest Louisiana, New York, Ireland, England, and beyond. While her specialties and interests lie in Irish migration/immigration, New York genealogy, the experiences of immigrant women, archival management, and Louisiana genealogy and local history, she is always eager to learn and explore other aspects of genealogy research.


Allison DePrey Singleton, Genealogy Librarian

Allison DePrey Singleton, MA, MLS, is a senior librarian in the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In that capacity she provides research consultations, serves on the Center’s programming team, and leads its family history webinars and educational initiatives. Allison presented at the 2020 RootsTech Conference, the 2018 Indiana Genealogical Society Conference, and was slated to speak at the 2020 National Genealogical Society’s Librarians’ Day. As a part of her position at The Genealogy Center, Allison was a Co-Chair of the 2018 Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference.  She is also a Northeast Regional Co-Coordinator for the National History Day in Indiana. In addition to her employment activities, Allison is also on the board of the Indiana Genealogical Society and Indiana German Heritage Society.

Allison began her genealogy research at the age of sixteen at the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center. Since then she has been focused on the study of genealogy and archives. She traced her ancestors’ paths to Indiana from Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, France, Germany, England, and beyond. While Allison’s specialties include researching in the regions of Indiana, France, and Germany and fields of social media, the Federal Census, teaching beginners, and genealogy programming, she loves learning new areas of genealogy. She views genealogy as lifelong education and continues to strive to learn more while keeping up with ever changing technology.


Aaron Smith, Genealogy Materials Manager

Aaron Smith, lead cataloger for The Genealogy Center collection, has served both public and academic libraries in the Midwest, and brings a love of human geography to his work. His undergraduate and graduate work in music and theology has led to a desire to provide access to the songs and stories of all peoples through librarianship, and he knows that providing extensive and quality access to such stories inspires more search and discovery. To this end, he understands the importance of keeping up with rapid technological change, and works to make important genealogical resources available both digitally and in print.

He received his Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Kentucky, and has made presentations at meetings of the Ohio Library Council and the Indiana Library Federation, as well as for The Genealogy Center. He led the Catalogers’ Interest Group of SWON (Southwest Ohio and Neighboring Libraries) from 2004 until 2007, when he joined The Genealogy Center staff in Fort Wayne.


Melissa C. Tennant, Genealogy Services Manager

Melissa C. Tennant pursued her interest in genealogy instruction and joined the staff of The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 2007. She was promoted to Assistant Manager of Public Services of The Center in 2012 and named Genealogy Services Manager in 2020. She co-coordinates the programs, seminars, and social media hosted by The Center, supervises preservation and digital projects, and manages customer service initiatives.

Prior to her work with The Genealogy Center, Melissa previously supervised the History & Genealogy Collection for the Hillsborough County Public Library in Florida, which included managing the collection, programs, and services for three unique research rooms. She also was an adjunct instructor for the University of South Florida’s MLS program, teaching Introduction to Genealogical Research. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida and a Master of Arts degree in Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida.

Melissa has presented at the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference, RootsTech, the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute, and Southern California Genealogy Jamboree. She is a former Director and former Vice-President of Administration for the Federation of Genealogical Societies.


Cynthia Theusch, Genealogy Librarian

Cynthia Theusch is a native of Michigan and a member of several genealogical societies.  She has served as vice president and president of the Mid-Michigan Genealogical Society and worked with the Michigan Genealogical Council’s Program Committee and the Death Indexing Project.  Cynthia received a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science and a Certificate in Archival Administration from Wayne State University in 2007.  During her study at Wayne State, she received a Student Writing Award on a reference project, a four-page pathfinder on the Civilian Conservation Corps. 

Other written works include: The Descendants of Mathias Spang; The Descendants of Nicholas Emmer; The Bauches Who Settled in the Midwest and Other Related Families; The Theusches Who Settled in the Midwest and Other Related Families; and Marriages Extracted from The Social Secretary of Detroit, Volumes 1919-1930 (Covers Years 1917-1929). Cynthia has been a reference librarian in The Genealogy Center since February, 2008 and has spent more than twenty-five years researching her family. 

Besides presenting programs at The Genealogy Center, she has spoken at the Michigan Genealogical Council’s annual workshop, as well as for several societies in Michigan and Indiana.  Her expertise includes research in Michigan and Luxembourg, French Canadian ancestry, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and using

Curt B. Witcher

Curt B. Witcher, Director of Special Collections, Genealogy Center Manager

Curt Witcher is the Director of Special Collections, managing the widely acclaimed Genealogy Center as well as the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection of Abraham Lincoln related research materials. He has worked at the Allen County Public Library for more than forty years.

Curt is a former president of both the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and the National Genealogical Society (NGS), and the founding president of the Indiana Genealogical Society.  He is a former member of the Genealogy Committee of the American Library Association (ALA) and a past chair of the association’s History Section. He was the 2002 ALA-RUSA History Section Genealogical Publishing Company Award winner. He has penned many hundreds of articles on topics of interest to family historians, librarians and archivists, and has presented lectures to historical and genealogical groups across the country and beyond. Curt serves on the Indiana State Historical Records Advisory Board, the board of the Friends of the Indiana State Archives, and the national Records Preservation and Access Committee.

Curt has been distinguished as a fellow of both the Utah Genealogical Association (FUGA) and the Indiana Genealogical Society (IGSF). He received FGS’ Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern Humanitarian Award, in 1997 and was honored in May of 2007 with NGS’ P. William Filby Award for outstanding, lifetime contributions to genealogical librarianship. Indiana’s lieutenant governor recognized Curt’s work in the summer of 2016 with a Hoosier Hospitality Award, and in August of 2018, he received the Loretto Dennis Szucs Award from FGS in recognition of his many years of dedicated service to the genealogical community. Curt is an Indiana Historical Society 2019 Eli Lilly Lifetime Achievement Award winner for his extraordinary contributions to the field of history and the Indiana Historical Society. 

Curt’s interests are in United States local history, migration history and settlement patterns, African American research, First Nations/Native American research, and preserving living memory.