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PREPARING FOR A RESEARCH TRIP
11 May 2002
With summer just around the corner, people are planning vacations. Many will be traveling to
places where they can do a little or a lot of genealogy research. Whether your trip will include a
few hours or a full week of research, it is important to prepare. Some preparation will allow you
to get the most benefit from the time you spend researching. Here are a few tips on how you can
- Organize what you already have. Make sure the information in your database is current. Print
necessary information in the format you prefer. If you have a laptop or PDA you plan to take,
be sure it has the most current data.
- If you don’t use a genealogy program, make Pedigree Charts and Family Group Sheets that are
current. Don’t take the same one’s you took two years ago.
- Make a list of the surnames that are to be researched. Alphabetize and soundex them.
- Make time lines for the persons you want to research. This will help to determine where to
look and during what time period. These should be kept simple, such as:
1860- George Potter in census in Hamilton County, Ohio
1862- George Potter married Katherine Leiser in Hamilton County, Ohio
- Prepare a notebook and file folders for each family and locality you are planning to work on.
The notebook is for notes and the file folders are for documents that you find. Using these two
items, you won’t go home with everything mixed together and have to spend time separating
- Determine what records are missing and decide what you want to find for each person.
- Make a list of the places you want to visit. This list should include cemeteries, libraries,
courthouses, churches, ancestral homes, and local points of interest.
- Do as much research as possible before you go. Check Denver Public Library for indexes of
the records you will be seeking. This allows more on-site time looking at the records.
- If indexes are not available at DPL, check the local library online catalog for indexes and local
PREPARE A "TO DO" LIST
- While at DPL, check for research guides for the area. Check to be sure that the research guides
are current. The guide will tell you where records are located. Online sources such as city and
county sites and USGenWeb county sites can also be used to discover where the records are
housed. Keep in mind that some records have been moved to state and regional repositories.
- Find out the days and hours of operation for the repositories and also if they close for lunch.
Make sure that you can have access to the records and if advance reservations are required for
viewing the records. After the basics are learned, a short phone call to the facility to clear up
any questions can save time and disappointment. If you do not have Internet access, write or
call ahead for the information.
- Set priorities. Decide which things are the most important. Take into consideration what can
be obtained from microfilm at your local Family History Center, library and the National
Archives in Denver.
- Outline at least three to four projects. This is in case you find the information faster than
expected or can’t find it at all. Don’t get caught with not enough work to do. Always go with
more than you think can be done in the time you have allotted.
- Divide materials by repository. You don’’t have to take everything into each place. It is easy to
misplace things when you carry too much.
PLAN YOUR DAYS
- Decide where you are going and what you will work on.
- Take rolls of change for copiers and cash for copies that are make by clerks.
- Review at the end of each day and make a plan for the next day. You should have an overall
plan for your visit and refer to this each night as well as your findings from the day to complete
or revise the next day’s plan.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO PACK
- Pencils (Many repositories do not allow pens.)
- Blank charts
- Camera and film to take pictures of tombstones, local areas of interest, ancestral homes.
- Don’t take original documents. If you must have a document with you, make a copy.
- current and old maps of the areas you will be researching.
- A few important books, such as The Handybook for Genealogist and all available research
guides for the area.
Have a fun and safe trip!
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