Planning a Genealogy Research Trip



Documents make up the core of all Genealogy research. These provide proof that your claims to those you include in your Family History really belong there. They provide information that you may not be able to obtain anywhere else. Some can give you insight into the lives of your family, where they lived, their occupation or even their religion. They bring the past to life.

With so many documents being obtained online today, you may think it would be a waste of time to take a Genealogy Research Trip (GRT). However, there is a tremendous amount of information in various repositories across the Nation that will take years to get online or it may never be put online. This is because it takes time and money to scan in or input documents and information. In smaller communities they just don’t have the people power or the resources to do this. Also, Genealogy is not, I repeat, not the primary purpose of repositories that keep documents. Their main purpose is to retain, recover and archive documents. Genealogy is a secondary thing for them so they do not feel the urgent need to upload all their files for those of us seeking answers. They are generally more than happy to help you find whatever you are looking for but this is a “side business” for them. In order to obtain some of the important documents you may need you will have to either write to the repository and pay a fee for them to find it and send it to you or you can make a trip there yourself. So where do you need to go to find information on your Ancestors? Actually this all depends on what information or documents you are hoping to find.

It doesn’t matter if you are just beginning your search for your Ancestors or if you already have      5000 of them already listed in your tree, at some point you will probably want to make a GRT. There are several reasons why you may want to do this. First and foremost would be to visit libraries, court houses, grave sites and other repositories in a particular State or City for the express purpose of searching for documents and documentation. The second reason may be to visit relatives so you can ask questions, obtain photographs or interview them about your family history. The third reason may be to see where your Ancestors had lived. All of these are valid reasons, but the question may arise “How can I make the most of my trip?”

My first GRT was a disaster. Well maybe disaster is too strong of a word, but let’s just say I didn’t accomplish as much as I would have liked to. I knew I wanted to visit some cemeteries, a couple of relatives and the State Historical Society. I did some research before I went concerning who was buried where and the location of those cemeteries. I printed out a couple of maps and thought I was ready to go. That was it. I did nothing else to prepare and I certainly didn’t think a lot of things through.  Yes I met with a couple of cousins and received some great information, a few pictures and some interesting stories. I did visit 6 cemeteries but I never made it to the State Historical Society. I also did not acquire any kind of documentation to add to my files. I took tons of pictures, but except the ones of a few Headstones, most of those did me no good. Looking back I sometimes feel like it was a wasted trip. I realized that if I were to ever take another GRT I would go more fully prepared. So how do we do this and what is needed to make such a trip successful?

Excerpt from my 2nd book: Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip

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