Today our genealogy tip is a vital one, how to prepare for your genealogy trip from our guest blogger Deborah Large Fox.
Armchair genealogy research has its limits. Sooner or later, most family historians take a research trip. Many records are in local repositories and must be researched in person. Many people take a trip to Ireland or other ancestral location to gain deeper insights into their families’ culture and experiences. Proper planning is key to a successful research trip or genealogical vacation.
A trip can provide the motivation to tackling the organization of your genealogy files. You need to target your research tasks. What ancestors will you be hunting? What sort of records–civil or church, birth or marriage or death–do you lack for those ancestors? Are those records available at your destinations?
Before your trip, determine what records you want to see, where they are located, and when they are available. You do not want to waste valuable time on your trip doing work that could have been completed at home. Reputable guides to Irish records, such as John Grenham’s Tracing Your Irish Ancestors or James G. Ryan’s Irish Records: Sources for Family and Local History, are invaluable to Irish family historians. Much preparation can be done online. Most libraries, archives, and other records repositories have online catalogs detailing their holdings. You can call or email the facility to determine if their holdings include the type of records you want for the years you need. Remember to check the hours and days the facility is open, especially during summer vacation periods, when some facilities close. Check if you need an appointment. I’ve heard many a tale of researchers who traveled a long way only to face a “closed” sign and locked door!
Time is a crucial factor to be considered in planning the trip, especially if you want to combine research and leisure. Leave room in your itinerary for enjoying surprises and pursuing discoveries. I would err on the side of including extra leisure time, especially if you are visiting Ireland. Experiencing the culture and seeing the country is important to your family history journey as well.
Be aware that research takes time. Many records that you will need in Ireland are in closed stacks. Often, a researcher must fill out a retrieval request, and a staff member will bring you the records from the archive. During busy times, this process may take twenty minutes or so, another reason to have all the retrieval information with you, including call or file numbers, when you arrive at the facility. You should be ready to fill out those slips immediately upon sitting down!
Every minute of preparation leaves time for research, and fun, on your trip!
For more information on your family research visit Deborah’s blog spot: