is nothing that can replace being there in the library or archive and doing the
research yourself. This way you can be sure that nothing has been overlooked and
that all variations of the surname have been thoroughly checked. Prepare a research log at home before you leave to save valuable time during your trip.
This can be done by visiting the library or archive websites to see what they
have in their catalogs. You may want to “copy and paste” (a function of your
word processing program) all the bibliographic information about a book (title,
author, publisher, date of publication), and even the call number into your
research log, arranged by call number for each facility. It is a good idea to
note on the research log what it is you hope to find. Then after you view the
item, you can write down which pages you looked at and the results of your
search. You want to keep track of everything you look at, even if the results
were negative. This will save you from searching again and again the same books
because you had no record of searching them before.
are some suggestions for planning a research trip.
Do some Internet research to find out
what interesting sites are in the area. Contact the Chamber of Commerce. Get a
good road map of the area. A compass or GPS may come in handy.
Make sure the facility you wish to visit
is open that day. Contact people in advance so they'll be expecting you. They
may need time before you arrive to bring up documents from storage rooms.
Keep in mind that facility staff may not be interested in
genealogy, and do not consider it part of their job description.
Dress appropriately, look professional.
Put together a notebook with your
reference materials and plenty of pens, pencils, paper, and other supplies.
Offer to pay for copies. Follow the
rules of the facility. At a public facility, turn off your cell phone.
Be polite and patient. Be friendly and
outgoing--make yourself the high point of their day.
Flatter the clerks in a sincere way. Ask
the opinions of librarians--they know their collections the best.
Make a donation if visiting a non-profit
organization. You may want to bring a small gift for a helpful clerk. Send
If visiting relatives take extra copies
of family group sheets, etc. to share. Take a camera. Call or write to
ask whether it is convenient for you to come, specifying a date and time.
Strangers may feel more comfortable if you meet them in a neutral place,
for example, in a restaurant, a library, or your hotel lobby.
Ask for referrals to other people or
institutions that may help.
Some Internet searching will help you find a convenient hotel in
I plan to visit the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Can you prepare a
research log for me of what I should see regarding my surname and where my
are going to Washington, D.C. What libraries and archives should we visit for
a trip to Europe to visit my ancestral birthplace.