A research trip can help genealogists find the information that haven’t been able to locate. Just like with any trip, it is vitally important to take the time to make solid plans before you go. Here is how to plan a research trip.
Pick a Focus Point
Your research trip probably isn’t going to last for months. This means you have to be choosy about what you want to focus on. One option is to focus on an ancestor who has been very elusive. Or, it might work best for you if you pick one small branch of the family tree. Use the research trip to fill in the blanks.
Start with What you Know
The next step is to review what you already know about the ancestor (or branch of the family tree) you decided to focus on. Doing so will help you figure out what is missing. Make a list of the things you haven’t been able to find. The list will guide where you should go while on your research trip.
Plan Your Trip
A research trip requires some of the same logistical planning as any vacation would. You need to book a room to stay in, and need to fit the things you want to see into your limited schedule. Will you be visiting the home town of an Ancestor? Call the local genealogy association and see if they have resources about your family.
Call the local genealogy library and ask what hours they are open. You might also want to arrange to visit cemeteries where ancestors are buried and the church your ancestor attended. (Some might keep parish records on site). Drive by the location of the address of your ancestor’s home and see what is there today. Try and make contact with relatives that you haven’t met in person yet.
Give Yourself Extra Time
It’s best to give yourself an extra day or two on your research trip. Don’t make a super tight schedule that must be rigidly followed. You may find that you need to spend more hours at the genealogy library than you expected. A visit with a relative might lead to a day-trip to locations important to the family (and that you did not know existed).
Unpack Shortly After Arriving Home
Of course, you know that your suitcase needs to be unpacked after a trip. Some people might forget to “unpack” the genealogy research they discovered while in their research trip.
Take the time to look over your notes, and clarify them, while everything is fresh in your mind. Make copies of vital records you obtained. Digitize old photos you received and list the names of the people who are in them.
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