Genealogy Road Trip Tip 21: Type up your notes

Tip 21: Type up your notes. Part of “Genealogy Road Trip Tips: Take Your Loved Ones With You” — 30 posts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo 2016.

The best thing I did as a novice genealogist was to sit down and type up a report after each Genealogy Road Trip I took — and I am grateful every time I refer back to those early reports.

Notes. You may have taken all sorts of written and digital notes during your genealogy road trip. Gather these together into a written report of your trip that you can refer back to in years to come. By: Philip Porter

I never would have remembered every place my travel partner and I visited on our trip — nor all the family history research information we discovered — if I had not immediately sat down and typed it all up on my return.

If you are anything like me, you may jot down notes all over the place — in your trip notebook, on scraps of paper at a library or other repository, on the backs of printouts you brought with you, and on napkins or coasters in a local restaurant.

Your digital notes might also be disorganized from entering them on the fly at a genealogy road trip destination — some in your phone, some on your handheld device, some on your laptop, some saved in the cloud/some not.

As soon as you can after you get back — while your memories are still fresh — organize your trip notes into a written report and (as with your photos) save it in several locations.

Here are a few things to include:

Dates and destination. At the top of your report, put the day, month and year of your genealogy road trip and the destination. On multi-day trips, or trips with multiple destinations, you may want to do a separate report for each venue or person you visit (such as Library, Historical Society, Family Member, etc.).

Researchers’ names. Put your name and the name of your travel partner below the date and destination. This may seem obvious to you now, but at some point you may pass along your research materials to future generations or to a repository, and this will let future researchers know who took part in this genealogy road trip.

Results. Summarize all the steps you took at each venue and anything of family history interest you and your travel partner found. You can organize this by category. For example, if you visited a library, your categories might include City Directories, Census,  Library Family Files, Library Obituary Index, County History, etc. — with a narrative below each heading describing your discoveries.

Prepared-by section. At the end of the report, add a “Prepared by:” section and put your name, your contact information and the date you prepared the report. This will help researchers contact you in the event you share this report with a repository and will also provide a record for posterity.

Attachments. Attach your original notes to your report. That way, if questions arise or you think you may have transcribed something incorrectly, you can refer back to your originals. List these attachments in the report.

Print a copy on acid-free archival paper. In addition to saving the report digitally, print out at least one copy on acid-free archival paper, attach your notes and file it in your location files. I also file a working copy for easy reference in the folders of families that were researched on the trip.

Now that you’ve completed and saved your report, it’s time to consolidate what you learned on your genealogy road trip and add the information to your existing family history records.

Up next, Tip 22: Duplicate your recordings. Please stop back.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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2 thoughts on “Genealogy Road Trip Tip 21: Type up your notes”

  1. If you’ve done a research plan beforehand, that would be the perfect template to update as a research report. It would be just a matter of plugging in results, pictures, etc.

    1. Great idea! I actually worked from my pre-trip plans supplemented by notes taken in the field. But organizing the plan with an eye toward a final report would help focus the work.

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