Genealogy Road Trip Tip 16: Visit local repositories

Tip 16: Visit local repositories. Part of “Genealogy Road Trip Tips: Take Your Loved Ones With You” — 30 posts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo 2016.

Libraries, court houses, town clerks’ offices, as well as local, state and university archives, hold a wealth of original documents that can help you verify your ancestry and learn more about your forebears. So allow some time to visit these repositories on your Genealogy Road Trip.

By: Isaac Wedin
The U.S. National Archives in Washington, D.C. Making a list of local respositories and reviewing their finding aids will speed your research at your genealogy road trip destination. By: Isaac Wedin

Many repositories are architecturally interesting,  which might appeal to your travel partner. And some even host art exhibits or museum quality historic displays for your travel partner to enjoy while you are researching

Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your visits to local repositories.

Make a list of  local repositories. The Society of Professional Archivists offers a guide to Finding and Evaluating Archives on its website. Their list includes ArchiveGrid, which lets you search for archives by location. Towns and cities usually have websites providing addresses and contact information for government offices and local libraries. These sources can help you put together a list of the local repositories that might hold information about your ancestors.

Review finding aids before your trip. Most archives and libraries have online finding aids that describe their manuscript and other collections. Review these before your genealogy road trip to see whether they might hold documents pertaining to your ancestors — and note down any box or file numbers to save time at the destination. Likewise check government websites to see whether their office holds the documents or vital records you seek, or whether they have been sent to an archive.

Follow scanning and photography rules. Many repositories allow scanning or non-flash photography of documents — but be sure to check the repository’s rules. Some require that you complete a form and list the documents you take images of. You may be asked to clear source citations with the repository if you later use the images online or in print. Yet following these rules is a small price to pay for images that capture important details about your ancestors’ lives.

Make notes as you research. As busy as you are on your genealogy road trip, take a few minutes to write down a source citation for any document, photograph or record you find. Even if you just pencil it in a notebook during your onsite research, you will be happy to have those notes when you get back home and begin to sort through your discoveries.

What tips would you add to this list? Please share your tips in the comment section.

Please stop back for Tip 17: Historican societies and fraternal groups.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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