When I started out on this path I thought I had a pretty good grasp of what it took to visit a research facility. Boy was I wrong! True, I knew how to use most search features on the computer, plus a card catalog, but there was so much more to a trip than I realized. I wish I knew more before I took my first major research trip.
That first big trip (away from home) was to the Allen County Library in Ft. Wayne, which was also at the same time as the FGS conference that year (2013). I was making it a large trip, since I am from Indiana, which meant that not only did I visit a large repository by also a few smaller ones, family members, and dozens of cemeteries. It was a great time, but it could have gone so much better. How do I know? Well, I am still working on processing the data from the trip since I saved things in so many different ways and places.
For my trip I was lucky enough to be able to stay with family. Many people when they take a trip will not be so lucky. Which means you will need to learn more on where to find good lodging, navigating a new place, and other details that may fall through the cracks. Spreadsheets and planning to the rescue!
- Copies (digital best) of the research you need to do
- Extra thumb drives for copy machines
- Extra batteries if you take a digital camera
- All the cables (double check!) you will need for equipment
- Spare change for lockers or vending machines
- Maps, directions, addresses
When I travel it is usually with my family and I try to do activities outside of research with them as well. However, one tip I thought important was if you can attend a local meeting for a genealogical or historical society. There you might meet someone who is familiar with where, or even who, you are researching. Those types of networking opportunities are wonderful, and I encourage you to take advantage of them.
The Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City, Utah is one of those dream research locations for genealogists. Many people plan for years for their one trip. Others are lucky enough to go regularly on a pilgrimage to this repository. Once again, there are tips and tricks in there that I wish I had known about before!
I have gone to the FHL three, and I am very sad I will not be back for RootsTech 2018. Two times I had only 1 day at the FHL, but the last time I was excited to put in multiple days there. Actually, I did homework for 3 days there. Perfect setting I have to say!
- Your pre-research lists on what you want to see
- Do you need to call ahead and request any documents to be pulled
- Extra jacket / sweater cause repositories can get cold
- Appropriate bags and instruments for research (check their guidelines)
Since the one time a year I get to go also corresponds with RootTech it is a crazy time in the area. Other times of the year are less packed, but at peak times of the year you can run into so many people from our community all doing what we love…research. So check your calendars.
If you do get to Salt Lake do not forget to go to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building (JSMB). The JSMB holds some records that are only found on microfilm at the FHL as well as having computers for research and a cafeteria. The one thing I can vouch for is the café in the JSMB. I ate there once and it was very, very good food for reasonable price.