The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
How many times has this happened to you? You enter a courthouse, library, or other repository of genealogy information with the intent of finding information about your ancestors. You don't really know what is available in that library or archive. After all, that is the purpose of your trip, right? You want to find out. Next thing you know, your head is spinning amidst a profusion of information and a confusion of objectives.
You may be wondering how this happens. While at the library/archive/repository, you start to look at the available information, but you also notice a book, microfilm, or other set of documents about some related topic. You spend some time looking at that book, even though it was not a part of your original plan. You find some interesting material about things that are not directly related to your ancestors. The end of the day arrives all too soon, and you find yourself leaving the facility, feeling a bit frustrated that you didn't accomplish what you had planned to do that day.
I know this has happened to me all too many times. Time and again I have traveled across town or across the country, only to not find the information that I wanted to discover. Over the years I have developed some techniques that help me become more organized and more effective once I am “on site.” I thought I would share some of those techniques this week.
Basically, there are three steps to a successful genealogy research trip:
I might even suggest that there is a fourth step: stick to the original plan! However, that seems to simply be a variation of the first three steps.
Before you leave home, have a game plan prepared. Establish goals and priorities prior to making your trip. Make a list of your problems and list the sources that might give you answers. Know which documents you wish to examine. In fact, with the major repositories, that is easy to do. The library catalogs of many major libraries are available online, including:
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