As I titled this article, it almost came out The Great Genealogical Research Race. There are times our research seems to be going at a racing speed, especially with the multitude of information, databases and images on Internet. Once in a while we are forced to slow down, comprehend what we are doing and maybe even plan one of those genealogical research trips.
Genealogical research trips are productive and meaningful if well-planned. That doesn't always mean knowing what to throw into your luggage, or how many pairs of shoes to take. Of course, your trip will be less stressful if you take at least one pair of comfortable shoes!
With a location and plan in mind, begin the planning process. To determine a location, you must have a genealogical problem or brickwall or area of need. Analyze the information you have and determine what you do not have, making a list of both. If you are taking genealogical files on a lap top or hand-held devise on the trip, it is still a good idea to print out charts and logs from which you can make notes and study. Make a list of sources you have checked, the outcome, and decide what you will need to locate.
The trip may be to places such as the courthouse, library, newspaper office, or home of a relative. These may be combined into one trip. It is important to know where you are going and to maximize your time.
Ahead of time contact the courthouse to learn where needed records are stored and their availability. At the same time inquire about their hours, location and if they will be open when you arrive. There is nothing more frustrating than finding a closed courthouse. A good web page for locating courthouses, addresses and phone numbers can be found at NACO,
Many of the USGenWeb county pages contain information on courthouses and the types of records. Start your search at http://www.usgenweb.org. These usually will also contain links to libraries and genealogical societies in the county. Information on libraries can also be found at http://www.librarytechnology.org/libwebcats/. Even small libraries can be found at this worldwide locator, complete with addresses and phone numbers. There are many that have web pages which can be checked for hours, location, and collections. LibrarySpot.com at http://www.libraryspot.com/librariesonline.htm can be checked for more information.
Your trip may coincide with a meeting of a local genealogical or historical society. Ahead of time you can also contact the society to learn more about records in the area. There are several web sites that list genealogical societies, including:
FGS Society Hall http://www.familyhistory.com/societyhall/main.asp
Society Hill http://www.daddezio.com/society/
USGenNet Index http://www.usgennet.org/socadmin/
Make your research trip zing by making friends early with people who know and understand the genealogy and history of the area.
No research trip is complete without stops at cemeteries. Information can be found on the county web pages of USGenWeb. Locations of cemeteries can be found by checking the USGS web site at http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic/f?p=140:1:16730896366147491015. Fill in the form showing a state, county and under feature class, pull down to "cemetery." A listing will appear of all their known cemeteries in the county. Clicking on a specific cemetery will reveal even more information, plus an area leading to maps. Also search Cemetery Junction Directory at http://daddezio.com/cemetery/.
Genealogical researchers can never have enough maps. Maps can be found and printed off at web pages, such as:
Google Maps http://maps.google.com/
MSN Maps & Directions http://www.mapblast.com
Whether you are driving, going by train, bus or plane, start planning now to make your genealogical research trip the best ever.