Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Going Prepared to Learn a Lot

The time has almost arrived for our annual trip to Salt Lake City. The You Go Genealogy Girls have been preparing for the trip for months. This has entailed updating genealogy files, preparing a research notebook, aka "big to-do list in a binder." It would take me a year to get through my research notebook to-dos, but I am going prepared. We will be there two weeks. Even with pacing ourselves, there should be time to locate some ancestors.

I also have to-do lists all over the house. A friend recently told me to "get crackin'" so I would get everything done. I have been keeping pace all week. Here's my list of items to pack for trip:

2 pieces of medium sized luggage for clothing
1 bag for 7 pair of shoes
1 bag for cosmetics, hair supplies and good smelly stuff
1 bag for laundry detergent and miscellaneous items
1 bag for the over-sized research notebook, maps and reading material
1 carton-on-wheels for food supplies, such as snacks, cereal and cookies
1 bag on wheels for laptop computer and library supplies
1 fold up mini-bike for exercising in the room
3 pillows

With all these bags, I feel like a pioneer forging the trail. Nobody ... and I mean nobody ... will force me to throw items overboard.

The purpose of the trip is genealogy. How well are you prepared when you take a genealogy trip? That is where our over-siezed research notebooks come in handy. This is no spontaneous trip. It has required hours of reviewing and studying our lineages, looking for research problems and missing information. Notice I did NOT say brick walls! I can work around and through research problems. Identifying them, I analyze what information is need, the best sources and the information they possibly contain and then where they can be found. Will the information produce itself in a marriage record, a will, a land record or death certificate? What is available in the Family History Library? We use the Family History Library Catalog while working on our research notebooks and will continue to use it at the Family History Library.

Let's not get paranoid with "what ifs." Those are the culprits in research. You can talk yourself out of about any phase of research by telling yourself there may not be information in a certain record. Keep in mind your ancestor's records can be found in the most obvious as well as the most obscure of records. If one document does not produce the information, move on to something else. Keep trying. One of the most valuable documents I ever found was a court record for the contesting of a will about 1870 in New York state. The person I wanted and needed to find in the will was not named, but when it was contested, all of the heirs, including that person, were named along with their reasons for contesting the will.

Think while you are researching. What does the document tell you? Does the information pertain directly to your research problem? That doesn't mean it has to answer all of your questions, but perhaps contain substantial information, or information that may prove helpful at a later time. Does the information in the document pertain to your ancestor, but has no direct bearing on your research problem? There may be clues, so do not discount the document. It may be what you need to jump start your research. There is no perfect record and thus you will need to use more than one ... over and over and over. This is why the YGGGirls stay two weeks in Salt Lake City and wish for a year.

Almost forgot the documentation. Silly me. While you are doing all of this research on your dream trip to Salt Lake City, be sure to do it right and document what you copied or used. That includes things such as titles of books, copyright, author, where it is located, case numbers, file numbers, page numbers, column numbers, film numbers. Don't weep later. I told you to do it while you are there.

If you happen to be in Salt Lake City at the library while we are there, stop and say hello. We will be doing research on all five floors at various times. YGGG #2 has dark brown hair and I am the blonde. The color and style of my shoes will change every day. I anticipate that #2 will wear the same shoes each day. Why change a good thing is what she tells me. On the other hand, I only have to wear the same pair of shoes twice in the two weeks I am there. Regardless of how we look or what we wear, the ancestors are waiting for us. We'd better "get crackin'."

YGGG #1 -- Ruby (the one with all the shoes)


  1. Girl one must be slipping,last year she took a whole box of mini purses AND all the shoes- she didn't even mention purses this year! More room for me. I'm not taking extra reference materials or a printer this year for our room. Didn't use them last year, so out they go. We won't know what to do with all that extra car space. Hope we find some good books to fill up the car for the trip home. No, we are not going shoe shopping so don't even ask! Less than two weeks till our blast off to the west and WE are getting "anxious". Much work and preparation yet to come......

  2. Have a wonderful time at Salt Lake Library. I am off to Scotland and will have to "pack light" :)

  3. Wow! A great trip is underway! I'm leaving for my ancestral hometown in Alsace in a couple days. I have the name of my forbear's hometown (Gersteheim) and was able to do research right here in Chicago because SLC sent the microfilm from Gerstheim (yes, tiny Gersteheim -- population about 2000 now about 600 when my ancestors lived there) to a genealogical center here. What a service! Good luck in your research!



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