Genealogy Research via Travel

Mayflower II

The Mayflower II is located in Plymouth, Massachusetts; a great historical site for the whole family.
The Mayflower II is located in Plymouth, Massachusetts; a great historical site for the whole family. | Source

How to Plan Your Genealogy Trip

If you are an avid genealogist a genealogy research trip might be exactly what you need to find the answers to those tough questions and can obtain older documents that can’t be found on the internet. The vast amount of information on the internet has certainly grown, but courthouse and libraries in areas where your forefathers lived will usually provide some older documents, making your trip well worthwhile.

Proper preparation before leaving home will result in a successful experience and you can pick a nice time of year to travel which enhances the whole experience.

Organization is the key to success. Decide on exactly what names you are going to research and take the family trees with your detailed information. You do not want to waste time looking up and copying information that you already own. It is easy to make that error when you already have dozens of names. Don’t try to research too many names at once as it becomes confusing and you might not meet your goals. Make a to-do list for specific research goals, i.e. if you want proof of land ownership you know you will have to go to a courthouse.

Decide how long you can take for your vacation, and then make a plan for each day. It is always my preference if I am traveling a long distance to pick a time of year where the weather is pleasant and the scenery at its loveliest. I usually prefer autumn. .

Berkshire County Courthouse

A place on back roads where we found many original documents to copy.
A place on back roads where we found many original documents to copy.

Locations for Your Search

Next, you will want to check the state, states or country where you are traveling for these types of locations:

  • court houses
  • libraries
  • archives
  • county genealogy societies
  • NARA (National Archives and Record Administration if in your travel area)
  • churches
  • Cemeteries


Ancestors Graves Located in Plymouth

John Howland and family tombstones He came to America on the Mayflower.
John Howland and family tombstones He came to America on the Mayflower.

Get Information on Search Locations

Check the Internet for the locations to find out the days and hours of operation, make sure they are not closed for renovations and try to find out what type of services they offer the genealogist. Make sure you verify the facilities address by calling them before you leave home. Also, some libraries won’t let you take laptops inside and I've even had to lock up my purse and just use a pencil.

Checking out a library catalog online at home may help you locate some books that will be helpful, so you can note the name and call number ahead of time. Don’t waste your time checking out census or other documents that are easily accessible on the Internet.

County genealogy associations vary greatly. Some have no resources and others have whole libraries. Ask about fees if you are not a member; you may have to pay a small fee. Do take a lot of dollar bills or change as almost anywhere you go you will pay at least a nominal fee to make copies.

2008 Research Trip

Ready to go

Packing for the Trip

These are some extra supplies I always load in my briefcase:

  • My laptop computer which is not totally necessary but nice
  • My Garmin and Maps of the areas where I will be traveling
  • A camera for pictures is important if you search cemeteries or see ancestral homes
  • A magnifying glass (I can’t read the really small print that well anymore)
  • Extra pens, pencils and paper clips
  • My to-do list, with the copies of the family trees
  • A legal pad for notes
  • A couple of folders to keep things sorted
  • You can take a tape recorder in case you get a chance to interview a relative
  • Plenty of single dollar bills for copies

Utilize your time well in the libraries: concentrate on using indexes; manuscript collections; unpublished records; rare books and photographs. Be sure to check out the City Directories at the library as they have a wealth of information.

Courthouse documents are always a priority as you may not always get copies even through the mail of some records. They have land records, birth, death, marriage, divorce, and many other goodies that you will relish.

Decide on the best location for sleeping to eliminate extra driving. I have a Garmin GPS and wouldn't leave home without it, but it isn't always perfect. The people in the libraries are usually very helpful and sometimes you can get great information about the area from the local residents.

Happy planning and have a wonderful trip.

Book from late 1700's

County book listing couples and their children.
County book listing couples and their children.

© 2010 Pamela Oglesby

More by this Author


Comments 30 comments

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

This is a very interesting subject and would like doing it one day.


Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV

Pamela,

My old friend and the sax player in our band is very in to family research. I emailed him your first hub on this series, and he replied that his church (LDS) had great resources in Salt Lake City.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

Very interesting information Pamela. I want to pursue this because I have very little info about my ancestors and no one to ask.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Hello, Tom and BPOP, Thanks for your comments.

Tom, the LDS is a fabulous place for research and it is on my list of things to accomplish when I'm able. I could probably be content spending a month there! However, there still is an advantage to traveling to a location though, as I have cemetery pictures, a toured my great grandfather's home he built and I've walked on the ground where my ancestors once owned farms.

BPOP, I hope you will pursue your families history. Just start simple, like getting death birth or certificates and working backward. If you have a particular question, email me and I will be glad to help you.

Have a great weekend all!


Partisan Patriot 6 years ago

Pamela

My Uncle is into genealogy and has provide each of us with a complete history of our family for several generations back. Enjoyed reading you hub but; where's the criticise Obama part?


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Patriot, It's great that your uncle did that for the family. That's my goal. Every once in a while I take a mental break from Obama but I's always thinking about what to write next


eovery profile image

eovery 6 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

My family has a lot of ours done, but I need to be proactive and start looking at it. The LDS church have a great resource for a lot of this geneology.

Keep on hubbing!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Eovery, It's great that more of yours is complete. Thanks for comment as always.


Roberta99 profile image

Roberta99 6 years ago

Very informative article. My daughter and I are hoping to take a genealogy trip this coming summer..


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Roberta, Thanks for your comment and I hope you will have great success on your trip.


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

We were fortunate to travel to Scotland last summer to see where our ancestors came from. We took my father and he continues to express his appreciation for going. It truly is an experience of a lifetime to see where your roots are. I loved Scotland and hope to go back again to look for more records. Aloha!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Elayne, My father's side of the family came from Scotland and I would love to make that trip. I'm glad you all enjoyed it so much. Thanks for your comment.


nancy_30 profile image

nancy_30 6 years ago from Georgia

I enjoyed reading your article. I've loved researching genealogy since I was a teenager. I've got my family history all the way back to 1780. Then the trail runs cold. Thanks so much for your great advice.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Nancy, Thank you so much. It is good to hear from a fellow genealogist.


jayjay40 profile image

jayjay40 6 years ago from Bristol England

Great advice Pamela and great writing. A trip like this is so much fun and provides a lot of information for a family tree


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Jayjay, Thank your for your comment.


theirishobserver. profile image

theirishobserver. 6 years ago from Ireland

Great Hub, I absolutely love history and all things old and ancient, I am to be constantly found serching fields and hedges and visiting ancient sites in Ireland, I should probably take more time to study the topic, but you know life can be fast sometimes and its impossible to do everything, I watch all the documentaries Time Team etc love it keep up the good work 9.30am here in Ireland on a cold saturday morning....


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Irishobserver, Thanks for your comment. I love history too and I wish I could see the ancient site in Ireland as they would be fascinating to me. Have a wonderful weekend.


vballkel profile image

vballkel 6 years ago from Michigan

You have some great suggestions. Genealogy is great and rewarding like your other article says. My mom does a lot of it and most of my travels have been research trips with her. I have spent a lot of time in cemetaries and court houses while on vacation!!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

vballkel, Your vacations sound like mine. Thanks for your comments.


Stacie L profile image

Stacie L 6 years ago

good research and information to help me get started..:=)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Stacie, Thank you for your comment and I wish you good luck on your genealogy search.


Canadian Rose profile image

Canadian Rose 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Pamela, I enjoyed reading your hub. It brought back memories of my own genealogy research trip to England (see my hub http://hubpages.com/hub/Returning-to-your-Roots-Th... In addition to visiting a number of villages in Norfolk and Yorkshire where I knew my ancestors had lived and died, I visited the main repository for vital statistics in London, England - I can't recall its name right now. It was fascinating looking through the old indices and seeing how the whole system worked. Your advice is excellent, and very informative.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

Canadian Rose, You just described my dream trip for genealogy. Thank you so much for your comments.


workingmomwm profile image

workingmomwm 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA

Nice hub! I don't think I had any ancestors who came over on the Mayflower. My people were all Virginians/North Carolinians. Makes sense, though, considering that I'm from Kentucky, and my family has pretty much stayed in the same general area for centuries. Seems like I will, too!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

workingmomwm, They may have come in through Jamestown. Thanks for your comments.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands

Hi :)

I went to Wales, with the intention of ancestor hunting, but the record office simply wasn't where I had expected it to be!! I did get some useful work done in the library, though ~ and we had a family reunion, which was great!

I keep 'planning' trips to Cobh in Ireland and the Greek island of Hydra, but haven't got to either of them yet. It's costly, of course, and not easy to justify, for a personal hobby!

One day, though ... :)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

Trish, I would travel more if it wasn't so costly. I haven't always found the results I'd hoped for either but when you do find something special it all seems worthwhile. We need to be independently wealthy!

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. At least you got a family reunion in Wales.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands

Hi Pamela,

Yes, reunions are great ~ getting to know people ~ and the information that they have inherited :)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

Trish, You are so fortunate that you still have enough family to have a reunion. In my situation there are few relatives left as my mother was an only child and my father only had one brother but I have track some distant cousins which helps. Thank you so much for your comments.

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