Prepare a Packet and Checklists

For each surname you are researching on this trip, prepare a packet or notebook that includes the pedigree charts, family group sheets, research calendars, and your notes. Review this material looking for the gaps in your information, and start some lists of what you want to know.

Put in your packet the checklists covering what you are missing and the priority of the information you need. Are you trying to locate the deeds you think must exist because on the 1860 census Grandma is listed as having $1,000 worth of real estate? Are you missing a marriage date? Are you trying to prove a death date? Missing a wife's maiden name?

Decide which of these you want to tackle first and what records you need to see. Are you most interested in deeds? Estate records? Marriage records? Perhaps you are trying to locate a hard-to-find family history, or you want to search for obituaries in the local newspaper. It's a rare genealogist who has time to exhaust all the possibilities on the first onsite research trip, so decide ahead of time what is most important to you. Go through the list again and add an "if time allows" list.

Have alternate names or ideas, because your original plan may be thwarted when you get to the courthouse. At a courthouse to search the 1870 tax records stored in the attic and inaccessible without an escort, I arrived to learn that the escort's mother had died the

Tree Tips

If you belong to a genealogical society, pack your membership cards. Some states require membership in a genealogical society in order to use certain records.

Pedigree Pitfalls"

Never take original documents in your travel packet. They can be lost or destroyed. Instead, take copies of anything that you think will be helpful.

previous night. The office was shorthanded due to vacations and no one else could help. The trip would have been wasted if I hadn't had a secondary set of objectives.

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