25 June 2013

Travel Tuesday - Planning a Research Trip

I have an empty nest.  And, with an empty nest, freedom; what does a genealogy hobbyist do with freedom?  Travel of course.  So this July I am off on a mini-family history tour.  Queue the Beatles Magical HISTORY (err, Mystery) Tour.
I took my first mini-family history tour back in December; we were in the Philadelphia Pennsylvania region for other reasons, so decided that we'd take a day trip into the city to visit the cemetery where my Great Grandmother Elizabeth Ann (ROWBOTTOM) BEARDSELL is buried and to visit the Free Library of Philadelphia.  While we were reasonably successful in our family history endeavor, I don't believe that we were as successful as we could have been, if we had taken the time to PLAN our trip.  Both my husband and I have other ancestors in that area, and if we had just done a little planning, I think we could have accomplished far more.  In our defense though, we hadn't really thought about combining our trip with our research - we were in the area for other reasons entirely.

This July, we will again be in Pennsylvania to visit family over the 4th of July.  We will be in and around the area of Columbia, Luzerne, Montour and Monroe Counties; the area that my paternal ancestors are predominately from.  So, we've decided to include a family history tour in the itinerary.

Okay, so I better get planning; but, how do you plan a research trip?  I suppose it really comes down to your personal research needs and style.  So for me, this is how I set about it . . . 
1.       Request time off from work
2.       Make lodging reservations
3.       Make arrangements for furry friend to be cared for in your absence
1 - 3 are fairly straightforward
4.       Determine the scope and breadth of your research.
The location we'd be in pretty much set this for us; we'd be focusing our research on the LEARN family.
5.       Create a research log.  This is what I'll use to keep track of . . .
·         Address and contact information
·         Expenses
·         Names of ancestors who are buried in the cemeteries we'd be visiting
·         Last known home address for LEARN ancestors.  Wouldn't it be fun to get pictures of their home, if they are still there?
6.       Create a photo log.  I'll use this to keep an accounting of the photos I've taken and why along with any notes
Research Log

Photo Log
7.       Okay my next step was to take a look at the LEARNs on my family tree, and with the help of OneNote, really take a look at what I know and how I know it.  Thank you Crista Cowan, that mantra is ingrained on my brain.  Which isn't a bad thing. 
I created a notebook for the LEARN surname.  I then created a top tab for each individual and within each individual tab, I created side tabs to record pertinent genealogical information that I had on each of them.
Here's an example

The, General Information page that you see here, captures at a glance, the timeline for Margaret Ethel LEARN from birth to death.  See tabs on right-hand side . . .


·         Birth

·         Marriage

·         Death

·         US Federal Census


Within each, I have 'captured' the source documentation that I hold; either in my private holdings or that I have located online and saved.  Each page includes a transcription of those source documents as well as source citations.  I not only want to give credit, where credit is due, but I also want to remember where I found that information.


While this may seem duplicative of the information stored and saved on both ancestry.com and Family Tree Maker, I can honestly tell you that physically going through the steps of  transcribing each source document and creating a timeline, will help you hone in on what you're missing and where you need to go next with your research.  The other benefit of physically transcribing a document is that you may actually come across information you missed on initial reading.


8.       Having completed steps 1 - 7, I am now ready for my family history tour.  I am really looking forward to it and I look forward to sharing the results when I return.
Okay, have I forgotten something?  Should I be doing something else to prepare for our trip?
I am interested in learning how you plan for a family history tour.


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