Back in April Amy and I headed up to Columbus, Ohio in search of answers to some of our most confounding genealogical questions. In the course of five days, we hit 10 counties, discovered a winery, ate delicious food and ended up exhausted. We decided four days of hard research was probably the sweet spot, take note.
You can hear all about our trip on our latest podcast, Episode #29 so I won’t go into detail in this post but I will post a few things we learned (or I learned as Amy is a seasoned pro on these trips).
Start early! Get there when the repository opens. You might need all day or you might need time to travel to another repository to find exactly the document you need. If your ancestor lived on or near the border of two counties you never know where they might have filed.
Check out the parking situation. Is there street parking? Garage parking? What is the cost or time limits and make sure you have some change if it is metered?
Take time to do a little research on where your records might be located. Every state has different offices that hold records. Of course, check out vitals, deeds, land records, and probate but don’t overlook criminal records.
Take photos of the documents if allowed. After all documents in a book are photographed take a few photos of the book cover page and outside top and spine. Do this in the same order each time and it will be easier to transcribe when you are finished. If you need copies be sure and have change with you for small amounts and credit card or larger bills for more costly copies.
Take a lunch break! Some of the places you will be are basements and vaults. It is good to get out for a bit of fresh air and sustenance then head back inside.
Check out the local library while in town. If they have a genealogy department, great, if not they may have a local history section. Both worth looking at for more information.
Be a gracious guest. Clean up after yourself, put books away in their proper place, clean up the area around the microfilm reader and printer, and always say thank you.
We would encourage you to take a trip and do some on-site research for your ancestors. Not everything is out there in the digital world and you just might find the document you need to prove a relationship or solve a brick wall mystery. If you want some practice first, go to a local courthouse near you and do some searches. This will help give you an idea of how much time it might take and what the layout of the courthouse could be when you head to your county of research.