Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Genealogy road trips

Have you taken a genealogy road trip recently? The ones where you visit aunts, uncles, cousins, cemeteries, ancestral homes, town libraries, county courthouses, local historical and genealogy societies, etc.? Trips like these are an integral part of doing effective genealogy research because they provide opportunities to find unique resources hidden away from the Internet and large repositories.

I have read with fascination the current road trip posts by Arlene Eakle and Steve Danko. Arlene has taken a road trip from Utah to the East Coast and points in-between, stopping along the way to do research for her clients in Denver CO, Republic County, KS, St. Louis MO, Fort Wayne IN, Cleveland OH, Lutherville MD, Richmond VA, Wise County VA, and Pike County KY. Arlene and Kathryn are heading back now with their van chock full of books and papers obtained on the trip. I listed each stop because Arlene's blog format shows only one post at a time.

If you read all of Arlene's posts in order, then you can see the excellent planning involved, the fantastic resources found and the genealogy discoveries made by an expert genealogy researcher. There are many research lessons to be learned by studying these posts.

Steve Danko has just returned from a week-long research trip to Lithuania where he met several cousins and visited several repositories. His planned itinerary was posted here. He has been posting summaries of each of his days on his blog, and he's not finished yet. Read his blog and use the Search box on his home page to find all "Lithuania" related posts.

I am always fascinated by the exploits of other researchers in foreign countries.

My own road trip experiences were extremely challenging, interesting and fun, although they were combined with sightseeing and visiting family and friends. I've posted before about our trips to England in 1993, to Norway in 1999 and to the MD-NJ-PA-NY area in 2004 (Part 1 - preparation, Part 2 - Sussex County NJ, Part 3 - Watertown NY, and Part 4 - Mercer County PA and Prince Georges County MD). I also have been to Salt Lake City twice - in 1995 and again in 1997.

Frankly, I haven't taken many research trips in recent years because I haven't found many "new" ancestors since about 1997. The exception was my wife's Norwegian ancestry which I pursued through most of 1999. We have gone several times to New England in recent years to visit my elderly aunts and uncles and my cousins.

If you have "brick wall ancestors" and have not visited the localities they lived in to explore non-Internet resources, I encourage you to plan well, book the trip and go. You will likely enjoy the experience and obtain more new research data that may help you crash through those brick walls.

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