Finally! I am taking a genealogy road trip to meet with my husband’s aunts and uncles. Four of them live 3-4 hours away, and in genealogy miles, that isn’t too far. I’ve been anxious to get on the road to see what they all know about their family history.
I used these 5 steps to prepare for this genealogy road trip.
Step 1: Contact Each Relative
We are going to visit with the first line-aunts and uncles since grandma and grandpa are no longer living. I called each aunt and uncle. My husband was just going to drop by which is acceptable in this family, but I refused. I think I will get more artifacts if they know we are coming and why.
After several minutes of trying to explain who I was (wish my husband would have called!), I told each person that we were coming to town for the purpose of finding out more about their family history. If they had any old papers (death, birth, marriage, diary, bible, occupation) or photos, we would love to see them. I assured each one that I have no interest in keeping anything, but I would want to scan anything that might be helpful. I wonder if they will even remember I called…Should I send them a reminder note??!!
Step 2: Local Genealogy Society
I also plan to visit the local genealogy society library while I am in town. Since I’ve been there before, I made a call to talk to the president personally. He remembered me because I took a picture of the both of us when I was there before. I told him I was coming to town and would he have time to dig up the family history he didn’t have time to show me before. No problem: GREAT!
Step 3: County Courthouse
I have few vital records for this family; this is an important priority. I called the county courthouse and asked their procedures and costs. It turns out, it will be cheaper to stop by the courthouse while I’m in town, than to mail in requests. If I go to the courthouse personally, any records they can not find, I won’t have to pay for. If I mailed in a request, I would have to pay whether they had them or not. Every county clerk’s office is different. It pays to call first. And no, I am not allowed in the stacks of records. So, sending my husband with a list is my plan.
Step 4: Recording Device
Instead of using free apps on my I-pad, I purchased a hand held recorder. For the most part, I am going to ask the same questions to each person. I also have a list of questions from my research that I am looking for answers to. I do prepare ideas of what I want to cover, but I don’t use a scripted approach in the interview.
Step 5: Review family Tree
I struggle to stay focused on one family’s history. So for the two weeks before a trip like this, I force myself to focus on only this family tree. I am more likely to remember details to share with relatives.
✔️ Contact relatives.
✔️ Contact local genealogy society.
✔️ Contact county courthouse.
✔️ Prepare for interviews.
✔️ Review family tree.
READY TO ROLL!! I love genealogy road trips!
Kim has a passion for Genealogy. After retiring from a career as a teacher, administrator and education consultant, she spent the past several years doing extensive family research. She is a newsletter editor for the Illinois State Genealogical Society and the Peoria County Genealogy Society. Kim is also a member of the Peoria Chapter of DAR Daughter of American Revolution and a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.