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Survival kit for the road
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As we go full swing into the summer months, are you thinking about taking a genealogy trip out of town? Are you planning to go to the State and National Archives, State College Libraries, out of town cemeteries, out of town Probate Court Office? Wherever you go, you will need a survival kit and be well prepared.

Before you plan this trip however, ask yourself, can i find this information out at my local library or maybe I can order through the local LDS Family History Center, the microfilm I need? Searching for your family records in your ancestor's local town or city should only be done after you are sure you cannot acquire the records through easily accessible means. Do you want to spend the time and money traveling when you can access the information online? After careful planning, make a survival kit.

•Lots of pencils and paper: Most state and national archives, college libraries, city libraries do not allow pens. Always go onto their website and read about what is allowed in their Genealogy Room.

•Change: You will needs lots of change for making copies, parking, refreshments, etc.

•Family Group Sheets: These sheets should be filled out with updated information so that you can access dates easily. Do not take your whole genealogy file with you. Take only the pertinent information you will need.

•To Do List: Know what you are looking for. Is it a birth certificate or a newspaper article? Are you looking for a local cemetery? Always make this to do list and follow it so that you don't get sidetracked.

•Forms: Print out blank forms such as research calendar, research extract, source summary for family information, correspondence record or other forms that you deem necessary to record the information you are looking for. Check online for other forms like a cemetery form, probate office form depending on where you are going. Forms keep you organized for when you get back to your room or home so that you can transcribe easily.

•Camera (digital preferred) voice recorder, portable scanner: When visiting cemeteries it is a good idea to take a picture of the entrance to the cemetery plus any gravesites you find. Making note of where the grave sites are located is also suggested. A voice recorder is great if you happen to come across an old timer in the city you are visiting and he/she has lots of stories to tell you. You can use the portable scanner at the Probate Office to scan wills, death certificates, etc.

•Laptop Computer: In the evenings, if you're not exhausted, you can sit down and sort through all the information you acquired throughout the day and input the information on your database.

•Travel Journal: Keep a travel journal of all your research. This journal can be a digital or a written one. You will be surprised at how many times you will refer back to it.

But most of all, don't get overwhelmed and do too much. Enjoy the experience. Even if you don't get all the information you want, you have had fun at what you love most, genealogy.

Ellen Blakeslee is a professional genealogist living in Covington. You can email her at with any questions or concerns.