Tips for Planning a Family History Road Trip

August ArticleI love to travel, and was excited when I had the opportunity to write an article on summer genealogy road trips for Family Tree Magazine’s July/August 2014 issue.

For the article, I interviewed staff at top destinations for genealogists around the country, including the Family History Library (FHL), the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) Library, Allen County Public Library (ACPL) Genealogy Center, and Ellis Island.

Here are a few things I learned from these professionals about making and planning for a genealogy road trip:

1. Every trip may be different. Especially at genealogy libraries, every trip you make there could be different. Libraries are constantly acquiring new materials and family histories, so even if you didn’t have much luck the last time you visited, something new and relevant to your family history research could have arrived the next year. So, it pays to check back with the library every once in a while.

2. Do your homework before you go. To take the best advantage of resources accessible on-site only, do some research before you go. Search the library’s online catalog so you know what books or microfilm you want to (and can) access. Browse or search any available online databases. Some repositories may store records in off-site storage facilities, so if there’s something specific you want to see, find out how you can request to access to those materials when you’re there (or before you go).

3. Call ahead. Historic sites, libraries, and archives may change their hours of operation (or may be under renovation, which causes access issues to certain records) due to holidays or during their busy or slow seasons. Call ahead to confirm the hours posted on their website are still correct. And while you’re calling, ask if any large groups are scheduled to be at the center during the dates you’re planning to visit. If so, you may want to consider shifting your trip dates to avoid the crowds and maximize your time there.

For more details and specific tips on visiting the FHL, NEHGS Library, ACPL Genealogy Center, and Ellis Island (such as collections you can access, how to get there, and other genealogy and history sites to visit while you’re there), see my article in the Family Tree Magazine July/August 2014 issue.

Also, check out the Family Tree Magazine May 2014 podcast (starting at 7:30) to listen to an interview I gave about this article and genealogy road trip tips.


ABOUT DANA MCCULLOUGH

Dana McCullough is a freelance writer and editor who frequently writes, edits, copy-edits, and proofreads content for magazines, blogs, websites, books, and more. She is the owner of Dana’s Creative Services.

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