Thursday, April 25, 2013

Preparation for my Genjourney

I have just over a month to go before I head off to England to do a little digging around our family roots. To utilise the time I have, I think I need to put together a list of contacts, places to visit, dates and people to look up.  I wonder at how other family tree researchers have approached this opportunity. 

1. Rationalise:  It is important to come to the realisation that you will not be able to follow all the leads, visit all the places and chase up all the branches of your tree, especially if like me the majority of your family tree roots are based in the United Kingdom. It will be important to identify a number of doable projects to research in the time you are there.  
2. Maps:  Obtain a good map and identify the location of the towns you wish to visit while you are travelling.  This will assist in drawing up a logical schedule for the trip. Also, if possible, look up the addresses where your ancestors lived (details from old letters, census etc) and identify these on the maps.
National Archives UK
3. Communication: Contact the historical societies, libraries and other important research institutions in the area's you plan to visit prior to travelling.  The establishment contacts prior to travel can save you a lot of time.  Identify the times when groups meet, the times that libraries and museums are open, who would be able to assist you when you arrive etc.  Communicating with these groups may also help you identify other groups, newspapers and older citizens who would be interested in assisting you with the history of their town and its people.
4.  Family Links: If you know of other researchers living in the areas you are visiting, contact them and try to organise a time when you can meet to compare and share notes/photos.  Two or more heads opens the door to the possibility of even  greater discovery.
5. Contacts:  Set up a detailed list of Contacts, with addresses, phone numbers of all people and institutions you plan to visit, contact while you are travelling.  It would be a good idea to mark these contacts with some form of identification, that links them with the branch of your family tree or person in your tree that they are linked to.
6. I-Equipment:  Personally, I think it will be important to pack, lap top, small external hard drive, and a couple of memory stick, my voice recorder and camera.  (Yes, there will be very limited space for clothing). Also, a small notebook, (divided with tabs for different branches of the family) and couples of pencils for jotting notes at all times will be important.
7. Digital Files:  Copies of all related digital files that will be of assistance with your research should be scanned and filed in Family Branch folders on your lap top will be invaluable. Setting up an organised filing system to store all digital files as you find them is an important aspect of collecting, and saving research.
8. Photos: I plan to make some copies of family photos to take with me.  These will include present family members as well as copies of some of the older photos.  These will be a valuable resource to show family contacts when visiting them and it will be nice to have copies of older photos to share with family links when visiting them.
9. Up-to-date Family Tree:  Ensure that my family tree on "Ancestry" is up to date, as I am sure I will need to refer to this many times during my travels.
10. Familiarisation: Once you have identified the places you plan to visit, spend some time familiarising yourself with the area and its history.  Try and gain an understanding of the local customs and important  historical events from that area.
11. Open Mind: Finally travel with an open mind, be flexible to fit in with unforeseen opportunities that may arise during your trip.  Be open to detours from your schedule, and always show your appreciation to anyone who takes the time to assist you on this journey.

This list is my attempt to rationalise and identify some of the things I need to take with me and organise before I head off.  I am sure there are many points and suggestions that I am not aware of.  If any readers have any suggestions for my upcoming trip, I would greatly appreciate any advice and suggestions from other family tree researchers who have been on a similar genjourney.


  1. Diane, this is a good plan, and I'd like to add some tips (though my research was in London and North Yorkshire, and things may be different in the record offices you will visit): (1)_Check what you can bring into each archive/library (some allow only loose sheets of paper, not notebooks, computers, cameras etc) and whether they have lockers. (2)_Use some sort of checklist to keep track of which names and spelling variants you searched for in each source, and over what time period. (3)_I bought an Ordnance Survey motoring atlas as soon as I arrived in the UK. Bookshops or newsagents sometimes have last year's edition on sale for just a few pounds. (4)_Use the maps and message boards at CuriousFox, (5)_Visit charity shops and book exchanges - I found some great local history books there. Finally... have a wonderful time!

  2. Hi Judy, thank you so much for these valuable tips, first hand experience is really valuable. I have used CuriousFox, before, but hadn't thought of using it this time.

    2 weeks tomorrow, and so much to do.:)