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Travel to Discover Your Ancestral Roots

Try these tips for a successful genealogy research getaway. 

By
Chip Rowe
a boy and his family at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, picture
Photo credit
Photo Courtesy of FamilySearch © By Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Photo caption
A boy revels at the interactive screens at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

For a deep dive into your roots, plan a trip to conduct genealogical research in a relevant library, archive, church, or town. Among the most popular destinations in the United States are the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Ind. These are treasure troves of documents, but they can be intimidating if you don’t plan ahead. Here’s how to make the most of your efforts.

Do some legwork in advance. Know what you want to find on your quest. Build on your known family history with online resources such as Ancestry, MyHeritage, FamilySearch, and WikiTree.

Enlist a guide. It’s helpful to have someone familiar with the places you want to visit. The Association of Professional Genealogists lists people who can provide guidance, usually for a modest fee.

Arrive at archives and libraries early. Be friendly, appreciative, and patient with clerks and librarians. They can save you hours of additional work.

Bring a digital camera, extra batteries, and flash drives. Some libraries allow you to photograph records, which is faster than using a copy machine.

Have fun. Keep in mind that it’s a trip, not a school assignment. Even if you don’t uncover Great-Great-Grandma Josephine’s maiden name, you can enjoy the journey.

Read More: A Trip to Your Roots | Your Distant Cousin A.J.

This article was first published in Winter 2018. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.