Planning is everything. Genealogists don't always realize or remember
that, as is evidenced by the following experience I had while helping my
father research our roots.
Back in the mid-1980s, my father and I went to Iowa to research his
mother's family. (My paternal grandparents died before I got interested in
family history.) It wasnít the first such trip for my dad. A year before,
Dad and his brother had gone to Iowa to attend a relative's funeral. They
had met with Paul, their mother's first cousin, who seemed "out of
it" and did not recognize them, and therefore wasnít much help. So on
this trip, Dad planned to speak to Paul's eldest sister, Velma, who
"knew everything about the family."
Nowadays, before we leave home we jump online for information about the
counties, the towns, and the sources of the area we are going to visit. We
print maps and look for Web sites for societies and libraries. We check the
Family History Library Catalog.
Before the Internet, it was a lot harderóbut not impossibleóto
prepare for a trip. In our case, I could have written letters or checked a
Family History CenterTM. However, time was tight, and Dad lived
by the maxim "Why call or write when, with a lot more effort, you can
talk to a real, live person?"
So we went to Iowa. First, we visited cemeteries. Then we went to the
courthouse, historical society, and library. Then we met with relatives. But
if I could go back in time, I'd do things differently. As it turned out,
though, I learned a few valuable lessons from the experience. [
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