Genealogy trip: Packing my (mental) bags

Recently I discovered  I have enough hotel reward points for a free stay in the Albany, N.Y. area. Go ahead and snicker – I don’t care. In the Capital District I can do genealogy research! Who needs the Riviera?

It has been a while since my last trip there, and I have many new questions to explore about my father’s family. So I’ve been pondering a packing list, but not in the usual sense. This is about what I’ll be including in my mental baggage.

A detailed itinerary: Not that I did things randomly last trip, but my schedule contained entries like “AM: Library.” For a distractable person, this is a recipe for wasting time. I need a schedule that says things like: “AM: Library. 9-11: Newspaper card index.”  “11-noon: Yearbook collection.” I admire people who can think like that without a checklist; I am not one of them.

Good groundwork: That is, calling ahead for opening and closing times and talking to staffers about what is available at what times.

A realistic approach to allotting my time: One example: I remember optimistically allowing an hour for city directories on the last trip. I could have used at least twice that. I will remind myself that city directories are not always uniformly organized on the shelves; that the layout sometimes changes from year to year; that relatives pop up in them unexpectedly and lead to new searches.

A strong focus: The last time I was able to spend research time in the Capital District was four years ago, and I blithely assumed I’d be back in a matter of months. Knowing better now, I’m prioritizing. What should I do here that can only be done here? What are the topics that seem to hold the most promise of unraveling the biggest questions?

Now, as to what actually goes in suitcase with the rollers — I can’t get over all the great ideas there are out there for how to equip yourself for a genealogy road trip. More on that in another post.

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2 Comments on “Genealogy trip: Packing my (mental) bags”

  1. I hope you have a fun and successful trip.


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