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Road Trips Archives - Genealogy Basics In 30 Minutes

3 genealogy gadgets to organize and store records

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No matter how many people claim we are living in a digital age, genealogists still collect a lot of paper. But technology can help. This post contains a list of 3 genealogy gadgets to help tame the clutter.

  1. A good portable scanner is key (we talked about such items being a part of your research kit back in Chapter 2 of my book, Genealogy Basics In 30 Minutes.) You can easily scan papers and documents while on research trips, visiting family members, or at libraries.
  2. If you do not own a scanner, take a picture with a digital camera or smartphone. Voila, one less piece of paper for you to store or misplace! Smartphones have the added advantage of supporting video, genealogy apps, spreadsheet apps, and cloud-based backups (see Chapter 5 of Genealogy Basics In 30 Minutes.)
  3. A good label maker for your growing collection of stuff is also great to keep everything in order. Many people print off labels from their computer for larger items, but a small handheld one is great for the small items you come into contact with. In addition to a label maker, a paper shredder should be considered. (It may seem an odd addition but we can’t keep everything, and we do not want someone finding a copy of a vital record in the trash.)

What genealogy gadgets do you use when you go out on a genealogy road trip? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Genealogy gadgets

Gadgets like the iPhone 6 can help with document scanning, video interviews, and genealogy apps

Family research in libraries, archives, and other institutions

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Making your first family research trip to a brick-and-mortar research facility can be fun and nerve-wracking all at the same time. In my case, it’s the anticipation of what I might find that is the problem.

In addition, unlike at home where it’s possible to conduct research in your PJs and bunny slippers, on-site research takes a bit more planning and foresight. Here are a few things you need to remember before you go to a library or archive:

Family research at the National Archives in NYC

Family research at the National Archives in NYC

  • Prepare notes on who or what you are trying to find.
  • Know all of the rules for the institution. Ask staff if you are unsure of a particular policy.
  • Have cash for copies, lockers, or a snack.
  • Bring extra paper and pencils.
  • Have extra batteries if you are using a camera.
  • Bring a light jacket or sweater even in the summer (archives can be cold!)

The Golden Rule for family research

Good behavior extends to strangers you come into contact with in the course of your research. If you know you will be regularly working with a particular repository, treat the staff nicely. When you talk with someone in person, online, or in an email, be gracious and treat him or her with respect. You would be surprised how a little politeness will help you go a long way.