Eventually we all have to leave the comforts of home and do some research in a repository whether it be a courthouse, library, archive, or cemetery. There are many things you can and should do from home before you go to be prepared. I will first scour the Family History Library’s catalog to see what can be ordered in to a local family history center for viewing.
For Hardin County, Illinois the catalog looks like this:
Depending on what is available under each of those topics, I will order in at least the films containing the indexes for such things as deeds, wills, probate and vital records especially if I am planning a research trip to Salt Lake City in the near future.
Also, I will examine online information regarding local libraries, courthouses, archives and cemeteries for information on hours of operation, any costs involved, parking issues, copy fees, restricted items, and so on. There is nothing more frustrating than arriving at a small library only to discover they are closed on Wednesdays, the day you had set aside for a visit. I also visit their online catalogs and know exactly what I want to look at before I arrive.
If I can’t make a research trip in person, I will examine the online information for ordering procedures for courthouses and libraries, local volunteers or genealogists for hire, and local societies who offer look-ups. The Rosiclare Memorial Public Library has a list of genealogical resources available and an email for questions.
Create your research plan before you leave home. Do as much as possible before you even get dressed and you will have a more successful, productive and efficient research trip!
2 thoughts on “What I Don’t Know, Part 10: Repository Research Plan”
Be careful of calling a cemetery a “repository.’ Of course it is – for bodies – but gravestones are not considered original sources. The person lying there didn’t supervise the carving. Some stones were put up years after the death. Cemeteries of course are wonderful to visit and photograph but I consider them the dessert after I do the work in the real records. Looking for my great-grandfather’s death record years ago i foolishly ‘trusted’ the date on his stone. He died very poor, and his daughters, who prospered in their later years, put up a stone about 30 years after his death, and everything on it is incorrect except his name. They were young when he died and must have just guesstimated his death date! This taught me – go to the original records, contemporaneous with the event, first.
Of course I did not mean to indicate that tombstones are original records. I used the term “repository” as a general term to refer to any “place” of genealogical interest that gets you out of your jammies and into your car (bus, train, plane). Obviously this blog series was not so much about the quality of records/sources so much as about what you can learn about a place you’ve never researched using online records and searches. But yes, thanks for the reminder to check sources as close to the time of the event in question as possible. Thanks for reading!