When we are working on our genealogical research and we discover an ancestor came from a different place, an unfamiliar place, a new county, state, or country, do we stop researching because we don’t know anything about that place? No, of course not. We dive right in! Looking for databases for that place where we can plug in our names and find the answers. However, that is not necessarily the most efficient way to start research in a new area, especially if it is an area where you may be conducting a lot of research over time. I like to create a locality guide for these new locations.
You could call a locality guide by other names: a toolbox, a resource guide, a quick sheet. Whatever you decide to call it, a locality guide is what I like to call the “pre-research.” You encounter a new location on a document. Perhaps a death certificate indicates that an ancestor was born in a county and state where you have little or no previous experience. Most genealogists will just jump into the records and online sources, excited for what they might find. And that’s ok for a quick look, but if your research is going to be focused in that location for any amount of time, you want to be most efficient with that time.
There are many ways you could organize this “pre-research.” I’m going to share the way I do it, but it is not the only or “right” way, by any means. Take any tips from this series that you like and adapt this to something that works for you.
My locality guides have four parts: Historical Background, Geography, Records, and Repositories. You can collect this information in a number of formats. I recommend collecting it in an electronic document (i.e. word processor, spreadsheet, or a tool like Evernote) which will lend itself to creating clickable links for online resources. Having this guide will allow you to quickly look up valuable information, databases, and references. As you conduct your research you will invariably learn more that can be added to your guide.
Over the next several blog posts, I will share some of the more in-depth inner workings of my guides and some tips for making them easier, more efficient, and useful for your research.
This locality guide is for sale. Click here to order.
9 thoughts on “Building a Locality Guide: The Basics”
I need to construct a locality guide to bust my 40 year brick wall. Where may I find a course/instructions to do so? Thank you.
My next several blog posts will be all about how to do it. Stay tuned!
Looking forward to learning more about this!
Great idea! I wondered how to approach this research. I look forward to reading your next blogs.
Add me to your list of interesteds in this topic 🙂
This is an amazing idea!
Excellent ideas & encouragement!