Everyone is going to approach this differently than I do. But, if you’ve never built a locality guide, maybe some of my tactics will work for you or spur you to have new ideas that work for yours. This week, I’m going to discuss at a high level each of the sections I include in my guides. These are the four I use. You might choose a different four or a different arrangement, and that’s OK! The point is to build something that is going to be useful and helpful for your research.
My four sections are:
- Historical Background – major historical items of interest, especially those that might affect records, migration, and industry
- Geography – maps, maps, and maps; understanding the physical layout of a place helps understand ancestors
- Records – what major record sets are available, both online and off
- Repositories – what libraries, archives, museums, etc. are available for onsite research
I have found that over time these are the main sections I want to make sure I capture something about the new area I’m researching. Some guides are larger than others in these parts. It depends on several things such as how long am I going to be working in this new area? If it is for my own personal research or a long client project, I might spend a bit more time on this than I would for something smaller. Some areas just don’t have a lot of records due to them being a relatively newer area (Oklahoma or Washington state compared to Massachusetts for example). Or they sustained a lot of record loss, like some places in the south.
These four main sections form the basis of my locality guides. Next week, we will begin to break each section down and I will share examples from my Wood County, Ohio guide.