Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Research Trip Tips

I thought I would give some tips for taking a research trip to a local archives or library. This is a complimentary article to go along with my previous blog. There will be a good chance that you will need to go to one or more of the archives or libraries located in Scotland, so here are some helpful tips to make your research go a bit smoother.

1. The first thing is to be prepared before you go (do your homework). This is most important as if you don't think things out first your research will be chaos. Think about who or what family line you want to research, and what information sources you will need to look at. Find out the hours of operation and other rules about the archive facility you are wanting to visit - does the archive facility require any fees, and what are the charges for making photocopies, etc.

2. Plan what items you want to take with you to perform your research. A good overall tip for items to take with you is a notebook with paper, pencils (you should only take pencils into a research room as most facilities only let you use a pencil in order to protect their documents), file folders, a small stapler or paperclips, research worksheets (pedigree chart, family group sheet, research log, source sheet, etc.), perhaps some soft white gloves if you are looking at very old documents to protect the documents from skin oils or moisture that may cause damage, and a magnifying glass for those small print or hard to read items.

3. If you have a laptop computer you should take it as most archives have a place where you can connect it. However, please check first if they are allowed and if there are outlets for their useage. Using a laptop can be used to take notes or transcribe documents and information you have found.

4. If you are researching for most of the day, take time to have breaks and lunch. It is important to take breaks every so often to give the ol' brain a rest, as well as giving you more energy to concentrate.

5. Allow archive staff to help you if you need it - don't be afraid to ask if you don't know. But there are instances where you will have to ask staff to obtain certain documents for you if there are in a backroom or other location. Always be courteous and polite when speaking with staff.

6. When your research trip is finished for the day, take time to organize what you have found - perhaps if you found some birth certificates you can place them in one of your file folders or however you have chosen to file/organize your research documents. If you have written things on little bits of paper, rewrite them or type them up on a larger piece of paper so they won't get lost (or put your information on your computer).

Well, that is pretty much the overall ways to have a good research trip - I just wish that there was a guarantee to find all the information you want to find. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
I hope this has been helpful to you, and I wish all you the best in your research.

Until Next Time -

Carolyn of MGS

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