Friday, January 31, 2014

Whats in That Bag Little Lady?

Tools of the Trade for the Travelling Genealogist

When I was a novice at family history research 20 years ago, I thought that was my only resource. As I began networking with other genealogists who had been researching before the dawn of computers, the virtual light bulb went on over my head. I talked on the phone one day to author Cynthia Bradt Biasca, the premier researcher of the Bradt surname. She told me that she and her sister spent years climbing through dusty archives, libraries', record offices, churches and cemeteries to collect all that they could find to document their family line.What a concept! I was inspired and began by getting away from my computer desk and researching at a local Family History Center . The location was small with a limited number of documents, however they had micro film and micro fiche and very helpful volunteers. I was able to order films with records from my specific areas of research and broke down some genealogical brick walls. Next I scheduled a trip to an area of the country where a lot of my ancestors came from, The Ohio River Valley. I photographed tombstones, stopped at the local churches and made contact with local historians. I have gone on many genealogical research trips since that time and have learned that there are a few tools of the trade that I can't do without!
1. Portable Document Scanner- I used to spend a kings ransom on photo copies before these came on the market. I use a  SVP PS4100. Cost about $60. This model has a micro card that holds about 140 scanned photos. Load the photos onto your computer, delete the card and start again on the next batch. It is used by evenly passing  the scanner over the document.
2.Assortment of Magnifying Glasses- Don't be embarrassed,taking these along is not a sign of old age or deteriorating vision! Some documents have unusual, small or faded handwriting. There has never been a time that I went to a research library when I didn't use it. Just think of it as auto zoom.
3. Multi Card Reader- To read all of the variety of sizes of cards from my gadgets
4. Video Camera- If I am going to a place that has special significance to me and I want to relive the moment, I take a video cam. I use the Canon Vixia. It is idiot proof. You do not have to be a professional photographer to get the shots.
5. Camera- I use a Canon Rebel. Heaven forbid that I should be driving through the countryside and come across a new to me cemetery without my camera! I always stop and get photos of the headstones. I like to load them to Findagrave It is one of the best free research sources on the web. I have contributed under 2000 photos, but there are individual volunteers who have contributed upwards of 50,000 records.( A Big Big Applause to those devoted contributors!)
6. Cellphone- Most cell phones have GPS now and I have used this many times to find my way out of rural areas where they hide the cemeteries. It can also serve as a back up camera and you can call living people on it.
7. Computer- The computer is our best friend. It has photos and photo editing software to enhance fading documents.Mine has Family Tree Maker with Tree Sync.I have research notes in File Folders and the world at our fingertips.
8. External Hard Drive- I like to back up my information into a external hard drive in case some tragedy befalls my computer. Better safe than....

Finally, I hope you enjoy the adventure of getting out from behind the computer, finding new information and meeting people who are as obsessive about genealogy as you are. It will make you feel normal.

A video about this topic can be viewed here:

Thank you for stopping by! The Glamorous Genealogist.

No comments:

Post a Comment