Discovering Stored Treasures

Discovering Genealogy, One Ancestor at a Time.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Three Tips for Genealogy Road Trips!

Me, infort of 675 Union Street in Lakeport NH. Possibly the house my great-grandparents William and Minnie Bloomfield live in when they came to New Hampshire in 1920.
I learned so much my roots trip, it's hard to know where to begin. This will be a first of many posts reporting on this genealogical expedition. I'm still gathering and organizing all the information I learned from the trip. In the meantime, I thought I would dedicate this post to some tips about genealogical travels. 

1. Plan ahead and know what you're looking for: One of the most important things we did as we planned the trip was ask some questions we hoped to answer. Before we set foot in Vermont, we had a pretty good idea of what we were looking for and this was key! Our prize as Jimmy put it, was Moses Bloomfield (the Patriarch of the Bloomfields) and his wife Freida Toby Bloomfield. While the idea of the trip was to learn as much as we could about the Bloomfields brothers' lives in their early years in America, our biggest question was: where is Moses and Freida Toby's grave? This question, has been nagging us for several years and understanding the Bloomfield family history in Vermont and New Hampshire where they settled is key to finding the missing graves. While you never know what you will unearth during a genealogy dig, knowing what you're looking for helps focus your search. At the same time, it's important to stay open and flexible and change course if necessary.

2. Check hours for places you plan to visit such libraries, historical societies, town halls and cemeteries.  Historical societies have limited hours. You will certainly learn a lot by visiting them in person rather than contacting them on the phone or by writing, but make sure you plan your trip according to their hours. Libraries have a wealth of information including photos, histories of the town, city directories and more. Town Clerks are your best friend, visit them in person, you'll be amazed how helpful it can be. Just make sure they are open. Many larger cemeteries have specific hours as well so be sure and check. Smaller ones may or may not be gated, but you can usually find a way in. Just make sure there is still light out.

3. What to bring: A camera, scanner (portable flip scanner if you have one), a gps and a notebook to take notes and information on the ancestors you are looking for. I must say that my iphone worked as all of the above at times and it was invaluable. Having access to my family tree at any moment through the web or apps was crucial. When I didn't feel like carrying my big camera or when it failed, I used the phone. When a photo or document was too large to scan easily, I photographed it with my iphone. And of course, I took quick notes on the phone as well. When the car's navigation system failed, the phone's  gps came to the rescue! Don't leave home without it!

Compared with what I knew about the Bloomfields three years ago (see my post: How I Met the Bloomfields), I was already an expert on them before I left on my roots trip. Some of non Bloomfields relatives must be wondering whats this obsession with Bloomfields and why concentrate on them if I already learned so much. To my relatives, I'll only request that you be patient with me. I am researching all my family branches and I will get back to your branch soon enough. One of the main reasons this trip focused on the Bloomfield was that I had two collaborators: my mom and my cousin Jimmy. My mom is always supportive of my genealogy quest and I need her personal knowledge of the family to guide me. Jimmy, is a fellow amateur genealogist an he is credited with planning the details of this trip and making it happen. As I dropped him off yesterday after an exhilarating and exhausting three days he thanked me and remarked that he could not have made the trip without me, and I hereby concur: I couldn't have done it without Jimmy!

More about the Bloomfields:
Roots Trips Series: Reports from a Vermont and New Hampshire road trip to research the Bloomfield family history:
Part I: Roots Trip Road-trip planning!
Part III: Roots Trip Gem of the Day, Looking for Moses Bloomfield
Part IV: Why in the World New Hampshire?
Part V: Springfield Vermont Home of the Simpsons and the Bloomfields
Part VI: Which Ancestors to Research?
Where Was This Picture Taken?- Legacy Roots
Friday's Faces From the Past: Mystery Man
Hot Off The Press

Guest blog on How I Met The Bloomfields

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