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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Being prepared for research

I had a fantastic time this past weekend; visiting the nation’s capital with my family, doing some research at NARA, and attending the Family Tree University’s Virtual Conference.  Yes, it was packed to the gills with activities and by the time Sunday night rolled around I poured myself into bed.  Tales of my adventures will be coming shortly; I just have to get them all down on paper.  As well as going through the nearly 1,000 images I have of files from the archive.

There is one thing I want to comment on, that actually astounded me, and it still leaves me shaking my head.  Why, oh why, would you walk into the National Archives without doing any preliminary research?  Over the 2 days I was there I saw person after person walk up to the desk in the main room and ask the staff the same type question.  I want to find out about my family, where do I start.  That in itself isn’t a bad question, unless you know nothing about your ancestors or even where to start looking.  A few of them had never even heard of the online databases that the staffers showed them on the computers to get them started.  In fact, I think one gentleman was downright flabbergasted that they just couldn’t produce the information he sought out of thin air.  No, I am not exaggerating.
Before I arrived at NARA I printed out the images for the pension index cards I wanted to look up, as well as taking my iPad with PDF’s of websites and sources from my family tree in case I ran into problems.  I made sure to say please and thank you, because you know kindness and courtesy can go a long way.  It just seems that the older generations were just as eager for instant gratification as those younger than me.  Or I have always been an old woman in a young woman body.

*Image: Jeff Kubina via photopin cc


  1. I can't imagine NOT doing your homework before going to a place like that! Before my trip to Salt Lake City and the Family History Library, I ordered a disk of the catalog and spent almost a month preparing. I didn't want to miss anything and spend valuable research time on what I call "homework."
    Great post, thanks!

  2. I am so glad you told me that, I was begining to think I may be an anomaly! At one point I thought one of the ladies behind the desk was going to go bang her head against the wall.