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Tips for first time visitors to local records cent

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 14 May 2007 00:10

There have been a number of threads started to offer advice to newbies using these boards and starting their family trees. Recently a few people have asked about the benefits of looking at parish records and about what they can expect from a visit to a local archives centre. Please add any tips that you might have below.

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 14 May 2007 00:19

Before you go: * plan your journey - if the centre has a website, look at it! You can use this to: - check in advance what archives they hold e.g. the names of churches and the dates the records cover. You can save a lot of time by finding out in advance what is/isn't available and comparing this with what you need to find out. - Find out if you need to take anything with you. Many centres require you to provide 'photo ID and something with your name and address on so that you can be issued with a reader's card. If you haven't got appropriate ID you won't get the card and won't be able to search on that day. Very frustrating if you've travelled a long way! Not all centres have this level of security but it's better to check in advance. - find out about opening/closing times. Searching often takes longer than you think and you need to allow yourself enough time. - find out about parking facilities/accessibility etc. Some centres are better than others.

Jill 2011 (aka Warrior Princess of Cilla!)

Jill 2011 (aka Warrior Princess of Cilla!) Report 14 May 2007 00:29

Some of them will not let you take folders into the search room - although you can take a note book. Try not to get too distracted - I make a list of names/dates etc - but I also tend to write down any other occurrences of the surname in the timeframe/area as there may be a link. Although it's preferable to keep fairly quiet in the search room the odd squeal of excitement or muttered 'Found you, you .... ' is acceptable and is often met with smiles and nods and comments such as 'Lucky you'. It's good fun. Jill

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 14 May 2007 00:29

Also before you go: * 'phone them! Many smaller centres require you to book in advance to use microfilm/fiche readers. Avoid a wasted journey! * Make sure you've got some change on you as you may need to leave your bag in a locker which will usually require a deposit. * Consider taking a snack and a packed lunch, depending on how long you plan to stay there. Many offices (such as Preston) provide a space for people to eat and have tea and coffee which is available from a vending machine. If the centre is in the middle of nowhere, you could waste valuable time finding somewhere to eat ....... or end up very hungry! * VERY IMPORTANT: Make a 'to do list'! Thorough preparation can save a lot of time later. You might THINK you'll remember what you want to look up but if you can't ......... time wasted! If you intend to look up the marriage of great Uncle Edward at All Saints Church in 1903 try to make a list of any other possible enquiries for All Saints Church that you can check out at the same time, even if you're not studying that branch of the family at the present time. It saves repeating the task at a later date. * Take pencils and a sharpener! You can't use pens when handling records. * Wear something comfortable. You could be there for a long time.

Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 14 May 2007 00:31

There is a similar one but, just as with the new to family history ones, 'tis better to have two, three, or even four or more, than none at all. ... :-)

Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 14 May 2007 00:35

Unfortunately not, Peter. We'll just have to give them a nudge now and then. Joy (MM)

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 14 May 2007 00:38

Sounds like a good idea, Peter. I didn't know that there were other similar threads, which makes sense in view of what you've said. I really decided to do it because there have been a few enquiries within the last week. At least now this thread exists, will try to direct any future enquirers to it.

Peter

Peter Report 14 May 2007 00:47

My tip: check the wills index. Even though you make think your people were very poor and had nothing to bequeath you may strike lucky, as I did, and find two wills that established family relationships over most of the C18 in a village where the surname was unpleasantly common. Peter

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 14 May 2007 00:48

OK once you're there: * Switch off your mobile or you'll get in trouble! * Don't eat/drink (or get caught) or you'll be in even more trouble! * As has already been said, keep the noise to a minimum as research does require concentration. If you make too much noise you'll get 'looks' and more trouble! Expressions of delight are of course allowed and to be expected!

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 14 May 2007 00:57

* Take regular breaks, especially if using a film/fiche reader or you'll end up with sore eyes and/or a headache. * To expand on the excellent point above, DO make notes, notes and more notes! Record EVERY detail which appears on the document/entry you're interested in. Details which mean nothing to you now could break down a brick wall in a year's time. The names of marriage witnesses and godparents can be as valuable as those of the bride, groom and baby. Though seemingly unrelated now, they may well turn out to be members of the family. Microfilm can be lost, stolen or damaged. Original archives, once they have reached a certain level of deterioration (although they are usually protected in high tech conditions), can no longer be read. Don't assume that these records will definitely be available to look at in ten years time. Write it down now if you can!

Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 14 May 2007 00:57

Next time I do some routine nudging of useful tips threads, Amanda, I'll give this one a nudge as well as the other one called: tips for research at records offices, libraries, and Family Records Centre, please add

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 14 May 2007 01:00

Thanks for that, Marion. I'll take a look at that thread.

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 14 May 2007 01:02

* If you're using a reader's card or a locker, keep your key and card with you at all times. Even genealogists (shock! Horror!) can be thieves!

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 14 May 2007 01:10

* Do ask for help! The staff are nearly always very helpful as long as they don't think people are just being lazy and wanting them to do all the work for them. * Other visitors to the centre can also be very helpful and often have useful tips and advice. If you're having trouble winding on your film and the person sitting next to you looks approachable, ask them to show you. They almost certainly won't mind. * However, if you've attempted polite chit chat with the person at the next film reader and you get a cool response don't persist. Some people like to work in silence.

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 14 May 2007 01:15

* Ask if you can have print-outs, scans or photocopies of the documents you have found. They are usually inexpensive and are great to add to your collection of certificates and other documents. In smaller centres, the staff can't always do it for you there and then but might take the film reference, along with your details and payment and pop it in the post within a few days.

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 14 May 2007 01:53

* Do also look at the other thread Marion recommends here. I've just checked it out and it's very good.

Richard

Richard Report 14 May 2007 02:17

http://www.mytimemachine(.)co(.)uk/visitarchive.htm Some pretty good advice there.

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 14 May 2007 20:18

* Review and collate the information you've found at the earliest opportunity whilst it's still fresh in your mind. Compare the new info with notes you've made on previous visits to see if anything that didn't make sense last time does now, in light of the new information.

Amanda S

Amanda S Report 14 May 2007 20:19

* It's as important to wash your hands AFTER handling old documents/books as before. If they haven't been treated they can contain harmful micro organisms that can lead to nasties like eye infections if transferred to your fingernails.

**♥Bagpuss♥**

**♥Bagpuss♥** Report 14 May 2007 20:34

Just adding to this so that i can find it again when I go on my first trip. Thanx for all the tips everyone!!! Clare x