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First Steps — Getting Started in Genealogy

Researching Outside the Home

At some point you will probably go to a library, a branch of the National Archives, or some other location to do some research on your family. Below are a few tips to follow to make sure you're prepared when you get there.

  1. Call before you go to find out what days and hours they are open. Make sure that they are open to the general public and find out if you need to pay any fees. Ask for directions and parking information.

  2. Pack a "briefcase" for your trip. Bring pens and pencils (some places do not allow the use of pens), paper, file folders, and any genealogical information of your own that you may need.

  3. Bring a roll of quarters. You may need to make photocopies, use lockers, feed a parking meter, or purchase a mid-afternoon snack from a vending machine.

  4. If possible, set aside a day when you will have several hours free, and start early. There's nothing more frustrating than finding some great information right before you have to leave.

  5. Take photocopies of the information you have on the branches of the family you're planning to research. That way, when you find something new, you can check your existing facts to see if it matches up. Do not take your original documents — that would expose them to damage or loss.

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