Planning a genealogy research trip


This time last year I was preparing for my study tour – first stop was Who Do You Think You Are Live, a major genealogy conference held in London each year. (Follow my blog posts about it here)  I have just returned from another (personal) trip overseas – hence the hiatus in blog posts.  I hope everyone has a successful year for their family history research, perhaps it will be the time to break down that elusive brick wall.

If you are planning a research trip overseas or indeed just a holiday, you may wish to consider timing it to include attending a conference or genealogy seminar day.  Shows such as this indeed inspire and invigorate our family history research with the opportunity to hear and meet with expert speakers and professionals in their field as well as explore the vendor hall which includes commercial companies as well as family history societies, booksellers and more.

To help plan your trip sites such as conference keeper (for genealogy) is a good resource to look at.

In addition, one day courses and seminars may fit into your schedule better.The Society of Genealogists  in London publish their program of events twelve months ahead.  You can view and book these courses online. The Federation of Family History Societies in conjunction with GENUKI publish a calendar of events at GENEVA

In preparation for your trip, further tips include

*Completing your Australian end of your research as much as possible, including date of arrival of pioneer ancestors.

* Completing online research as much as possible, using commercial websites and sites such as FamilySearch.  You need as much information as possible including full names, dates and specific places.

*Research the facilities that you wish to visit.  In the UK these may include The NationalArchivesLondon Metropolitan Archives and the Society of Genealogists. Many of these organisations have partnered with commercial and non commercial organisations to place their records online which you can access in the comfort of your own home or library. These may include digitised images of original records including census documents.

*Visit the websites of these facilities, many offer advice for visiting and it is worth noting simple things like opening hours to make best use of your time.  You may consider that paying a full membership fee with all of its benefits may be better than paying a day’s research fee for example.

*Following these organisations on social media including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter will keep you up to date and assist in your planning.  You may wish to allow time to attend a free exhibition for example.

*For smaller organisations such as Family History Societies or Cemeteries it may be advisable to make contact well ahead of time, this may provide the opportunity for a staff member or volunteer to do some research on your behalf ahead of your visit.

*Do not overlook the local public library on your visit.  Public libraries provide access to unique local history collections that may not be readily accessible elsewhere.

*Have your key information available.  A small computer, ipad or smart phone will be of benefit on your travels.  Internet access via purchase of a local sim card or look for local wifi spots should also be considered.

DropBox is a ” free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily”

Ancestry now has an app which makes it easy to access your own online tree.  Other apps of possible use is the Research Logger which  keeps track of the research that you have done.

*Set yourself a goal.

*If you are lucky enough to be visiting relatives, ask to see all their related documents and photos and make copies.  Recording an oral history interview and taking photos is also a great idea.

*Don't forget your camera, for relative visits and photo taking in cemeteries and "now" photos of the places where your ancestor once lived. Make sure the battery is charged and carry a spare.  Some cameras now have the ability to record the GPS location with the photo.  It can also log the GPS data of where the camera has been. Make sure you have turned this on.

*Download your photos to a small computer and/or online sharing sites such as Facebook or Flickr. This serves as security in case you lose or damage your camera or photo card.

Genealogy tourism is trending as part of the future of the genealogy industry.  We are already seeing this in the growth of conferencing at sea with Australia’s Unlock thePast Cruises 

There are also opportunities for travel evolving around the Centenaryof World War One.

As a final note this blog post by Cataloguing in Gippsland on etiquette for visiting a collection is worth a read.


We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Yarra Plenty Regional Library