Van Ness, © 2001
anyone really interested in finding those elusive
ancestors plans a trip to a distant research facility, whether in
Salt Lake City or in the ancestral hometown. With the Boy Scout
motto in mind, I propose that you have the following skills under
your belt before hitting the road.
[ ] Ability to load a microfilm and/or microfiche machine
[ ] Ability to distinguish between an index (to a passenger list, for example) and the real record
[ ] Familiarity with basic census searching procedures--using indexes, the Soundex, and ward, district, and/or ED maps
[ ] Familiarity with other basic categories of items with genealogical value: city directories, church records, passenger lists,
immigration & naturalization records, vital records, etc.
[ ] Ability to exhaust sources that can be searched at home (using the LDS, for example) before going out of town
[ ] Ability to record a full citation for anything you make copies of or draw facts from (author, title, census district, year, journal
name, date, etc.)
[ ] Ability to recognize and use a Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress call number to find a book or other item on a shelf
[ ] Ability to use a card catalog or computerized equivalent to search basic categories of author, title, and subject, and to interpret
the results of a search, which leads to...
[ ] Ability to interpret a bibliographic record found on a card or computer screen (e.g. is this a book? microfilm? what's the title?
is it an article in a journal? what volume & page numbers? etc.)
[ ] Ability to read the introduction or explanation when you encounter unfamiliar abbreviations or codes in a book (especially various
indexes designed for genealogists)
order for the typical layperson? What did I leave
out? Comments welcome.
posted to soc.genealogy.methods on 11 November 1998,
by permission in some genealogical newsletters by permission, and
converted to HTML in June 2001. Updated 18 March 2010.