Genealogy: Strategy for field research #4—Searching libraries and archives in the country

Genealogy: Strategy for field research #4—Searching libraries and archives in the countryBy Barry J. Ewell

As I have conducted research in various countries, I have learned to expect to find the unexpected. Some of my experiences were as follows:

  • Record offices will have government hours (perhaps closing for lunch).
  • You may need advance reservations.
  • You may need to look up your resources in a catalog and write them on a request form, which you submit to the reference librarian.
  • Your request may take more than a half-hour to arrive.
  • You may only be allowed to view one request at a time.
  • You may or may not be allowed to take photographs of the documents. If you are not allowed to take photographs, then you may need to fill out a request form and submit it. It may take from just a few minutes to a few hours before your request is ready.
  • Sometimes you are limited to the number of copies you can make in a day.
  • Remember that the person behind the desk is in charge.
  • The staff may bring the requested artifacts to you and pick them up from you while you are seated.
  • You may be required to stow your backpack in a locker.
  • Security may ask to see the contents of your pockets or purse.
  • Some record facilities are very strict about each researcher having a table or seat.
  • Research under these conditions gives you the thrill of handling papers that may be over two hundred years old.