When I go to do research in an archives or other repository, I like to be prepared and stay organized through out the day. I have a bag I use just for genealogy research trips so I can throw items I need into it when I think of it and keep a set of portable office type items.
Here’s a list of my research bag items.
- Post-it Notes: Save a page in a book, take notes on a copy, jot down ideas along the way.
- Extra Reading Glasses: Forgetting these would make the trip useless, so I keep a spare pair in my bag at all times.
- Paper fasteners: At repositories which do copies only, I like to organize those papers right away. I have a small stapler, paper clips, and binder clips for the job.
- Sharpie: I use this to black out personal information of living people on copies of documents.
- Scissors: Never had to use them, but its hard to find a substitute if I do need them.
- Pencils: I carry 3-4 in case lead breaks.
- Luggage Tag: My name and phone number are on my bag so if I misplace my research, it can be returned to me.
- Ear Plugs: I work best in silence, so I bring these in case the place I am in is noisy.
- Water Bottle and Snack: Research makes me hungry 🙂
- Chargers/cables for technology: Portable battery chargers for your technology and the cables are necessary. Most of the time you will not be able to plug anything in while doing research in an archives.
- Microfiber Cloth: Wipe the smears off my glasses and device screens.
- USB Drives: Some repositories have ScanPro microfilm machines which will allow me to save the microfilmed documents as PDF’s on a USB drive. I take two drives in case one fails.
- Technology: My stance on this is use what you got: mobile phone, tablet, and/or laptop. Anyone of these will do. Just make sure it is backed-up before you take it with you, and fully charged.
A side note about technology and genealogy. Genealogy was done with paper, pencils and index cards for decades before computers. We really don’t have to carry it with us to do research in a repository. That said, many repositories will allow you to take photos of their resources instead of doing photocopies, and this is very handy because you have a digital copy likely already backed up to the cloud if you’ve set up your tech to do it. The built-in Apple iOS software allows me to take a photo of document and turn it into a PDF file and combine those PDF files into multi-page documents. I take along my iPad to reference my Ancestry tree and any PDF’s I’ve taken of other research. Night before a research trip, I make sure to open Ancestry on the iPad so the app version can sync with the latest version of the tree I am working on. I also look to see if any PDF’s or other files are on there that I need. Then I plug it in so it is 100% charged.
I’d love to know – What do you take with you when you do research?