Genealogical research is personal. It's also the reason why it's become hugely popular - by finding your ancestors you develop a sense of who you are and where you are coming from. Even though research on paper can create a sense of belonging, taking your research to the next level can help you understand the people you've read about. But be prepared, taking a trip to the places where relatives lived their lives can be rather emotional and hugely insightful. Bring your personal history to live by visiting the places where your ancestors lived.
A trip back to your roots needn't involve months of planning and research and it certainly needn't cost a fortune. A short weekend trip can be enough to better understand the people you've been reading about. If this is your first trip, you may find it easier to choose a small town to visit, rather than a big city. Small towns often preserve history better and you should be able to find a lot more information, easier. Tip: Any good hotel booking site like Travel-ticker.com can help you find accommodation central to the area you'll be researching that will suit any budget.
The research for such a trip can be as detailed or basic as you choose it to be. To get the most out of the excursion, try to find addresses and references to landmarks that can be connected to the person you are studying. An old map of your destination, that portrays the area during the time period you are looking back to, can also prove very helpful. Researching the history and development of the town you are planning to visit, as well as a little knowledge about the period when your ancestors lived there can be useful to discovering how they lived and understanding their lifestyle. Tip: Comparing old and current maps before your trip will help you understand how the town developed. Landmarks are usually a great help when trying to relate to previous time periods.
A few things can be done to add to the benefits of your trip once you've arrived at your destination. The specific addresses you got from your research should be visited but don't stop there. Exploring and understanding the town and its surroundings can help you understand how people live there. Landmarks, historical sites, information centers and libraries, churches, cemeteries, town halls and marketplaces often tell amazing stories about the past. The more you use these things to relate to the time period you are researching, the more new information you'll gather. Another excellent source of knowledge that you probably won't ever find in records and books include the stories, legends and oral history of a town. Finding a pub that is mostly visited by locals can turn out to be the most rewarding part of a research trip. Find people who have been living in town for a long time and start talking to them about times gone by. Though you probably won't get information about the specific people you are researching, you should be able to listen to loads of legends, stories, and rumors. Tip: Locals will be able to refer you to people who know the area and its history exceptionally well. Sometimes you may even be lucky enough to discover that descendants of your ancestors are still living in the area.
There are things that you can do to get the most out of your genealogical research trip. Here are a few tips that can help you find more information and things you can do to help you relate to the people you are doing research on:
● Find accommodation central to the area you'll be researching, preferably out of the main tourist hotspots. Becoming almost a part of the local community will often prove to be more beneficial than staying in tourist focused hotels and resorts. This is especially true if you are visiting a city on your trip. If you are visiting the East Coast, for instance, finding Las Vegas Hotels off the beach will not only bring you closer to the locals but also save you a lot on accommodation costs.
● Although months of research are not necessary for a successful trip, doing some research prior to your trip will greatly add to your understanding of the area. Find some information on the history of the area as well as the era when the people you are doing research on, lived.
● Locals can be an incredibly interesting source of information. The more people you talk to on your trip, the more likely you are to find bits of information (or stories!) that you'll never find in any book. Visiting places where locals spend their time, such as a local pub, is a good place to start.
● Take your time to explore your location. History is all around us even in the most modern towns and cities.
● Placing yourself in your ancestor's shoes can be an emotional adventure. While some people become highly emotional, others feel nothing but all agree that tracing your roots to physical locations add a sense of belonging and understanding to your genealogical research.
● Your trip is just as much about the present as it is about the past. While you are there, you'll be making memories that are likely to last a lifetime. Do all the research you want but remember to enjoy the process.
● The insight and understanding you'll gain from a research trip are the perfect foundations for future research and new leads.
Taking a trip to walk in the footprints of your ancestors can help you understand where you came from and how the people you've been reading about, lived. Such a trip can be hugely successful even if it is short, inexpensive and done without months of prior research. You will gain both personal knowledge and a sense of belonging as well as insight into the research that you have done. If you are interested in your genealogy, a research trip can bring history to life and make you feel part of it.