All Work, All Play: A Guide to Having Fun While Researching Family History

Several years ago my father’s research on our family’s history came to a halt and he was forced to put it on the backburner. Upon attaining a degree in history, I began working on the project in my spare time. After hours of sifting through an organization system that would appall a hoarder, I finally had all of those dead ends organized and grouped. Then it occurred to me. How wonderful would it be if the search for all of these dead ends were bundled up as a series of vacations?

Now, I can’t say that this vacation is ideal for families with toddlers, ‘tweens and teens, although with careful planning, it might be a possibility, but it would certainly work for those who are free to roam.

The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah has over 1800 library branches throughout the United States. These units center upon local family history and are accessible to the public. Although the main library in Salt Lake City is the primary celebrity, a visit to the local historical society or family history library in the area in which your ancestors lived is the most crucial step in the process of family research.

Many of the records used in searches can lead to counties that bare no recollection of the particular ancestral family for which you may be searching. Even though it seems you have reached the end, there is often hope that can be found in the services of these local historical organizations.

Because records do not change and much of everything else does, local historical organizations, keeping track of those things that change and those that do not, are the best resources from which to draw when researching family history. Suffice it to say, that is why it is best to first to gather and organize all the facts about your family from the historians of the locale in which you search before you plan longer, more costly trips.

The areas from which people’s ancestry comes, varies. So it may be best to read this article from Kiplinger.com to make a good decision on booking if you need to travel a long distance. But for the most part, those with ancestral lines relatively close to their current residence, it may just be a matter of a Sunday drive and finding a restaurant for lunch and dinner. And although a Sunday drive is not necessarily a vacation, it is at least an excuse to travel.

After visiting the local areas from which your ancestor came, the next step could very well be to a big genealogical archive. These archives are useful in finding the interconnectivity of your ancestors. That is, they are useful if you are seeking to find familial history on a broader level and perspective – be it national or international.

The Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, is the world’s largest genealogical library. Although you can search many of their records online, a larger variety of records are available at the library.

On any given day of operation, there are staff members in the library ready and willing to provide assistance and advice. There is no charge for using the library and it is open to the general public. To name just a few of the resources, their records include nearly 2.5 million genealogical records, a database of familial linkages with over 36 million names, 700 trained volunteers and records reaching from North America to Central and South America, to Africa, to Asia, to Europe and many places outside and in between.

Salt Lake City has much to offer for vacationers. Some of the attractions include national parks, water parks, theme parks, skiing, movie theatres, spas, salons, museums, and golf courses. The Great Salt Lake is ideal for outdoor recreation enthusiasts. And although fishing is the last activity to cross one’s mind when they think of the Great Salt Lake, there are fresh water aquifers in the general vicinity that make fishing for your dinner a real possibility.

To many that are interested in their family’s history, a nostalgic trip back in time on a Sunday’s drive may be all it takes, but for those who need a little more fun and excitement, Salt Lake City, Utah offers enough nostalgia and excitement in one package that anyone could ask for.

Sources:

http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhl/frameset_library.asp?PAGE=library_main.asp

http://www.utah.com/stateparks/great_salt_lake.htm

http://www.visitsaltlake.com/visit/?gclid=CK7amrf6uKgCFch-5QodNkD5Bg