Last night was the April meeting of my local genealogy society. The program was a panel discussion, Planning Your Summer Research. The panel consisted of four people who were knowledgeable in areas of courthouse research, cemetery research and library research. Questions from the audience were presented in writing on 3x5 cards. They were good questions and the panel proved to know their stuff. They could defer to another panel member or tactfully a panel member could insert opinions.
The teaser of the evening was my genealogy bag, packed to the brim with supplies for that summer research trip. They were to guess how many items were in the bag. These could be things taken for research in a courthouse or library. A prize was awarded to the person coming closest to the correct number. No peaking ... can you guess?
Forty items were in the bag and one person guessed exactly that many. Here's what was in my bag: laptop computer, pen, pencil, file folders, flash drive, computer security cable, hand lotion, chap stick, tissues, cell phone, digital camera, map, iPod and ear buds, guide book by state, spiral notebook, eye drops, post-its, small spiral for quick notes, magnifying glass, highlighter, business cards, cordless mouse, calculator, small pencil sharpener, to-do list and charts, paper clips, charger for laptop computer, name tag inside and outside bag, eye glass cleaner, hand sanitizer, paper holder, finger nail file, staple remover, stapler, money bag with money, bandage, antibiotic cream, camera battery charger, extra glasses and membership cards.
Why all this? It's true I might not need all this, depending upon where I'm going and what I'm doing. The iPod and ear buds come in handy to block out other noise and I enjoy listening to genealogy podcasts. Please do not use post-its on library books or documents. You can use them for quick notes or to post on your own items. Never take your original documents on a research trip. Make copies and attach to your to-do list. It is important that you identify your belongings. I always have an inside and outside ID on my genealogy bag. A small paper holder is great when you are making notes from a piece of paper. It will stand up for easier viewing to transfer data either to paper or computer. I frequently have paper cuts so the bandage comes in handy and since I don't want to get infection and miss out on another genealogy research trip, the antibiotic cream comes in handy. There are courthouses and libraries that require ID in addition to your normal driver's license. To prove you can use genealogical documents it is a good idea to take some form of ID, such a memberships in national, state or local genealogical societies.
Just like my luggage when traveling, I tend to pack and repack. My bag last night was brim full as you can see. I would segregate that perhaps for trips and also have it more organized. Keep in mind that you may be asked to place your bag in a secure locker, taking out only specific items such as paper, pencil and/or laptop computer.
Half of the fun of making a research trip is in the planning. Get busy with your plans which should include how to pack a genealogy bag. Don't forget a thing!