Lessons learned from my research trip

Lessons learned from a research tripI just arrived home from my trip to the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Missouri (about a 3.5 hour drive). I wrote earlier in the week about how I prepared for it.

I had a great time. The library is beautiful and the people who work there so helpful. I met up with my friend and fellow genealogy researcher Lori Krause and we researched together at the library and had dinner together.

There were two things I didn’t bring that I wish I had, most notably my reading glasses. I wear progressive lenses in my glasses, which have a reading area at the bottom. But since I spent some time using microfilm reading machines, I had to tilt my head way back to read. And that got a little uncomfortable. I actually have computer glasses, too. Next time I’ll bring those as well. This was definitely an oversight on my part.

The other item I didn’t have that would have come in handy was Post-It notes for marking pages of books I wanted to copy.

I brought my laptop computer along and was glad I did. I also had my iPad, but I prefer Reunion’s desktop client more than its iPad app, so I stuck to the computer. I was so glad I’d brought a flash drive, which I did at the suggestion of reader Maria Tello. The library’s copy machines will store the image on a flash drive. So I copied pages from a couple of books right on to my flash drive, free of charge. (How cool is that?)  I was also glad I’d brought water and some snacks.

I was really glad for the preparation I’d done, but it wasn’t enough. I actually blew through the spreadsheet I’d prepared of resources I wanted to check quite quickly. And then I was faced with trying to use my time well. When I would feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities, I would focus in on the Brown family, the branch of my family that I’m focusing on this quarter.

Next time I go, I’ll try to perhaps stay a little longer and have shorter research days. After a full day of research yesterday, I was seriously tired. And I want to have a laser focus each day. I think I’ll pick just a few people and really hone in on what I know and don’t know about each of them and see how I can flesh out the information. This trip I tried to look up information on too many people and so I felt scattered.

Was the trip successful? Yes! I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t have any Eureka! moments, but I did add eight new sources in Reunion. Having been to the library once will allow me to plan even better for the next trip, as I move my way up the family tree.


  1. Sounds like a fantastic trip! It sounds like the Family History centres in America are much more organised than over here in the UK, most of the time you aren’t able to get help as a first time user and end up disrupting other people in their research to ask questions.

    I hope to have another trip to our local records office, where as a regular user and know how to access records this coming weekend, and the national office in the next few months!

    • Marion, the staff at the Midwest Genealogy Center walked around and asked people if they needed help! It was wonderful. I went in during the evening after I arrived and received a personalized tour of the library from the reference librarian. Heaven!

      I hope your research trips over the next few months are enjoyable and fruitful!

  2. Vickie Sheridan says:

    Glad to hear you had such a great experience. Did you have to arrange for that tour ahead of time? I need to get more organized to make a trip worthwhile. Your articles have been very helpful. Thanks!

    • I didn’t arrange for the tour in advance. I walked in, planning to just get the lay of the land on my own and was taken on a tour! Honestly, this place is amazing.

      I’m glad my articles have been helpful! My advice is not let a perceived lack of disorganization prevent you from doing what you want to do. Maybe use a research trip as a reward for the effort spent organizing.

      If there are any specific organizing topics you’d like to see me address, please let me know.

  3. What a great trip you had! So glad that my suggestion proved valuable, I frequently travel to Salt Lake City and they have the same copy system, and you can also copy Films and Microfiche onto a flash drive. And since reading your suggestions, when I return to SLC next month, I am packing an extra set of reading glasses! Thank you!

  4. I’ve been to several genealogy libraries (or libraries with a genealogy room) here in the States and always ask for a quick tour. I’ve never had a problem! They always orient me as to what they have and where they have it; the rules; and more!

    I wasn’t familiar with the Midwest Genealogy Center; am now going to check it out; hope to visit sometime!

  5. For those not familiar with the Midwest Geneology Center, it’s a branch of the Mid Continent Public Library system. The Website is http://www.mymcpl.org

    Having lived in the area all my life, it’s nice to see national recognition for a local jewel. I have used material from their collection since it was located in the basement (ack!) of one of the branches many, many years ago. I will point out that not only are the staff members extremely helpful, but other patrons have often been as knowledgable and helpful as the staff.

    Welcome to my little corner of the world (and enjoy)!

    • Carol, thanks for your comment! You have every right to be proud of this gem! I’m jealous that it’s in your back yard. Thanks also for providing the link–I’d put it in my past blog posts about the trip but neglected to include it in this post.

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