Planning a genealogy research trip

I live in St. Louis and my maternal roots go back to western Missouri. My mother was born in Jefferson City, but moved to Spokane, Washington, in 1936 with her family. I grew up in Washington and always knew I had Missouri cousins. Though I’ve lived in Missouri for 23 years, I’ve yet to seek out those cousins, nor travel to the area (some four or five hours away) to try to track down genealogy records.

But now that I’m back into the family history research, I’m itching to go on a genealogy research trip. Looking at my calendar, I see that I have three free days next week, so the thought occurred to me that that might be just the time to take a little road trip to look into the Browns and the Jeffries.

Of course, as an organized person, I know that such a research trip will require some planning if it’s going to be productive. But I have to admit that when I think about planning it, my head starts spinning a little. So I figure what I need to do before I take such a trip is the following:

  • See how many of the four western Missouri counties in my database I can realistically fit in a quick trip
  • Choose the counties I’d like to visit
  • Figure out what family members I’d like to research, what records I already have and what I’d like to track down
  • Locate the cemeteries where I know folks were buried, based on death certificates
  • Create a list of other family members who might be buried in those cemeteries
  • Find out where I might be able to obtain the records I seek
  • Know just what I’m looking for when I go to courthouses or libraries
  • Figure out where to stay
  • Figure out driving routes
  • Ask my mother for names of cousins I might reach out to

When I write it all down like that, the spinning in my head slows down somewhat. I need to remind myself that I don’t have to get everything done in one visit. I can take plenty more road trips. But I do want to put some planning into my first one so that it’s at least somewhat productive.

This sounds like great fun. I will post the results (and some photos) here, after the research trip takes place!


  1. Marian Koalski says:

    If you have a particular source (or many) that you want to consult on your to-do list, put together as much of the citation for it as you can (you might not know the volume and page until you get there, for example) and put that into the to-do list. Then, while you’re researching, you can copy-and-paste it into your notes quickly. If you’re working on paper, prepare a note page with it before you take your trip.

    It’s a little thing, but it keeps me on track, and save precious research time and energy.

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