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A Genealogist In The Archives

Friday, October 7, 2016

"31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady"

DAY #7

Call Ahead!

Archives, libraries, historical societies, genealogical societies, courthouses and museums are where the genealogical records are archived. As genealogists we relish the thought of visiting these repositories in hopes of finding that one piece of information that will propel us to the next generation.

How disappointing would it be to show up at the facility and it's closed? You did the right thing, checked the website for days and hours of operation. A check of their Facebook page shows the days and hours of operation. Yet, when you get there, they are closed! Did you call ahead? Did you pick up the telephone and call and talk to an actual person to verify they would be open on the day and time you were going to be visiting the facility? 
The Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville, Tennessee

In my presentations, lectures and articles about researching in archives, calling ahead to make sure the repository is going to be open has to be my number one piece of advice for all genealogists. Calling ahead only takes a few minutes but will save you the aggravation of showing up at the facility to find the doors locked and no one there.

Many of our archives are staffed by one archivist or a few volunteers. Events could happen in the lives of those working at the archive that warrants closing for the day or for the afternoon. Maybe the electricity is out or the air conditioning is broken and they have to close. Most county and state archives close on federal holidays, even lesser known ones like Columbus Day.
Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Recently, Russ Worthington of Hackettstown, New Jersey and a "Cousin" of Dear Myrtle (a.k.a. Pat Richley-Erickson) was telling a panel of genealogists on "Wacky Wednesday" ( that he failed to call ahead when he recently visited a library that had an in-house archivist and when he got there found that the archivist was off that day.

When putting together a "To-Do List", put at the very top "#1 Call Ahead". Confirm with the archivist or librarian the days and times you plan to be at the repository and make sure they are going to be open. Then, if possible, call again the day of the trip just to make sure nothing has changed.

This simple step that takes no time at all will save you headaches and a wasted trip!



Get More Tips for Researching in Libraries and Archives!

My Legacy Family Tree Webinar

"Researching in Libraries and Archives: The Do's and Don'ts"




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