Be Efficient at the Archives

When you get to the remote researching site, introduce yourself to the staff. At the Logan County Genealogical Society in Russellville, Kentucky, we met Lee and Denise. Both work at the archives as clerks, so they were able to locate and retrieve and copy any documents from the courthouse. I wish more courthouses offered this resource to genealogists!

Usually the workers or volunteers at site will offer a tour. Take the tour! It will save you some time when you try to locate items. And give the workers a chance to show off their collections and their hard work. Logan County has converted an old jail facility into their archives.  The original bars on the windows add some flair. This archive was an interesting place! It was apparent that the workers and volunteers had spent countless hours organizing and protecting papers and information for the future.

While at the archive, I write down each source, and whatever I find in each source. Hit your top three reasons for being there, and then attempt to systematically go through their local stacks and featured items that you will not find elsewhere. Make sure you refer to your list of what is already available at your local library. No need for duplicating what you can do at home. If you decide to make copies, track that in your notes. Write the source information on each copied page. I also track the photograph numbers on my notepad as well. I want a smooth transition when I get back home. I’ll have a ready-made list of items to transfer to my software and to file.

Remember as you leave the archives, give a donation. If you make copies, round up and give more. Consider donating for scans, even if the archives have a policy of not charging for scans. These local genealogical societies will make good use of your money and it’s important to help them keep the doors open.