Ever since I started researching my family history on a regular basis (probably in the early 2000's) I have longed to visit the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. With their vast resources, of course, it was near the top of my "Genealogical Bucket List". While I longed to visit the Library, it almost felt like a daunting task. How could I prepare enough so that I wouldn't waste that golden opportunity? What if I spent a few days there and really didn't accomplish anything but later figured out I should have done things differently?
I decided to register for a trip with a group -- Ancestor Seekers. They would make the hotel arrangements and provide some direction and hopefully lots of assistance! I felt like this would give me a safety net -- people to help me navigate the largest genealogical library with its massive book collection. Ancestor Seekers had people who could help with British Isles, Irish, German and American research. It sounded like the best plan for me.
But I still needed to plan for my research. I couldn't just show up and hope they could help me. I registered for a "Preparing for the FHL Visit" webinar, which reinforced the idea that I needed to plan and actually perhaps have a few alternate plans.
So my big question was "who do I research while I am there" and "what do I research about these people"? Before deciding who to research, I decided to find out what resources were available at the library -- that might help me to decide what were my best chances of finding information. I decided that I would focus on my Irish ancestors and then if time allowed, I would do some research on some specific German ancestors.
I made a list of the books that I wanted to peruse while I was there, as well as, which microfilm to look at. I created some problem sheets which would focus on specific problems and individuals that I was hoping to solve. Each problem sheet contained the following information: problem, background information, sources checked and plan. [I will discuss each of these problem sheets in a future blog post].
After doing all of this, I met with a mentor -- someone who has taught several Genealogy classes that I have taken. We met for lunch and discussed all of my problem sheets and my approach for my visit to the FHL. After a few months of preparation, I felt like I was finally ready to visit the Family History Library.