Last weekend I spoke at a meeting of the Genealogical Research Institute of Virginia (GRIVA). My last lecture of the day covered family history vacations and discussed ways to use photos of homes, cemteries and other places to create an itinerary. I talked about visiting old family homes in person and virtually (using Google Earth).
Then I turned the meeting into a forum and let folks share their family history vacation tips. They asked if I would share their suggestions with the readers of this blog and I said YES! So if you’re planning a family heritage tour, here are a few things they recommended.
- Don’t forget to visit the courthouse. One woman stressed the importance of looking for legal documents.
- If you know the name of the cemetery where your ancestors are buried, but you can’t find it, try calling the local funeral homes. A man said that a quick phone call helped him find the cemetery.
- Take pictures of gravestones in the vicinity of your ancestors’ monuments. Those folks might be relatives and you don’t know it yet.
- If your ancestors lived along a waterway, try consulting old nautical maps. They often show docks and can help you pinpoint a residence.
- Look at church windows. Your ancestor may have paid for a memorial window.
- Call the local public library to see if they have a history/genealogy collection. Verify the hours, toowebsites don’t always have up-to-date information.
The GRIVA attendees also shared some general travel tips:
- One woman loves to take Grayline tours of a city to orient herself.
- If you go to Europe, take a small suitcase. Larger cases are too much work to lug around.
- Another woman says she travels with old clothes and shoes. At the end of the trip she throws them away, leaving plenty of room for all the trip treasures she’s collected.
If you have a family history trip tip, please share it in a comment (below).
Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor: