Get the inside scoop on the ultimate research trip from Rob Brown. His family—wife Kathy and five children, ages 18 months to 10 years—is spending six months on the road, researching ancestors across the country as Ancestry.com’s Great-Great-Great-Grand Adventure.
1. How did this trip come about?
We had some downtime while waiting to build a new house. Kathy’s sister suggested this trip. We thought it was crazy but before we knew it, we had a sponsor, Ancestry.com, and we were all in. I have a couple of good employees running my art gallery in Provo, Utah. Kathy’s focus was already on the house and kids. We were homeschooling; now we’re road-schooling.
2. How do you prepare the kids for stops?
My wife reads us children’s books. They’re written about all these places and people by ex-slaves and soldiers and everyone you can imagine. The larger story of American history is so relevant to understanding our family history. My kids have a context for history now that I never had.
3. What comforts do you miss?
The couch and the kitchen table. There’s not a great place in the RV to sit down and talk and relax.
4. What’s been your favorite history stop?
Washington, DC: We could’ve spent so much more time there. And we’d never been to anything like the battlefields at Chickamauga and Gettysburg. … there’s a feeling … a spirit of battle, the mix of emotions and horrors of war. I wouldn’t have guessed you could still feel that there.
5. How will this trip contribute to your own family history?
The kids are having a great bonding experience. I try to capture that: I take 200 to 300 pictures a day. We’re blogging and creating state report binders as part of their schooling. When we get home, we’ll create videos from all the pictures and footage stored on the cloud.