If you’re an enthusiastic researcher like me, your bag is full of things to take with you, and it’s easy for things to get lost, between the wallet, the keys, and that letter you just have to deliver to the mailbox!
However, in genealogy, it is important to stay organized. Not only when it comes to the dates, places, and names you enter in your MyHeritage family tree, but also when it comes to preparing the items you take with you on your genealogical excursions.
Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! In this post, I’ll provide a list of must-have items I never go anywhere without.
Whether it’s sunglasses to protect your eyes or reading glasses to help you scour that tiny print, it’s important to protect your eyesight, especially if you’re not so young anymore. While you’re at it, if you wear eye makeup, I recommend bringing some in case you get emotional about some of your discoveries!
2. Cellphone (with the MyHeritage app installed)
We are lucky to live in the 21st century with smart and powerful phones that allow us to photograph, scan, and carry your genealogical information everywhere with you! Honestly, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Genealogy works like a Russian doll and it is often during our visit to the archives that new, unexpected information comes to light. It is important to document where this information comes from and what it contains. Available on Apple Store or Google Store, the MyHeritage mobile app allows you to have your family tree always at hand. Using the app, you can upload photos and documents and add them to your family tree right away.
Who knows? You may even discover Smart Matches with cousins located just a few feet away from you — that happened to me once when I was happily researching in my tree and a Smart Match indicated a user living in my neighborhood! Fair enough, I’m lucky to live in an area where some of my ancestors lived too, so the odds were high that family was still around. However, I would never have found them if I hadn’t logged in to my MyHeritage tree.
3. Cellphone charger
What use is a cellphone with no battery?! Be sure to bring a charger and cable. If you don’t know if you’ll have access to a plug, consider bringing a portable power bank and make sure to keep it good and charged.
4. A notebook and pencil
Sure, there’s the notes app on your phone, but it’s always good to have some solid paper and a pencil to scribble on or to be able to write down your notes, possible surnames variations, and thoughts. Some archives won’t allow you to bring your mobile device with you, making it especially important to have paper with you for writing down your discoveries. Make sure you have a pencil and not a pen — most archives prohibit the use of pens to prevent permanent damage to the precious historical documents you’ll be looking at.
5. A DNA kit… or several
You never know who you will meet and it would just be silly to meet a family member in the street without having a MyHeritage DNA kit on hand. I’ll take this opportunity to remind you that testing older people multiplies the chances of getting precious information about your family history and connecting with possible new family members!
6. Spare change
Make sure to bring some change with you so you can secure your belongings in the checkroom for the duration of your research. Some institutions use code locks, but many still require coins to use the lockers. And it would be silly to have to carry your jacket around inside!
7. Archive membership card
It would be really disappointing to find yourself at the door of the archives having forgotten your membership card! Be sure to check the opening hours and conditions of the reading room before heading out, especially since those are subject to change. A well-informed researcher is worth two!
8. Gravestone cleaning supplies
You never know when you’ll stumble across a fascinating cemetery… and find a gravestone in dire need of some cleaning. I bring a multi-purpose knife and gloves with me for this purpose.
Don’t forget to bring your curiosity, your motivation and your good spirit during your genealogical adventures! And share your discoveries with us via this form! We look forward to hearing from you!
Marie Cappart fell into the genealogical cauldron as a child and is the MyHeritage Country Manager for Belgium and France. She is a historian (Université Libre de Bruxelles) and a professional Anglo-Belgian genealogist based in Brussels. Passionate about family histories, always looking for more information about her own and other people’s ancestors, author of the “Guide de la Généalogie en Belgique” (Jourdan 2017), RootsTech ambassador and historical consultant for several Belgian and international media, she also teaches courses and coaching worldwide and is passionate about genetic genealogy.
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Source: My Heritage
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