5 Ways To Squeeze In Genealogy During Your Trip Back Home

Our house

I don’t get to go back home very often, but when I do, my first thought is how can I squeeze in some genealogy while I am there? I don’t want to miss out on quality time with family, but I can have some fun while also gathering some new nuggets for my research. So here are my top areas of focus to share with you today.


  1.  Scan photos and documents.  Or borrow them till the next time you return. If you can get your family to go through the pictures with you it’s even better! Take a sheet of paper and write the information  they provide and put it in the album for later reference.  Our use your smart phone to record audio and video while you look at those photo albums.
  2.  Make a list of questions for the family you will see. This is a great exercise to go through any time you will be visiting family, but try to do this before you leave your house.  Look through your genealogy software and see where you have holes in your research.  I try to look for big gaps in timelines and ask myself what was going on then? Did the family move out of the state? What kind of work did the family do? Did someone serve in the military? Any one of these topics could provide some great fodder for further research!
  3.  Visit significant landmarks in your personal history or family’s history and take pictures. This is something that I wish I had done more of over the years.  Most of my family is from South Bend and Michigan City,  Indiana.  So when i go up there i am not always thinking about stopping by my old grade school or my first home. So it wasn’t until a few years ago that I made a point to visit these places and get pictures.  They have changed a lot since I was a kid.  In fact, my childhood home is no more! I managed to get a shot of it the year before it was destroyed,  but it isn’t quite the same.  Get those pictures before it is too late!
  4.  Visit the local library. Check out the newspapers,  city directories, and high school yearbooks. I don’t know about you,  but I don’t personal own all of my yearbooks.  My freshman year someone stole mine! So I would love to scan a few pages for my own personal history. When I go back to northern Indiana there are an enormous amount of items that I can see at the library.  And the nice thing about the library is that it is open on the weekend when all the other repositories are closed.
  5.  Visit the cemetery and take pictures of the headstones.  As much as I would like to think that the stones will always be there… I know that the elements take their toll. Not only that, but sometimes forcing a family member to show you where great grandma is buried can open up many new stories too! The next time I travel to Indiana I plan to see the burial places of my Great Grandparents. It’s on my list!


I hope I have inspired you with a few ideas for your next trip “back home” or when you go to visit family in the near future.  I know I have at least one time period to ask mom about when I visit her this weekend.  What about you?

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