Tips For Sucessful Courthouse Research
"Genealogists are more likely to give than to give in."
- Dress appropriately. You want to blend in with other professionals around you.
- Be organized. A briefcase works nicely. It is very distracting and consuming to be shuffling through papers.
- If you will want copies, take some cash along. Not all courthouses except checks. I recommend $1 bills. By using $1 bills, you will not have to wait for change and the clerks will not have to find it.
- Always document the location of each copy or information you find. You may need to locate it again later.
- Attempt to ask as few questions as possible. Be polite and patient. At times, you will need to find it yourself.
- Always keep in mind the court minutes. This will not provide you with all the information in the actual document, but it will help when the records are not available.
- Do not overlook information that is not an exact match, you may find where it belongs later.
- Remember that relationship terms can vary.
- In advance, learn the history of the courthouse. If it was burned, when and to what extent.
- Maintain a record of resources that have been checked.
- Be persistent or at times, come back later.
- Pens and pencils. Take extras.
- Plenty of notebook paper.
- Change for a snack machine or plan for taking a lunch.
- Any forms you would like to use to assist with transcriptions.
- Family group sheets on the family or families you are researching.
- A list of the areas of the courthouse you wish to visit and specifically what you are seeking.
- A magnifying glass.
- Paper clips and small stapler.
- A clip board.
- Comfortable shoes.
- Remember the three Ps-patients, persistence and plenty of time!
Written by Jeannette Piecznski, 1997.