When the spirit strikes--when you first get that yearning to go on a genealogy field trip, it's easy to forget that this type of research requires a little preparation and a bit of planning. I tend to get a little over-excited and forget something, even if I've laid it out to bring along.
An example of what I'm referring to is this idea that I have to go and visit the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH). I'm just sure that I can find out some information about my ancestors, there. After all, I'm a Southerner, so surely the key to unlocking my family history lies in a visit to their hallowed halls of preserved records. Right?
Before taking any journeys, consider these suggestions, first; otherwise, you'll end up wasting not only your own time but others' as well. Don't be me. I had to learn by experience some of these lessons and have never gotten back to that particular depository, where, if I had just brought the proper "equipment" or prepared myself properly, I could have accomplished some valuable family history work.
Being familiar with your family and what information you're missing begins with learning what you have and what you don't have in your database or notebook or family files. Use the Pedigree Chart as a type of map, the lineage lines becoming your focus. Bring Family Group Sheets to see which children belong to which parent, etc. Alternatively, we hope that you will be allowed to bring your laptop into the research area and if you have your genealogy database handy, you'll be on top of your game--your genealogy game, that is.
Plan to take along a few file folders for the various individuals for which you hope to find information. Naturally, you will want to go to the web site and see if there is an index or catalog of the repository's contents. Library web sites often have online catalogs, map collections, photographs, and other digital offerings. Familiarize yourself as much as possible with the layout of the library or archives and is available at that location.
A more complete "tool kit" for your genealogy road trip can be can be found at the website at the Connecticut State Library and in many other places on the Internet.