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September 30, 2010

Genealogy Research Bag - a Lifesaver!

You've impulsively decided to spend the day at a local archives. Do you have all your genealogy must-have items packed and ready to go at a moment's notice? Or do you race frantically around your house looking for the binder that has notes you need for researching Great Grandma Elizabeth?

Can't find any gum but you know you are going to need some? Pens! Pencils! Where oh where is a small bottle of aspirin just in case the microfilm reader gives you a headache. And on and on it goes, if you're like me you are breathless, sweating and slightly grumpy by the time you get out the door. And you're not really sure you have everything you need.

My husband and I are avid antique hunters and we keep a tote bag in the closet with our antique hunting needs - small tape measure, pencil, small notepad, small package of kleenex (some of those stores are incredibly dusty!), sanitizing hand wipes (you are touching lots of filthy items and have no idea what might be on them), Collection list of "have already" and list of "want", and a note that says "Don't forget books on coffee grinders, pot lids, etc" That reminds us to grab our books from the bookcase that show collections and prices.

It occured to me last year that I could also start a Genealogy Research Bag. Whatever can't go in it ahead of time can be put on a list which is clipped to the outside, so I don't have to think about what I need. I can just read the list.

My Genealogy Research Bag contains a small pack of kleenex; sanitizing hand wipes; small plastic ziplock bag with a tiny container of Tylenol (I'm allergic to aspirin), some anti-acid tablets and some throat lozenges; small plastic ruler; pens and pencils; yellow highlighter; small notebook; pad of lined paper; loonies and toonies for vending machines and parking (a loony is a one-dollar coin, a toony is a 2-dollar coin); pair of airplane sockettes (very thin, easy to slip on no matter what shoes I'm wearing and they keep my feet from freezing in overly air-conditioned buildings) and a  list of items to grab before leaving the house.

The grab list changes periodically but right now it has

* Ipad. I don't have to take binders or a laptop anymore, my Ipad with the GedView app works perfectly - my entire genealogy program from FTM is there at my fingertips through GedView

* GPS. Sometimes we forget to grab our GPS and can easily get lost if we're going to an archive or Library we've never gone to before.

* Charger for Iphone & Ipad. We have a car charger for these items but it never hurts to toss the in-house one in the Genealogy Research Bag

* Research Purse. That's my reminder to switch from a daily large purse to a tiny shoulder bag I keep just for antiquing or cemetery hunting or genealogy research. It allows my hands to be free, isn't heavy and holds minimal items.

* Bottles of Water and/or Lunch Bag. A reminder to take bottles of water and either pack a lunch or bring the zipped insulated lunch bag which I can fill with purchased sandwhiches, muffins, etc

When my Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner finally arrives I will add it to the Grab List or put it in my Genealogy Research Bag.

My Genealogy Research Bag is a life-saver. Hubs and I can decide on a moment's notice to go researching. I get the bag, check the grab list, call out the items to hubs which he collects and bingo we are out the door.

Of course we do have to make sure both dogs are taken care of - that Barley is out in her run with a huge dish of water and that Webley is in his room with a bed, a toy and water, that the chickens and guinea hens are out of their pen, that our donkey has a carrot before we leave... but those are on our mental check-list every time we leave the house even to go grocery shopping! We can still be out the door within a half hour of deciding we are leaving. What a wonderful change from the days of scrambling around the house wondering where I put everything I need.


Thomas MacEntee said...

Another item that I always pack is a mini power strip. Not only does it allow me to get power for my devices, but usually it is a good way to meet fellow researchers!

Joan Miller said...

Great list Lorine! I always pack a memory stick and my magic wand portable scanner.

Elizabeth O'Neal said...

Great list, Lorine! I always include my digital camera, for those places where certain portable scanners are not allowed (like NARA).

Geniaus said...

That's a mighty long list. I'm a sad case who takes most of this stuff everywhere in my large handbag all the time. Problem is here in Australia and some places I've been in the UK you are not allowed to take a bag into some libraries and archives and I've only got two hands!

I always make sure I wear trousers and a top with lots of poskets to accommodate all of my paraphernalia.

hummer said...

Like you list and the additions in the comments.

Penny said...

What would you suggest to take if you don't have an iPad? Do I create a notebook with all my lines? Include research questions? Also, I prefer to use notebooks. In other words, what would you have taken in the 'olden' days of genealogy research?

Penny said...

What would you suggest to take if you don't have an iPad? Do I create a notebook with all my lines? Include research questions? Also, I prefer to use notebooks. In other words, what would you have taken in the 'olden' days of genealogy research?

Genealogy Blogger said...

Hi Penny - great question! In the olden days :-) I used to take binders with my notes of what I needed. That wasn't the best because I always needed something I didn't have.

Then I got a laptop and took that which was wonderful. I still made a plan ahead of time and took my list of what I wanted to find but I had my laptop to check facts or look up another ancestor if needed.

Now I take my Ipad in place of a laptop, but I still take my notes (my plan of what I want to do in that library or archive)

Genealogy Blogger said...

Great suggestions from everyone! I especially like the idea of taking a digital camera. I was going to use my Iphone for photos but the camera will do a better job.

Power strip - great idea if you have a laptop but I probably won't need it with my Ipad. Memory sticks don't work on Ipads (Darn!) but love the portable scanner - I'm waiting for my Flip-Pal to arrive!

I don't have any tops with pockets (another great idea) but will put my thinking cap on to see what else might work - perhaps an apron with pockets?

Jeanne said...

Toss a thumb drive into the bag if you're taking a laptop. Several sites now allow you to copy things off computers using your little USB key-chain-size drive.

Anonymous said...

One suggestion for the person with no tops with pockets is a fisherman's vest from a sports catalog like REI, etc. You can also get a pattern for making one for all sorts of travel in any material. Some are more feminine than others. They are good for safety when traveling.