The Dusty Genealogist
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“It is Always Exciting to Be an Explorer!”

By: Marjory Regan

Summer is rapidly upon us. Fall is not far behind. Now is the time to take action for some field trips in genealogy. It is all well and good to complete genealogical research on our computers. I am the first to tell you to stick to a family line when you are finding your people, making connections, and gathering proof of the connection to make sure you have the right person. Stick with it. If you are not sure of the connection or you just don’t have it to your satisfaction, just note in your comments, ‘I think this is the one, because…’ so that others coming after you can add more information or proof.

However, it is summer. We need to get out of the house and smell the fresh air. That may mean that you have transferred your computer to the porch to work. I want to suggest that exploring may be just what is needed after the long winter. Cemeteries are always interesting, preferably the cemeteries where your ancestors are located. I am aware that Forrest Lawn offers tours of the ‘Who’s Who’ on their grounds. Other cemeteries may offer such guided tours as well.

Please be careful about remaining fully hydrated during the summer. If you are headed to a cemetery, make sure you can be there during business hours for the cemetery’s office. If there does not appear to be an office associated with that cemetery, call the local historical group to find out who has more information about the stones and families buried within the cemetery. Local libraries may also have information. Going to a cemetery and having an opportunity to speak with someone knowledgeable about the cemetery adds a greater genealogical experience. Many times, there are family members buried in family plots that do not have headstones. Also, there may be other branches of the family buried in a different location in the same cemetery. Speaking with someone with records of who is located in that cemetery can help you tremendously and it offers the opportunity for the local librarian or historian to meet some of the family of their communities’ ancestors.

If you have not visited local genealogy centers before, it is always a learning experience. The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints Family History Center generally has lots of local information as well as all of the information on <>. Many communities have these Family History Centers. So, what does that statement mean? It means that what you have at one Family History Center can be obtained or viewed at the rest of the Family History Centers, generally for free, or for a low copy cost. It also means that if you want to travel to a community where you believe your ancestors may be, calling, e-mailing, or visiting a Family History Center in that community can be a fabulous resource. These Family History Centers are located all over the world.

These Centers are manned by local residents of that area. They can provide the same local information that we are all looking for, such as a good place to stay during the visit, good places to eat, and information about local museums and historical societies. They may be aware of some of the local lineage groups, and who their genealogists are, with contact information. Because these genealogists know their local residents and lineages, you might even meet up with cousins.

Take a class at one of the genealogy groups in your state. Every state has a genealogical group dedicated to that state. Each state has a group that is interested in different things. The eastern states have different interests than the western states. These groups are all listed online by state. They all offer classes and opportunities to visit. Check out where you have a line of family that needs some attention. Look online for a state genealogical society. Contact the state groups. See what you can discover. See what classes they offer. Go out and visit.

The National Archives are nothing to sneeze at. It is a wonderful opportunity to travel to one of their courses. None of their courses are terribly expensive and many may be free. Spending a weekend in our nation’s capital for genealogy can be a wonderful trip. Note; if you want to go the Daughters of the American Revolution’s library to do genealogical research, call to find out when their national meeting is held. Their library is not open to the public for that week each year.

There are many genealogical cruises available all over the world. Although these cruises can be pricey, they offer all of the benefits of a regular cruise, along with genealogy experts and genealogy classes. Tickets are less expensive the closer to the date of the cruise, if there are still spaces available on the ship. They also make an effort to keep up with you. I am not a fan of going it alone in a country I am not familiar with if I don’t have to. They can get you to a destination where your ancestors have been. Walk the land your ancestors walked.

Cruises come in big ships and riverboats traveling throughout the world. In America, we have boats that travel on the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes. There are cruises that cover Canada. There are European cruises that travel the rivers of each country. There are cruises that reach every country conceivable. If you have ancestors, you can cruise there. After all, many of them cruised here.

There are train excursions throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. See what Amtrak has to offer. I have taken the train from Miami to Albany, to Buffalo, to Los Angeles, and back. It was a wonderful experience; the staff are friendly and very helpful.

The road trip will take you anywhere you want to go. It will coincide with the timeline you have to work with. Follow your ancestors and see what information you can find about them. As you travel, think about your ancestors. Did they travel these roads in a wagon or on horseback? Were they part of a group traveling together? Many of the roadways in America are based upon old American Indian trails. How interesting to think about traveling the same road, in different times as your ancestor did.

Your ancestors are not just a name on a slot in your family tree poster. These are very real people. They got to America and managed to survive long enough to ultimately have you. They had jobs, they had leisure activities, maybe not as much leisure time as we do today, and they had interactions with their family, friends, and community. It is so interesting to learn about them and realize that you are not that very different from your ancestors.

Bio: I am a Certified Genealogist and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. I believe that the hobby of genealogy is fun, exciting, and very satisfying. Through researching genealogy, you may add skills, meet new friends, and gain new respect for those who have gone before you. You may reach me via email at ‘’ with questions or comments. I thoroughly enjoy the hobby and hope that you will too. Print your photographs of your family, don’t just leave them to cyberspace. Whether you insist on leaving your family pictures in cyberspace, or print them out, please label them with a first and last name, an approximate date, and a possible location if known. Label ‘friend’ on people who are not family members. Do not drive your future genealogist’s crazy trying to decide who the other person in the picture belongs to. Send copies of these photos to many people and places. Photos of your family are important to you and your future generations. Make sure they survive. Please look for a new book from this author to be released in 2019.


By Marjory Regan

A brief bio of Marjory Regan: I am a member of the Williams Mills Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) and a “Certified Genealogist’ Thank you for your questions, comments, problems and successes. Email me at I think genealogy is a fascinating hobby; I hope you will, too. Get Started. Do something small every day, it all add up. Label the photos! First & Last names and approximate date of the photo. Do it for an hour while watching TV.