Have State Archives, Will Not Travel


Most of us into genealogy, religiously watch TV episodes like Who Do You Think You Are and Following Your Roots. We all get a charge when {insert celebrity name here} walks triumphantly up the stairs to a state archives building with hopes of uncovering new information in their ancestral quest. These buildings themselves are often quite majestic and full of rich history.

But when you’re immersed in assisting a client with their family research, it all seems so grandiose to propose going to the state archives to research and hopefully retrieve juicy documents relevant to the research. If you’ve got all of the time and money in the world and love to visit on your own, fantastic! But as an efficient genealogist and steward of my client’s funds, I approach the work strategically.

I am an hour away from my state archives building so there’s mileage, my hourly rate, parking fees, research time there locating records, copying records (as permissible) or taking copious notes. It just doesn’t make sense to me to do all of that without a strong sense that the records will produce what clues I am looking for. Granted, some records are only available if you visit, as photocopying might be prohibited but I consider it one of my last resorts after exhausting other research paths.

My latest client would most likely agree that this approach was well worth the time and money, as I have ordered what will amount to roughly 400 photocopies, through the state archives online portal from the comfort of my home office. They will be shipped to me and I didn’t have to look up, look for, or photocopy all of these documents. Delegation! Price tag, $98.20.

Time that my clients pay preciously for, should provide a return on research investment from using resources effectively, and give the most bang for the buck.

Only drawback so far is waiting up to 10 business days for the near ream of paper to arrive. Ah, the life of the impatient genealogist.