We just returned home after a trip to visit Peter’s cousin in England – and yes, we did some family history while we were there. Although you may not be able to just go yourself there were some experiences in research that will help you as you work at home.
Don’t take archives for granted.
We had a short list of research objectives we wanted to do in the Nottinghamshire County Archives – mostly verifying births and marriages. The Nottinghamshire Archives are housed in a building that opened in 1993 – so quite new for an archive building. Imagine our horror when we walked in the front door to find all the equipment and records in piles and being moved out! They had just closed the archives for 6 or 7 months for renovations!!! They closed on Oct 18 and we got there on the 23rd!
So no research done? Actually this is where the lesson comes . . . we eventually located the staff in a meeting upstairs – and they said we could email our research requests and they would reply for free if we gave full details of where to look – i.e. name of parish, event, and date. Within days we had the information we were looking for! – and an offer to send us images if we sent some money. The money they asked was about $2.40Can per item – although we will have to use an International Pound Money Order – very reasonable we thought – and much cheaper than flying to England to go to the archives!
If you want them to do the research for you then the fee was $50 per hour – seems like a lot but again much cheaper than air fare, plus accommodation and meals, and without the jet lag!
Why didn’t I just order the microfilm from the Family History Library in Salt Lake? They don’t have films on every parish and although many of the parishes in Nottinghamshire are available the parish we were interested in was not available at the FHL.
How do I find an archive? The following website gives links to English Record Offices and Archives on the Internet http://www.oz.net/markhow/englishros.htm – as well there is a link to Welsh and Scottish Record Offices on the same website. Sadly this website has not been updated for a number of years .
You also go to http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ and use the link to Find An Archive at the bottom centre of the page.
As I alternate – and maybe where you should go first – use the wiki at FamilySearch.org – specifically https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/England_Archives_and_Libraries#.C2.A0Information_on_the_Internet – scroll down the article to the section on County Record Offices and click on Show next to the link England Record Offices by County.
So email and ask for help – but be patient as many archives don’t have a lot of staff – and don’t just assume you can go to England and look it up yourself!