On snowy days like last week, I am grateful to be inside, sipping tea, with a cat or three in my lap while I search the 1810 census page by page. But the weather is warmer, daffodils are sending out pointy green shoots, and I am getting restless. It must be time for a field trip!
I can always walk two blocks to Lone Oak Cemetery, and a notepad, pencil and camera are all I need. Sometimes I just stroll around, looking for serendipitous finds. Other times I am looking for a specific family or trying to get some evidence of relationships between families.
A trip to Lone Oak doesn't take a lot of preparation, and if I forget anything I can just walk back home to get it. But if I'm going much farther from home, I need to plan a little better.
Researching before you leave:
Many members of my family ended up in Clackamas County (Oregon). Oregon City, the county seat, is about an hour and half away. I am trying to track down two things: my father's birth certificate and the marriage license of my parents. As long as I am there, I want to visit the areas where my grandparents and great grandparents lived and worked and that means property records and a good, current map. Even though I lived my childhood in Oregon City, I haven't lived there for a very long time, and I'm sure the town has changed.
Where will I find early birth records? Oddly enough, not in Oregon City. The Oregon State Archives has an inventory of Clackamas County records online, and lists “Museum of the Oregon Territory, Library: Birth Records [Index Abstracts-Mt. Hood Genealogical Forum], 1907-1915 .” With the information in the abstract, I will be able to order the birth certificate from The Center for Health Statistics & Vital Records by mail, saving me a trip to Portland. The library is open Wednesday through Saturday, 11:00am to 4:00pm. I make a mark on my map, and a note on my itinerary. Admission to the museum and library is free, but I will make a donation, and I note that also.
The marriage record will be available in the clerk's office, according to Archives web page, and once again I will find the index/abstract at the Museum of the Oregon Territory, Library. On my itinerary I note what to look for at the library. I also note from the County Clerk's page that this record can be ordered either in person or by mail, and I list the address, phone number and hours that the clerk's office open.
My early deed indexes and deeds (before 1912) will be found at the State Archives, so I need to start there. Another note on the itinerary and map. (Yes, I know where the Archives are, but the map will help me plan the trip more efficiently). Deeds and indexes after that will be found in the same room as the marriage records. The itinerary is noted.
The County Clerk's office will charge for copies, and parking is not free. I make estimates of the money I need to take, and note that on the itinerary.
I keep all three of these in electronic form, but paper copies of the final itinerary and map are very useful.
For research, you want to know:
What am I looking for?
Where will I find it?
When can I visit?
How much will it cost?
Your itinerary will include:
The address (including room number) of the archive you are visiting.
The hours the archive is open.
The cost to acquire the records.
Any special requirements, such as “only pencils are allowed in archives,” “no briefcases, backpacks or binders” and so on.
Remember to schedule some breaks for lunch and so on.
Next time... On the Road Again