Saturday, June 6, 2009

Best Places for Research?

As I was working on another article this morning, this question occurred to me: What are the best places for doing genealogy research? By “places” I mean cities, counties, and states (or their equivalents in other countries) rather than individual institutions and repositories. However, “best” could be considered in terms of these institutions and repositories at these locations, either for doing on-site research (at the institution or repository) or on-website (online) research. I have not yet been able to take any “road trips” to do on-site research, but I do know which counties and states I have had the best luck with in finding wonderful online resources. For instance, I consider Greenville, South Carolina to be “genealogy heaven” for the tremendous resources made available by the Greenville County Library and Greenville county government, as well as the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. I have also found some great resources for Texas and for some of its counties. Vermont – not so much, at least as far as online resources are concerned, and it may be that a road trip there would be much more productive. (If anyone reading this has had more success with online resources for Vermont, I would love to hear about it.)

And for those who have done onsite research in various locations, which locations were the best and why: friendly and helpful people in courthouses and libraries, lots of local history and genealogy societies with scads of information and helpful volunteers, beautiful locations in which to spend time doing research? In which areas of the world has your genealogy research been most productive?

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite places is St. Clair County, Michigan, at the County Clerk's Office. This is because the office staff are very friendly and welcoming to genealogists, even though they are a very busy office. They let you transcribe death records or marriage records that have been recorded in the death books for no charge. Even if the record is more recent and not in the books yet, they will allow you to view it and transcribe it if you want. They also allow this with birth records over 100 years old. They even allow you to stay past the genealogy hours to continue your research if you do not need their assistance with anything. I say St. Clair County is my favorite because some of the neighboring counties do not even let you view the death or marriage records, even though they are public records. They only let you view the indexes and then make you pay $10-$20 for a certified copy. I do not understand how county officials can bar anyone from viewing records that the State Department of Community Health says are public. I also dislike Louisiana sometimes b/c they do not allow you to order a death record under 50 years old unless you are an immediate relative. I think 25 years is more reasonable. That being said, Louisiana also has a great state archives online index for death records over 50 years old. And the state archives staff is very friendly and helpful.