You have the location of your trip picked out, you know the route you will take and if you will make any stops on your way there or back, you know where you will be staying and you have a list of the documents that you want to search for. What now?
The next step would be to make your GRT Bible. This is what my husband called my master binder that I put together for my first trip. In it will be your itinerary and other much needed information. It will save you time and keep you on track. It is also an easy reference that you can look at anytime you need to.
Let me just say this here. I know some of you will say, oh I can do all this on my iPad or laptop and I have GPS in my car or phone so I really don’t think I need to make a hard copy of my trip details. This is exactly what a friend of mine said to me. I told her to do whatever she was comfortable with as it really is just a suggestion. She drove from Phoenix to Nashville and settled in. She went out the next day to a local repository and did some research and came back to the hotel thrilled with some of the finds she made. The next day she ventured out into the countryside to find a cemetery. While she was walking through the graveyard looking for a particular headstone she tripped over the edge of one of them and was sent flying. Her bag went off her arm and flew directly into a large above ground headstone. It hit hard! When she was finally able to get up she hobbled over to her bag and started pulling out the contents and to her dismay her iPad was broken. All of her information was on it and now she didn’t know what to do. After finding the headstone she was looking for, she took the picture and left. She went back to the hotel and got her out her laptop and found the file with all the pertinent information in it. She then had to make a trip to the front desk to see if they could print out the file. There were a lot of pages so they actually charged her for the copies. While they were being printed the hotel received a couple of faxes that printed out on the same printer. So the clerk had to sort through the stack of papers to retrieve his copies. In doing so the papers were put back together out of order. She then had to find a store so she could go and buy a binder and sheet protectors. They didn’t have a large enough binder so she had to buy two. Then she had to go back to the hotel, sort through the papers and put them in order, insert them into the sheet protectors and place them in the binders. She called me later that evening to tell me what happened and she said the only thing she kept thinking about throughout her totally wasted day was what I told her when she didn’t want to make a GRT Bible. I had said “It is better to be safe than sorry”. Not big words of wisdom but they do ring true.
GPS can fail or give wrong directions. Cell phones and ipads can run out of battery life at the worse time and in some areas there is no internet connection or you may be out of the service area. Also, like in the case of my friend, accidents do happen. So even if you do not want to solely use the binder it is always a good idea to have a backup available.
Another reason to have a GRT Bible is that some repositories do not allow electronic devises to be used in their building. No cell phones, ipads, laptops or even cameras. But they will allow binders, paper and pens.
The bottom line is: if you go prepared you will save time and avoid potential headaches while you are there. It would be a shame to do all that planning and make the trip only to not be able to get the information you came for.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.