What to Pack in Your Genealogy Research Bag

What I pack when I do a genealogy research trip to archives or courthouses in Pennsylvania (or anywhere!).

What to Pack in Your Genealogy Research Bag
Photo by Álvaro Serrano / Unsplash

When doing research in an archives or courthouse, I like to be prepared. I have a bag that I use just for genealogy research trips. This way I don’t have to try to remember to what to pack each time, my genealogy research bag just stays packed!

Here’s what I have in my genealogy research bag, ready to go at all times:

  • Extra Reading Glasses: Forgetting these would make the trip useless, so I keep a spare pair in my bag at all times.
  • Face Mask: May be required and best to have a fresh one ready to go.
  • Post-it Notes: Save a page in a book, take notes on a copy, jot down ideas along the way.
  • Paper fasteners: At repositories which do copies only, I like to organize those papers right away. I have a small stapler, plastic paper clips, and binder clips for the job.
  • Pencils: I carry 3-4 in case lead breaks.
  • Luggage Tag: My name and phone number are on my bag just like with luggage.
  • Ear Plugs: I work best in silence, so I bring these in case the place is noisy.
  • Tissues and Headache Medicine: I find the dust on archival materials makes my nose run, and when my nose runs, I get a headache.
  • Chargers/cables for technology: Portable battery chargers for your technology and the cables are necessary. Most of the time you will not be able to plug anything in while doing research in an archives. (I’ll cover more in technology in another post.)
  • Microfiber Cloth: Wipe the smears off my glasses and device screens.
  • USB Drives: Some repositories have ScanPro microfilm machines which will allow me to save the microfilmed documents as PDF’s on a USB drive. I take two drives in case one fails.
  • Morning of the trip, I pack a Water Bottle and Snack: Research makes me hungry 🙂

I also bring my iPad and iPhone to take images of documents and take notes while I am researching. Technology and how to use it for research onsite is worth a whole post itself.

I’d love to know – What do you take with you when you do research?

© 2019–2022 PA Ancestors L.L.C. and Denys Allen. All Rights Reserved.