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Reunion Research Trip Checklist

by Dixie Haas

Whether you're bound for the local library or to an ancestor's homeland, research trips are voyages of discovery; one visit to the right location can confirm years of painstaking work. Reunion can help you organize your records and produce materials to make the most of any fact-finding expedition. The following are suggestions for using Reunion to prepare for your next research trip.


Most research trips involve gathering data for more than one person or family. How do you keep all the people and facts straight? Create a realistic research plan and list of goals to maximize your efforts. If you regularly use Reunion's logs, you already know what your research goals for various families are and you've noted the information you need to complete your records. If not, take a little time to create a log that lists the data you most want to collect on your travels.

As you gather information for your trip, consider building a log to serve as an itinerary and single source for all you need to know about your research destinations. To create a trip log, choose Edit -> Logs from the menu bar.

When you've accumulated all the addresses, telephone numbers, and specifics you will need, add your research goals to the log then print a report to take along. Use the printed report to mark your progress by placing a check mark beside each research objective you accomplish. You may also want to add a brief, written reminder for each entry, listing any copies or documents you collected associated with the objective.

 Tools To Take Along

Even if you take Reunion and your family files along on your travels, you may want to print extra copies of the forms, reports, charts, and lists you'll need during your trip. Consider using some of the following to document your work:

  • Blank forms can be adapted to note information from many types of sources. For example, blank forms that include a miscellaneous note field are handy tools for abstracting census entries read from microfilm. You may also want to print enough forms to use during interviews and at family reunions. Reunion provides a default layout for blank forms, to learn how to create a customized form containing the fields you need, search layouts in the electronic manual.
  • Person and family group sheets printed in questionnaire format show what information you have and which facts are needed to complete your records. If you plan to leave behind forms for family members to complete and return to you, attach a completed example of the form to serve as an instruction sheet.
  • If you want a visual, multigenerational reference that doesn't take up much space and can double as a basic work sheet, prepare and print cascading pedigree charts for the people you plan to spend the most time researching. (Reunion creates cascading pedigrees for people who have at least one generation of ancestors.) You can produce and print a one-page, five-generation pedigree chart for anyone in your family file by navigating to the family card and clicking Overview. Choose the source person for the chart and click Print.

Tip: Construct a simple organizer for research materials by filling a three-ring binder with empty page protectors. Use the empty protectors to transport and store photocopies, documents, maps, and notes as well as your printed forms, charts, reports, and lists. Use zipper pouches to hold coins, pens, pencils, and page markers.

 Don't Forget The Details

If you're traveling to a distant location purely for research purposes, chances are most of your time will be spent poring over books and records. When building your itinerary, try to allow some time for gathering a bit of information about the places you visit. Even if you aren't an accomplished writer, a one sentence description of a place, written on the spot, can add dimension and depth to your work and create a visual picture for family members and future generations.

These are just a few of the ways Reunion can help you prepare for research trips. If you would like detailed explanations about layouts, blank forms, person and family group sheets, or cascading pedigree charts, search the electronic manual.