If you are thinking about taking a research trip, consider taking someone else with you. Doing research with another person provides more than just company; it expedites the work at every phase of your venture. The phrase “divide and conquer” was never more true than here.
In the planning stage of the trip, more than one person brainstorming can generate better plans. Plus – dividing preparation tasks really works.
On the trip, you can share expenses, coordinate research efforts, and collaborate when the plans need to change. Some expenses will be less when two or more people travel together. For example, motels often cost the same for one person or for two. When you rent a car, gas costs the same no matter how many people are traveling together.
At an archive, one person can be looking at an index while the other is copying records; one person can be entering data into the computer while the other is looking for more records; or one person can be searching in one section or record type of the archive while the other is scouring another. Also, since research plans often change mid-stream, again it helps to have two heads making the decisions. The revised plans are usually good ones.
After the research trip, you can enjoy your findings together and analyze records more deeply as you see information through different eyes.
When you have a built-in sounding board for your findings, the analysis of your records can be more thorough.
I recently took such a research trip with a coworker. We actually had separate agendas focused on different families and different counties in Kentucky. In a way, we were on separate research trips, but our common thread (besides our friendship) was that our ancestors came from counties that were within workable distances from each other.
We determined our individual priorities first, then got together to coordinate. We organized our time so we could work together, part of the time in her area and part of the time in mine. Then together we went to the State Archives to research.
Though both of us made some compromises on the trip, in the long run, we accomplished more than either of us could have done separately. County books were bigger than I expected, distances were farther, people were friendlier, and research always seemed to take longer than planned. But with two of us sharing the burden as well as the successes, it was a wonderful experience.
So, the next time you go on a research trip, don’t forget to take along a friend!