Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Travel Check List

It won’t be long at all and I’ll be seated in the Alameda McCollough Research Library in Lafayette, Indiana.

“Where,” you say?

The simple lives observed by common people aren’t often acknowledged by imposing research centers or national repositories. Sometimes, their simple stories are sheltered in lesser-known corners—if they are told at all.

This summer, I’m looking for a simple Irishman who bid his native County Mayo adieu, exchanging his homeland pock-marked by the ravages of famine and poverty for a glorious adventure sailing to the warmer climes of New Orleans.

I’m not sure how John Stevens arrived in the New World—I haven’t yet found any ship’s passenger lists documenting his passage—but I do know that New Orleans was not his final destination. A simple piece of paper held in the collection of the archives in Lafayette told the rest of the story. Now, I’m hoping to discover how it began, and what happened to his traveling companions of the early 1850s.

I already know that my itinerary for this research trip will include the state archives at the Indiana capital city. It is a mere hour’s drive in today’s world to travel from Indianapolis to Lafayette, so I’ll be able to see what is in store at the local source, too.

Thankfully, some of my travel plans were guided by internet research, coupled with a few well-placed e-mail queries. Online genealogy forums provided some specific hints as to what material is worth checking on, and exactly where to find it (down to which drawer in which aisle of which room at the state archives—now, that’s what I call friends!).

Along with a laptop and also a printed copy of my ancestral records, I will head with my immediate family to these libraries and see what can be found. I always get a little breathless walking the same steps as an ancestor—call me romantic, or hypersensitive, or, well, okay, just come out and say it: loony—so to say I am looking forward to this research opportunity is somewhat of an understatement. Though it is off the beaten path, as far as the big guns of genealogical research are concerned, it is as thrilling to me as anyone’s “big game” hunt.

For the days in which I am traveling, I will be blogging updates from whatever internet-facilitating nooks and crannies I can find. Hopefully, I’ll be posting some data finds and pictures. Less talk and more facts will round out the two weeks we will be on the road.

But for now: the big rush to be totally prepared for the research journey continues.

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