Planning a Research Trip to Lincoln County, Missouri

Last Updated: 05/27/99 07:46 AM

Status May 17, 1999:  This page is a work-in-progress and not yet completed.  It is a component of the "Research & Travel" pages on this site which have gone online today.  Although not finished, I am including it online in its present state in the event there may be any information that would be helpful to anyone.  When finished, it will include greater detail and some examples.

NOTE:  The majority of you may already know how to plan for a research trip.  You may already have a research plan in place, and are well-acquainted with how to adapt it for your trip or how to prepare a new one specifically for your trip.  This page is oriented toward those who do not know how or would like a little help. 

If you have tips from your experience to offer other Lincoln County researchers, please see the Lincoln Co. Research Suggestions page and offer your suggestions so others may benefit from your experience.

Planning & Preparation.  Make the most of your trip by doing as much planning and preparation ahead of time before you go.   A well-defined and comprehensive research plan, bibliography and itinerary are very valuable tools that can be of immeasurable value in helping you finding the records and information you want and making the most productive use of your time.   Learning to use these tools can help you keep on track with your research and achieve the goals you defined for your trip.

Keep in mind that the majority of the records you want, you can get without ever going to Lincoln County.  As you discover who your ancestors are, you have to know what information is you want to know (what kind of documentation may be available), learn whether it exists and where, and then discover what the process is of getting access to the information.  If you live nearby Lincoln County and can go there often to research, or spend a long time when you get there, you're lucky.   Otherwise, save for the trip those research goals to accomplish on-site that you can't accomplish without going to Lincoln County.  There are many ways to get access to information by having it to come to you.  This page is about going there to get it. 

Make a Research Plan
Compile a Bibliography
Prepare an Itinerary
Make your Travel Arrangements
Prepare Materials to Take with You
Accomplishing Your Goals

To read suggestions from other Lincoln County researchers, click HERE.

Step 1.  Make a Research Plan

Plan your research goals for the trip.  What is it you want to accomplish?   Who are you going to work on -- what families and/or individuals?  What is it you want to get or find out about the person or family?  Where do you have to go to get or find it?  And, when do you have to be there to access it?  Commit your plan to paper and be as specific and detailed as possible. 

"Who" -- Which lines do you plan to work on?  Make a list of the names and individuals.

"What" -- Which specific records or documentation do you want to find?  In what timeframe do you expect to find it?  Write down what record(s) you want to find, or what specific information you are after for each surname or ancestor. Some folks might call this a "To Do List."  "To Do's" are individual action items of an overall, more comprehensive research plan and comprise only a part of it.  Once you know which records you want to find for which person(s) and in what timeframes, you can check to see what records are available at given facilities and locations.  This will determine where you need to go and which facilities you want to visit. 

"Where" -- Make a list of the places you need to go to accomplish your goals.  Write down the individuals that you plan to interview and where you have to go to interview them.  Your list of specific goals, combined with where you have to go to achieve them, will help you compile this list. 

Look at the County Record Information page to see where given records are located so you know whether you need to go to the Court House in Troy or to the Missouri Archives in Jefferson City to get a copy of a specific record.  If you want to look at old newspapers or get a copy of an obituary, you will need to go to the Missouri State Historical Society in Columbia.

You may wish to add other facilities to your list simply because you want to go there to see their holdings and acquaint yourself with what they have available.  But if you run short on time, the facilities you add to your list would be the ones that you would want to cut and drop from your itinerary.

"When" -- When is the facility open?  Now that you have the list of what items you want and where you want to go, you will need to know when each facility is open to ensure you arrive when they are open, and not on a day or at an hour when they are closed.

Whenever possible, the names of most facilities and their hours of operation are posted on this site.  However, do call the facilities you plan to visit and verify their hours on the day(s) you plan to visit, in case they have changed since our posting.

Cemeteries -- Use the Cemetery Listing page from this site and compile a list of the specific cemeteries that you want to visit.  To ensure you don't miss any graves you wanted to visit, compile a list of those you know are buried in each Lincoln County cemetery.  If there are specific cemeteries and gravestones you want to photograph, make a list of the known stones  you expect to find in the cemetery.  If it is a large cemetery and has a cemetery office, you will need to ensure you arrive on a date and at a time when the office is open so someone can check the records and tell you exactly where the grave is located.  That will save you time and ensure you don't walk an entire cemetery looking for a gravestone which isn't there.

If you know you have an ancestor buried in a Lincoln County but you don't know which cemetery, plan your itinerary so you arrive at a research facility with "Gone But Not Forgotten" volumes early in your trip before you do your visits to the cemeteries.  Hopefully, this will enable you to locate the grave of your ancestor or their family members so you won't miss any gravesites you want to see when you make your visit to that specific cemetery.

Maps -- You will also need driving directions to each cemetery and a detailed county map.   Most driving instructions can be obtained from the cemetery page, although for some of them you may need to ask about the location when you arrive in a nearby town.  If you don't already have one, download a request form to order a Lincoln County map from the Department of Transportation (134k).  These have county roads, cemetery locations marked, etc. 



Step 2.  Compile a Bibliography for your Research

A bibliography is a comprehensive list of sources:  all known books, records or microfilm, etc. that you want to check while you are on your trip.  To save you preparation time, the "Lincoln County Bibliography" page is included at this site to provide you with a bibliography for your research, together with information regarding the known facilities where you may find the listed sources and library call numbers for the source.  

However, you may have additional sources or information to add to the bibliography before you leave on your trip.  Identify on your bibliography the specific records, books or microfilms that you want to view. You may also find additional sources that you wish to add after you arrive at a library or other facility.  Add them to your bibliography list as you go.  Print a copy of the bibliography as you prepare for your trip and take it with you.  Write on the pages as you find additional sources to add to it.  This bibliography is a key part of your research plan.



Step 3.  Prepare an Itinerary

Prepare a comprehensive itinerary for the complete trip.  If your available research time is very limited, planning is even more important to do prior to leaving on your trip.   Plan an itinerary for each day and stick to it as closely as you can.  One of the easiest ways to make an itinerary is to draft it on a blank calendar that covers the dates of your trip, from the date you will leave until the date you return. You can write the information in each date block of the calendar.

If you aren't sure whether an individual will be available on the day you want to see them, or whether the facility will be open, be sure that you call and make arrangements with the person or verify the hours of the facility as part of your planning process.

When you are finished, your itinerary should include where you plan to be each day and at what time.  Later, you can always make changes or adjustments when you are on your trip if they become desired or necessary.  But having a well-planned and carefully defined itinerary on the outset can help achieve your goals and avoid disappointment.  

A well-defined itinerary includes a written calendar with:  the specifics for your travel arrangements; the names of the individuals you are going to see or interview along with the dates and time you will meet them; the specific facilities you are planning to visit along with the specific dates you plan to visit them.  If you will be visiting cemeteries, it should have the names of the cemeteries and the date(s) you will visit them.



Step 4.  Make Your Travel Arrangements

You may need to adjust your itinerary at this point, or work at putting it together in conjunction with making your travel arrangements.



Step 5.  Prepare materials to take with you

Gather and/or print the materials you will need for the trip.  At the least, take copies with you for the following items:



Step 6:  Accomplishing Your Goals

Use your itinerary every day.  It is your day-to-day plan.  Try to stick to it if you can. Be where you intended to be each day, doing what you planned to do.  If it becomes necessary to make changes in your itinerary, try to move scheduled activities and exchange blocks of time from one day to another. Try to avoid just eliminating a planned activity if possible.

When you arrive at one of the facilities you planned to visit, use your bibliography -- it's one of the most valuable tools you can have.  Look for the sources listed on your bibliography, find out what additional sources are available that are not written on it and add them. 

Have your list of "What" ready and available.  Now, finally, you begin the painstaking process of looking through each source on your bibliography for the "What" information you are seeking. 

Keep a list of each source you examine or look through and make a note of what you find, or don't find in it.  This is called a "Source Summary." You should keep and maintain one for each family or family line.  Keeping this record will help you avoid retracing your steps and going through the same source more than once.

Good luck!

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