In Their Words: How to Research in Your Slippers

Bunny slippers? Everyone’s dream, right? With registration for the six June 25-30 courses opening on Wednesday, February 22 at Noon Eastern, you won’t want to miss out on the course that will have you researching in federal records from home and planning a trip to Washington, D.C. by the end of the institute week.

So who doesn’t love researching from home? The convenience and time and cost savings can be tremendous. But how do you do that efficiently? Even when at home, your time is not overabundant. “Research in Washington, D.C. from Afar” is just the course to help you plan your course of action, find detailed records about your ancestor, and understand their meaning whether you plan a trip (just a 4.5 hour drive from Pittsburgh) or go virtually. Pam Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL, and her husband Rick Sayre, CG, CGL, lived in the Washington area for many years, and the other instructor, Angela Packer McGhie, CG, lives in the area now. They have intimate knowledge of the records, the repositories, and the area. Reap their wisdom through this course which is bound to give your research a huge leap forward. Or as Pam states:

Rick and Pam Sayre with Elissa Powell say don't stop but go to GRIP!

Rick and Pam Sayre with Elissa Powell say don’t stop but go to GRIP!

Whether you prefer armchair research from home or your dream is to take a research trip to Washington, DC, this course is your answer. The nation’s capital opens access to so many records and resources with a national focus held in repositories such as the National Archives, the Library of Congress, the Daughters of the American Revolution Library, the library of the Society of the Cincinnati, and even the libraries and archives of the Smithsonian. Even if you can’t make a trip to Washington to research on-site in these repositories, you can still access a huge number of their valuable records from the comfort of home via the Internet. Because these institutions have such massive collections, thorough research in their holdings can be intimidating and frustrating. The key to unlocking the records lies in understanding which facility holds what you need and how to access it. This course delves into both well-known and obscure sources available at Washington-area repositories and provides online or alternative methods of accessing the national-level records of individual citizens.

Since many archival records can be accessed only by visiting Washington in person, this course also teaches students to prepare for a research trip by using relevant websites, published sources, and finding aids such as online library catalogs or guides. Sessions include navigation of sometimes overwhelming websites like NARA to locate a military service file, or the Library of Congress, to find just the newspaper you need. You will learn why you should research in federal land and military records beyond just homestead or pension files, and how to find an exact record of your ancestor.

Students may submit questions in advance about how to find a particular kind of record in Washington, DC. Questions will be selected and answered as time allows Monday-Thursday after the last session so the entire class can learn from individual cases. The final class on Friday presents a scenario for a five-day visit to Washington, DC with a sample schedule for getting the most out of your research time, as well as suggestions on transportation, lodging, and dining.

Consider taking this course when making your selection for the June GRIP week, held at La Roche College in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For a detailed course schedule see

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