Yesterday (Saturday, Nov 29), I made a long-awaited trip to the DAR library in Washington, DC. I had my research plan prepared, I wanted to spend the majority of my time in the Seimes Technology Center looking at documents. The DAR has taken all of the proof documents that have been submitted by members, scanned them, and organized them by Patriot. This means, is you can go into the computer center and browse all of the documents that have been submitted over the last 100+years that prove birth, death and marriage dates as well as information proving service in the Revolutionary War.
Think about that for a minute, you can go to one place, and find those key documents for your 3rd, 4th, 5th, or even 7th great grandparent, as long as someone has proven service for a direct ancestor. The documents are not just for the Patriot, but all of the generations in between from the Patriot, to someone who was born in the 20th century. You could find proof for 1 generation or 5 generations. Press print and pay for a copy of a bible page you didn’t know existed, that marriage license you can’t find, pay the copy fee ($0.25 per page) and you’re done.
I said lemons, right? I had my research plan (most of the day on the computers) and spend some time with 3 books I had identified. My friend Jill & I woke early, caught a train in Philadelphia at 7:10 and arrived at the DAR Library by 9:20am! Started with my first person, John Kreps, and nothing, no images. The computer systems were down! We waited for about 45 minutes before leaving the Seimes center and heading down the hall to the library. The DAR Library has 220,000+ books, an extensive manuscript collection and a series collection of published genealogies. After an hour in the library, I completed the non-computer part of my research plan. Now what? Wonky computer systems and I had exhausted my research plan which was detailed enough for 2 days of research!
What to do? GenDetective provides a quick list of the direct ancestors who lived in a specific county during a specific time period. A few clicks of a mouse and I have a new research plan to be used with the books in the stacks! I started with the county level resources for NJ and PA and worked my way through the books.
I ended the day with over 200 photos of information and learned some new things. Not the information I had begun the day looking for, I really do need the proof that matches my sources of DAR applications, but that research will have to wait for another trip. And next time, I will have an alternate plan prepared just in case the computer systems aren’t working, lesson learned!