When all else fails, go to the source for genealogy information

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    Peter Thunell

    Sometimes you can only go so far on your family tree with the information found in your hometown.

    Every year, more and more people are going on genealogical fact-finding trips.

    Dini, one of the supervisors at Utah Valley Family History Center on the fourth floor of the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU, said the key to a good trip begins and ends with good planning.

    “You have to leave very organized, and knowing what you’re looking for,” Dini said. “If you go willy-nilly nothing will come of your trip.”

    Dini grew up in the Netherlands and has done extensive research there. She said that the best ways to get information in other countries are from parish records, population schedules like the U.S. census, civil registration, and sometimes just looking at headstones.

    Dini understands the importance of genealogical trips. When Dini found she had gone back as far as she could with her own family tree, she decided to look for a new challenge. After a chance meeting in the Netherlands with a man from Israel willing to work with her, Dini decided to do the genealogy for the Jews from the Netherlands that died in the Holocaust.

    Dini said the temple work is not done for the people she finds in her search of the family trees of the Holocaust victims. She said she does it to honor their memory.

    “Growing up, I had many Jewish friends that were killed in the Holocaust. When I started, I began with some old friends of the family, the children of the Rabbi. This took me to the next and the next. Pretty soon I was working on the whole province and so on,” Dini said.

    Another worker at the Utah Valley Family History Center, Diane Heap, said that sometimes you can get certain things accomplished by being in the actual place that you couldn’t have done at home.

    Heap said that she likes to go to a town and ask around for where the oldest person in town lives. She then goes to that person and gets a full oral history of the area. Heap said that people love to share the information.

    “Genealogy isn’t just names. When I go on a genealogy trip I want to soak in the atmosphere and culture of the area. You want to see the house where your great great grandmother grew up,” Heap said.

    A variety of companies also offer genealogical tours of different countries. Still it is important to do a lot of work before you go and to go with a specific purpose.

    Christy Daniels, also a worker at the Utah Valley Family History Center, said that sometimes people from Great Britain will travel to Salt Lake to do research for their country because it is cheaper and easier that running around their own country collecting information.

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