Home and Away Again

by Memoir Mentor on June 15, 2010

I returned from my Ohio research trip about a week ago and have spent the days since organizing and analyzing the material I collected in my ancestral homeland. On the whole, I rate the trip a success, particularly the experience of actually seeing the places where my Parretts actually lived and worked. I am lucky, because that area is still primarily a farm community. If I squinted my eyes and disregarded the paved roads, automobiles, and power lines, I figured I was seeing pretty much what my folks saw when they lived there. 

I learned a lesson, though, one I’ll pass on to you. Before you go on such a trip, compile a list of every record you already have relating to the people you’re researching. I made a list of what I wanted to get, but not what I already had. I thought I could rely on my memory. I should know better by now. Turns out I brought back some duplicates of material I found years ago–which means I wasted both time and money spent on photocopying!

There was little need to pack away my suitcase, for I’m off again. I know, I know…why don’t I stay home and write? I will, I will…after this next trip. My husband and I are joining some friends on a Baltic Cruise. For the next couple of weeks, we’ll be floating around on the Symphony, a fancy sea palace filled with food and fun and hundreds of people who are paid to assure we’re happy! We’ll be pushing off from Dover (the White Cliffs place), then sailing to Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and, finally, three days in St. Petersburg, Russia, a place I’ve always wanted to see. I just finished reading The Madonnas of Leningrad, a good book my student Marta Sarkissian gave me to prepare for the trip. And I’m tucking in my airplane carry-on bag my new copy of Steig Larsson’s The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the last book in his super-exciting Millennium trilogy. Can’t wait to dive in.

Sound fun? I’ll let you know when I return. Meanwhile, write on, my friends.