Advantages the possibilities are endless, it gets addictive, readers' tickets are free
Disadvantages travel may be necessary to find things, not everyone likes quiet
Some people get excited by the thought of a holiday in an exotic locations. Other people might like nothing better than to run riot . But I am a bit of an amateur genealogist which can be a seriously addictive hobby - and a potentially expensive one too. That said, there are some family history-type records that you can't order online and that cannot be accessed through Ancestry.co.uk, Genes Reunited or FindMyPast, however much you're willing to pay. I have come to realise that researching my inter-related tree (my 7xgreat-grandfather was also my 6xgreat-grandfather thanks to some intermarrying later down the line!) requires me to spend either of two things on it - one is money, the other is time. And because a big chunk of my family came from Lancashire, which is a very rainy place, there are some times of the year when it's better to stick to indoor research, which is why I'm writing this review about records offices.
If you aren't into local history (or the history of a particular area), the term "records office" might create some mental image of a unit in a business park where the rooms are crammed full of music on vinyl records, tapes and CDs . . . but they aren't quite like that. The basic purpose of a records office - occasionally shortened to "RO" in geneological shorthand - is to collect and preserve items of historical interest and they tend to be organised by geographical area. (Saying that, I'm at least ten years too young to remember the reorganisation of counties in England and Wales so this can create a bit of a puzzling cross-over. I know that some parish records for Liverpool are held at the Lancashire Records Office in Preston while others are kept at the Liverpool office and I would guess that the same applies to records for the Manchester area - I've browsed for church records for Salford and Manchester at Preston but they just aren't there even though Manchester used to be in Lancashire. Isn't bureaucracy marvellous?)So your typical records offices is a kind of cross between a historical archive and a reference library - I won't say they are like your typical local lending library because (as far as I can tell) you aren't allowed to take anything out on loan but you can order documents and artefacts which a member of staff will bring up from a "strongroom" (I think this is like a safe for old paper documents and similar items) so that you can look at them at your leisure and hand them back in when you've finished.
I rather like this aspect to it - I suppose you could argue that (for instance) because my 7xgreat-grandfather George's will is held at Preston it should be kept by someone in my family or by someone in a distant branch but on the other hand, because it is kept safely in the Records Office, if somebody came along who was related to George's son-in-law John and knew how the two men were connected, they would also be able . Plus, if you wanted to copy out an entire will or some document about land being rented, as long as you take the reference number for the item down that means you can come back at a later date and copy it out at your leisure rather than trying to interpret the old writing and scribble it down on your own notepaper in a hurry (something I have been guilty of trying to do when I'm in a rush!
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