What to do before researching at NLI

No trip to Dublin is complete without a visit to the National Library of Ireland (NLI). At least that’s my opinion, and anyone with an interest in Irish family history is likely to agree even if Rick Steves and other travel gurus don’t include it on their “must-see” lists.

I hadn’t planned to do very much research while we were here in Dublin, but I couldn’t resist stopping by NLI for part of the afternoon. I had a nice chat with Stephen Peirce, Eneclann’s Genealogy & Probate Researcher, who was one of the people at the library supporting NLI’s free genealogy advisory service. When I asked him “what advice do you have for IGSI blog-readers?”, he shared a few tips. Unfortunately my notes from our conversation disappeared before I got back to the hotel, but following is my recollection of what he said:

1) Don’t hesitate to come to the National Library of Ireland to do family history research.

2) Bring along copies of the research you’ve already completed. At a minimum, bring summaries showing names and dates of birth/marriage/death/emigration plus any known locations. Ideally, one should have at least the name of the Irish county of origin.

3) Exhaust all possible leads in the U.S. before taking your research “across the pond.” Family interviews, death certificates, census and civil records, passenger lists, obituaries – all can provide critical information about relationships and places of residence.

4) Focus on one or two questions you’d like to address with your NLI research. It’s not reasonable to expect you can fill your family tree with multiple generations of names and dates. Narrowing your search will improve your chances of success.

Probably one of the most valuable tips Peirce gave, however, was for researchers to subscribe to the Eneclann Newsletter. Timely advice from professionals arriving by e-mail on a regular basis! You can read prior articles and sign up to receive future newsletters here: www.eneclann.ie/media-centre/newsroom/newsletter/.

Another valuable document is NLI’s information booklet entitled “Family History Research Sources” (rev 2014). The PDF can be downloaded from NLI’s website: www.nli.ie/en/intro/family-history-introduction.aspx.


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