Most people will never go on an African safari or an "Indiana Jones" expedition; yet there is a way to lend the adventure of discovery to a vacation, according to consultants in the Church Family History Department.

Charlotte Parker and Lynne Jorgensen, reference consultants at the family History Library in Salt Lake City, periodically teach a one-session class at the library called "Planning a Roots Vacation.'Sister Parker defines a "roots vacation" as one during which "you plan to do genealogical and historical research on your ancestral family."

There is an indescribable emotion and thrill, Sister Jorgensen said, that comes from visiting the area where one's ancestors lived.

On a 1980 trip through Iowa and Nebraska, Sister Parker stopped at a museum in a little town. It was not open on that particular day, but by asking around, she located the caretaker. It turned out that he had been acquainted with her great-grandparents.

The caretaker invited her into the museum, where he showed her a tool her ancestor, a blacksmith, had invented for cutting corn off the cob. He also showed her a yoke with a bucket chained on each side, and said her great-grandmother used it to carry water to her house over a distance of about one-third of a mile.

In addition to the emotional thrill, there are practical aspects to a family history vacation.

"Some genealogical and historical information can be found only in the area where the records were created," Sister Parker said.

And a trip to a particular area might be the only way to acquire the recollections of long-time residents, which can be tape recorded.

Both consultants said that advance preparation is essential.

"Start planning now, even if your trip isn't until two years from now," Sister Parker said.

Sister Jorgensen recommends doing as much original research as possible beforehand and taking along copies of appropriate family group records, journal pages, diaries, letters and maps.

"Write or call relatives, no matter how distantly related, who may still be living in the area of your ancestral home," she said. "This is an adventure not to be missed."

"Plan your route carefully," Sister Parker continued. "I take a road atlas and put adhesive dots along the route at the locations where I plan to stop."

She also keeps a file of index cards, held together by a rubber band so they won't become disorganized. On the cards are written names of people she plans to contact. She files them in the order she plans to use them as she journeys along.

A good camera with black-and-white film is a valuable asset for photographing artifacts, sights and grave markers, and for copying photographs of ancestors, said Sister Parker.

A rewarding experience awaits those who undertake a family history vacation, Sister Parker said. "The more genealogy you do, the more unusual breakthroughs you have."

From her trips, she has a goal to submit the names of 1,000 ancestors before June 30. "I know people who have submitted many more than that," she said.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

How to find roots while on vacation

Charlotte Parker, reference consultant at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, suggests the following possible sources of information on a family history vacation:

- Living relatives in areas visited.

- Genealogical and historical libraries.

- Museums.

- Local public libraries.

- Cemeteries.

- County courthouses.

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- Local genealogical societies.

- Patriotic societies.

- Libraries at area universities and colleges.

- Federal agencies.

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