What’s in Your Bag?

This Thursday through Saturday I will be attending RootsTech in Salt Lake City. This is a new conference in which the universes of genealogy and technology will collide and will try to create a new world – one where research is faster, simpler and dare we dream … easier.
Having learned my lesson just a few weeks ago while attending the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, I came to my senses I wisely booked a hotel room…read earlier post for the details. Since I won’t be driving back and forth to Salt Lake, I have to be prepared a bit more  than usual. When I do research at the Family History Library, I just bring my flash drive and use the library’s computers and save lugging the laptop around.

But since this is a conference about using technology I decided it would be best if I actually brought some! So, I am prepacking my laptop bag.
Having worked at the FHL and done research there for years, I thought I would share what I like to bring with me. Besides the laptop and power cord, I also have an accordion file folder with pockets to sort my papers and safely store any copies that I may make. In the bag’s pockets that I have labeled on the photo you can see I also have earphones so as not to disturb my neighbors should I chose to listen to a funny youtube video… quiet music that helps me focus.

Also in a pocket is a camera to take photos of maps, documents, or other items that are not easily scanned or copied. Other pockets contain lotion and lip balm. Winter or Summer (throw in Spring and Fall too) Utah is very dry and you will need a good supply of these. Items including wet wipes packets, change for the vending machines, business cards, and a small notepad are in other pockets.
One of my best tips for researching at the FHL is get yourself a lanyard with a plastic sleeve card holder. Inside the plastic sleeve I have my FHL card that is preloaded with less than $5 to purchase copies. When you purchase a card for $1 (.40 cents will be loaded onto the card) take the time when you purchase to WRITE YOUR NAME on the card! Believe me, you will leave it in the card reader at least a dozen or few hundred times  even if you work there okay! Being the nice people that genealogist are, they will usually return it to the reference desk, which you can go claim IF YOU HAVE YOUR NAME ON THE CARD.
Also in the plastic sleeve, I have a magnifying card, a dollar to reload my copy card if needed and coupons to 2 of my favorite places to eat. The coupons are generally available at reference desks or the greeters on the main floor  can help you locate one. One coupon is to the Nauvoo Café in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building located on Temple Square across the street. They have the best sandwich in the world! Try your sandwich with their homemade cranberry orange relish….yum! The other coupon isn’t so much as a coupon but an access card to eat lunch at the Church Office Building’s Cafeteria located in the basement which is also on Temple Square. The cafeteria has soup and salad bars, entrees (Thursdays is prime rib day and trust me you won’t need dinner later!) as well as ala carte items. The cafeteria often has piano music for luncheon listening pleasure and the prices are very reasonable. A short walk to Temple Square and maybe a stop to listen to an organ recital at the Tabernacle and you will be ready for Round 2 of research.

Also attached to the lanyard is a small leather case to store your flashdrives in. Get an address label and attach it to the back of your flashdrive should you do the unthinkable and leave it in the library’s computer. After recovering from your heart attach, you can usually find it at the reference desk or Lost and Found on the Main Floor – go ahead and ask me how I know! Funny true story, a patron once asked me if there was some religious significance to the little leather pouches around so many of the worker’s and patron’s necks, Is it like your crucifix she asked? No, I explained it was just our flashdrives.
Genealogist, even Mormon ones do no not worship our flashdrives ( even with all our research on them) BUT, sometimes it may be kind of close.
But, since this trip isn’t so much about doing research as about attending a conference – I may need to change what I bring…here’s some thoughts of packing for this conference:

  • a lock on my wallet for when I start wanting to purchase everything at every vendor booth
  • small snacks that I can sneak to keep me awake when I start hearing about BCG standards or methodology for the millionth time in the last hour.
  • portable back massager after hours of sitting and well lots more sitting.
  • a dictionary – not for me but for any tech people I talk with who have a hard time speaking ENGLISH that non-techno people like me can understand.
  • a spare brain for when the one I carry becomes overloaded.

So there you go, that’s what’s in my bag…what’s in yours?


  1. Great ideas, Valerie. You clearly know your way around the FHL.

  2. Sounds like you are very well prepared. I need to get one of those locks for my purse, too….

  3. This old girl who is a first-time visitor to the FHL needs all the tips she can get. Thanks for the info.

  4. Shoes! Lots of shoes. A girl just cannot have enough pairs of shoes.

    ps. if my suggestion doesn’t make any sense to you, I wrote a post about what to bring to a conference last year when NGS was at Salt Lake City. So if you didn’t read that post, then this comment will make no sense to you and you may disregard. LOL

  5. Thanks for the posts everyone. Greta we will have to look into those locks. Sheri, how did I forget shoes! Which blog did you post it on, I would love to read it!

  6. Valerie — you make me want to head out and start doing my family history! Love this post — you are my kind of girl! Especially your bag items — so organized! Love it.

    My parents have done so much of it — I don’t know if they’ve left me anything to work on!

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