Hiring a Professional Researcher

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Hiring a Professional Genealogist Resource Guide

Hiring a professional genealogist is an excellent way to discover your family roots. If you encounter a challenging research problem, if you lack skills or the time to research, or if travel is a problem, you may benefit from the assistance of an experienced professional. These guidelines can help you find and employ a competent genealogist.

The keys to finding a good genealogist are the same as those for hiring other competent professionals. First, you need some general information about what genealogists do and the services they provide. This information can be found in Part I of this guide. Second, you need to know how to evaluate genealogists and select the right one to hire. This information is found in Part II and III.

Part I: General Information

Services Provided by Professional Genealogists

'The services of professional genealogists fall into four major categories, with other minor services.

Tracing Ancestry. A professional genealogist can help you trace your ancestors. For example, a genealogist may be able to discover who your immigrant ancestors were and where they came from. Or, a genealogist can research one of your family lines back to a specific time period or individual. This is often helpful when people want to join a lineage society and must prove that one of their ancestors participated in a historical event such as the United States Revolutionary War.

Researching Descendants. A professional genealogist may help you in descendancy research by identifying people who descended from a particular individual. For example, you may be a descendant of Daniel Boone and want to start a family organization of his descendants to share genealogical information. A professional genealogist can help you identify the frontiersman's descendants so you can contact them.

Searching Records. To save time and avoid travel costs, you can employ a record searcher to find and review the records for you. Record searchers review only the records you instruct them to search.

Other Services. Genealogists also provide a range of other services that include the following­

  • Consulting and counseling with you about how to solve a research problem.
  • Deciphering handwriting on old records.
  • Translating foreign records.
  • Instructing and lecturing on genealogical topics.
  • Computerizing genealogical information.
  • Abstracting and publishing records.
  • Finding missing people.