There can be many good reasons for hiring professional researchers to move your genealogy project forward. Some of the most common are:
Whatever your situation, hiring help can often be a good option. No one is an expert in everything, so hiring out genealogy research should not be viewed as a sign of weakness. Making use of someone else's talents and expertise can be a shrewd way to get your research moving in the right direction.
Unfortunately, a professional's time is not cheap, so you need to have sufficient funds available to get the job done. You may pay as little as $20 an hour or as much as $100 or more depending on the qualifications and experience of the researcher you hire.
Fee structures can
vary among genealogists. Some simply bill as they work, others charge a daily rate
or a flat fee per project. Many
genealogists ask their clients to pay a certain amount of money (a retainer)
before work begins. The genealogist then
works and bills against the retainer until it is spent. Then, another retainer
is paid and work continues.
Another factor to keep in mind is that there are no guarantees that professional researchers will be able to solve your research problem. Sometimes problems can’t be solved, even by professionals. The records you are seeking may be missing, destroyed, or otherwise nonexistent.
You could spend a significant amount of time and money and only have the researcher’s report to show for it. Do not automatically equate a failed search with being worthless. Knowing with certainty where a record does not exist is valuable as it allows you to refocus your research efforts in a different direction.
Step1: Define the Problem
The first thing you need to do is to have a clear goal in mind of what you want to accomplish. Writing down your goal will ensure you can articulate it clearly to the researcher. Also, document all the information and facts (with sources) you have gathered to this point to make sure the researcher does not duplicate any of your work.
Step 2: Find the right Genealogist
There are several large organizations that you can turn to for help. ProGenealogists, a subsidiary of Ancestry.com, is one good choice. These are the folks who coordinated research for the popular television show Who do you think you are? If your research can be done at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, then Ancestor Seekers may also be a good choice.
Otherwise, you can search for a genealogist who is certified or accredited by a standards body. By doing so, you can expect a certain level of rigor went into achieving their certification. Another advantage is, in the case of dispute, you can work through their accrediting agency to get it resolved.
When searching for professional researchers to perform your research, keep in mind that records are stored local to where your ancestors lived, so the genealogist’s geographic specialization really does matter.
Even though billions of genealogy records are now available online, the vast majority of records must still be accessed, in person or by mail, from the courthouses, churches and archives where they are stored. Real genealogy can’t be performed by sitting in front of a computer screen hundreds of miles from the locale where your ancestors lived.
If the professional researchers you hire are working outside of their geography, it will likely be necessary to subcontract out to a local genealogist to complete your task. This less than ideal situation can affect the quality, schedule and cost of your job. If, for example, you need to research an ancestor who lived in England, then find a genealogist that specializes in the area of England they lived.
In conclusion, you need to select professional researchers with a keen
eye to their specialties and geographic specialization. Keep the scope of your project small to keep research focused and costs down. Also, make sure to request client references from
your prospective researchers and follow through by contacting each one.
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