Dec 102010
How Do I Choose a Professional Genealogy Researcher?

How Do I Choose a Professional Genealogy Researcher?

There are many different types of Genealogist and a person looking to retain the services of a Professional Genealogist needs to be aware of the differences.

You could be looking into Adoption Research, you could be looking at a brick wall in your Family Tree, you may simply not have the time to do your Family History yourself and be looking for someone to do this for you. You may want to provide a Family Tree or History as a gift.

Most Genealogists concentrate on deceased individuals. A few Genealogists specialize on Ancestors who lived after 1930 and living individuals. And a select few do both. Unfortunately, many of the Group that specializes on deceased individuals, thinks they are experts at finding living people, and this is simply not true.

Professional Genealogists are like Doctors, Dentists, and Attorney’s. There are excellent Doctors, Dentists, and Attorney’s and then there are some that are really bad. There are some that are honest and there are some who are dishonest.

The following is a list of Professional Genealogists and their ranking.

The Young, Business Genealogist
This is a person desperate for a Job, who is trying to get you to part with your money. They know very little. These are the type of Researchers who will look for a Family Tree Online. Unfortunately, less than 1% of Online Family Trees are Creditable and correct. 

The Hobby Professional Genealogist
This is a person who has researched their own Family Tree for years and has now decided to do research for others. This is the largest group of researchers. Unfortunately these researchers have little or no experience in overcoming a genealogy roadblock or problems. If the research problem is not in their own Family Tree, they won’t know how to overcome the problem. Good intentioned people, but a long way from the best.

The Local Amateur Researcher
Those who have a reasonable idea of how to research, but lacking the resources to do so. If the Researcher lives in the area your ancestor lived, they can help you, however, if you want a Full Family Tree this group will be of limited help to you. They will use online databases and order a vital record only. Unfortunately, 99% of Records are not online. This normally leads to a wrong conclusion and an incorrect Family Tree. A genealogist draws conclusions based upon the evidence available to them. If you lack access to all the necessary records, you do not have all the pieces to the jigsaw puzzle.

Researcher’s with access to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. This is the world’s largest genealogy library. This Library contains millions of microfilms and books for every County in the United States as well as records for Every main country in the World. Most of these researchers are researchers working under a qualified Genealogist. These Researchers are ranked as medium level researchers.

Top Level Researchers
There are very few Researchers at this level. The best way to explain this type of researcher is as follows:

 – The researcher will start with an analysis of the information provided.

 -The researcher will then prepare a research strategy.

 -The researcher will then utilize online resources including paid sites to  advance the research as far as possible. This means actual proof of relationships between generations. An example of this may be Birth, Death & Marriage Certificates.

 -The researcher will then spend considerable time on ordering records from different resources throughout the United States. An Expert will understand which resources and repositories to use.

 -The researcher will then visit the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and utilize all the records available.

 -The researcher will then travel to whichever States that your Ancestors lived in. Nothing compensates for this type of research and sometimes this is the only way to find original records.

These type of researchers are worth every dollar of their price. 

How Much Should You Spend on a Professional Genealogy Researcher? 
What Do You Get for Your Money?

The Young, Business Genealogist expect to pay between $100-300 or $10-15 an hour
The Hobby Professional Genealogist expect to pay between $200-650  or $10-15 an hour
The Local Amateur Researcher expect to pay between $500-2000 or $20-25 an hour
Top Level Researchers expect to pay between $2000-50000 or $100 an hour

Native American Research
Researchers who charge under $1,500  are amateur genealogists turned professional. They are not specialist Native American Researchers. If you have had trouble finding your Native American ancestors, and you hire one of these researchers, you have just wasted your money. 

Native American Research is a Specialist’s field. Normal Professional Genealogists cannot do this type of research. Top level Genealogy Researchers understand this and will decline Native American Projects because they understand that a Specialist is needed. However there are some Level 4-5 researchers who can do this type of research, because they are a Specialist Native American Researcher.

There are three types of Specialist who can do Native American Research.

 – Those who work with a Tribe.

 -Those who are full blooded Native American

 -Those with five or more years with extensive Native American Research experience.

It is highly recommended that you retain the services of a Full Blooded Native American Researcher. Unfortunately there are only 2-3 in the United States.

American Ancestors has retained the services of a full blooded, Native American Indian Researcher
One advantage of having a full blooded Native American is the communication between a researcher and a tribe. A tribal person will not give information to a white researcher. There is a huge mistrust of white people amongst Native American Tribes because of the many depravations inflicted on them by white men. The mistrust is huge.

There are two types of Native American Research.

Normal Native American research and Advanced Native American Research.

Sometimes it is critical to go to the Tribal Area or to the Location your Ancestors lived. This is always the recommended path when deciding what type of Native American Project to pursue. On site research always increases the chances of success.

These projects can range between $2,000 to $4,500  

If you want to pay $300 for a Native American Project Save your money. Researchers who charge this are not Specialist Native American Researchers.

Reasons for these type of Native American Projects range from 8A Minority Status for Business’s; Tribal Enrollment; Adoption of Native American Children; simply knowing your Native American Heritage.

Adoption Research
If you are really serious about finding your biological parents, siblings, or children, you will need to pay a large fee for this research. This type of research is extremely difficult and only an Adoption Specialist Researcher can do this sort of research. $200-300 Researchers are not Specialist. Much time and travelling is required to have a chance at success.

Any creditable Adoption Researcher normally charges above $7,000.00. 

If you are considering hiring any level of Genealogist or Researcher, please keep the above ideas in mind so that you know what to expect and what types of questions to ask.  At American Ancestors, we hope that you will contact us if you have any questions about our services or services you may be considering retaining for your family history research.

Nov 142010

1929 Courthouse Fire

All throughout history, and all throughout genealogy there have been fires that have destroyed courthouses and consequently, vital genealogical records of our ancestors.

These Courthouse fires have brought heartbreak to many a genealogist and family historian. Oh the joy of finding out that your ancestor has record’s in a courthouse, then oh the pain and anguish when you come to find out that the Courthouse burnt down along with the vital records you needed to advance your family pedigree, or to find a christening record or relatives.

As a Professional Researcher, I have come across more destruction of genealogical records in Courthouse fires than you would like to poke a stick at! If you are a serious researcher of your family’s history, at some point you have come across the destruction of those vital records in a courthouse fire. If you haven’t, you more than likely will, at some point

In your future research. If not, you are extremely fortunate; maybe you found a lost christening record or a military record. Maybe from WWI or WWII.  People ask me, “The records were destroyed in a fire, and I can’t go back any further, what do I do?” The answer is simple. You hire a very good genealogy researcher or a Master Genealogist. Hiring the right one for this type of research is very difficult.

Most Professional Genealogy researchers, and I know most of them will be annoyed that I am writing this, cannot do this. They aren’t qualified. Forget accreditation, which just means the person passed a test. There are no Courthouse fire situations on those test papers. It is my opinion that only about one in a hundred Professional researchers are qualified to do this sort of research. If you can find this 1% of Professional Genealogist it is well worth whatever you have, to pay them. I put these Genealogist in a class all their own. I title them, “Master Genealogist” They do more than find relatives, death notices, obituary, census, descendants, birth certificate or birth records, army records, including WWI and WWII. If you want to find normal records for easy research like trying to find relatives, death notices, immigrants, obituary, birth certificate or birth record, death record, church records, descendants than just hire the average.

In a recent project I had the case of two Courthouse fires in the same County. Not one, but two. That alone has inspired me to inform the honest seeker of their ancestors about this issue, and to be aware of wasting money and finding nothing. It is my intention of pointing you in the right direction, so you can smash down those “Brick Walls” and to give you the right tool to do it. There are reasons a Master Genealogist can find out information when the other 99% cannot in the case of Courthouse Fires. A Master Genealogist can also break down other Brick Walls. I could elaborate on researching ancestors where there has been a Courthouse Fire, but I will not. Great tact and specialized knowledge is required to overcome a Courthouse Fire to find Genealogical information. A Master Genealogist has this knowledge. Most times, there is only one chance to get the required information. It is too great a risk to allow a less qualified researcher to attempt to acquire the Genealogical knowledge required. Once the chance is gone it will never be available again. I will not let people do that.

Following a set guideline that a Master Genealogist uses, I was able to modify the project I accepted, to overcome two Courthouse Fires. Many people had worked on this Project without success for 25 years because of the Destruction of the Records.

Now, I must warn you all, some establishments hide behind Courthouse Fires. They just don’t want to help you or are too busy. A fire is an easy way to stop someone from seeking information.

Persistence is sometimes required. Remember a Professional Genealogy researcher will most times get more than an amateur. Of course a Master Genealogist is your best bet, if you are willing to pay for one. Remember, you get what you pay for. If a less expensive researcher or less qualified researcher gets your family tree wrong early on, your whole family history could be wrong. Do you want to run that risk? Currently there are only two organizations in the USA, one in New Zealand and Australia, and one in Great Britain that certify Genealogist. The Governments do not certify these! Although they have good researchers, very few of them are a Master Genealogist. Sometime in the near future, I hope to be able to start a World Wide Master Genealogist Society. This will allow the general public to hire a competent Genealogist who can handle their specific “Brick Wall” Projects.

How Can I Identify A Master Genealogist?

Warning! If I were to hire someone for this type of research, I wouldn’t accept a quote, or qualifications on paper. If they sent me forms to fill out I wouldn’t hire them. That won’t work on this type or research. You ask why? Ask a Master Genealogist!

Your only way is to talk to the actual researcher.

Now I need to finish, but first. The Biggest Fire in regards to Genealogy in History. The LDS or Mormon Church wasn’t able to copy many of these records. The Four Courts Fire in Dublin, Ireland. 30 June 1922 was a catastrophe! 90% of all Irish Records were destroyed. The Government had previously passed an act of Parliament that required all churches to send their church records to Dublin to be stored by the Government. These records were lost forever. What most people don’t know is that immediately, the Minister for History, immediately started reconstruction of these records through different methods. This project continues today. So far about half of the records that were lost in this fire have been replaced. Ireland is difficult to trace ancestors in.Much better to hire a very competent Master Genealogist. That will of course cost a lot.

Some things are easier than others. A search of a Marriage Record in Ireland is the easiest. Native American Research is very similar to Courthouse Fires. The Government has the records. I will say that again. The Government has the records. Getting them is difficult unless they are Cherokee or Choctaw. Thankfully, we have the best Native American Researcher in the USA, as well as our own self developed Native American Database’s.

Similar to Ireland, normally a marriage record can be found for a Native American. The same as a death record or census. There are many now claiming a Native American Pedigree. The LDS or Mormon Church has large records on Cherokee research. But Looking for the needle in a haystack isn’t fun.

We have many search requests for Native American ancestors, USA ancestor search’s, Australian ancestor search’s, Irish genealogical research, Scottish People, English genealogical research. Those that have roots in Native American Ancestry as well as roots in African American Ancestry. We have Scottish people who like us to do an ancestral chart as well as Welsh who like ancestral charts. Lots of Irish immigrants & English, and European immigrants ask us, “please find my family” or please help me find my family”. Family Genealogy, family search, family tree, social security death index, Church records, court records, we do all these things. In the coming months I will be writing articles on family genealogy, family search, family tree, social security death index, Church records, court records, & Family History. It won’t be difficult to find my article. To find my articles just come to American Ancestors. Soon I will also have a new article titled “Name History” This will deal with finding that hard individual in History, so look out for “Name History”. Genealogy is growing, be a part of the trend, but do it right.