Hiring a Professional Genealogy Researcher

The practice of genealogy is becoming an increasingly popular pastime around the world. With the advent of modern technological tools like the personal computer and the internet, more and more people find that indulging in their interest for genealogy is no longer too difficult to remain wishful thinking. In fact, so many people are interested in it that many websites and online forums dedicated to genealogy have popped up practically overnight to address the needs of the interested public.

Different people have different reasons for engaging in this study. Some find it fascinating, exciting and awe-inspiring to be able to unearth knowledge of their ancestors and their past. Others engage in genealogical research to pay tribute to their past ancestors as well as to leave a legacy to the future generation. And still some find a sense of self-fulfillment and a path to self-discovery in their search into their pasts, allowing them to uncover more about themselves as they dig through their family history.

No matter the reason, most beginners who are serious in piecing their past together usually turn to a professional genealogy research for help – and with good reason. A professional genealogy research brings a lot of expertise and experience to the table that beginners need as they embark on their quest to uncover their personal family histories.

Once the decision has been made to seek the help of a professional however, make sure you pick the right person for the job. Screen your researcher well for getting a good researcher means you get good results on your data quest. To make sure that you pick the right person, here are a few simple guidelines to follow:

  1. Make sure that you get a researcher who knows how to empathize and understands your reasons for taking on this project. A person, even a professional, who understands that there are personal sides to every professional engagement, will likely to care for the project as much as you do. Also ensure that all information your researcher uncovers is protected by a privacy policy. Remember, you paid for the work, so you have a right to protect the documents you paid for.
  2. Calculate your budget. The cost of research depends on what the researcher does, which varies on the extent of the research you may want to have done. Some may opt for research covering an individual, a whole family or even an entire ancestral line. Others choose to have a comprehensive multigenerational search or even have a written family history book. It will be based on these options that the research will be billed as well as the total number of hours spent for the entire research. In general, the longer and more complicated the research project is, the more it’s going to cost, so weigh your budget wisely.
  3. Ask for a detailed payment scheme. Check with the researcher if he/she includes additional charges on top of the basic fees. These charges may include but are not limited to photocopy costs, handling and postage fees, overseas phone call bills, records and microfilm fees. Some researchers, however, may include these additional costs into the complete package price.
  4. Ensure that online payments are safe. Most researchers transact their businesses online, so make sure that the payment method protects you from scams and frauds especially when you are asked for your bank account or credit card numbers.
  5. If online payment is not possible, ask for other options. Some researchers accept cash or check payments. For check payments, researchers usually wait for checks to clear before beginning work on your project.
  6. Make sure to hire a credible researcher. You can do this by asking him/her which documents he/she uses to check on their search capabilities. A credible researcher should be able to list the following sources: compiled newspapers and sources, vital records, church records, census records, wills, probate records, local and government land records, military and court records, burial and cemetery records, ship passenger listings, immigration and naturalization records.
  7. Check the procedure for mailing of research packages. In some cases, additional fees are charged for special delivery requests.
  8. Research duration depends on the complexity of the project. However, most research packages may be completed within 8 to 12 weeks.

As a final note, always make sure you read any agreement and understand all terms and conditions before signing anything that can be construed as a contract for services rendered. Remember, it is not just your money at stake, but also the peace of mind in knowing that the information you get is correct, accurate and most of all, acquired smoothly and honestly.