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A Guide to Employing A Professional Genealogist



Most people would love to know about their ancestors. With the ease of access to online materials and new TV programs, there has been a rise in genealogy. To meet the demand for families and individuals wanting to trace their ancestry, there has been an enormous expansion of people offering these services for payment.

Some people posing as genealogists are newcomers with little knowledge in the industry and are eager to make easy money. Therefore, you should take caution when hiring a genealogist to ensure you get a professional.

Here is a guide to hiring a professional genealogist.

1. Identify your needs

Before setting out to search for a professional genealogist, define your goals and expectations clearly. Whether you are looking for someone to find your grandfather’s origin or write a family narrative, it is essential to note what you hope to achieve upfront.

You might want to click here to see a full list of why people hire professional genealogists. Many people hire professionals to find their biological children or birth parents, while others want to know whether they are descended from well-known historical figures.

2. Create a list of potential candidates

Have a list of the professionals you would like to work with based on their location or specialty. You can search for potential candidates by location or specialty on the list of Association of Professional Genealogists.

Some professionals have experience and knowledge of multiple geographic locations and periods, which is crucial if you want a professional genealogist to dig deep into several generations of your ancestors.

3. Experience

Many people are posing as professional genealogists. Before contracting a genealogist, it is crucial to review their portfolio to understand what to expect. How many years has the genealogist operated? Are they professionally trained?

The main aim of getting a professional is to add information to your family tree, which can be done through a genealogy research report.

Different companies may offer other additional products, but the report is a critical product. When reviewing the samples of jobs, the genealogist has undertaken, evaluated their effective use of time, and used the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS).

GPS was formed in 2000 by the National Board for Certification of Genealogists. Its main aim is to ensure that genealogists meet a minimum standard for seeking to prove ancestry. Here are the components of the GPS standard.

  • Exhaustive search

The genealogist must perform a reasonable search of pertinent records before concluding the family tree. This means the search is not limited to online, indexed sources only, but unindexed records and phone calls or visits to ancestor’s funeral homes.

  • Well-cited sources

The genealogist should cite all the sources used to be referenced and evaluated in the future. The work done should be useful and accessible to your generations as well.

  • Evaluating conflicting evidence

Most people hire a genealogist to help them get through genealogical brick walls that exist because of sparse or contradictory evidence. Hiring a professional who can navigate through those conflicts and communicate the resolutions effectively is paramount.

4. Public reviews

Check the reviews left by prior clients to get a view of what it is like to work with a certain genealogist. There are several review sites available where you can check out your prospective company. A tip for finding reviews on a particular company or individual is a Google search of the company’s name plus “reviews.”

5. Credentials

The primary credentials in genealogy are CG (Certified Genealogists), which is offered by the Board for Certification of Genealogists, and AG (Accredited Genealogists), which is provided by ICAPGen.

  • Accredited Genealogists (AG)

The International Commission offers it for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists after the candidate has passed several tests. These tests are geographically specific, and the candidate is required to submit a four-generation report to demonstrate their ability to research in an era that relied on oral communications. Therefore, when hiring an AG, please inquire about the geographic regions where they were tested to ensure it covers the area you need.

  • Certified Genealogists

It is not geographic specific. CG focuses on the candidate’s ability to resolve contradictory evidence and interpret documents. Most people go for CGs.

Researching genealogists before hiring them will help you feel more confident with the results you get from their work. Keeping in mind that the services offered are not guaranteed to be a success for reasons such as privacy laws and record loss, it is crucial to ensure you hire someone who will use time effectively and go out of their way to search for the information you need.

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