Today’s genealogical landscape is vastly different than it was just a few years ago.  Online access to the records we rely upon to uncover our family’s history is growing at an astounding rate. Chances are good that if you’ve found your way here, you’ve already done at least a little digging on the internet to try and learn more about your family’s story. Finding information can be as easy as putting a name into the search box at any one of a number of different content providers and hitting the “go” button.

With all this at your fingertips, why might you consider hiring a professional? Let me suggest a couple of reasons:

1. Your searches haven’t found too much.
It happens. Not all of our ancestors and the records in which they might appear have found their way into an online database yet. Sometimes they might be there, but it takes some creative searching to find them. While there are no guaranteed results in this business, a professional genealogist is well-versed in knowing where (and how) to look, both online and off.

2. Your searches have found too much.
You’ve typed your John Smith’s name into the search box, and now the scroll button on your mouse is worn out from sorting through the results. How do you know which John Smith is yours? Focused research plans, efficient searches, accurate analyses, and clear reporting are what you can expect from a professional researcher.

3. You need access to offline resources.
Perhaps you are already the master of your online universe, and although you’ve managed to find it in the catalog, you can’t get at that manuscript locked away in a distant archive. Not everything is online. At some point we all need to use resources that can only be accessed onsite. A professional genealogist located in the area of your research needs can save you time, trouble, and money – whether it’s a simple document retrieval, or a more intensive search or research project.

4. You don’t have the time, or perhaps the inclination, to personally do the research.
Sitting in a dusty courthouse basement, hour after hour, paging through volume after volume of hard-to-read handwriting not your cup of tea? It’s our cup of tea. Many people have a strong interest in their family’s roots, but have other commitments and obligations that don’t allow them time do the research. Still other folks have the time, but not the patience to conduct a thorough search. A professional genealogist has both the time and patience – not to mention a passion – to conduct thorough searches, accurately report that search, and document what was (and wasn’t) found.

5. You’re stuck.
Over the years you’ve collected a lot of information about your ancestor, but just can’t get beyond him or her. A professional researcher who is experienced in the time and place of that troublesome ancestor may be able to help unlock clues from the documents you’ve already collected, have knowledge of and access to additional resources you might not have been aware of, and even if you want to continue your own digging – can help formulate a research plan to point you towards sources most likely to lead to success.

Due to an extremely busy schedule, I am not currently taking clients. I would be glad to refer you to an appropriate researcher if you are unsure where to turn next. 

Lists of other professionals can be found on the websites of the Association of Professional Genealogists, and the Board for Certification of Genealogists.