When it comes to researching your family history, you may be wondering if it’s worth hiring a professional genealogist. After all, with all the online resources available, can’t anyone become genealogy specialists? The short answer is yes, there are professional genealogists, and they can offer a variety of services that can help you uncover your family’s past.
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What is a Professional Genealogist?
A professional genealogist is a trained and experienced researcher who specializes in tracing family history. They have a deep understanding of genealogy research techniques and can help you uncover information that you may not be able to find on your own. Professional genealogists can also help you interpret and organize the information you do find, making it easier to understand and pass down to future generations.
Skills and qualifications of a professional genealogist
To be considered a professional genealogist, one must possess certain skills and qualifications. These include:
- Strong research skills:
Professional genealogists must have the ability to find and analyze various types of records, such as census records, vital records, wills, church records, and military records. They should also be able to conduct research in various locations, whether it be online, in archives, or at local libraries.
- Knowledge of genealogy techniques:
Professional genealogists should be well-versed in genealogy research techniques, including how to read and interpret various types of records, how to use genealogy software, and how to navigate online genealogy databases.
- Familiarity with genealogy standards:
Professional genealogists should be familiar with the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) and the standards set by professional organizations such as the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) or the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG).
- Strong analytical skills:
Professional genealogists should be able to analyze information and identify patterns or inconsistencies. They should also be able to evaluate the credibility of sources and determine their reliability.
- Attention to detail:
Professional genealogists should have a keen attention to detail and be able to effectively organize and present their findings.
- Good communication skills:
Professional genealogists should be able to effectively communicate with clients, providing regular updates on their research and presenting their findings in a clear and concise manner.
- Familiarity with ethical standards:
Professional genealogists should be familiar with and adhere to ethical standards established by professional organizations such as APG and BCG.
What Services Do Professional Genealogists Offer?
Professional genealogists can conduct research on your behalf, using a variety of sources such as census records, vital records, and wills. They can also access records that may be difficult for the general public to access, such as church records and military records.
- Analysis and Interpretation:
Once the research is conducted, professional genealogists can analyze the information and help you understand it. They can also help you connect the dots between different pieces of information and identify patterns or inconsistencies.
- Organizing and Preserving:
Professional genealogists can help you organize the information you find in a way that makes sense for you and your family. They can also help you preserve the information, either by creating a physical family history book or by digitizing and storing the information electronically.
Professional genealogists can also provide consulting services to help guide you in your research and provide advice on specific research problems you may encounter.
What Qualifications Should You Look for in a Professional Genealogist?
Many professional genealogists have a degree in history, genealogy, or a related field.
Look for a professional genealogist who has significant experience conducting genealogy research and can provide examples of previous research projects.
- Professional Affiliations:
Many professional genealogists belong to professional organizations such as the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) or the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). Membership in these organizations demonstrates a commitment to the profession and adherence to ethical standards.
Some professional genealogists specialize in a particular geographic area or time period, so if you are looking for information about a specific ancestor or location, you may want to look for a professional genealogist who specializes in that area.
The Importance of Professional Genealogists
Professional genealogists play a crucial role in the field of genealogy research. Here are a few reasons why:
- Advantages of hiring a professional genealogist:
Professional genealogists have the skills, knowledge, and experience to conduct efficient and accurate research. They can save time and effort for those who are not familiar with genealogy research techniques and have access to resources that may not be available to the general public. They can also help to break through brick walls and provide new insights and perspectives on family history.
- Impact on personal and family history:
Professional genealogists can help individuals and families to learn more about their ancestors, where they came from and how they lived. They can help to fill in gaps in family history, and bring new understanding and appreciation of one’s heritage.
- Preservation of history for future generations:
Professional genealogists can help to preserve history for future generations by conducting thorough research and organizing and preserving records. They can also help to ensure that genealogy research is conducted ethically and that records are not destroyed or lost.
In addition, professional genealogists can make a significant contribution to the field of genealogy by publishing articles and books, giving lectures and presentations, and participating in genealogy organizations and projects. They can also help to ensure that genealogy research is conducted in an ethical and professional manner.
While the internet has made genealogy research more accessible to the general public, professional genealogists can still offer valuable services to help you uncover your family’s past. From conducting research to analyzing and interpreting information, professional genealogists can help you make sense of the information you find and preserve it for future generations. When looking for a professional genealogist, be sure to consider their qualifications, experience, and specialization to ensure that they are the right fit for your research needs.