What You Should Expect When You Hire a Professional Genealogist – Cerebral Genealogy


Hi. This is Mary Dally-Muenzmaier, founder of Cerebral Genealogy. And this is the first in a series of videos that I’ll be posting occasionally answering Frequently Asked Genealogical Research Questions. Or FAGRQs. That’s a thing right? No? Well, it is now. In this first video, I’ll be answering a question I get a lot from first-time clients, and that is: “What Should I Expect When I Hire a Professional Genealogist?” It’s a simple question with a very wordy answer. But we’ll stick the basics. When you first reach out a professional genealogist, you should expect them to ask a lot of questions. Even if you’ve done an amazingly stellar job at describing the focus of the research you’d like to have done, a professional genealogist will almost always want more information than you think upfront. We do this for three main reasons: In my practice, I regularly ask prospective clients to provide me with genealogical research that’s been conducted in the past. I do this to make sure I have all of the information, data, and intel to help me determine what’s best for the client and what’s best for the project. So if you contact a professional genealogist and they do not ask you a lot of questions and/or ask for previous research that’s been conducted, you may want to keep shopping around. It will save time, possible frustration, and, in many cases, money. Once the scope and goals of the project have been agreed to, there are some standard documents that any client should expect receive: Because I love efficiency, I include a research plan within the contract itself rather than creating two separate documents. So if the contract you receive doesn’t have a research plan include in it and you don’t receive it as a separate document, ask for one before you sign the contract. It’s good for you, it’s good for the genealogist, and it’s good for the project. A statement of time restriction should be among the details in the contract, helping to define the research period. Whether it’s 10, 15, or 20 hours, a time restriction is a necessary boundary that enables the client (i.e. you) to control costs. If, for example, the goals have not yet been met or the question answered within the time restriction, you can decide if you would like to add more time for research, or not. It’s up to you. When it comes to the research report, it should include these basic elements: For clients who request it, or are completely new to genealogy and have never had any research done, I also include a short family narrative and a family tree in their report. If you would like these things included, you should ask the genealogist if they’re willing to do that. And, for those of you who either have or would like to have a family tree on Ancestry.com, you should ask the genealogist if they’re willing to do that upfront. Okay, so those are the basics of what you should expect when you hire a professional genealogist. Just remember, every project is different, as is every family history, so the more questions you ask and the genealogist asks, the better the odds that you’ll find the answers that you seek. And that concludes Cerebral Genealogy’s inaugural video. If you have questions about this topic, or you have a genealogical question that you’d like me to discuss in future videos, please leave them in the comments. For more information about Cerebral Genealogy and the services we offer, please visit CerebralGenealogy.com

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