When Is It Time to Get Help From a
Excerpted from Family History Daily
1. You’re Frustrated and Have Been for Some Time
Professional genealogists, who specialize in a specific subject or area, are well acquainted with a wide variety of sources that a less experienced genealogist may overlook.
2. You’re Tired of Spending Money and Getting Little Reward
Hiring a genealogist can save you money in the long run. If you’ve been at it for a while you’ve probably spent countless dollars on database subscription fees, courses, books, software, supplies and maybe even travel. While all of these things provide a great deal of value, they can add up and, if you’re not finding the answers you need, it may make sense to spend the money where it really counts – on someone who knows just where to look.
3. You’ve Hit a Major Brick Wall
Sometimes it takes a trained eye to get a family tree back on track. A professional genealogist has the knowledge and experience necessary to solve confusing puzzles. And allowing fresh eyes to methodically examine your brick wall allows new information to surface. Professional genealogists are an excellent resource to validate research passed down by other family members or to verify work you have completed yourself. Not only can they make new discoveries, but they have also been trained, utilizing the Genealogical Proof Standard, to analyze and interpret existing evidence, which may lead to new conclusions. They are experienced in working with specific information on a variety of record types over various time periods.
4. You Need Someone With Specialized Knowledge
Understanding the culture and social customs during a specific time period is key when completing any genealogical research project. In many cases, there is no one vital record to answer our genealogical questions and the experience of a professional in consulting multiple record types can be invaluable. Without an understanding of the history and context of the records created during a given time period, one could draw false conclusions or miss information altogether. A professional resource to guide you through historical changes in boundaries, governments, languages and laws for your specific project is crucial.
5. You Don’t Have the Time or Money to Travel in Search of Obscure Documents
With advances in technology and online genealogical databases over the past 20 years, census and other vital records are now widely available to the public, leading some to wrongly assume that if it can’t be found online, it does not exist. This is a mistake. Digital resources can only get you so far.
Only a small percentage of records are available online compared to the number that are still held in local or state repositories. In many cases the only way to find information is to access original records on-site and it could be those hidden gems that finally reveal the details you’ve been hoping for. Unfortunately, this requires time and travel and can become very expensive.
It is very often more cost effective to hire a local professional researcher on the ground. A local researcher is well versed in which records and which repository will likely hold the answers to the research question at hand. They understand the language, but can also navigate the local customs, laws and boundary changes.
6. You’re Not Taking Advantage of Everything DNA Has to Offer
Genetic genealogy is an ever-growing field, and most of us are baffled by what to do with our results beyond scrolling through our matches and trying to figure out why we show up as 3% Ashkenazi Jewish. Understanding how to combine scientific and historical documentation can be a stumbling block for those of us who are passionate about genealogy.
Genetic genealogists are trained in how to utilize your DNA data to aid you in solving your genealogical puzzles. Because genetic genealogy requires a distinct skill set from traditional genealogical research, it may be of value to seek the help of an expert to determine kinship.