Once you have made the decision to hire a professional genealogist, what can you expect?
A professional genealogist should provide you with a written report. All sources should be documented with source citations. Copies of relevant documents may be attached. A professional genealogist will NOT send you just a copy of a census page as proof of your ancestry. A professional genealogist will NOT simply put together a family tree online for you without documentation.
A professional genealogist will search for original records when available. A professional genealogist will NOT only consult online, and perhaps undocumented, sources for information.
A professional genealogist will spend time analyzing and correlating the information obtained from record sources. A professional genealogist will NOT simply tell you what records in which your ancestor appeared. Some “professionals” are merely record lookup persons and may not have the education and capability to analyze the information they obtain, so they simply report it.
A professional genealogist knows to wring out as much information from a record as possible. Often knowing the law of the area at that time is necessary to determine what a record is trying to tell you. A professional genealogist will NOT make assumptions without consulting the laws or customs of that time and place.
A professional genealogist will need time to separate identities of two (or more) persons of the same name. A professional genealogist will NOT jump to conclusions regarding a person’s identity.
A professional genealogist will attempt to explain any conflicting information they find. The true professional relies on a combination of records to provide information. When one record may contain different information from the others, the professional genealogist will report the conflicting information and a possible explanation. A professional genealogist will NOT leave conflicting information out of a report.
A professional genealogist knows what information found in records is generally considered more reliable and weighs any discrepancies in an effort to determine what is more accurate. A professional genealogist will NOT consult only one record unless it is the only record available.
A professional genealogy has probably spent a great deal of time on educating themselves to better serve their clients. Educational opportunities are available at several nationally-known institutes and conferences. Continuing education is normally important to a professional genealogist.
A professional genealogist realizes that some records are ONLY available at the location in which your ancestor resided. It is normally beneficial to hire a genealogist who is local to the area in which your ancestor lived. Most professionals are very familiar with the records of the area in which they specialize.
Feel free to ask questions of any professional you are considering hiring. Ask them about their qualifications and background. Some professionals have their resume on their website. If so, read it. Does this sound like someone you would want to hire? If you are not comfortable with what you see and hear, that genealogist may not be the best person for you to hire.