Association of Professional Genealogist
Board for Certification of Genealogists

Cheryl with her 4th Great-grandfather's tombstone. Fredericksburg West Cemetery (Wayne County, Ohio; west town limit on Harrison Road in Section 24, Township 14, Range 13), Edward Martin marker; photograph by Larry Knox, 2006.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a professional genealogist?
  2. Why would I need to hire a professional genealogist?
  3. What will it cost?
  4. What do I get for my money?
  5. Why do I need a contract?
  6. How does the process work?
  7. What do I need to do to ensure the best research experience?
  8. I am considering hiring you, what should I do?
Q. What is a professional genealogist?
A. A professional genealogist is someone who has the knowledge, skills, expertise and experience needed to find, analyze and report the identities and relationships between people. S/he performs the work to meet the generally accepted standards of ethics, conduct and performance.
 
Q. Why should I hire a professional genealogist
A. A professional genealogist is your best bet if:
– don't have time to do it yourself;
– you live other than where you need the research done;
– the research requires advanced knowledge or skills you don't have;
– you've hit a "brick wall" and need some advice on what and where to look next;
– any or all of the above.
 
Q. What will it cost?
A. There is no way to determine how many hours a project will take; however, you are in charge and determine how much you want to spend. My base fee is $35 per hour with a minimum $350 retainer. Most projects take at least 10 hours to review information client sends, research and then write the report. Additional hours will be invoiced as will mileage, copy costs, parking, repository usage fees and other miscellaneous fees and expenses incurred. Document retrieval can be negotiated on a case by case basis.
 
Q. What do I get for my money?
A. For a typical assignment you will receive:
– copies, transcripts or abstracts of all relevant documents found;
– complete source citations on all documents;
– a report that covers findings, explanations, conclusions and suggestions;
– other charts or information that was agreed to at the start of the assignment.
 
Q. Why do I need an agreement?
A. An agreement protects both of us from misunderstandings. It specifies the exact nature and goal of the research and what is needed from both parties to accomplish the desired outcome. Here is a blank copy of my agreement.
 
Q. How does the process work?
A. The process begins when you decide to contact me to assist you with your research. I ask that you gather all the information you have, review it and decide on a specific research problem or question that you need help with.
 
Contact me and explain what you would like me to do. From there, I will formulate a research plan that addresses your problem / question. I will give you an estimate of time and cost required to reach your goals.
 
You decide what your goals are and what you want to spend. I'll incorporate that information into your agreement and send it to you for your signature.
 
You send the signed agreement back along with the retainer and copies of any documents that you have relating to the research. Once I receive that, I will begin the assignment.
 
Q. What do I need to do to ensure the best research experience?
A. There are several things you can do. Review what research you have done to date and what you think needs to be done to come up with a clear goal. A goal of "find everything you can" on so and so is not a reasonable goal, unless you have an endless amount of time and money. A better goal would be to "identify" the parents of so and so.
 
Another thing you can do, is to have all the information you have identified (where you got it) and put together in a logical manner and copies made. I will ask for this at the beginning of the assignment or perhaps even before I accept the assignment. This will save time as I will not have to spend time ($$) looking for information that you already have.
 
Finally, keep an open mind about the research. I may turn up something you didn't expect. Not all people like hearing about "skeletons in the closet", but that just shows our ancestors were human. The standards they lived by were very different than the ones we live by.
 
Q. I am considering hiring you, what should I do?
A. Make sure you look over the Services page and
– are reasonably sure I offer the service you desire
– contact me
– I will get back to you to discuss your research needs