Finding and choosing a professional genealogist.

There are a number of reasons why people turn to a professional genealogist to research their family history. It might be following the death in a family and a need to know; for probate and inheritance; you tried research yourself but not enough time or something stopped you from going further.

An internet search will reveal many options. Which one do you choose? Whichever option you choose they all have one thing in common – you will need to define in advance the scope of the research before your can establish how much it is going to cost.

The traditional

The traditional method is to pay a professional researcher to produce a client report.

For this, you could approach one of the professional bodies. If you are in the United Kingdom you could use the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA) or the Register of Qualified Genealogists (RQG). Probably the largest is the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) an international organisation strongly connected to the United States.

These are all respected organisations and the hourly rates charged by many professional researchers is very reasonable. In fact in contrast with other professions and trades, very cheap. The Society of Genealogists mentions rates of between £20 and £50 an hour. Remember these are charge-out rates not earnings.

In contrast there are a couple of bigger players – Ancestry and Legacy Tree Genealogists

The minimum charge by Ancestry is $2500* dollars and I am told their hourly rate is $125  – more in keeping with charges made by other professions. Legacy Tree Genealogists charge between $87.50* and $94 an hour  and there can be extras depending on the service you choose.

The disadvantage is that, by its nature, genealogical research is unpredictable – it is impossible to say in advance how long it will take.  Researchers also tend to have waiting lists, tend to be very busy and it could be months before research begins and still more time before you see any results.

The modern alternative

Try another way – affordable, rapid and remarkably flexible. You will begin to see results in weeks or even days rather than months. You can choose the direction the research takes – surname by surname, from your family – one name at a time. It involves making an affordable monthly payment and this gives you access to a professional researcher.

*Rates obtained from company websites 6 October 2018

(By the way it is genealogist and not geneologist although it is often pronounced that way.)