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  Hiring a Professional Genealogist


If you are interested in exploring your family history you have several options.  It is all a question of how much of your own time you want to invest and how much you enjoy the process.The cost of a genealogist may well average out with the costs of doing it yourself if you include on-line subscriptions, training and travel. When you do the research yourself you may spend far more time, but partially because this is an addictive pursuit. The bigger question is whether you enjoy developing a new area of expertise and the research it entails. 

There are three basic models for how you can approach genealogy.

 The first is to do it yourself.  If this is the route you would like to explore, you may want to:

Familiarize yourself with key websites such as JewishGen.org and explore their on-line introductory class in Jewish genealogy.

Access a free version of Ancestry.com at your local library or make the investment in a membership for your first year of research. 

Correspond with or visit a specific locality for the records that are not available on-line.

Attend the annual conference of the IAJGS to learn more about the many aspects of Jewish genealogy.
Join your local Jewish genealogical society. You will find a listing of societies at IAJGS.org. If you live in the Twin Cities area, check out mnjgs.org and particularly the Resource page.
Study a language in which records are written in such as Russian or Hebrew 

The second approach is one that relies upon a genealogist for targeted areas of research.

Under this model you do the more time-intensive research, but draw on a genealogist to access areas that are not accessible to you because of language or geography.  A genealogist can provide:


Knowledge of the information that can be found in each source, how to locate the information and how different sources connect, leapfrogging between documents to find the critical piece of information to take you to the next level.

 A way to manage costs by doing the time-consuming search on your own, but drawing on a professional for the targeted assistance.
The third approach is one of hiring an experienced genealogist to do your searching.

This approach will require you to provide as much information as possible as a starting point.  In all cases you will want to talk with family members to glean anything they know about your family history. A genealogist will want to know what you have found to date. With their deeper base of knowledge, they may derive new directions from it that might not occur to you.

The experienced genealogist can develop a research plan to address your search in as efficient a manner as possible. 

Knowledge and experience allows the trained genealogist to make linkages that an inexperienced person would likely miss. 

Anyone who you hire should provide you with scans of records and an organized document that identifies what they have searched, what they have located and areas they have explored and excluded.

While hiring someone increases your chances of locating records that exist, keep in mind that they will also expend time eliminating certain avenues of inquiry. Some areas have little on-line access so you need to be cognizant of what is available to search in that manner or consider hiring a researcher overseas to go to the archives.

You may find yourself employing a combination of these approaches, hiring a researcher who has access to certain locales or expertise, while doing your own research to the extent possible.  Whatever approach (es) you choose, you will find this to be an exciting and fascinating journey.



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