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What should I know about hiring a professional genealogist?


Remember, when you are hiring a professional, you are paying for their time and their skills. To maximize your value and to ensure you get your desired results, here are some questions to think about. 

1) What results are you hoping for?

  • Do you want full family units, or just pedigree information (parents, grandparents, great-grandparents)?
  • Do you want to focus on a certain line on your family tree, or take all the lines as far back as they will go?
  • Do you want to prove/disprove a family legend or dig into a particular ancestor’s past?

Building a Family Tree is a lifetime labor, so make sure you know what part you want your genealogist to work on.

2) What information do you already have?

You don’t want to pay a genealogist for work that has already been done; however, any good genealogist will want to verify your line up to the point where you want them to begin working. This is to ensure you get accurate results. Good research based on bad assumptions is bad research.

To help the process go smoothly, you’ll need to provide the genealogist with any names, dates, locations, and original source documents you already have that are relevant to the family you are searching for. This can be as easy as sharing your tree on or making a few copies and emailing or mailing them to the genealogist. It may even be a conversation with the genealogist, just talking about what you know about your grandma.

Also, if someone else in your family is doing research, find out on what lines. Unless you want the genealogist to verify the work or dig deeper into a certain family, you should probably have them work on another branch.

3) How do you want to communicate with your genealogist?

Good communication allows the genealogist to keep you updated on research progress and ask clarifying questions. This will allow you to get the best target results. Decide if email, phone, text, or IM is best for you.

4) What should you expect from a professional?

As with all professionals, in the field of genealogy, we are governed by a Code of Ethics. You can expect me to keep all of your personal or sensitive information confidential.

Additionally, your results will be reported to you according to genealogical standards, meaning that all of the documents found will be professionally cited, and digital copies of the documents provided to you, so that my work can be verified by anyone.

Another component of being an ethical researcher is to report results accurately. You may not want to know that great-grandma had children with 3 different men or that Uncle Tom was a draft-dodger. Please be aware that I cannot change the past, but I will present it to you as fairly and accurately as possible. What you choose to do with your results is up to you.


If you have more questions, please Contact Me or see our FAQ page.