Why hire aprofessional genealogy firm? There are many reasons to do so. The top reason on mylist is that I don’t live near any of the repositories where my ancestorslived. Three of my grandparents wereborn and raised in Indiana. Their family trees stretch back to the pioneer daysof the state in the early 1800s. As a child, I have fond memories of visitingmy grandparents and other extended family members during my summer vacations.But I am not an Indiana native, nor have I ever lived there. In fact, Icurrently live about as far away from Indiana as you can get, and still be inthe continental United States. This makes researching my Indiana family rootsparticularly difficult.
Over the years Ihave developed several strategies for finding information about my ancestors.Generally, my searches start on the Internet. Websites like Ancestry and FamilySearch are a good starting point with their collections of digitized records.However, only about 10% of records can be found online. That means about 90% ofrecords are inaccessible via the internet and 90% is a really big number! Someof the larger state archives have staff members who can find records from theirpublished finding aids and indexes. A few local historical societies arestaffed by volunteers who can also find records. But both of these strategieshave limitations. Volunteers often work only a few hours each week so receivinginformation in a timely fashion can be difficult. Last year I sent a query to alocal society and it took six months to tell me they couldn’t find the record. WhileI am very grateful for the work the volunteers did searching the courthouse formy great grandfather’s will, waiting that long for zero results was difficult. Andwhile the larger archives have staff members who can copy records, theygenerally don’t have the time to search un-catalogued collections.
Hiring aprofessional family history research firm with genealogists, historians, DNA experts, and university professors who possess in-depth knowledge of local repositories can seem like anexpensive prospect. Saving time and the frustration of not knowing when arecord may be retrieved makes hiring a professional firm totally worth it. Thenetwork of genealogists and researchers at Genealogists.com have access to over 1,500 libraries and repositories around the world. Give them a try and see whatthey can find in the 90% for you.
by Deborah Sweeney © 2014, Genealogists.com, All rights reserved
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