There are many reasons to be interested in genealogy. No matter the reason, finding a reputable genealogist that you can trust is key to the process.
For many, it is the simple curiosity of knowing where they come from that drives them. Tracing your family history can be quite exciting and revealing.
While it is fun to reconstruct your family history on your own, there are certain barriers that you are likely to hit at some point.
To continue in the process, you might want to hire a professional. But how to find a reputable genealogist you can trust?
Continue reading to uncover some tips that should help guide you as you seek the right person or agency for you.
How to Find A Reputable Genealogist: 5 Things To Consider
There are several key factors to consider when hiring a genealogist.
In order to ensure that they have a positive reputation, you want to take a look at their previous work, examine reviews of current and past customers, and look at their credentials.
This will help direct you to the genealogist best suited to your needs.
1. Check Their Previous Work
While everyone has to get their start somewhere, you do not want to hire a rookie to do your genealogy work.
As you consider the professional you are going to hire, it is important to take into account their previous work in the field.
You will want to see some work samples to know exactly what they can accomplish for you.
Any genealogist will write a report for you. It is that report that will detail the information that you wish to know.
This is why you need to know what type of reports the genealogist you hire is going to compose and whether or not the information will be useful to you.
To do that, you will want to take a look at a few examples and see if it is in line with what you are looking for.
2. Make Sure a Proof Standard is Established
When you look at the work sample, you want to make sure that the Genealogical Proof Standard has been met.
This was outlined in 2000 by the professional board of genealogists to make sure that a minimum standard is upheld when proving ancestry.
There are three main components of the Genealogical Proof Standard that you will want to consider as you evaluate work samples.
- An exhaustive record search was conducted – Before a genealogist reaches any type of conclusion about a client’s ancestry, they must first show that they have reasonably searched for all available records on your behalf. Time should be spent online doing this and going through other sources of available information.
- Sources have been properly cited – Just as you are looking for a reputable genealogist, you also want to make sure that they use reliable sources. The conclusions reached should be based on sources that the Genealogical Proof Standard deems to be reputable.
- Conflicted evidence has been evaluated and communicated about – A reputable genealogist will not ignore conflicting information that they uncover. Instead, they will prove to you that they have evaluated the conflict and explain exactly why they reached the eventual conclusion that they did.
Following the Genealogical Proof Standard is something that all reputable professional genealogists do. You should see this apparent as soon as you examine their work samples.
3. Has the Genealogist Used Their Time Effectively?
A reputable genealogist does not shy away from a challenge.
As you look through work samples, go back to the beginning and see what type of sources were utilized to prove ancestry.
If they were only basic searches that anyone can conduct online, then that is a sign that the genealogist is not really prepared to spend the time necessary to do a thorough job.
The first part of the process that a genealogist should employ is to broadly search for all types of available records that apply to each client’s ancestry.
This includes a mix of the internet and more traditional, indexed sources.
After this, the process should slow down as the genealogist spends time going through less accessible records like wills.
Keep in mind that a reputable genealogist should be looking at records that you do not have access to.
If they aren’t, then why would you hire them in the first place? At the same time, it shouldn’t take forever for your genealogist to reach an informed conclusion.
There needs to be a balance, and you should be able to pick this up by exploring a sampling of their earlier work.
4. Examine Their Public Reviews
Another component of finding a reputable genealogist involves looking at the reviews that are publicly available.
This is a way to determine what others have said and to examine the results that they were given.
Learning through the experiences of others is a great way to determine if a particular genealogist is for you.
You will find that there are some great sites available online that will provide you with just the type of reviews that you are looking for. These include:
- Angie’s List
- Genealogy Websites
You can also just type in a search on your favorite search engine for the genealogist’s name and reviews.
Consequently, you should find more than enough information to keep you busy for a while.
5. Review Their Credentials
One final component to examining the reputation of a genealogist involves their credentials.
This is a profession that involves a great deal of training.
Accrediting agencies are in place to ensure that a person professing to be a genealogist actually has the knowledge and skills to back up that claim
There are two main types of credentials that you will want to be concerned about.
- Accredited Genealogist
- Certified Genealogist
Let us briefly cover each of the credentials so that you know what you are looking at.
To become an Accredited Genealogist, an individual must first receive a passing score on various tests.
These are administered by The International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists.
It is important to note that the testing is based on the geographic region of the person seeking the accreditation.
Keep this in mind as you hire your genealogist.
If you are looking for an Accredited Genealogist, you will want to ask the individual where they took their test.
This will determine how qualified they are to examine your particular ancestry.
Earning this accreditation is a way for a professional to demonstrate that they are knowledgeable, capable, and reputable.
Combined with the other factors we have discussed; this is what you are looking for.
You can also look for a Certified Genealogist.
The requirements are similar to that as someone who is accredited, but the focus is just a bit different.
Certification is not centered on a particular geographical region.
Instead, Certified Genealogists must demonstrate that they know how to examine a broad range of evidence before arriving at a conclusion based on ancestry.
Certified Genealogists are not afraid to tackle contradictory evidence and really dive into the roots of a particular person’s origin.
The Board for Certification of Genealogists is a highly sought after credentialing agency.
If you find a professional certified by this board, you can be reasonably confident that they are reputable.
Uncovering your genealogy is serious and often expensive work.
There are many good reasons to want to learn where you come from, but the information that you receive needs to be accurate and useful.
That is what you will receive from a reputable genealogist, so make sure that you take your time and hire the right individual for the job.
Read next: Best Genealogy Books For Beginners 2021