Within the last month, two friends have contacted me with different questions on the subject of engaging professional researchers to help with different types of genealogical work. Over time, each of us reaches a point at which we want or need outside help to solve a problem or advance our research. It usually isn't until that time that most people pay attention to the process of properly engaging that assistance. Let's explore the subject and some excellent resources that can help you when and if the time comes to seek professional assistance.
What's the Problem?
In order to decide whether you need outside help, you need to define and clearly understand the problem. I'm a proponent of setting goals for my genealogical research. If you're at a loss for an approach, perhaps this will work for you, too. I start with everything I know and write up an "ancestor profile." The profile lists, in chronological order, everything that I know about the person and includes the source citation for every piece of evidence. I can then see a biographical outline of the person's life. I also add information about other members of the family group and the historical events that may have impacted or affected the person. What's more, showing the evidentiary sources together lets me compare them for content, quality, and relevance. The "funny facts" tend to stand out and beg for additional research.
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