Look at the photograph, look again. Dunham who? After years of attempting to identify this small bit of family information, it is time to hire a professional. This article will explain what to look for when hiring a professional family researcher. Answer a few questions.
What is your specific goal? My answers are relate to this article’s photograph. Identify the people in the photograph. What is the relationship between Jane A. and Lindsey W. Dunham? What is the small notebook? What is the relationship between the people in the photographs and Jane or Lindsey? In my example, the lady from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, has been identified as “Aunt Sara Dunham.” The couple are identified only as “Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother Dunaham [next line] Grandma Couchs mother and father.” Research completed reveals Jane Dunham as Grandma Couch. The small notebook dated 1844 is a ledger for purchases, payments and tailoring. My current specific goal is to identify Jane A. Dunham’s father, the man in the photograph.
What is your purpose for hiring a professional instead of doing the research yourself? Maybe the search has been dragging on for years; or the research is many miles away and not available online. Maybe you are ready to admit that you do not possess the expertise on where the area records are hidden, they must be hidden or you would have found them by now. In my example, it would be a three day drive before starting to research and I have no idea what records exist in Oneida County, New York.
What research have you already done? Are you able to provide your researcher with a written log with your positive and negative results? This paragraph is short because NOW I am retracing my steps and writing them down. My research continues online, at the Family History center with microfilm, calls and emails to family and evaluating my DNA results. This time, the answers will be written down. That is a whole different article.
How will you connect with your professional researcher? Network, network and network again for several years. As you attend lectures, who stands out? Ask other researchers for recommendations. Search the Association of Professional Genealogist website. Read internet articles. Using my example, I had listened to several New York lectures and searched the internet. My special person lectures, writes articles and is very active in area organizations. We met at the National Genealogical Conference in St. Charles, Missouri, in May 2015. She offered to work with me. She will evaluate my research, set up a plan and then work the plan. We will work together. I can choose research online from home and she is available in New York. Her idea appeals to me. I enjoy research and going to New York would be my dream. At this time, this dream is not possible, maybe someday.
What are your questions or answers? Please share your experiences. More articles to follow on my journey to find my family, contact Selma Blackmon.