My clients come from different walks of life. The bulk of my clients are individuals who have no interest in conducting the research, but who want to know about their ancestry. Often they want to pass the information along to their children, nieces or nephews. Sometimes adult children hire me as a gift for their parents. Other clients are people who research as a hobby and need help getting past a "brick wall" problem. Some of my clients are fellow professional genealogists who need help in our areas of expertise (Cook County Genealogy, including Chicago and surrounding areas; Midwestern United States; German genealogy).
Professional genealogists typically specialize in certain aspects of family history. They might specialize in a certain record set (such as military records). They might specialize in a geographic area or perhaps a certain ethnicity. There is a unique knowledge base to each area of expertise. To do good genealogical research, one must understand the cultural norms; laws of the era or records in question; unique handwriting or language of the records; just to name a few examples.
By hiring someone who specializes in the area that best fits your family project, you are assured that the quickest and best approach is being used.
Yes, absolutely! You might think of researching a family in two major parts. The first part is researching them in the United States. If they are not of Native American origins, at some point you will need to go to another country to continue tracing their ancestry. Researching your earlier ancestry in another country is the second major part.
If you are in the first part of your family research and your ancestors lived in the Midwestern United States, I can help you. As your ancestry is traced backwards in time (the way good genealogy is done), it might be found that your ancestors came from the eastern part of the United States. I would then evaluate the best approach to researching your ancestry further back in time in United States resources and advise you of the next steps.
If your ancestors came directly to the Midwest from another country, I can help you find the town in that country from which they came. Without knowing an exact town name, research into the "old world" cannot be done. If that town is in Germany I can continue to help you (assuming record availability). I specialize in reading German church records, which are the main record set available for tracing your Germanic ancestors in the "old country."
If your ancestors came from another country, I will help locate a professional who can work on the second part of your research project.
In genealogy we work from the known to the unknown. Typically a person knows basic information about their parents and possibly grandparents. There might be other family members who can help with more recent information. If you have papers that were in your parents' or grandparents' possession, these might hold clues.
To start a genealogy project, you simply need to tell me what you do know, even if it is very little. It is usually enough to get started. The information you provide should be as specific as possible: full names, if known; birth, marriage and death dates, as well as the city in which each event took place. You might not have all of these facts for all of the people you "know" about. That's OK. Where your knowledge stops, that's where I begin.
No, absolutely not. There have been significant strides made over recent years to make records accessible online. In spite of that, it is only a very small percentage of what is available. To do good research, it is necessary to find the original records. Often these are only available in physical buildings throughout the world.
Most likely, the answer is "No." You might get lucky and find that someone has submitted a tree for your family. The following statements are true of any website that allows people to upload their family research. It is not the job of the website administrator to verify the accuracy of the data uploaded. Therefore, just because someone has placed it online, does not make it true.
A quality family tree should contain source citations (i.e., information stating exactly from where each fact came). The sources, in turn, should be of high quality (e.g., an original birth or baptism record, as opposed to a book that someone wrote). If these minimal requirements are not met, beware of its accuracy.
One pitfall that researchers unknowingly encounter in creating a family tree is when multiple people have similar names. It is very easy to attach the wrong person to your family tree and begin tracing the wrong family. Another pitfall is when multiple, but conflicting, sources are found for the same event. Careful analysis is required to determine which, if any, might be accurate.
I approach a family research project the same way I approach eating an elephant. I work with you to identify your primary goals. I then break that down into smaller phases, as necessary. I work in small research phases and report back to you at the end of each phase. I clearly communicate the recommended next steps and chances of success. At the end of each phase, you can choose to continue, stop or take a break.
This is a nostalgic name. Lind is the name of the street where I grew up.